340-397 ~ Ambrose was born in the city of Trier in Germany. His father, also named Ambrose, was a magistrate in France. As a young boy, his father died and he was taken to Rome, where he grew up, studied law and gained employment as a lawyer. Ambrose was an intellectual man, a gifted public speaker and preacher. Because of this talent, he was appointed governor, covering the towns of Liguria, Aemilla and Milan. He was excellent in this role, worked hard and was full of enthusiasm. The bishop of Milan who was an Arian, died and the diocese was left in confusion as the Catholics and the Arians fought to elect a new bishop. There were arguments and unrest in the city and in the cathedral, Ambrose tried to calm the situation, but to his amazement, he was elected to succeed the bishop.
Ambrose lived a Christian life, but had never actually been baptised and he felt he could not fulfil the post. The emperor ordered him to take the role and he was baptised and consecrated bishop in 374. He gave his goods to the poor and started to study theology and the Bible. His life changed dramatically and he lived to strict rules. He became the best preacher of his day and he continued his fight against Arianism, which was a threat to orthodoxy.
Ambrose became advisor to Emperor Gratian and talked him round to banning the Arian heresy. In 383, the emperor was killed in battle against Emperor Maximus and the conflict of the Catholics and Arians increased. Maximus intended to invade Rome, and Ambrose pleaded with him not to attack. He agreed and confined his attacks on France and Spain. Ambrose was at last successful in driving out the Arians. He continued to be involved in the politics of his time and was responsible for the increase in Christianity in the West. He wrote many letters and religious sermons and composed numerous hymns, which are still sung today. He died in 397 and he was later made a Doctor of the Church. He is the patron saint of learning and candle makers.