Born into a prominent Roman family, Ambrose studied law and became a governor in northern Italy. When the bishop of Milan died, Ambrose was elected by popular acclaim. He fled because he wasn’t even baptized! But then he accepted, and was baptized and ordained bishop. Despite his lack of theological education, he studied and became an outstanding theologian.
Ambrose was firm in opposing the Arian heresy. Showing great courage in upholding the truth of the faith, Ambrose did not fear to oppose even the Roman emperor Valentinian II. As a pastor, Ambrose also showed great compassion for the poor. He even melted down some of the Church’s vessels to aid the needy. His eloquent preaching impressed the young Augustine of Hippo, who converted to the Catholic faith with the help of Ambrose.
In his theology, Ambrose wrote extensively about Mary. He emphasized her virginity and was also the first to speak of Mary as a certain image or symbol of the Church. He also proposed Mary as a model for those called to a life of consecrated virginity in the Church.
The Arians denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. To counter this, Ambrose wrote about Mary and explained how she is truly the Mother of God. What the Church teaches about Mary is aimed at safeguarding what it teaches about Jesus. In other words, Mary leads us to Jesus. In my life as a disciple of Jesus, have I allowed Mary to lead me closer to her Son?
Saint Ambrose, you labored tirelessly in preaching the Gospel and helping the poor. Pray for us that we too may reach out to others with the Good News of Jesus Christ with courage and zeal.
Copyright 2017, Daughters of Saint Paul