Wednesday  Saints of this Day December  07 Séptimo Idus Decémbris  
Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum.
And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.
Пресвятая Богородице спаси нас!
(Santíssima Mãe de Deus, salva-nos!)

Vigília Conceptiónis Immaculátæ beátæ Maríæ Vírginis.
Vigil of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary Mother of GOD

15 Promises of the Virgin Mary to those who recite the Rosary

   
Bulle Ineffabilis Deus
Apostolic Constitution issued by 
Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854



Pope Benedict XVI to The Catholic Church In China {whole article here }

The saints “a cloud of witnesses over our head”, showing us life of Christian perfection is possible.



December 7, 2016
397 St. Ambrose  sent to Milan as Roman governor chosen bishop; while catechumen Granted gift of wonderworking, healed many from sickness

December 7 - Vigil of the Immaculate Conception - Saint Ambrose of Milan (+397)
The Immaculate Conception (I)
The Ineffable God -- whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom "reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly" -- having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam.
From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so loved her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.
Bulle Ineffabilis Deus Apostolic Constitution issued by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854

December 7 - Vigil of the Immaculate Conception
Time of Waiting Unique in World History (VI) 
The wondrous child proclaimed by the Sibyl of Cumae

While the Blessed Virgin was on earth, the Romans’ expectancy may also have been nourished by the great oracle reported by Virgil in the fourth Eclogue of his Bucolics: “We have reached the last era in the oracle of the Sibyl of Cumae: the long sequence of the ages starts afresh. The Virgin comes to dwell with us, and the rule of Saturn is restored. The first born of the new age is already on his way from high heaven. A new-born child born in the reign of the Emperor Augustus shall end the iron race and shall raise a race of gold for the entire world.”

The Blessed Virgin from whom the Son of God would come certainly did not know about this oracle, but Jesus, born under the rule of the Emperor Augustus indeed transformed the iron of oppression into love that is symbolized by gold. And at several of the world’s shrines (such as Longpont, Nogent sous Coucy and Chartres) the Virgini Pariturae: the Virgin who is to give birth, was worshipped, amazingly enough even before the birth of Christ.
Source: Jesus Hypotheses by Vittorio Messori, Saint Paul Pubns. (1978)

If we wish to keep peace with our neighbor,
we should never remind anyone of his natural defect.

-- St Philip Neri

If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you,
and that He certainly intends to make you a Saint. -- St Ignatius Loyola




 
The Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Seliger comes from the island of Seliger in the Tver Province of Russia.
  283 St. Eutychian or Eutychianus Pope 275.01.04 to 283.12.07; Pope #27
        St. Polycarp and Theodore Martyrs at Antioch
 
304 The Holy Martyr Athenodorus Miracles accompanied the martyrdom of the saint, which converted many of the pagans to the Christian Faith
4th v. Bld Agatho, soldier prevented people from mocking bodies of martyrs
  375 St. Victor of Piacenza  Bishop of -- at the Council of Sardica
 Saint Paul the Obedient deep humility, for the complete renunciation of his own will monks received a unique vision proving that their brother was a true ascetic. By night they were all transported to Paradise and conversed with St Paul, who permitted them to take a flower or twig with them as a remembrance. Awakening from sleep, they found in their hands the flowers and twigs from Paradise
  397 St. Ambrose  sent to Milan as Roman governor chosen bishop; while
 catechumen Granted gift of wonderworking, healed many from sickness
5th v. St. Anianas fifth Bishop of Chartres, France
 484 St. Servus executed by Arian Vandals then masters of Africa
1134 Urban, Bishop of Llandaff first bishop of South East Wales

1208 Saint Philothea (Philofthea) of Argesh adorned with virtues of prayer, virginity, and almsgiving accidently killed Many people have been healed at the tomb of St Philothea 12 yrs old
1405 St Gregory of Mount Athos born in Serbia pursued asceticism on Mt Athos
1554 Saint Nilus of Stolobnoye strict ascetic life incessant struggle against snares of the devil took on the appearance of reptiles and wild beasts; miracles
1556 Saint Anthony of Siya distributed his goods to the poor and as a wanderer came to the Pachomiev wilderness monastery at the River Kena. St Pachomius tonsured him with the name Anthony
1888 St. Maria Giuseppe Rossello Foundress Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy

Eboríaci, in território Meldénsi, commemorátio sanctæ Faræ, étiam Burgundofáræ nómine appellátæ, Abbatíssæ et Vírginis, cujus dies natális tértio Nonas Aprilis recensétur.
    At Faremoutiers, in the diocese of Meaux, the commemoration of St. Fara, who is also called Burgundofara, abbess and virgin.  Her birthday is on the 3rd of April.

< St. Fara


“The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God, as John the theologian and evangelist says:
 ‘But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God....’
Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men who announced the coming of the Lord.
And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and perseverance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns of glory”


(Exposition of the Orthodox Faith).
December 7 - OUR LADY OF CROWNS, OUR QUEEN-MOTHER
The Immaculate Conception According to Saint John Mary Vianney (II)

The Gospel says that a father left his house early one morning to find hired hands to work in his vineyard.
Weren't there people already in that vineyard? Yes, Mary was there; she was born in that vineyard.
And what is the vineyard? It is grace.

Yes, Mary was born in it, since she was conceived free of sin. As for us, we were called to it, the Father went looking for us; but Mary was always in it. Oh, such a beautiful worker! She is pure, unspoiled. The Good Lord could have created a more beautiful world than this one, but he could not have created a more perfect creature than Mary.
Saint John Mary Vianney  In: Mgr. R. Fourrey, The Virgin Mary and the Cure of Ars, 1989, Ars

Saint_Ambrose_and_Theodosius_VanDyck.
   Above all Ambrose was a Doctor of the Church and a pastor of his people. His thinking was not original but he successfully synthesized the thoughts of others after having read extensively from the beginning of his episcopate. As a Greek scholar he interpreted Eastern theologians for the West, a work that was much needed.  Ambrose exemplifies for us the truly catholic character of Christianity. He is a man steeped in the learning, law and culture of the ancients and of his contemporaries.
“Women and men are not mistaken when they regard themselves as superior to mere bodily creatures and as more than mere particles of nature or nameless units in modern society. For by their power to know themselves in the depths of their being they rise above the entire universe of mere objects.... Endowed with wisdom, women and men are led through visible realities to those which are invisible”

Following his election his life was one of poverty and humility. He gave away all his acquired property. His inherited possessions he gave into the charge of his brother Satyrus, who had resigned his own governorship. Ambrose was a man of charity. He even sold church property in order to buy back captives taken in wars. He distinguished himself in defense of the oppressed, and there is a strikingly modern note in his objection to capital punishment.

   The saint combined strictness with an uncommon kindliness. Granted a gift of wonderworking, he healed many from sickness. One time at Florence, while staying at the house of Decentus, he resurrected a dead boy.


He set forth the Orthodox teaching about the Holy Trinity, the Sacraments, and Repentance: "Five Books on the Faith" (De Fide); "Explication of the Symbol of the Faith" (Explanatio Symboli); "On the Incarnation" (De Incarnationis); "Three Books on the Holy Spirit" (De Spiritu Sancto); "On the Sacraments" (De Sacramento); "Two Books on Repentance" (De Paenitentia). In writings about Christian morality, he explained the excellence of Christian moral teaching compared to pagan moral teaching.  However, there is a growing belief that he did compose the Athanasian Creed.  Among his best known works are De officiis ministrorum, a treatise on Christian ethics especially directed to clergy; De virginibus, written for his sister St. Marcellina; and De fide, written against Arians for Gratian.
A well-known work of St Ambrose, "On the Duties of the Clergy" (De Officiis Ministrorum) evidences his deep awareness of pastoral duty. He stresses that those who serve in the Church should have not only the proper knowledge of Church services, but also the proper knowledge of moral precepts.

Episcopal duties at this time are well summed up by Chateaubriand,
   "There could be nothing more complete or better filled than a life of the prelates of the fourth and fifth centuries. A bishop baptized, absolved, preached, arranged private and public penances, hurled anathemas or raised excommunications, visited the sick, attended the dying, buried the dead, redeemed captives, nourished the poor, widows, and orphans, founded almshouses and hospitals, ministered to the needs of his clergy, pronounced as a civil judge in individual cases, and acted as arbitrator in differences between cities.
   He published at the same time treatises on morals, on discipline, on theology. He wrote against heresiarchs and against philosophers, busied himself with science and history, directed letters to individuals who consulted him in one or other of the rival religions; corresponded with churches and bishops, monks, and hermits; sat at councils and synods; was summoned to the audience of Emperors, was charged with negotiations, and was sent as ambassador to usurpers or to Barbarian princes to disarm them or keep them within bounds. The three powers, religious, political, and philosophical were all concentrated in the bishop."


   "Whilst offering the oblation, I heard that a certain Castalus, who, the Arians said, was a priest, had been seized by the people. Passers-by had come upon him in the streets. I began to weep bitterly, and to implore God in the oblation that He would come to our aid, and that no one's blood be shed in the Church's cause, or at least that it might be my blood shed for the benefit not of my people only, but also for the unbelievers themselves. Not to say more, I sent priests and deacons and rescued the man from violence."

    Next to Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose is the first of the great Latin hymn writers. "Framer of the earth and sky," "Maker of all things God most high," "O come Redeemer of mankind appear," and "Now the third hour cometh."
Those who sought to wreck violence were fined by the bishop.
Ambrose deprecated violence and counselled passive resistance.
December 7 - Vigil of the Immaculate Conception - Saint Ambrose of Milan (+397)
   The Ineffable God -- whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom "reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly" -- having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam.

The Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Seliger comes from the island of Seliger in the Tver Province of Russia.
275 283 Pope St. Eutychianus January, 275, until 7 December, 283 the last pope buried in the catacombs of St. Callixtus  Pope
Romæ beáti Eutychiáni Papæ, qui per divérsa loca trecéntos quadragínta duos Mártyres manu sua sepelívit; quibus et ipse deínde sociátus, sub Numeriáno Imperatóre, martyrio coronátus est, et in cœmetério Callísti sepúltus.
 
At Rome, blessed Eutychian, pope, who with his own hand buried three hundred and forty-two martyrs in various places.  He himself was joined with them, crowned with martyrdom under Emperor Numerian, and was buried in the cemetery of Callistus.


He succeeded Pope Felix I a few days after the latter's death, and governed the Church from January, 27, until 7 December, 283. We know no details of his pontificate. The rite for blessing the produce of the fields, ascribed to him by the "Liber Pontificalis", undoubtedly belongs to a later period. The statement also that he promulgated rules for the burial of martyrs and buried many of them with his own hands, has but slight claim to acceptance, since after the death of Aurelian (275) the Church enjoyed a long respite from persecution. It is highly probable that Eutychianus did not die a martyr. The fourth-century Roman Calendar mentions him (8 December) in the "Depositio Episcoporum", but not in its list of martyrs. His remains were placed in the papal chapel in the Catacomb of Callistus. When this famous crypt was discovered the fragments of the epitaph of Eutychianus were found, i.e. his name (in Greek letters): EUTYCHIANOS EPIS(KOPOS). His feast is celebrated on 8 December.


preceeded by St. Felix I (269-274); followed by St. Caius (283-296)
Born in Luni in Etruria
Little is known about Eutychian, even the dates of his reign are in question. The Liber Pontificalis says that he reigned for 8 years and 11 months, however Eusebius says it was only 10 months.
Decrees
The Liber Pontificalis says that he decreed that the fields and crops are to be blessed by having the beans and grapes blessed on the alter at mass. This practice however, is believed to have started much later.
Tradition claims that he buried 324 martyrs with his own hands. Most historians doubt this however, since there was no persecution during this time.
Death
He is said to have died a violent death as a martyr; however, a violent death during this time was most unlikely.
St. Polycarp and Theodore Martyrs at Antioch.
Antiochíæ sanctórum Mártyrum Polycárpi et Theodóri.
    At Antioch, the holy martyrs Polycarp and Theodore.
who were put to death at an unknown time during the Roman persecutions.
304 The Holy Martyr Athenodorus Miracles accompanied the martyrdom of the saint, which converted many of the pagans to the Christian Faith
from Syrian Mesopotamia, led a monastic life from his youth. Denounced as a Christian, he was arrested and condemned to fierce tortures by the governor of the land, Eleusius. Miracles accompanied the martyrdom of the saint, which converted many of the pagans to the Christian Faith. He was beheaded in the year 304 .

Saint Paul the Obedient deep humility, and for the complete renunciation of his own will monks received a unique vision proving that their brother was a true ascetic. By night they were all transported to Paradise and they conversed with St Paul, who permitted them to take a flower or twig with them as a remembrance. Awakening from sleep, they found in their hands the flowers and twigs from Paradise
We do not know when he lived. There is only a short Life which says that he was the son of wealthy parents. He left secular life upon reaching maturity.

The appellation "Obedient" was bestowed upon the monk for his deep humility, and for the complete renunciation of his own will. Once, the monk stirred boiling tar with his hand, and received not the slightest burn from it. Some of the brethren regarded him as a God-bearing ascetic, but others became suspicious of him.

After fervent prayer, the monks received a unique vision proving that their brother was a true ascetic. By night they were all transported to Paradise and they conversed with St Paul, who permitted them to take a flower or twig with them as a remembrance. Awakening from sleep, they found in their hands the flowers and twigs from Paradise. After this St Paul went to Jerusalem, and then to Cyprus.

Having led a solitary life, he ended his life on Mount Paregoros [Mount Solace]. Before his death the voice of God said to him, "Ascend the mountain, Paul, and accept the end of life."

4th v. blessed Agatho, soldier prevented people from mocking bodies of the martyrs.
Alexandríæ natális beáti Agathónis militáris, qui, in persecutióne Décii, cum prohibéret quosdam voléntes illúdere cadavéribus Mártyrum, clamor repénte totíus vulgi advérsus eum extóllitur; oblátus autem Júdici, et in Christi confessióne persístens, cápite pro pietáte damnátus est.
    At Alexandria, the birthday of blessed Agatho, soldier.  In the persecution of Decius, because he prevented some people from mocking the bodies of the martyrs, a sudden clamour was raised against him by the crowd.  Being brought before the judge, and persisting in his confession of Christ, he was sentenced to death for his reverence.
375 St. Victor Bishop of Piacenza at the Council of Sardica
Italy, from about 322. The Theban Legion suffered martyrdom there. As the founding bishop of the see, Victor was present at the Council of Sardica.  Victor of Piacenza B (AC) First bishop of Piacenza, Italy, c. 322-375.
He was a brave champion of the Catholic faith against the Arians (Benedictines).
5th v. St. Anianas fifth Bishop of Chartres, France.
397 St. Ambrose  sent to Milan as Roman governor chosen bishop while a catechumen Granted gift of wonderworking, he healed many from sickness
Sancti Ambrósii Epíscopi, Confessóris et Ecclésiæ Doctóris, qui prídie Nonas Aprílis obdormívit in Dómino, sed hac die potíssimum cólitur, qua Mediolanénsem Ecclésiam gubernándam suscépit.
    St. Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church, who fell asleep in the Lord on the 4th of April; his feast is kept on this day, the day on which he assumed the government of the Church of Milan.


397 St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Doctor of The Church
Courage and constancy in resisting evil is a necessary part of virtue, especially in a bishop, and in this quality St Ambrose was one of the most admirable among all the great pastors of God’s Church since the Apostles, while his learning made him one of the four great doctors of the Western church.
 At the time of his birth at Trier, probably in 340, his father, whose name also was Ambrose, was prefect of Gaul. Ambrose, senior, died while his youngest child was still young, and his widow returned with her family to Rome. She took great care in the upbringing of her children, and Ambrose owed much both to her and to his sister, St Marcellina. He learned Greek, became a good poet and orator, went to the bar, and was soon taken notice of, particularly by Anicius Probus and Symmachus, the last-named being prefect of Rome and still a pagan. The other was praetorian prefect of Italy, and in his Court St Ambrose pleaded causes with so much success that Probus made choice of him to be his assessor. Then emperor Valentinian made him governor of Liguria and Aemilia, with his residence at Milan. His patron, Probus, with unconscious suitability, said to him at parting: “Go; and govern more like a bishop than a judge.” The office to which he had been promoted, with full consular rank, was one of the most responsible and important in the Western empire, and Ambrose was not yet forty. With what success he administered his charge for some two years the sequel shows.

Auxentius, an Arian, who held the see of Milan for almost twenty years, died in 374. The city was distracted by party strife about the election of a new bishop, some demanding an Arian, others a Catholic. To prevent, if possible, too outrageous a disorder St Ambrose went to the church in which the assembly was held. There he made a speech to the people, exhorting them to proceed in their choice in the spirit of peace and without tumult. While he was speaking a voice cried out: “Ambrose, bishop!” The whole assembly took up the cry with enthusiasm, and Catholics and Arians unanimously proclaimed him bishop of Milan. This unexpected choice astounded Ambrose, the more that, though professedly a Christian, he was still unbaptized. But in face of the popular clamour the bishops of the province ratified the election, whereupon the bishop elect remarked caustically that “Emotion had overruled canon law”, and tried to escape from Milan. A relation of all that had passed was sent to the emperor, and Ambrose wrote also on his own behalf, asking that he might be excused. Valentinian answered that it gave him the greatest pleasure that he had chosen governors who were fit for the episcopal office; and at the same time sent an order to the vicarius of the province to see that the election took place. In the meantime Ambrose once more tried to escape, and hid himself in the house of the senator Leontius, who, when he heard the imperial decision, gave him up, and Ambrose at last yielded. He therefore was baptized, and received episcopal consecration a week later, on December 7, 374. He was about thirty-five years old.

Considering that he was no longer a man of this world and resolving to break all ties which could hold him to it, he gave his movables to the poor and his lands and estates to the Church, reserving only an income for the use of his sister, St Marcellina. The care of his temporalities he committed to his brother, St Satyrus, that he might be free to give himself up wholly to his ministry. Soon after his ordination he wrote to Valentinian a severe complaint against some of the imperial magistrates. To which the emperor replied “I was long since acquainted with your freedom of speech, which did not hinder me from consenting to your election. Continue to apply to our sins the remedies prescribed by the divine law.” St Basil also wrote to congratulate him, or rather the Church, upon his promotion and to exhort him vigorously to oppose the Arians.
   St Ambrose was acutely conscious of his ignorance of theological science, and at once applied himself to study the Holy Scriptures and the works of religious writers, particularly Origen and St Basil. For these studies he put himself under the instruction of St Simplician, a learned Roman priest, whom he loved as a friend, honoured as a father and reverenced as a master. He purged the diocese of the Arian heresy with such success that in ten years there was not one citizen of Milan infected with it, except a few Goths and some of those belonging to the imperial household. *{*Milan was in fact the administrative capital of the West at this time. The imperial court had been moved thither in 303, under Maximian.}
    His personal life was one of simplicity and hard work; he dined only on Sundays, the feasts of certain famous martyrs, and all Saturdays, on which it were the custom at Milan never to fast (but when he was at Rome he fasted on Saturdays). He excused himself from going to banquets, and entertained others with decent frugality. Every day he offered the Holy Sacrifice for his people, and devoted himself entirely to the service of his flock, any member of which could see and speak with him at any time, so that his people loved and admired him. It was his rule never to have any hand in making matches, never to persuade anyone to serve in the army, and never recommend to places at court. St Augustine, when he came to visit him, sometimes found him so overwhelmed with callers, or so busy in the few moments he was able to get to himself, that he went into his room and after some stay came out again, without being noticed by the bishop.
    Ambrose in his discourses frequently spoke in praise of the state and virtue of virginity undertaken for God’s sake, and he had many consecrated virgins under his direction. At the request of his sister, St Marcellina, he collected his sermons on this subject, making thereby a famous treatise. Mothers tried to keep their daughters away from his sermons, and he was charged with trying to depopulate the empire. “What man, I want to know, ever wanted to marry and could not find a wife?” he retorted, and maintained that the population is highest where maidenhood is most esteemed. Wars, he said, and not maidens, are the destroyers of the human race.
The Goths having invaded Roman territories in the East, the Emperor Gratian determined to lead an army to the succour of his uncle, Valens. But in order to guard himself against Arianism, of which Valens was the protector, he asked St Ambrose for instruction against that heresy. He accordingly wrote in 377 the work entitled To Gratian, concerning the Faith, which he afterwards expanded. The Goths had extended their ravages from Thrace to Illyricum, and St Ambrose, not content to lay out all the money he could raise in redeeming captives, employed gold vessels belonging to the Church, which he had melted down. The Arians reproached him for this, alleging sacrilege. He answered that he thought it more expedient to save the souls of men than gold. Ransom is the significance of the pouring of the blood of Jesus into golden vessels, and “If the Church possesses gold it is in order to use it for the needy, not to keep it.


After murder of Gratian in 383 the Empress Justina implored St Ambrose to treat with the usurper Maximus lest he attack her son, Valentinian II. He went and induced Maximus at Trier to confine himself to Gaul, Spain and Britain. This is said to have been the first occasion on which a minister of the gospel was called on to interfere in matters of high politics: and it was to vindicate right and order against a usurper in arms.
At this time certain senators at Rome attempted to restore the cult of the goddess of Victory. At their head appeared Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, son and successor of that prefect of the city who had patronized the young Ambrose, and an admirable scholar, statesman and orator. This man presented a request to Valentinian begging that the altar of Victory might be re-established in the senate-house; to it he ascribed the victories and prosperity of ancient Rome. It was a skillfully drawn and in some respects moving document, and made use of several arguments that are still familiar in the mouths of non-Catholics. “What does it matter”, for example, “the way in which each seeks for truth? There must be more than one road to the great mystery.” The petition was particularly a covert attack on St Ambrose, and he, having privately received notice of it, wrote to Valentinian demanding that a copy of Symmachus’s petition should be communicated to him. He remonstrated at the same time with the emperor for not having at once consulted him, since it was a matter of religion. He then drew up a reply whose eloquence surpassed that of Symmachus, traversing him at every point. From ridiculing the suggestion that what was achieved by military valour was due to the entrails of sacrificed cattle he rose to heights of rhetoric, speaking as by the mouth of Rome herself, who bewails the errors of her past but is not ashamed in her old age to change with a changing world.
 He appeals to Symmachus and his friends to learn the mysteries of nature from God who created it, and, instead of asking the emperors to give their gods peace, to ask God to give the emperors peace and ends with a parable of progress and development in the world. “Through justice truth has prevailed on the ruins of opinions that once ruled the earth.” Both documents, that of Symmachus and that of Ambrose, were read before Valentinian in council. There was no discussion. Then the emperor spoke:  “My father did not take away the altar. Nor was he asked to put it back. I therefore follow him in changing nothing that was done before my time.”

The Empress Justina dared not openly espouse the interests of the Arians during the lives of her husband and of Gratian, but when the peace, which St Ambrose arranged between Maximus and her son, gave her an opportunity to oppose the Catholic bishop, she forgot the obligations that she had to him. When Easter was near, in 385, she induced Valentinian to demand the Portian basilica, now called St Victor’s, outside Milan, for the use of the Arians, herself and many officers of the court. The saint replied that he could never give up the temple of God. By messengers Valentinian then demanded the new basilica of the Apostles; but the bishop was inflexible. Officers of the court were sent to take possession of the basilica, and the citizens, enraged at these proceedings, seized an Arian priest in the street. St Ambrose, informed of this, prayed that God would suffer no blood to be shed, and sent out priests and deacons who delivered the Arian from the mob. Throughout these troubles, when St Ambrose had the bulk of the excited people and even of the army on his side, he was studiously careful to say or do nothing that would precipitate violence or endanger the position of the emperor and his mother. He was resolute in his refusal to give up the churches, but would not himself officiate in either for fear of creating disturbance. Every effort was made by his adversaries to provoke him, and they commonly referred to him as “the Tyrant”.*{*Not in the modern sense, but meaning one who had seized power by force.} “How am I a tyrant?” he asked. “When I was told the church was surrounded with soldiers, I said: ‘I cannot give it up, but I must not fight.’ Maximus, whom I stopped from marching into Italy, does not say that I am the tyrant over Valentinian.”
  While he was expounding a passage of Job to the people in a chapel, a party of soldiers, who had been sent to take charge of the larger basilica, came in. They had refused to obey orders and wished to pray with the Catholics. At once the people surged into the adjoining basilica, and tore down the decorations put up for the emperor’s visit, giving them to the children to play with. But Ambrose refused a triumph, and did not enter the church himself until Easter day, when Valentinian had ordered the guards to be removed, upon which all joined in joy and thanksgiving. St Ambrose gave an account of these events to Marcellina, who was then at Rome, and adds that he foresees greater commotions. “The eunuch, Calligone,” he writes, “an imperial chamberlain, said to me: ‘You despise Valentinian. I will cut off your head.’ To which I replied: ‘May God permit it. Then I shall suffer as a bishop should, and you will act according to your kind!’”
In January of the following year Justina persuaded her son to make a law authorizing the religious assemblies of the Arians and, in effect, proscribing those of the Catholics. It forbade anyone, under pain of death, to oppose Arian assemblies, and no one could so much as present a petition against a church being yielded up to them without danger of being proscribed. St Ambrose disregarded the law, would not give up a single church, and no one dare touch him. “I have said what a bishop ought to say; let the emperor do what an emperor ought to do. Naboth would not give up the inheritance of his ancestors, and shall I give up that of Jesus Christ?”

