St Ambrose of Mediolanum (Milan)

"Let thy door stand open to receive Him, unlock thy soul to Him, and bid Him welcome into thy mind. Thus shalt thou see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, and the joy of grace. Throw wide the gate of thy heart and stand before the Sun of the Everlasting Light" - St. Ambrose, Commentary on Psalm 118


Our Father among the Saints, Ambrose, the Wonderworker and Bishop of Mediolanum (modern day Milan) is an excellent model of a life truly lived in Christ. A theological pillar of the early Church and a staunch defender of the Orthodox Faith as defined in the Nicene Creed, St. Ambrose also held an unwavering commitment to pastoral duties. His spiritual leadership, as well as his personal example of ascetic discipline, humility, and charity, express how the Faith must encompass all parts of our lives.

St. Ambrose was born around 340 AD into the Roman aristocracy. As an infant, a swarm of bees landed on his face and left honey on his lips, prophetically marking his future skills as an orator with a ‘honeyed tongue.’ As St. Ambrose grew up, he followed in his father’s footsteps and embarked on a legal and political career, in which he was quite successful, eventually being raised to the rank of governor of the area centered in Mediolanum. During his tenure as governor, he was brought in to calm a dispute between the Arians and the Orthodox regarding the election of a new bishop. During his intervention, a young child cried “Ambrose, Bishop!” and soon all the people assembled clamored for him.

At that time, St. Ambrose was still a catechumen and preparing to be baptized, so this came as quite a shock to him. At first he refused, but eventually he accepted God’s will and was consecrated as a bishop on December 7, 374, the date of which is now used as his feast day. St. Ambrose quickly embraced his new role and intensely prepared himself for his episcopal responsibilities through constant fasting, theological study, fervent prayer, and giving away all his material wealth to the poor. As bishop, St. Ambrose exhibited remarkable pastoral sensitivity, robust theological insight, and unwavering moral valor as he sought to lead a flock beset by heretical forces and accustomed to living in a pagan society bereft of real morality.

On top of helping new initiates into the Faith develop a strong moral foundation, St. Ambrose made extensive contributions to the Church's services and hymnography, writing many hymns and having his own setting of the Liturgy. As an avid proponent of the chanting of psalmody, he introduced responsive singing (antiphony) into the Latin-speaking Church, as was already well established in the East. His role as a bridge between the East and West extended beyond matters of worship styles, and included theological clarifications from the Greek-speaking Fathers, such as St. Basil the Great, with whom St. Ambrose had regular correspondence.

St. Ambrose’s fiery promotion of true doctrine is not only apparent from his homilies, which were so profound that even many pagans flocked to hear them and were the catalyst responsible for setting St. Augustine on the path to Christ, but also in his actions. Perhaps one of the most well-known episodes in St. Ambrose's life is his encounter with the Emperor Theodosius I, whom he barred from Communion and compelled to make public penance for his violent retaliation against a riot in Thessaloniki. This act is emblematic of St. Ambrose's commitment to the principle that the Church must serve as the moral conscience of a Christian society.

The holy bishop reposed in the Lord on Holy Saturday evening in 397. St. Ambrose’s industrious labor in the vineyard of Christ yielded fruit beyond his time, leaving an ineradicable mark on the ethos of the Church. His teachings nourished and still nourishes the souls of many who look upon his life as a bright lamp revealing the path towards Christ. Indeed, his powerful writings expressing God’s immeasurable love for mankind and his passionate defense for all members of society convey the Church’s view on the sacredness of human life and the undoubted knowledge of the ultimate triumph of divine justice and mercy.

A patron of beekeepers, candle makers, and Milan, our mission is also under his patronage. Through his guidance and intercessions, may we build a bright beacon of the Love of Christ in the Straits Area that will lead to the salvation of many, and a testament to God’s Glory.

Holy Hierarch Father Ambrose, pray to God for us!

Troparion - Tone 1

Let us all honor the glorious Hierarch Ambrose, the namesake of ambrosia, the instructor of Italy, the protector of Christ's Church, and leader of Milan, a son of his diocese, and the greatest supporter of the poor, for he intercedes with the Lord to have mercy on our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 3

Shining with divine dogmas, thou didst darken the deception of Arius, O Ambrose, thou pastor and teacher of the mysteries. And working wonders through the power of the Spirit, thou didst manifestly heal diverse passions, O venerable father. Entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved.