‘Ambrose for bishop!’

St Ambrose was born into a Christian family in about AD 340 and was raised in Trier (present-day Germany).

He was made bishop of Milan under unusual circumstances while he was in his early thirties. While he was governor of northern Italy, the see of Milan fell vacant. The threat of unrest followed because the city was evenly divided between Arians and orthodox Catholics, with Arians not fully recognising the divinity of Christ.

Ambrose attended a meeting about who should be the next bishop, and he spoke so eloquently on the need for peace that soon the crowds were chanting: “Ambrose for bishop!”

At the time, Ambrose was only a catechumen and not baptised, so he was reluctant to accept the position. But despite his pleas, the emperor insisted he should assume the role.

Ambrose gave up his wealth and through preaching managed to convert most of his diocese – apart from a Gothic faction and some members of the Imperial Household – to the orthodox position.

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