On Palm Sunday he preached on not giving up their churches, and then, fears being entertained for his life, the people barricaded themselves in the basilica with their pastor. The imperial troops surrounded the place to starve them out, but on Easter Sunday they were still there. To occupy their time Ambrose taught the people psalms and hymns composed by himself, which they sang at his direction divided into two choirs singing alternate stanzas. Then Dalmatius, a tribune, came to St Ambrose from the emperor, with an order that he should choose judges, as the Arian bishop, Auxentius, had done on his side, that his and Auxentius’s cause might be tried before them; if he refused, he was forthwith to retire and yield his see to Auxentius.
   Ambrose wrote asking to be excused and forcibly reminding Valentinian that laymen (lay-judges had been stipulated) could not judge bishops or make ecclesiastical laws. Then he occupied his episcopal cathedra and related to the people all that had passed between him and Valentinian during the previous year. And in a memorable sentence he summed up the principle at stake: “The emperor is in the Church, not over it.”
In the meanwhile it became known that Maximus, using Valentinian’s persecution of Catholics and alleged frontier irregularities as pretexts, was preparing to invade Italy. Valentinian and Justina were panic-stricken, and asked St Ambrose to venture on a second embassy to stop the march of a usurper. Burying the memory both of public and private injuries he undertook the journey. At Trier Maximus refused to admit him to audience except in public consistory, though he was both bishop and imperial ambassador. When, therefore, he was introduced into the consistory and Maximus rose to give him a kiss, Ambrose stood still and refused to approach to receive it. And there, publicly, he demonstrated to Maximus that his projected offensive was unjustifiable and a breach of faith, and ended up by asking him to send the remains of Gratian to his brother as pledge of peace.
   Already on his arrival St Ambrose had refused to hold communion with the court prelates who had connived at the execution of the heretic Priscillian, which meant with Maximus himself, and the next day he was ordered to leave Trier. He therefore returned to Milan, writing in advance to Valentinian an account of events and advising him to be cautious how he treated with Maximus, a concealed enemy who pretended peace but intended war. Then Maximus suddenly and without opposition marched into Italy. Leaving St Ambrose alone to meet the storm at Milan, Justina and Valentinian fled to Greece and threw themselves on the mercy of the Eastern emperor, Theodosius. He declared war on Maximus, defeated and executed him in Pannonia, and restored Valentinian to his own territories and to those of the dead usurper. But from henceforward Theodosius was the real ruler of the whole empire.

He stayed for a time at Milan, inducing Valentinian to abandon Arianism and to have respect for St Ambrose as a true Catholic bishop. But, as was almost inevitable, conflicts arose between Theodosius himself and Ambrose, in the first of which right does not seem to have been wholly on the side of the bishop. At Kallinikum, in Mesopotamia, certain Christians pulled down the Jewish synagogue. Theodosius when informed of the affair ordered the bishop (who was alleged to be directly implicated) to rebuild the synagogue. St Ambrose was appealed to, and he wrote a letter to Theodosius in which he based his protest, not on the uncertainty of the actual circumstances, but on the excessive statement that no Christian bishop could in any conditions pay for the erection of a building to be used for false worship. Theodosius disregarded the protest, and Ambrose preached against him to his face; whereupon a discussion took place between them in the church, and he would not go up to the altar to sing Mass till he had procured a promise of the revocation of the order.

In the year 390 news of a dreadful massacre committed at Thessalonica was brought to Milan. Butheric, the governor, had a charioteer put in prison for having seduced a servant in his family, and refused to release him when his appearance in the circus was demanded by the public. The people were so enraged that some officers were stoned to death and Butheric himself was slain.
    Theodosius ordered reprisals of unbelievable savagery. While the people were assembled in the circus, soldiers surrounded it and rushed in on them. The slaughter continued for hours and seven thousand were massacred, without distinguishing age or sex or the innocent from the guilty. The world was aghast and all eyes were turned on Ambrose, who took counsel with his fellow bishops. Then he wrote Theodosius a noble letter, exhorting him to penance,*{*I.e. not only interior penitence, but also the public canonical penance which the Church then imposed on open and notorious evil-doers.} and declaring that he neither could nor would receive his offering at the altar or celebrate the Divine Mysteries before him till that obligation was satisfied. “What has been done at Thessalonica is unparalleled in the memory of man...You are human, and temptation has overtaken you. Overcome it. I counsel, I beseech, I implore you to penance. You, who have so often been merciful and pardoned the guilty, have now caused many innocent to perish. The devil wished to wrest from you the crown of piety which was your chiefest glory. Drive him from you while you can...I write this to you with my own hand that you also may read it alone.”
    The upshot of this appeal to a man who can hardly have been other than conscience-stricken has unfortunately been obscured by a picturesque and melodramatic story that Theodosius refused to do penance, and that St Ambrose met him in the narthex of the church when he came to Mass with his court, publicly rebuked him, and refused him admittance; and that the emperor remained excommunicate for eight months until he made a complete submission. This legend has been demolished by Father Van Ortroy, s.j., and the simple words in which St Augustine (who had received baptism from St Ambrose three years before) refers to the emperor’s “religious humility” tell us all we really need to know.
“Being laid hold of by the discipline of the Church, he did penance in such a way that the sight of the abasement of his imperial dignity made those who were interceding for him weep more than consciousness of offence had ever made them fear his anger.”

 In the funeral oration over Theodosius, St Ambrose himself says simply that:
“He stripped himself of every sign of royalty and bewailed his sin openly in church. He, an emperor, was not ashamed to do the public penance which lesser individuals shrink from, and to the end of his life he never ceased to grieve for his error.”
By this triumph of grace in Theodosius and of pastoral duty in Ambrose Christianity was vindicated to the world as being no respecter of persons, its moral law was shown to bind all equally. And the emperor himself testified to the personal influence of St Ambrose in it; he was, he said, the only bishop he knew who was worthy of the name.
Theodoret mentions another example of humility and religion on the part of Theodosius whilst he was at Milan. During Mass on a festival, having brought his offering to the altar, he remained within the rails of the sanctuary. St Ambrose asked if he wanted anything. The emperor said that he stayed to assist at the Holy Mysteries and to communicate. Thereupon Ambrose sent his deacon to tell him, “My lord, it is lawful for none but the sacred ministers to remain within the sanctuary. Be pleased therefore to go out and stand with the rest. The purple robe makes princes, but not priests.” Theodosius apologized and answered that he thought the custom was the same at Milan as at Constantinople, where his place was in the sanctuary; and after having thanked the bishop for his instruction he went and took his place among the laity. *{*Later it became part of the plan of every Byzantine church to have the representation of a two-headed eagle on the floor outside the sanctuary. This was the place of the imperial throne. Such eagles may still be seen in the East. The Latin direction ad aquilam chori has nothing to do with this, but refers to the lectern with its eagle-shaped desk.}

In 393 occurred the pathetic death of the young Valentinian, murdered by Arbogastes while alone among his enemies in Gaul. St Ambrose had set out to succour him, but met his funeral procession before he had crossed the Alps. Arbogastes manoeuvred for the support of Ambrose for his ambitions (he had been told that the bishop was a “man who says to the sun ‘Stop!’ and it stops”). But Ambrose had made it clear, without any personal denunciation, in his funeral sermon what he thought of the death of Valentinian, and he left Milan before the arrival of Eugenius, the imperial nominee of Arbogastes, who now openly boasted the approaching overthrow of Christianity.

St Ambrose meanwhile went from city to city, strengthening the people against the invaders. Then he returned to his see and there received the letter of Theodosius announcing his victory over Arbogastes at Aquileia, the final blow to the old paganism within the empire.
   A few months later Theodosius himself died, in the arms of St Ambrose, who in a funeral oration spoke eloquently of his love for the dead emperor and of the high obligations of his two sons in the control of an empire which was now held together by Christianity itself. Those two Sons were the feeble creatures Arcadius and Honorius. And there was perhaps present in the church a certain young Goth, a cavalry officer in the imperial army. His name was Alaric.
St Ambrose survived Theodosius the Great by only two years, and one of his last treatises was on the “ Goodness of Death
. His written works, mostly homiletical in origin, exegetical, theological, ascetical and poetical,*{*The Breviary hymn Aeterne rerum conditor is certainly St Ambrose’s, and others are ascribed to him with greater or less degrees of probability were numerous; as the Roman empire declined in the West he inaugurated a new lease of life for its language, and in the service of Christianity.
   When he fell sick he foretold his death, but said he should live till Easter. He continued his usual studies, and expounded the forty-third psalm. Whilst he dictated, Paulinus, who was his secretary and afterwards his biographer, saw as it were a flame in the form of a small shield covering his head and by degrees passing into his mouth, and his face became white as snow. “I was so frightened
, says Paulinus, “that I remained motionless and could not write. And on that day he left off both writing and dictating, so that he did not finish the psalm”.
We have this exposition of St Ambrose upon the forty-third psalm, and it ends with the twenty-fourth verse. After having ordained a bishop for Pavia, he was so ill that he took to his bed. At this news Count Stilicho, the guardian of Honorius, was much troubled, and said publicly, “The day that this man dies, destruction hangs over Italy”. And he sent messengers to persuade Ambrose to pray for greater length of days. He replied to them, “I have not so behaved myself among you that I should be ashamed to live longer; nor am I afraid to die, for we have a good Master
.
   On the day of his death he lay with his hands extended in the form of a cross for several hours, moving his lips in constant prayer. St Honoratus of Vercelli was there, resting in another room, when he seemed to hear a voice crying three times to him, “Arise! Make haste! He is going”. He went down and gave him the Body of the Lord, and soon after St Ambrose was dead. It was Good Friday, April 4, 397, and he was about fifty-seven years old. He was buried on Easter day, and his relics rest under the high altar of his basilica, where they were buried in 835.

The day of his feast is the anniversary of his episcopal consecration, on which date it is also kept in the Eastern church;
and he is named daily in the canon of the Mass of the Milanese province.

Two highly important works dealing with the life and writings of St Ambrose are the book of J. R. Palanque, Saint Ambroise et l’Empire romain (1933), regarding which consult the review by Fr Halkin in the Analecta Bollandiana, vol. lii (1934), pp. 395—405; and an Anglican biography by Canon F. Homes Dudden, The Life and Times of St Ambrose (1835) in two volumes. Both these works discuss the career of the saint from many points of view and with a competent knowledge both of the sources and of modern contributions to the subject. The main sources are the holy doctor’s own writings and the life by Paulinus; but there is, of course, much material to be gleaned from St Augustine and other contem­poraries, as well as from what Fr Van Ortroy has called “les vies grecques de S. Ambroise” his important essay forms part of a valuable collection of studies published in 1897 to do honour to the fifteenth centenary of the death of the saint. Here, under the name Ambrosiana, we have contributions from many scholars, including one from Dr Achille Ratti (later Pope Pius XI) and others from Marucchi, Savio, Schenkl, Mocquereau, etc. See further R. Wirtz, Ambrosius und seine Zeit (1924); M. R. McGuire in Catholic Historical Review, vol. xxii (1936), pp. 304—318 W. Wilbrand in Historisches Jahrbuch, vol. xli (1921), pp. 1—19; L. T. Lefort in Le Muséon, vol. xlviii (1935), pp. 55-73; Fliche et Martin, Histoire de l’Eglise, vol. iii (1936), etc. A short Life of St Ambrose (Eng. trans.) by the Duc de Brogue, in the series “Les Saints”, though not in all respects up to date, gives a good impression of the saint and his times. A fuller bibliography may be found in Palanque and Dudden as well as in the last edition of Bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur, vol. iii. The contemporary life of St Ambrose by the deacon Paulinus is trans­lated by F. R. Hoare in The Western Fathers (1954).

One of Ambrose’s biographers observed that at the Last Judgment people would still be divided between those who admired Ambrose and those who heartily disliked him. He emerges as the man of action who cut a furrow through the lives of his contemporaries. Even royal personages were numbered among those who were to suffer crushing divine punishments for standing in Ambrose’s way.  When the Empress Justina attempted to wrest two basilicas from Ambrose’s Catholics and give them to the Arians, he dared the eunuchs of the court to execute him. His own people rallied behind him in the face of imperial troops. In the midst of riots he both spurred and calmed his people with bewitching new hymns set to exciting Eastern melodies.

In his disputes with the Emperor Auxentius, he coined the principle: “The emperor is in the Church, not above the Church.” He publicly admonished Emperor Theodosius for the massacre of 7,000 innocent people. The emperor did public penance for his crime. This was Ambrose, the fighter, sent to Milan as Roman governor and chosen while yet a catechumen to be the people’s bishop.
There is yet another side of Ambrose—one which influenced Augustine, whom Ambrose converted. Ambrose was a passionate little man with a high forehead, a long melancholy face and great eyes. We can picture him as a frail figure clasping the codex of sacred Scripture. This was the Ambrose of aristocratic heritage and learning.


