St Ambrose of Milan was a fourth century theologian, statesman, and Bishop of Milan. He refuted the Arianism heresy and paganism and was one of the first four Doctors of the Church.
What Was Saint Ambrose Known For?
Ambrose was born to a Roman Christian family in 340 AD and grew up in Trier (Belgic Gaul, now Germany).
A tradition says that when he was a baby, a swarm of bees landed on him and left a drop of honey behind. His father prophesied that Ambrose would be gifted with honeyed speech.
Ambrose studied law and rhetoric in Rome and was made governor of Liguria and Emilia.
He lived in Milan, and when the current Bishop died, Ambrose by popular acclaim was requested to be the next Bishop. The Arian controversy was still going on at this time and Ambrose sought as a statesman to ensure a peaceful election of a new bishop. The Arians thought he was more tolerant toward them, and the orthodox Catholics recognized his virtues.
But Ambrose, in spite of growing up in a Christian family, had never been baptized. He went and hid to try to avoid becoming bishop, but he was discovered and on December 7th, 374, St Ambrose was baptized, ordained, and consecrated as Bishop of Milan!
Ambrose promptly gave away his land to the needy, along with his money. Having no theological training, St Ambrose began studying in earnest.
Ambrose preached eloquently, which caught the attention of a still-unconverted Augustine of Hippo, who up to that time had a poor estimation of Christian preaching.
Ambrose and Augustine met, and in 387 AD Ambrose baptized Augustine. St Monica, who had long prayed for her son Augustine, was overjoyed and attributed her son’s conversion to the great help of St Ambrose.
Many of the authorities were Arian and began pressuring Ambrose, but he held firm to the orthodox Faith that professed the Nicene Creed, against the Arians.
With great moral courage, Ambrose excommunicated the Eastern Emperor Theodosius I, who had murdered 7,000 people. The Emperor, in incredibly humble repentance, did public penance for months to atone for the massacre he had perpetrated.
St Ambrose died on April 4th, 397.
Tradition holds that, together with St Augustine, St Ambrose composed the Te Deum.
In this novena, the first prayer is often prayed prior to Holy Mass. And traditionally, during the elevation of the Chalice by the priest, this part of the prayer is silently prayed by the faithful: Remember, Lord, Thy creature, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy blood.