Ambrose, Bishop of Milan


“Savior of the Nations, Come,

Virgin’s son, make here your home!”

Each advent we looking forward to inviting our Savior to come in the words of Ambrose’ hymn Veni, Redemptor Gentium.

Born in Trier in 340, Ambrose was serving as a civil governor seeking to bring peace among the quarreling Christians in Milan, Italy.  In 374, when a new bishop was to be elected, he spoke to the crowd.  A child cried out, “Ambrose, bishop.”  Support for Ambrose spread through the crowd.  Though he was still a catechumen, studying the basics of the Christian faith, he was baptized on December 7 and consecrated bishop of Milan, at age 34.

He gave his possessions to the poor saying, “The world belongs to everyone, not just to the rich.”  He convinced emperors Gratian and Theodosius to oppose and forbid Arianism in the West.  (The followers of Arian taught that Jesus, as Son of God, was not quite equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit)  He also extracted a confession from Theodosius after he massacred 700 Thessalonians.

He introduced hymn singing to the Western churches, writing both the words and music himself.   His preaching drew a young man named Augustine to hear Ambrose’ well speaking ability.  Augustine, after years of searching, soon came to faith in Christ.

Ambrose, pastor, defender of the faith and musician, died on Good Friday, April 4, 397.

Preaching on Jesus words, “When you pray, enter your room, close the door and pray to your Father,”  Ambrose counseled, “Let your prayer then rise not just from your lips…enter the depths of your heart, go right into it.”  “You always have a secret room.  Your room is your Spirit.  Even if you are in the midst of a crowd, you have within you your closed and secret room.”    “Learn that you have a door to close when you, pray.  Pray secretly in yourself, certain that he who sees and hears everything can hear you in secret.”  “If you want something from someone who has good hearing, you do not think it necessary to shout.  It is when you are trying to attract the attention of a deaf person that you begin to raise your voice….those who pray in silence prove their faith and recognize that God examines the reins and heart and, that he hears your prayer before it leaves your mouth.”

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