   Augustine found the oratory of Ambrose less soothing and entertaining but far more learned than that of other contemporaries. Ambrose’s sermons were often modeled on Cicero and his ideas betrayed the influence of contemporary thinkers and philosophers. He had no scruples in borrowing at length from pagan authors. He gloried in the pulpit in his ability to parade his spoils—“gold of the Egyptians”—taken over from the pagan philosophers.
  His sermons, his writings and his personal life reveal him as an otherworldly man involved in the great issues of his day. Humanity, for Ambrose, was, above all, spirit. In order to think rightly of God and the human soul, the closest thing to God, no material reality at all was to be dwelt upon. He was an enthusiastic champion of consecrated virginity.

   The influence of Ambrose on Augustine will always be open for discussion. The Confessions reveal some manly, brusque encounters between Ambrose and Augustine, but there can be no doubt of Augustine’s profound esteem for the learned bishop. Neither is there any doubt that Monica loved Ambrose as an angel of God who uprooted her son from his former ways and led him to his convictions about Christ. It was Ambrose, after all, who placed his hands on the shoulders of the naked Augustine as he descended into the baptismal fountain to put on Christ.

Comment:  Ambrose exemplifies for us the truly catholic character of Christianity. He is a man steeped in the learning, law and culture of the ancients and of his contemporaries. Yet, in the midst of active involvement in this world, this thought runs through Ambrose’s life and preaching: The hidden meaning of the Scriptures calls our spirit to rise to another world
.

Quote:  “Women and men are not mistaken when they regard themselves as superior to mere bodily creatures and as more than mere particles of nature or nameless units in modern society. For by their power to know themselves in the depths of their being they rise above the entire universe of mere objects.... Endowed with wisdom, women and men are led through visible realities to those which are invisible” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 14–15, Austin Flannery translation).

Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, was born in the year 340 into the family of the Roman prefect of Gaul (now France). Even in the saint's childhood there appeared presentiments of his great future. Once, bees covered the face of the sleeping infant. They flew in and out of his mouth, leaving honey on his tongue. Soon they flew away so high that they could no longer be seen. Ambrose's father said that the child would become something great when he reached manhood.

After the death of the father of the family, Ambrose journeyed to Rome, where the future saint and his brother Satyrius received an excellent education. About the year 370, upon completion of his course of study, Ambrose was appointed to the position of governor (consular prefect) of the districts of Liguria and Aemilia, though he continued to live at Mediolanum (now Milan).

In the year 374 Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Mediolanum, died. This led to complications between the Orthodox and the Arians, since each side wanted to have its own bishop. Ambrose, as the chief city official, went to the church to resolve the dispute.

While he was speaking to the crowd, suddenly a child cried out,"Ambrose for bishop!" The people took up this chant. Ambrose, who at this time was still a catechumen, considered himself unworthy, and tried to refuse. He disparaged himself, and even tried to flee from Mediolanum. The matter went ultimately before the emperor Valentinian the Elder (364-375), whose orders Ambrose dared not disobey. He accepted holy Baptism from an Orthodox priest and, passing through all the ranks of the Church clergy in just seven days, on December 7, 374 he was consecrated Bishop of Mediolanum. He dispersed all his possessions, money and property for the adornment of churches, the upkeep of orphans and the poor, and he devoted himself to a strict ascetic life.

Ambrose combined strict temperance, intense vigilance and work within the fulfilling of his duties as archpastor. St Ambrose, defending the unity of the Church, energetically opposed the spread of heresy. Thus, in the year 379 he traveled off to establish an Orthodox bishop at Sirmium, and in 385-386 he refused to hand over the basilica of Mediolanum to the Arians.

The preaching of St Ambrose in defense of Orthodoxy was deeply influential. Another noted Father of the Western Church, St Augustine (June 15), bore witness to this, having accepted holy Baptism in the year 387 by the grace of the preaching of the bishop of Mediolanum.

St Ambrose also actively participated in civil matters. Thus, the emperor Gracian (375-383), having received from him the "Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" (De Fide), removed, by decree of the saint, the altar of Victory from the halls of the Senate at Rome, on which oaths were wont to be taken. Displaying a pastoral boldness, St Ambrose placed a severe penance on the emperor Theodosius I (379-395) for the massacre of innocent inhabitants of Thessalonica. For him there was no difference between emperor and commoner. Though he released Theodosius from the penance, the saint would not permit the emperor to commune at the altar, but compelled him to do public penance.

The fame of Bishop Ambrose and his actions attracted to him many followers from other lands. From faraway Persia learned men came to him to ask him questions and absorb his wisdom. Fritigelda (Frigitil), queen of the military Germanic tribe of the Markomanni, which often had attacked Mediolanum, asked the saint to instruct her in the Christian Faith. The saint in his letter to her persuasively stated the dogmas of the Church. And having become a believer, the queen converted her own husband to Christianity and persuaded him to conclude a treaty of peace with the Roman Empire.

The saint combined strictness with an uncommon kindliness. Granted a gift of wonderworking, he healed many from sickness. One time at Florence, while staying at the house of Decentus, he resurrected a dead boy.

The repose of St Ambrose, who departed to the Lord on the night of Holy Pascha, was accompanied by many miracles. He even appeared in a vision to the children being baptized that night. The saint was buried in the Ambrosian basilica in Mediolanum, beneath the altar, between the Martyrs Protasius and Gervasius (October 14).

A zealous preacher and valiant defender of the Christian Faith, St Ambrose received particular renown as a Church writer. In dogmatic compositions he set forth the Orthodox teaching about the Holy Trinity, the Sacraments, and Repentance: "Five Books on the Faith" (De Fide); "Explication of the Symbol of the Faith" (Explanatio Symboli); "On the Incarnation" (De Incarnationis); "Three Books on the Holy Spirit" (De Spiritu Sancto); "On the Sacraments" (De Sacramento); "Two Books on Repentance" (De Paenitentia). In writings about Christian morality, he explained the excellence of Christian moral teaching compared to pagan moral teaching.
A well-known work of St Ambrose, "On the Duties of the Clergy" (De Officiis Ministrorum) evidences his deep awareness of pastoral duty. He stresses that those who serve in the Church should have not only the proper knowledge of Church services, but also the proper knowledge of moral precepts.
St Ambrose was also a reformer of Church singing. He introduced antiphonal singing (along the Eastern or Syrian form) into the Western Church, which became known as "Ambrosian Chant." He also composed twelve hymns which were used during his lifetime. The hymn, "Thee, O God, we praise" (Te Deum), attributed to St Ambrose, entered into the divine services of the Orthodox Church (Molieben).

Ambrose of Milan B Doctor (RM) Born in Trier, Germany, c. 340; died in Milan 397.

To me St. Ambrose is a fascinating character. He seems to be a magnet drawing all the saints of his time to himself. He must have been quite a character: holy, erudite, and humorous. I've read so much about him over the years in the lives of other saints that I could write his biography from memory. But I'll let others do the talking.

St. Ambrose was largely responsible for the rise of Christianity in the West as the Roman Empire declined, and he was a courageous and untiring defender of the independence of the Church from the state.
The Times

A major influence during this period was the gradual infiltration of barbarians into the Roman Empire, culminating in definite attacks upon the heart of the empire and a gradual amalgamation of the Teutonic invaders with the Greco-Roman population. The governance of the empire had moved from Rome to Constantinople, named after the first Christian emperor. Rome still had some prestige as the regional center of government, but even the Western emperor normally had his abode in Milan or Ravenna.

The power of the Church was not yet consolidated. Recognition by Constantine in the Edict of Milan meant the end of systematic persecutions of Christians (except for sporadic local outbreaks), but paganism was still alive, even in the Imperial Court under Julian the Apostate. Nevertheless, there were locations within the empire where Christians were in the majority but they were divided among themselves--not just the rivalry of East versus West, but the orthodox versus the heterodox. Arianism was still strong and other heresies continued to arise. The situation was even more difficult because the Goths were evangelized primarily by the Arians.

The increasing worldliness incorporated into the hierarchy of the Church and into the more elaborate liturgies, sparked a new form of asceticism--monasticism--which was just beginning to take hold in the Western Church.
Early Life of Ambrose

This is the world into which St. Ambrose was born in Trier (Treves) about 339-40, not long after the first ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325. His father Ambrose, a civil servant, was the praetorian prefect (governor) of Gaul. His command included Spain, the Netherlands, and Britain. Ambrose had one brother, Satyrus, and a sister, Marcellina, who became a nun in 353, though she continued to live as a religious at home (there were few regular convents).
Ambrose was not baptized as a child because Christians still regarded any sin after baptism with such horror that the sacrament was postponed as long as possible. There was, however, a service of exhortation and benediction in which salt and the Sign of the Cross were employed in order to claim the child for God, and to withdraw him from the dominance of the powers of evil.
All we have of Ambrose's childhood is a legendary tale that a swarm of bees settled on his mouth as a prophecy that he would be gifted with eloquence. Upon the death of his father while Ambrose was still young, the family moved back to Rome. The brothers were tutored by a Roman priest named Simplician, whom the boys loved (he later succeeded Ambrose as bishop of Milan). Their education ended in the study of law.

Early Career
The two brothers began practicing law in the court of the prefect of Italy. Their oratory and learning seem to have attracted the notice of Ancius Probus, the prefect of Italy. Ambrose was particularly marked for the fast-track. When Ambrose was little more than 30 (c. 372), Emperor Valentinian appointed him 'consular' or governor of Aemilia and Liguria, whose capital was Milan, the administrative center of the imperial government in the West since the beginning of the 4th century. He filled this position with great ability and justice.

Election as Bishop
The Arian Bishop Auxentius of Milan, who banned Catholic congregations from worshipping in the diocese's churches, died in 374, and the Arians and Catholics fought over the vacant position which exercised a metropolitan's jurisdiction over the whole of northern Italy. Ambrose had only been in Milan for three years at the time of the bishop's death and he expected that there might be trouble over the selection of his successor.
So, Ambrose, who was a Catholic in name but still a catechumen, went to the cathedral to try to calm the rival parties. During his speech exhorting the people to concord and tranquility, a child is said to have cried, "Ambrose for bishop!" The cry was taken up by both sides, neither of which was anxious to decide the issue between them. The local bishops had asked Emperor Valentinian to make the appointment but he turned the dubious honor back to the bishops. Now the matter was out of their hands. Ambrose was unanimously elected bishop by all parties.
The election of Ambrose, the one in charge of the local police, heightens our awareness of a truism: all clergy are recruited from the laity. It is better to choose an irreproachable person esteemed by all, than a savant who sows discord. The choice of Ambrose was a bold one, but it surprises no one but us.
Our attitudes towards vocations seems different than that in the early church. We today see a vocation as the story of a soul-- discernment of the vocation privately, preparation in a seminary, and gradual growth into the clerical role. For the early Church it was above all the call of God expressed by the Church. To our taste, the secret history of Ambrose's soul did not count enough. But we forget that it is the Holy Spirit through the Church that calls.
What did Ambrose think of this call? At first he protested (just like the prophets) saying he was not even baptized, and fled rather than yield to the tumult. St. Paulinus of Nola wrote of the incident:
"Ambrose left the church and had his tribunal prepared. . . . Contrary to his custom, he ordered people submitted to torture. When this was done the people did not acclaim him any the less [saying]: 'May his sin fall on us!' The people of Milan, knowing that Ambrose had not been baptized, sincerely promised him a remission of all his sins by the grace of baptism.  "Troubled, Ambrose returned to his house. . . . Openly he had prostitutes come in for the sole purpose, of course, that once the people saw that, they would go back on their decision. But the crowd only cried all the louder: 'May your sin fall on us'" (Paulinus, Life of Ambrose, 7).
   The people, however, continually pursued him and insisted that he take the see. The emperor confirmed the nomination and Ambrose capitulated. Beginning on November 24, 373, Ambrose was taken through baptism and the various orders to be consecrated as bishop on December 1 or 7--one or two weeks later. (Talk about fast track!) (The dates vary somewhat depending on the source.)

As Bishop
   Quite consciously Ambrose set out to be an exemplary bishop, in spite of the daunting divisions within his see, his own delicate constitution, and lack of preparation. He was a slight figure with a beard and moustache, but with the natural grace of one who had been born in a palace and who could handle authority. (An early 5th century portrait in a church he founded shows him as a short man with a long face, long nose, high forehead, brown hair, thick lips, and a left eyebrow higher than his right.) His natural dignity was soon ignited by enthusiasm to correct wrongs (such as high taxation, corrupt officials, venality in the law courts, and Arians in the imperial court).
On his election he dedicated himself to an austere life and the in- depth study of the Church Fathers and Scriptures under the direction of his former tutor Father Simplician--essentially doing his seminary work after his consecration.
Following his election his life was one of poverty and humility. He gave away all his acquired property. His inherited possessions he gave into the charge of his brother Satyrus, who had resigned his own governorship. Ambrose was a man of charity. He even sold church property in order to buy back captives taken in wars. He distinguished himself in defense of the oppressed, and there is a strikingly modern note in his objection to capital punishment.
This left Ambrose free to follow the life he considered appropriate to the clergy: prayer seven times daily, regular fasts (although the Church of Milan followed the Eastern rule with regard to Saturday and did not, as the Romans did, keep it as a fast), and no food until dinner. He gave daily audiences to any who wished to consult him, then occupied himself with reading and writing. His favorite writers were Philo, Origen, and Basil. He was a Greek scholar and read most of the Greek Fathers (but seems unfamiliar with the Latin Fathers such as Tertullian and Justin Martyr). He also read heretical works in order to refute them.
We think of a bishop in terms of ceremony, administration, and leadership, when it should mean pastoral vigilance, care for all, teaching of the Gospel, and performance of the liturgy. As bishop, Ambrose felt he was primarily responsible for the instruction of catechumens, and would himself hear confessions before he actually administered Baptism.
Whenever Ambrose baptized new Christians, Ambrose always washed their feet, even though he knew this was not the usual Roman custom.
As a metropolitan, Ambrose had to occasionally summon councils to deal with appeals from the various dioceses and set the date for the observance of Easter. He also had to preside at the election and consecration of bishops.

Episcopal duties at this time are well summed up by Chateaubriand,
"There could be nothing more complete or better filled than a life of the prelates of the fourth and fifth centuries. A bishop baptized, absolved, preached, arranged private and public penances, hurled anathemas or raised excommunications, visited the sick, attended the dying, buried the dead, redeemed captives, nourished the poor, widows, and orphans, founded almshouses and hospitals, ministered to the needs of his clergy, pronounced as a civil judge in individual cases, and acted as arbitrator in differences between cities. He published at the same time treatises on morals, on discipline, on theology. He wrote against heresiarchs and against philosophers, busied himself with science and history, directed letters to individuals who consulted him in one or other of the rival religions; corresponded with churches and bishops, monks, and hermits; sat at councils and synods; was summoned to the audience of Emperors, was charged with negotiations, and was sent as ambassador to usurpers or to Barbarian princes to disarm them or keep them within bounds. The three powers, religious, political, and philosophical were all concentrated in the bishop."

Church vs. State and Church vs. Error
Ambrose was an admired preacher and became an articulate opponent of Arianism, the view that the Word of God was a created being and, therefore, not eternal. While Arianism was almost stamped out in Italy, two problems remained: The Goths had been evangelized by the Arian bishop Ulfilas, and the Empress Justina, second wife of Valentinian I and mother of Valentinian II was an Arian.

Ambrose stood up to the Empress-Regent. He refused to give one of his churches to the Arian heretics, in spite of her telling him that he must do so (when religion was a civic duty in the Roman Empire all temples were at the disposal of the emperor). Ambrose's own description of the events are telling:

"First of all some great men, counsellors of state begged me to give up the basilica, and to manage that the people should make no disturbance. I replied, of course, that the temple of God could not be surrendered by a bishop.
"On the following day this answer was approved by the people in the church; and the Prefect was there and began to persuade us to give up at least the Portian basilica (the old one), but the people clamored against it. He then went away implying that he should report to the Emperor.
"The day after, which was Sunday, after the lesson and the sermon, when the catechumens were dismissed, I was teaching the Creed to certain candidates in the baptistery of the basilica. There it was reported to me that they had sent decani from the palace, and were putting up hangings, and that part of the people were going there. I, however, remained at my ministrations and began to celebrate Mass.
"Whilst offering the oblation, I heard that a certain Castalus, who, the Arians said, was a priest, had been seized by the people. Passers-by had come upon him in the streets. I began to weep bitterly, and to implore God in the oblation that He would come to our aid, and that no one's blood be shed in the Church's cause, or at least that it might be my blood shed for the benefit not of my people only, but also for the unbelievers themselves. Not to say more, I sent priests and deacons and rescued the man from violence."

Those who sought to wreck violence were fined by the bishop. Ambrose deprecated violence and counselled passive resistance.
The faithful were advised to occupy the two churches in question. The soldiers threw a cordon around the building, so the people remained inside throughout the night. The protest worked; the court withdrew its soldiers.

The following year Ambrose was persecuted in many ways. An edict proclaimed tolerance of Arian worship. Ambrose was subpoenaed, next the Court claimed the Church's plate, then that he leave Milan; each he refused. He took refuge in the new basilica and spent the time preaching and instructing the congregation in the art of antiphonal singing, using some of his own compositions. Emperor Valerian again capitulated.

The Emperor Gratian was a Catholic and at his request Ambrose wrote De fide to counter Arian arguments. Arian immigrants seized one of the Milan churches in 378, but the next year Gratian ordered the basilica returned to Ambrose and the cessation of all heresies. De fide does not rely on rhetoric, but on the authority of scripture texts. He is aware that these may be variously interpreted, but insists that they must be read in the light of their context.

In 381 the Council of Constantinople convened to again denounce Arianism and its new manifestation--Macedonianism, which applied the Arian principle to the Holy Spirit to interpret Him as a tertiary god. Again at Gratian's insistence, Ambrose wrote a counter-argument entitled De spiritu. The book was effective but earned the severe criticism of Saint Jerome.  In 383, when Gratian was killed in battle by Maximus, Ambrose persuaded Maximus not to attempt to extend his domain into Italy against the new young emperor Valentinian II.
   Ambrose was adamant that the Christian religion should be supported by the empire and worked hard to eradicate paganism. Pagan senators, led by the famous orator Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, wanted the heathen goddess of Victory honored by the return of the statue to the Senate in Rome. A debate was arranged with Ambrose on one side and Augustine, as the local teacher of rhetoric (soon to become a saint) on the other. Ambrose persuaded the Emperor Valentinian II to forbid it.

Ambrose also used his position to ensure that the vacant see of Sirmium, a former Arian stronghold, was filled by a Catholic. He thereby incurred the hatred of the Empress Justina, who was already jealous of his influence over her son.  When the conflict between Catholics and Arians deepened, Maximus invaded Italy despite Ambrose's pleas. Valentinian and Justina fled and sought the aid of Eastern Emperor Theodosius I, who defeated Maximus and had him executed in Pannonia (Hungary) and restored Valentinian to the throne; Theodosius now controlled both Eastern and Western empires.

At Milan, Theodosius convinced Valentinian to denounce Arianism and recognize Ambrose, but himself soon came into conflict with the bishop when Ambrose denounced Theodosius's order to the bishop of Kallinikum, Mesopotamia, to rebuild a Jewish synagogue destroyed by Christians. Theodosius later rescinded the order and himself paid for the reconstruction to prevent the bishop from having to support a non-Christian faith.

Ambrose was strong enough to call the greatest in Christendom to public penance. In 390 A mob at Thessaloniki (Salonica) killed the Roman governor because he had imprisoned their favorite charioteer. In reprisal Emperor Theodosius I invited the people to the circus and there butchered 7,000 of them. Ambrose wrote to the emperor urging him to submit to public penance: "The emperor belongs to the church, but is not its superior."

As a result Theodosius ordered the henceforth capital punishment should not be carried out for 30 days after the sentence had been passed to allow time for calm judgment to prevail. Theodosius did his public penance and was readmitted to communion with the Church at Christmas. This was the turning point between Theodosius and Ambrose and between the Church and the State.

Extant letters show that Ambrose never hesitated to remind the emperor that he owed allegiance to God, just as his military owed obedience to him. Thereafter, the public treasury no longer funded restoration or maintenance of pagan altars. Ambrose also threatened excommunication if the emperor failed to obey. 
Strengthened by Ambrose, in 391 emperor Theodosius forbade all public observances of paganism (which wasn't actually enforced in the West, but led to civil disturbances in the East). The next year the emperor forbade all private observances of paganism. Homes Dudden points out that the Christians endeavored to facilitate the transition by fixing, wherever possible, the dates of Christian festivals to coincide with those of the old pagan feasts.
The suppression of paganism was effected by Milan, not Rome.

In 393, Valentinian II was murdered in Gaul by Arbogastes, whose envoy, Eugenius, had attempted to restore paganism. Ambrose denounced the murder, and the defeat and execution of Arbogastes at Aquileia by Theodosius finally ended paganism in the empire. When Theodosius died a few months after his victory, it was in the arms of Ambrose, who preached at his funeral.

Other errors arose, including that of Priscillian from Spain. Priscillian preached an extreme asceticism in reaction to the growing worldliness of the Church. Against the protests of Saints Ambrose, Martin of Tours, and Siricius, the State intervened in Church affairs and executed Priscillian and six others. Ambrose excommunicated the Emperor Maximus for his part in the execution.

An opposing heresy arose in Ambrose's own monastery, led by Jovinian, who condemned fasting, the virtues of virginity, and who denied the perpetual virginity of Mary. Jovinian was condemned and excommunicated by Pope St. Siricius in 390. (St. Jerome scurrilously refuted the heresies in Refutation of Jovinian.)

On St. Ambrose of Milan
"Catechesis Is Inseparable From the Testimony of Life"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on St. Ambrose of Milan.
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters:
The saintly Bishop Ambrose, of whom I will speak to you today, died during the night in Milan between April 3-4, 397. It was the dawn of Holy Saturday. The day before, toward 5 p.m., he began to pray as he was lying in bed with his arms open in the form of the cross. That is how he participated in the solemn Easter triduum, in the death and resurrection of Our Lord. "We saw him moving his lips," testified Paulinus, the faithful deacon who was invited by Augustine to write Ambrose's biography entitled "Vita," "but his voice could not be heard."

Suddenly, the situation seemed to come to an end. Honoratus, bishop of Vercelli, who helped Ambrose and who slept upstairs from him, was awakened by a voice that repeated: "Get up, quick! Ambrose is approaching death." Honoratus immediately went downstairs, Paulinus recounted, "and offered the saint the Body of the Lord. After having taken it, Ambrose surrendered his spirit, carrying with him viaticum. Thus, his soul, strengthened by virtue of that food, now enjoys the company of angels" ("Vita," 47).

On that Good Friday of 397, the open arms of the dying Ambrose expressed his mystical participation in the death and resurrection of Our Lord. This was his last catechesis: Without speaking a word, he spoke with the testimony of life.

Ambrose was not old when he died. He was not even 60, for he was born around 340 in Trier, where his father w as prefect of the Gauls. The family was Christian. When his father died, and he was still a boy, his mother brought him to Rome to prepare him for a civil career, giving him a solid rhetorical and juridical education. Around 370, he was sent to govern the provinces of Emilia and Liguria, with headquarters in Milan. It was precisely there where the struggle between orthodox Christians and Arians was seething, especially after the death of Auxentius, the Arian bishop. Ambrose intervened to pacify those of both factions, and his authority was such that, despite the fact that he was nothing more than a simple catechumen, he was acclaimed by the people as bishop of Milan.


Until that moment, Ambrose had been the highest magistrate of the Roman Empire in northern Italy. Highly prepared culturally, but deficient in knowledge of Scriptures, the new bishop began to study them energetically. He learned to study and comment on the Bible from the works of Origen, the undisputed ma ster of the school of Alexandria. In this way, Ambrose brought to the Latin environment the practice of meditating on Scriptures initiated by Origen, beginning the practice of "lectio divina" in the West.

The method of "lectio" soon guided the preaching and writing of Ambrose, which emerged precisely from prayerful listening to the word of God. A famous opening from one Ambrosian catechesis distinctly demonstrates how the holy bishop applied the Old Testament to Christian life: "When we read the histories of the patriarchs and the maxims of Proverbs, we come face to face with morality," the bishop of Milan told his catechumens and neophytes, "in order that, educated by these, you can then accustom yourselves to enter into the life of the fathers and to follow the path of obedience to the divine precepts" ("I misteri," 1,1).

In other words, neophytes and catechumens, in the opinion of the bishop, after having lear ned the art of living morally, could then consider themselves prepared for the great mysteries of Christ. In this way, the preaching of Ambrose, which represents the heart of his prodigious literary work, originates from the reading of sacred books ("The Patriarchs," the historical books, and "Proverbs," the sapiential books), to live in conformity with divine revelation.

It is evident that the personal testimony of the preacher, and the exemplarity of the Christian community, conditions the efficacy of any preaching. From this point of view a passage from St. Augustine's "Confessions" is significant. Augustine had come to Milan as a professor of rhetoric; he was a skeptic, not a Christian. He was looking, but he wasn't able to truly encounter the Christian truth. For the young African rhetorician, skeptical and desperate, it was not the beautiful homilies of Ambrose that converted him -- despite the fact that he appreciated them immensely. R ather, it was the testimony of the bishop and the Church in Milan, which prayed and sang, united as a single body. It was a Church capable of resisting the bullying of the emperor and his mother, who had demanded again the expropriation of a Church building for Arian ceremonies in early 386.

In the building that was to be expropriated, Augustine wrote, "the devout people of Milan stayed put, ready to die with their own bishop." This testimony in the "Confessions" is invaluable, because it shows that something was moving deep within Augustine. He continued, "Despite the fact that we were still spiritually lukewarm, we participated as well in the fervor of the entire population" ("Confessions" 9, 7).

From the life and example of Bishop Ambrose, Augustine learned to believe and to preach. We can refer to a famous sermon of the African, which deserved to be cited many centuries later in No. 25 of the dogmatic constitution &q uot;Dei Verbum": "All the clergy must hold fast to the sacred Scriptures through diligent sacred reading and careful study, especially the priests of Christ and others, such as deacons and catechists who are legitimately active in the ministry of the word. This is to be done so that none of them will become," and here is where Augustine is quoted, "'an empty preacher of the word of God outwardly, who is not a listener to it inwardly.'" He had learned precisely from Ambrose this "to listen inwardly," this diligence in reading sacred Scripture in a prayerful attitude, in order to truly receive it in one's heart, and to assimilate the word of God.

Dear brothers and sisters: I would like to present to you a type of "patristic icon" that, seen in the light of what we have just said, effectively represents the heart of Ambrosian doctrine. In the same book of "Confessions," Augustine recounts his meeting with Ambrose, certain ly a meeting of great importance for the history of the Church. He writes in the text that when he came to see the bishop of Milan, the latter was always surrounded by hordes of people with problems, whom he tried to help. There was always a long line of people waiting to speak to Ambrose, looking for comfort and hope. When Ambrose was not with these people -- and this only happened for short periods of time -- he was either filling his body with the food necessary to live, or filling his spirit with reading. In this respect Augustine praises Ambrose, because Ambrose read Scriptures with his mouth closed, and only with his eyes (cf. "Confessions," 6,3).

In the early centuries of Christianity, reading Scripture was thought of strictly in terms of being proclaimed, and reading aloud facilitated understanding, even for the one who was reading it. The fact that Ambrose could read through the pages only with his eyes was for Augustine a singular capacity for readin g and being familiar with Scripture. In this reading -- in which the heart seeks to understand the word of God -- this is the "icon" we are talking about. Here one can see the method of Ambrosian catechesis: Scripture itself, profoundly assimilated, suggests the content of what one must announce in order to achieve conversion of hearts.

Thus, according to the teachings of Ambrose and Augustine, catechesis is inseparable from the testimony of life. The catechist may also avail himself of what I wrote in "Introduction to Christianity" about theologians. Educators of the faith cannot run the risk of looking like some sort of clown, who is simply playing a role. Rather, using an image from Origen, a writer who was particularly appreciated by Ambrose, he should be like the beloved disciple, who rested his head on the Master's heart and there learned how to think, speak and act. In the end, the true disciple is he who proclaims the Gospel in the most credi ble and effective manner.

Like John the Apostle, Bishop Ambrose, who never tired of repeating "Omnia Christus est nobis!" -- Christ is everything for us! -- remained an authentic witness for the Lord. With these same words, full of love for Jesus, we will conclude our catechesis: "Omnia Christus est nobis! If you want to heal a wound, he is the physician; is you burn with fever, he is the fountain; if you are oppressed by iniquity, he is justice; if you need help, he is strength; if you fear death, he is life; if you desire heaven, he is the way; if you are in darkness, he is the light. ... Taste and see how good the Lord is. Blessed is the man who hopes in him!" ("De virginitate," 16,99). We also hope in Christ. In this way we will be blessed and will live in peace.

Literary Works
Above all Ambrose was a Doctor of the Church and a pastor of his people. His thinking was not original but he successfully synthesized the thoughts of others after having read extensively from the beginning of his episcopate. As a Greek scholar he interpreted Eastern theologians for the West, a work that was much needed.

He wrote extensively on the Bible, theology, and asceticism, and he wrote numerous homilies and psalms. As befitted a bishop, his teaching was more by his sermons than his writings. His discourses were very practical. His writings on doctrinal subjects include 'catechism lessons' (De mysteriis) to the newly baptized on baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist.

His greatest claim to originality is in the field of music and poetry, not theology. Until that time the music of the Church had been in the hands of the professional chanters who would sing the Psalms in a very slightly inflected recitative, the congregation merely singing an occasional refrain. As stated previously, Ambrose taught his people the art of antiphonal chanting, thus introducing congregational singing. St. Augustine tells in his Confessions how deeply the charm of this novel method had moved him when attending services in Milan, even stirring him to tears.

Ambrose also taught his congregation to sing his original hymns. Next to Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose is the first of the great Latin hymn writers. They were set in what is now known as the Ambrosian meter. The poems were divided into four-line stanzas, each line limited to eight syllables arranged in iambic dimetre. Four extant hymns seem certain to have come from him: "Framer of the earth and sky," "Maker of all things God most high," "O come Redeemer of mankind appear," and "Now the third hour cometh."

All sources note that Ambrose is not the composer of the Te Deum, as had been thought for some time. However, there is a growing belief that he did compose the Athanasian Creed.  Among his best known works are De officiis ministrorum, a treatise on Christian ethics especially directed to the clergy; De virginibus, written for his sister St. Marcellina; and De fide, written against the Arians for Gratian.

In the realm of theology, his main contribution comes with his description of the character of the Church and the nature of the Sacraments. According to his view, man fell from grace at the Fall and the results of that Fall are communicated to each individual at his conception. The effect must be counter-balanced by grace which is communicated in the Sacraments, but can only be effected by faith. Faith itself is so effective that it can in some cases, such as those of the martyrs and confessors, even take the place of the Sacraments, and it can above all make possible a mystical union between Christ and the believer. Thus in two respects, in the emphasis on the ruin brought by sin and upon a personal union with Christ, Ambrose influenced Augustine and through him the whole future theology of the Western Church.

In his charting of individual eschatology, Ambrose opened the way for Gregory the Great. He laid great emphasis on the terror of the Last Judgement. He believed in an eternity of graduated bliss or punishment in various departments of purgatory. Although he did not claim that anything we could do for the dead would affect their future destiny, yet he held that prayers and Masses for the faithful departed might ease their situation before the final goal was reached.

Ambrose seems to have accepted the idea of a double standard: one for those seeking perfection and another for those still living in the world, i.e., extreme asceticism is not for everyone.

Personal Influence
Ambrose came to be known as the "Hammer of Arianism." Although he fought paganism, he did not refuse to dine with them. He was thought of with great affection by those who came into contact with him.
Ambrose was a close friend of St. Monica, and it was he who finally showed the still doubting St. Augustine that a person of intelligence could find the Christian faith totally satisfying when Augustine moved to Milan in 386 to fill the vacant university chair in rhetoric. Ambrose brought Augustine back to his faith and baptized him in the autumn of 387, answering a mother's many years' of prayers.
Augustine describes Ambrose a sympathetic, seductive, and enticing others to live the life of Christ.
He also welcomed Saint Paulinus of Nola and his wife Teresa, though most had spurned Paulinus because he had been ordained and consecrated while still being married-- contrary to the discipline then in force.

Ambrose died on Easter Eve--April 4, 397, after a 23-year episcopate. It has been said that his chief importance was that he turned the Church into an instrument for the criticism and correction of the State, and that he was the first bishop to be used by the State in peace negotiations (Attwater, Bentley, Delaney, Dudden, Encyclopedia, Paredi, Wand, White).

Art and Patronage
In art St. Ambrose is portrayed as a bishop with a beehive (bees in iconography indicated a 'honeyed' tongue, someone with the gift of eloquent speech), and book. Sometimes the image includes (1) a scourge (often knotted with three thongs to symbolize the Trinitarian doctrines); (2) the saint standing on an armed man; (3) a child by him acclaiming him bishop (easily confused with Augustine or Hilary of Poitiers); (4) Ambrose writing in his study with the bull of St. Luke or a statue of the Virgin near; (5) SS Gregory, Jerome and Augustine ; or (6) Ambrose refusing Caesar admittance to Milan Cathedral (Roeder).

Patron of the French Army Commissariat (who are responsible for administration and procurement), bishops, beekeepers, bakers of honeybread, domestic animals, geese, and wax refiners (Roeder, White).
484 St. Servus executed by Arian Vandals then masters of Africa.
Tubúrbi, in Africa, sancti Servi Mártyris, qui, in persecutióne Wandálica, sub Ariáno Rege Hunneríco, fústibus diutíssime cæsus, tróchleis frequénter in sublíme elevátus atque ictu céleri super sílices póndere córporis dimíssus, et lapídibus acutíssimis perfricátus, martyrii palmam adéptus est.
    At Tuburbum in Africa, during the persecution of the Vandals, under the Arian king Hunneric, St. Servus, martyr, who, being for a very long time beaten with rods, lifted up on high with pulleys, and suddenly dropped on flint-stones with his whole weight, and rubbed over with sharp stones, obtained the palm of martyrdom.

African martyr. A nobleman, he was tortured and then executed for being an orthodox Christian by the Arian Vandals who were then masters of Africa.
1208 Saint Philothea (Philofthea) of Argesh adorned with the virtues of prayer, virginity, and almsgiving accidently killed; Many people have been healed at the tomb of St Philothea 12 yrs old
born in Trnovo, the old capital of Bulgaria, around 1206. Her father was a farmer, and her mother was from Wallachia. She died when Philothea was still a child, and her father remarried.

The child was often punished by her stepmother, who accused her of being disobedient, and of giving their possesions away to the poor. Her father chastised her for this, but Philothea continued to attend church services and to do good to others, just as her mother had taught her. As she grew older, she was adorned with the virtues of prayer, virginity, and almsgiving.

St Philothea used to bring food to her father, who was out working in the fields. Not all of the food reached him, however, because the girl would give some of it to the poor children begging in the street. When he complained to his wife that she did not prepare enough food for him, she replied, "I send you plenty of food. Ask your daughter what she does with it."

Becoming angry with Philothea, her father decided to spy on her to see what happened to the food. From a place of concealment, he saw her giving food to the poor children who came to her. In a violent rage, he took the axe from his belt and threw it at the twelve-year-old girl, hitting her in the leg. The wound was mortal, and she soon gave her pure soul into God's hands.
The man was filled with fear and remorse, and tried to lift his daughter's body from the ground, but it became as heavy as a rock. Then the wretch ran to the Archbishop of Trnovo to confess his sin and explain what had happened. The Archbishop and his clergy went with candles and incense to take up the martyr's body and bring it to the cathedral, but even they were unable to lift it.
The Archbishop realized that St Philothea did not wish to remain in her native land, so he began to name various monasteries, churches, and cathedrals to see where she wished to go. Not until he named the Monastery of Curtea de Argesh in Romania were they able to lift her holy relics and place them in a coffin. The Archbishop wrote to the Romanian Voievode Radu Negru, asking him to accept the saint's relics.  The Archbishop and his clergy carried the holy relics in procession as far as the Danube, where they were met by Romanian clergy, monastics, and the faithful. Then they were carried to the Curtea de Argesh Monastery.
Many people have been healed at the tomb of St Philothea in a small chapel in the belltower behind the monastery church, and those who entreat her intercession receive help from her. Each year on December 7 there is a festal pilgrimage to the Monastery, and people come from all over Romania. The relics of St Philothea are carried around the courtyard in procession, and there are prayers for the sick.
The holy Virgin Martyr Philothea is venerated in Romania, Bulgaria, and throughout the Orthodox world.
1134 Urban, Bishop of Llandaff first bishop of South East Wales.
Urban (1076-1134) was the first bishop of South East Wales to call himself 'bishop of Llandaff'. He was of a Welsh clerical family and his baptismal name in the Welsh language is given in charter sources as Gwrgan. He Latinised it to the papal name 'Urban'. 

Early Career
Urban came from one of the dominant Anglo-Welsh clerical dynasties of what was called in the eleventh century the diocese of Glamorgan. Two of his brothers are known: one called Caradoc the priest and the other, Gwrgan of Llancarfan. This would indicate that his family origins derived from the important clerical community of Llancarfan. The petition of the 'clergy and people' of Glamorgan in support of his election as bishop says that he had been consecrated priest in the English diocese of Worcester. This more than hints that Urban, as with several other known clerics from the southern Welsh dioceses, had been sent to England to be educated. He was already a leading cleric under his Anglo-Welsh predecessor, Bishop Herewald (1056-1104), occupying the office of archdeacon of Llandaff. At the time of his election as bishop in 1107 he was said to be thirty-one years of age, which if true would give a date of birth of 1076.

Inventing the Diocese of Llandaff
Urban was consecrated bishop 'of the church of Glamorgan which is to be found in Wales' on 11 August 1107 by Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury, making a profession of obedience to the archbishop at Canterbury. The contemporary chroniclers Eadmer and William of Malmesbury likewise call him bishop of Glamorgan. But between 1115 and 1119 Urban re-invented his diocese, taking the title of 'bishop of Llandaff' settling his see on the clerical community beside the river Taff, some miles north of the castle of Cardiff, the centre of political power in Glamorgan. Urban made great efforts to increase the prestige of Llandaff. With the permission of Gruffudd ap Cynan, king of Gwynedd, he translated the relics of St Dyfrig from Bardsey Island and reburied them at Llandaff. In April 1120, he began the reconstruction of the small church of the Llandaff community as a substantial Romanesque cathedral church, some impressive work from which still survives in the modern fabric. By that time Urban was at work on his master-plan, the compilation of a dossier of documents by which he could pursue some major territorial claims against the neighbouring dioceses.

Bishop Urban and the Book of Llandaff
Urban's principal monument is the dossier he created to sustain the great cause he began in 1119 against the neighbouring dioceses of Hereford and St Davids. He used as his primary source a large cache of early diplomas and charters relating to the episcopal communities of south east Wales, some dating back to the sub-Roman period. He or his clerks deliberately edited these to present a fictitious continuity of bishops of Llandaff from the sixth century onwards, back to the times of St Teilo, the original patron of the Llandaff community. Copied into the dossier were Lives of the Welsh saints associated with Llandaff (Teilo, Euddogwy and Dyfrig) which Urban commissioned. The Lives present the bishops of Llandaff as presiding as metropolitans over the other Welsh bishops. Authorship of the 'Book of Llandaff' has been attributed to several men. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Urban himself or the hagiographer, Caradoc of Llancarfan, have all been suggested, but the evidence for each can only be circumstantial.

The Appeal to Rome
The most remarkable and long-lasting legacy of Bishop Urban's career was the epic case he pursued at Rome against the neighbouring dioceses of St Davids and Hereford. The first complaints against St Davids had been made before the death of Bishop Wilfrid of St Davids (1115). It may have been that which inspired the collection of documents copied into the Book of Llandaff. The wider case opened at the Council of Reims in 1119 when Urban presented a petition to Pope Calixtus II, where he asserted the primacy of Llandaff over other Welsh dioceses, the persecution of his church by Welsh and Norman magnates and the depredations on his jurisdiction by neighbouring bishops. Urban received protections from the pope and the extent of his claims were registered. Papal letters were issued to King Henry I, Ralph archbishop of Canterbury and the clergy and barons of the diocese in Urban's support. In 1125 John of Crema, the papal legate, summoned the disputing parties to London to hear the case. The case was finally referred to Rome in 1127, and Urban travelled there in April 1128. Pope Honorius II decided provisionally in Urban's favour awarding substantial swathes of territory in Herefordshire and Deheubarth to Llandaff diocese. The archbishop of Canterbury's part in the affair was criticised by the curia. A further hearing at Rome in February 1129 heard the evidence of Welsh clergy and witnesses Urban had brought with him. Since the other parties did not appear, the case went to Urban by default. This brought the bishop of St Davids to Rome in 1130 to appeal against the decision. Urban's claims were increasingly obstructed both at the royal court and Canterbury. He found Pope Innocent II less helpful than his predecessors, when he met him at St-Quentin in 1131. In 1132, the pope referred the case to the archbishops of the Anglo-Norman realm for settlement, though reserving the final judgement to himself. Urban fought the case through several hearings in England in 1132 and 1133, and ultimately lost. Ill and aged now, Urban made a final journey to Rome, where he died early in October 1134. Though he lost, Urban's ambitions and energy radically changed the nature of the relationship between the papal curia and the church in England. Following Urban's epic legal battle, an increasing number of litigants appealed to Rome from decisions taken in English provincial courts.
1405 St Gregory of Mount Athos born in Serbia pursued asceticism on Mt Athos.
He built and dedicated the monastery of St Nicholas, which was later renamed Grigoriou in his honor.

In the records of Mt Athos the saint's signature dating from 1405 was discovered. According to Tradition, the relics of St Gregory were taken from Athos by Serbian monks.

1554 Saint Nilus of Stolobnoye strict ascetic life; incessant struggle against snares of the devil-- took on the appearance of reptiles and wild beasts; miracles
Born into a peasant family in a small village of the Novgorod diocese. In the year 1505 he was tonsured at the monastery of St Sava of Krypetsk (August 28) near Pskov. After ten years in ascetic life at the monastery he set out to the River Sereml, on the side of the city of Ostashkova; here for thirteen years he led a strict ascetic life in incessant struggle against the snares of the devil, who took on the appearance of reptiles and wild beasts. Many of the inhabitants of the surrounding area started coming to the monk for instruction, but this became burdensome for him and he prayed God to show him a place for deeds of quietude. Once, after long prayer he heard a voice saying, "Nilus! Go to Lake Seliger. There upon the island of Stolobnoye you can be saved!" St Nilus learned the location of this island from people who visited him. When he arrived there, he was astonished by its beauty.

The island, in the middle of the lake, was covered over by dense forest. St Nilus found a small hill and dug out a cave, and after a while he built a hut, in which he lived for twenty-six years. To his exploits of strict fasting and stillness [ie. hesychia] he added another - he never lay down to sleep, but permitted himself only a light nap, leaning on a prop set into the wall of the cell.


The pious life of the monk frequently roused the envy of the Enemy of mankind, which evidenced itself through the spiteful action of the local inhabitants. One time someone set fire to the woods on the island where stood the saint's hut, but the flames went out in miraculous manner upon reaching the hill. Another time robbers forced their way into the hut. The monk said to them: "All my treasure is in the corner of the cell." In this corner stood an icon of the Mother of God, but the robbers began to search there for money and became blinded. Then with tears of repentance they begged for forgiveness.

St Nilus performed many other miracles. He would refuse gifts if the conscience of the one offering it to him was impure, or if they were in bodily impurity.

Aware of his approaching end, St Nilus prepared a grave for himself. At the time of his death, an igumen from one of the nearby monasteries came to the island and communed him with the Holy Mysteries. Before the igumen's departure, St Nilus prayed for the last time, censing around the holy icons and the cell, and surrendered his soul to the Lord on December 7, 1554. The translation of his holy relics (now venerated at the church of the Icon of the Mother of God "Of the Sign" in the city of Ostashkova) took place in the year 1667, with feastdays established both on the day of his death, and on May 27.
1556 Saint Anthony of Siya distributed his goods to the poor and as a wanderer came to the Pachomiev wilderness monastery at the River Kena. St Pachomius tonsured him with the name Anthony
in the world Andrew, was born into a family of rich farmers in the village of Kekhta near the North Dvina river. In childhood he received a fine education, read much and learned iconography. After the death of his parents, Andrew went to Novgorod, and for five years worked for a boyar [nobleman] there. He later married, but his wife died after a year.

Then Andrew decided to devote himself to monasticism. He distributed his goods to the poor and as a wanderer came to the Pachomiev wilderness monastery at the River Kena. St Pachomius tonsured him with the name Anthony. Soon he was ordained a hieromonk, and Anthony, with the blessing of the igumen, celebrated the divine services by himself.

He went out with the other monks of the monastery to work for the monastery's needs. Out of love for solitude St Anthony eventually left the Pachomiev wilderness, after choosing two companions from the monastic brethren, and he settled upon Mikhailov Island, on the one side washed by the River Sii, and on the other, by encircling lakes.

In this harsh frontier within the dense thickets Anthony built a chapel in 1520. But to clear the forest required difficult work, and Anthony's companions began to grumble against him. Then quite unexpectedly an unknown man furnished them with the means of subsistence, offering money for good measure. The Siya monastery became famous, and inhabitants of surrounding villages often visited it. And again St Anthony, taking one disciple, withdrew to a still more remote place on Lake Palun. There, in a solitary cell, he dwelt for three years. When the igumen Theoctistus refused to guide the Siya monastery any longer, the brethren tried to persuade St Anthony to return to them. He finally acceded to the request of the monks, again became igumen and piously guided the monastery until his death in the year 1556, when he was seventy-nine years old.

1888 St. Maria Giuseppe Rossello Foundress Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy

Savónæ, in Ligúria, sanctæ Maríæ Joséphæ Rosséllo, Institúti Filiárum Nostræ Dóminæ a Misericórdia Fundatrícis, quam, caritátis opéribus præcláram, Pius Papa Duodécimus sanctis Virgínibus adnumerávit.
 At Savona in Liguria, St. Maria Giuseppe Rossello, foundress of the Daughters of our Lady of Mercy.  Renowned for her charitable works, Pope Pius XII placed her among the number of holy virgins.
 
1880 St Josepha Rossello, Virgin, Foundress of The Daughters Of Our Lady Of Mercy
It has often been said of wonder-working saints that no miracles of which they were the agents were more remarkable than their own lives. A writer about Sister Mary Josepha Rossello, Dr P. D. Sessa, points out that her life (so far as is known) was not marked by visions, heavenly voices, or other marvels; but there was the no less striking fact that the three sisters with which her congregation began increased in a few years to over a hundred, and that the first little house became the mother of sixty-eight affiliations during her lifetime.
St Josepha was born in 1811 at Albisola Marina, a pleasant little town on the Ligurian coast of Italy. She was the fourth of the nine children of Bartholomew Rossello and his wife Mary Dedone, Bartholomew being a potter by trade, and they named her Benedetta, a choice of good augury. Benedetta was a lively and intelligent child, and Dr Sessa refers to her in her early years as piccola condottiera, “little leader”. But the word condottiere has in history another meaning, “freebooter”, and indeed there seems to have been an element of dashing enterprise, such as one associates with, e.g. Sir John Hawkwood, in Benedetta’s make-up. It was illustrated in her childhood by the incident of the pilgrimage. A visit of the people of Albisola was organized to the shrine of our Lady of Mercy at Savona, and because of the distance all children were left at home. In their parents’ absence Benedetta Rossello got up a pilgrimage of her own among her playmates, both girls and boys; headed by a banner—an apron on a broomstick—they went in procession to pray at the little local sanctuary of our Lady of Mercy. On the way back they sang hymns and, hearing them, the sacristan thought it was the Savona pilgrims returning and gave the signal for the church bells to be rung. So the children’s crusade had a triumphal return, as was only right and proper. Benedetta seems to have been about nine at the time of this performance.
She was always sensitive to the beauty of created things, especially of the sea and at certain times of the day, when it would arouse in her sudden unexpected bursts of gaiety. Naturally then she had a fellow-feeling for St Francis of Assisi, and when she was sixteen she was received into his third order and came under the spiritual guidance of a Capuchin friar, Father Angelo of Savona. For a time she wished to become a solitary, but her director dissuaded her, and when she was nineteen she took service with the Monleone family in Savona. “The hands are made for work, and the heart for God”, she said, and her work for the next seven years was to look after Mr Monleone, who was an invalid. The money she earned she sent home, for her family had got rather badly off. She could have stayed in the comfortable home of the Monleones for the rest of her life, but when her patient died her desire to “leave the world” revived more strongly than ever.
At this time the bishop of Savona was Mgr Augustine de Man; he was very perturbed by the dangers and dissolute life that beset many girls and young women in the city, and wanted to initiate work on their behalf. This came to the ears of Benedetta Rossello. She had already been refused by one convent for lack of a dowry, so she called on the bishop and offered her services. He was impressed by her appearance and manner, and accepted her offer. On August 10, 1837, Benedetta, her cousins Angela and Dominica Pescio, and a fourth, named Pauline Barla, took up their residence in a shabby house called the Commenda in Windy Street at Savona. They called themselves the Daughters of our Lady of Mercy, and Benedetta took the names Mary Josepha. Their endowment was a very little furniture, a straw mattress each on the floor, a sack of potatoes and four shillings and twopence; there was also a crucifix and a statue of our Lady. Their work was to instruct poor girls, especially in the things that pertain to God, and later on to open hostels, schools and hospitals—in fact, to do works of mercy under the inspiration of divine compassion.
The congregation was formally inaugurated in October of the same year. The first canonical superioress was Sister Angela, Sister Josepha being mistress of novices and almoner; in 1840 she was elected to the first place, and remained there for the rest of her life. The community outgrew its first quarters, and moved into a rented mansion that became the motherhouse, the core of the huge group of buildings that forms the casa generalizia in Savona today. One of Mother Josepha’s early trials was the death of the good and generous Mgr de Man, especially as the vicar capitular was hostile to her community; but the new bishop, when he was appointed after considerable delay, proved to be of Mgr de Man’s mind. It was he who approved the rule of the congregation in 1846, when it numbered thirty-five members; it had already, under difficulties, sent out its first colony, to work in the municipal schools and hospital at Varazze. From then on it spread to many other places in northern Italy. Not, of course, without its troubles. Sometimes there was opposition; Mother Josepha’s health broke down, and the bishop had to insist that she should go away for a rest; and there were money difficulties. These last were partly met by two unexpected legacies, one being from Mother Josepha’s old friend and employer, Mrs Monleone.
It had always been a project of Mgr de Man that there should be rescue-homes for young women who had gone astray, and Mother Josepha had not forgotten it. In spite of a discouraging first experiment at Genoa, she eventually succeeded in establishing three such homes, which she called Houses of Divine Providence one of them was in her own birthplace, Albisola, where it was housed in the building that had been the home of Ferdinand Isola, a Franciscan slain out of hatred of the faith by the Turks at Skutari in 1648.

It was said of Mother Josepha that whenever she had five pounds to spare she always wanted to found something new. One of these new enterprises was a House of Clerics to foster and help on vocations to the priesthood. Mother Josepha’s energy and foresight were too much for many of the clergy, who strongly opposed this innovation; but she succeeded in winning over the bishop, Mgr Cerruti. Not only did he allow the House of Clerics to remain open, but also his successor, Mgr Boraggini, actively encouraged it.

Then, in 1875, came the first foundation in America, when a company of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy, with the blessing and recommendation of St. John Bosco, left for Buenos Aires; soon their schools, hospitals, rescue-homes and other works were flourishing in the New World.
The portrait of St Josepha in her later years shows a firmly moulded face, full of energy, but calm, with just a touch of obstinacy—a characteristic type of “Victorian” old lady. In fact, those of the present writer’s generation might well say on seeing it, “She looks like my old grandmother”.

She was one of those saints whose grandeur of soul was joined to a complete simplicity of outlook. The foundress of numerous convents and their charitable establishments was never more herself than when she was sweeping the floors, polishing the tables or doing the washing-up. When she was sixty-four the effects of her unremitting toil began seriously to tell; she developed a weakness of the heart and lost the use of her legs, so that she could only oversee the work of others and no longer take an active part in it herself. This depressed her sadly. “I’m a useless burden”, she said, “always getting in people’s way”. And together with this trial she was visited with a “dark night of the spirit”, beset by numberless scruples and convinced that she was fit only for eternal reprobation. But her faith was equal to her apparent forsakenness. “Cling to Jesus”, she repeated over and over again to her community. “There are God, the soul, eternity; the rest is nothing”. Josepha Rossella went to her reward, peacefully and with humble confidence, on December 7, 1880. She was sixty-nine years old. Her canonization took place in 1949.

A life of St Josepha by Katherine Burton was published privately. Her collaborator Francis Martinengo wrote her life in Italian, and a useful sketch by Dr Piera Delfino Sessa was published at Turin in 1938. As a tertiary of their order, Josepha is included among the Franciscan saints.

She was born at Albisola Marina, Liguria, Italy, in 1811, and was baptized Benedetta. At sixteen she became a Franciscan tertiary, and in 1837, she and three companions, Pauline Barla, Angela, and Domenica Pessio, found a community in Savona. The congregation was devoted to charitable works, hospitals, and educating poor young women. In 1840, Maria Giuseppe, also called Josepha, was made superior. By the time she died on December 7, 1888, she had made sixty-eight foundations. She was canonized in 1949.

 Wednesday  Saints of this Day December  07 Séptimo Idus Decémbris  

Pope Francis  PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR  December 2016
Universal: End to Child-Soldiers.
That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe  That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and
truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.
   `   

God Bless Mother Angelica 1923-2016
ewtnmissionaries.com

On Death and Life
"Man Needs Eternity -- and Every Other Hope, for Him, Is All Too Brief"
Пресвятая Богородице спаси нас!    (Santíssima Mãe de Deus, salva-nos!)
                      
 
                                                                           
     
We are the defenders of true freedom.
  May our witness unveil the deception of the "pro-choice" slogan.
40 days for Life Campaign saves lives Shawn Carney Campaign Director www.40daysforlife.com
Please help save the unborn they are the future for the world

It is a great poverty that a child must die so that you may live as you wish -- Mother Teresa
 Saving babies, healing moms and dads, 'The Gospel of Life'

"Man Needs Eternity -- and Every Other Hope, for Him, Is All Too Brief"
It Makes No Sense Not To Believe In GOD 
Every Christian must be a living book
wherein one can read the teaching of the gospel

Jesus brings us many Blessings
 
The more we pray, the more we wish to pray. Like a fish which at first swims on the surface of the water, and afterwards plunges down, and is always going deeper; the soul plunges, dives, and loses itself in the sweetness of conversing with God. -- St. John Vianney

  Month by Month of Saintly Dedications


The Rosary html Mary Mother of GOD -- Her Rosary Here
Mary Mother of GOD Mary's Divine Motherhood: FEASTS OF OUR LADY
     of the Virgin Mary to those who recite the Rosary

May 9 – Our Lady of the Wood (Italy, 1607) 
Months of Dedication
January is the month of the Holy Name of Jesus since 1902;
March is the month of Saint Joseph since 1855;
May, the month of Mary, is the oldest and most well-known Marian month, officially since 1724;
June is the month of the Sacred Heart since 1873;
July is the month of the Precious Blood since 1850;
August is the month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary;
September is the month of Our Lady of Sorrows since 1857;
October is the month of the Rosary since 1868;
November is the month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory since 1888;
December is the month of the Immaculate Conception.

In all, five months of the year are dedicated to Mary.
The idea of dedicating months came from Rome and promotion of the month of Mary owes much to the Jesuits.  arras.catholique.fr


Pray that the witness of 40 Days for Life bears abundant fruit, and that we begin again each day to storm the gates of hell until God welcomes us into the gates of heaven.

If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Great patience occurs in two ways:
either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid.
Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because when he suffered he did not threaten;
he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth.-- St. Thomas Aquinas


  We begin our day by seeing Christ in the consecrated bread, and throughout the day we continue to see Him in the torn bodies of our poor. We pray, that is, through our work, performing it with Jesus, for Jesus and upon Jesus.
The poor are our prayer. They carry God in them. Prayer means praying everything, praying the work.
We meet the Lord who hungers and thirsts, in the poor.....and the poor could be you or I or any person kind enough to show us his or her love and to come to our place.
Because we cannot see Christ, we cannot express our love to Him in person.
But our neighbor we can see, and we can do for him or her what we would love to do for Jesus if He were visible.
-- Mother Teresa
My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love Thee.  I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not love Thee.  O most Holy trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly.
 I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the Tabernacles of the world,  in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended,
and by the infite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

I beg the conversion of poor sinners,  Amen Fatima Prayer, Angel of Peace
Mary's Divine Motherhood
Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI { 2013 } Catholic Church In China { article here}
1648 to1930 St. Augustine Zhao Rong and 120 Companions Christianity arrived in China by way of Syria -- 600s.
        Depending on China's relations with outside world,
Christianity for centuries was free to grow or forced to operate secretly.

How do I start the Five First Saturdays? 
Called in the Gospel “the Mother of Jesus,” Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the Mother of my Lord” (Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et al.). In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly Mother of God (Theotokos). 
Catechism of the Catholic Church 495, quoting the Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.
“The Blessed Virgin was eternally predestined, in conjunction with the incarnation of the divine Word, to be the Mother of God. By decree of divine Providence, she served on earth as the loving mother of the divine Redeemer, an associate of unique nobility, and the Lord's humble handmaid. She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ.”
The voice of the Father is heard, the Son enters the water, and the Holy Spirit appears in the form of a dove.
   THE spirit and example of the world imperceptibly instil the error into the minds of many that there is a kind of middle way of going to Heaven; and so, because the world does not live up to the gospel, they bring the gospel down to the level of the world. It is not by this example that we are to measure the Christian rule, but words and life of Christ. All His followers are commanded to labour to become perfect even as our heavenly Father is perfect, and to bear His image in our hearts that we may be His children. We are obliged by the gospel to die to ourselves by fighting self-love in our hearts, by the mastery of our passions, by taking on the spirit of our Lord.
   These are the conditions under which Christ makes His promises and numbers us among His children, as is manifest from His words which the apostles have left us in their inspired writings. Here is no distinction made or foreseen between the apostles or clergy or religious and secular persons. The former, indeed, take upon themselves certain stricter obligations, as a means of accomplishing these ends more perfectly; but the law of holiness and of disengagement of the heart from the world is geeral and binds all the followers of Christ.

Join Mary of Nazareth Project help us build the International Marian Center of Nazareth
http://www.worldpriest.com/
THE EUCHARIST, A MYSTERY TO BE BELIEVED POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI
There are over 10,000 named saints beati  from history
 and Roman Martyology Orthodox sources

Miracles by Century 100   200   300   400   500   600   700    800   900   1000    1100   1200   1300   1400  1500  1600  1700  1800   1900  Miracles_BLay Saints
Morning Prayer and Hymn    Meditation of the Day    Prayer for Priests    Our Bartholomew Family Prayer List  Here
We are called upon with the whole Church militant on earth to join in praising and thanking God for the grace and glory he has bestowed on his saints. At the same time we earnestly implore Him to exert His almighty power and mercy in raising us from our miseries and sins, healing the disorders of our souls and leading us by the path of repentance to the company of His saints, to which He has called us.
   They were once what we are now, travellers on earth they had the same weaknesses, which we have. We have difficulties to encounter so had the saints, and many of them far greater than we can meet with; obstacles from kings and whole nations, sometimes from the prisons, racks and swords of persecutors. Yet they surmounted these difficulties, which they made the very means of their virtue and victories. It was by the strength they received from above, not by their own, that they triumphed. But the blood of Christ was shed for us as it was for them and the grace of our Redeemer is not wanting to us; if we fail, the failure is in ourselves.
   THE saints and just, from the beginning of time and throughout the world, who have been made perfect, everlasting monuments of God’s infinite power and clemency, praise His goodness without ceasing; casting their crowns before His throne they give to Him all the glory of their triumphs: “His gifts alone in us He crowns.”
“The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God, as John the theologian and evangelist says: ‘But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God....’ Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men who announced the coming of the Lord. And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and perseverance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns of glory” Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

Called in the Gospel the Mother of Jesus, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as the Mother of my Lord (Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et al.). In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son,  the second person of the Holy Trinity.
Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly Mother of God (Theotokos).
Catechism of the Catholic Church 495, quoting the Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.
Nine First Fridays Devotion to the Sacred Heart ... From the writings of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
On Friday during Holy Communion, He said these words to me, His unworthy slave, if I mistake not:
I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that its all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on nine first Fridays of consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they will not die under my displeasure or without receiving their sacraments, my divine Heart making itself their assured refuge at the last moment.
Margaret Mary was inspired by Christ to establish the Holy Hour and to pray lying prostrate with her face to the ground from eleven till midnight on the eve of the first Friday of each month, to share in the mortal sadness.
He endured when abandoned by His Apostles in His Agony, and to receive holy Communion on the first Friday of every month. In the first great revelation, He made known to her His ardent desire to be loved by men and His design of manifesting His Heart with all Its treasures of love and mercy, of sanctification and salvation.
He appointed the Friday after the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi as the feast of the Sacred Heart; He called her the Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart, and the heiress of all Its treasures. The love of the Sacred Heart was the fire which consumed her, and devotion to the Sacred Heart is the refrain of all her writings. In her last illness she refused all alleviation, repeating frequently: What have I in heaven and what do I desire on earth, but Thee alone, O my God, and died pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus.
With regard to this promise it may be remarked: (1) that our Lord required Communion to be received on a particular day chosen by Him; (2) that the nine Fridays must be consecutive; (3) that they must be made in honor of His Sacred Heart, which means that those who make the nine Fridays must practice the devotion and must have a great love for our Lord; (4) that our Lord does not say that those who make the nine Fridays will be dispensed from any of their obligations or from exercising the vigilance necessary to lead a good life and overcome temptation; rather He implicitly promises abundant graces to those who make the nine Fridays to help them to carry out these obligations and persevere to the end; (5) that perseverance in receiving Holy Communion for nine consecutive First Firdays helps the faithful to acquire the habit of frequent Communion, which our Lord eagerly desires; and (6) that the practice of the nine Fridays is very pleasing to our Lord He promises such great reward, and all Catholics should endeavor to make nine Fridays.
How do I start the Five First Saturdays? by Fr. Tom O'Mahony.
On July 13,1917, Our Lady appeared for the third time to the three children of Fatima an showed them the vision of hell and made the now - famous thirteen prophecies. In this vision Our Lady said that 'GOD WISHES TO ESTABLISH IN THE WORLD DEVOTION to Her Immaculate Heart and that She would come TO ASK FOR THE COMMUNION OF REPARATION ON THE FIRST SATURDAYS...'  Eight years later, on December 10, 1925, Our Lady did indeed come back. She appeared (with the Child Jesus) to Lucia in the convent of the Dorothean Sisters in Pontevedra.
The Child Jesus spoke first:
'HAVE COMPASSION ON THE HEART OF YOUR MOST HOLY MOTHER WHICH IS COVERED WITH THORNS WITH WHICH UNGRATEFUL MEN PIERCE IT AT EVERY MOMENT, WHILE THERE IS NO ONE TO REMOVE THEM WITH AN ACT OF REPARATION.'

THE GREAT PROMISE
Our Lady then said: 'MY DAUGHTER LOOK AT MY HEART SURROUNDED WITH THORNS WITH WHICH UNGRATEFUL MEN PIERCE IT AT EVERY MOMENT BY THEIR BLASPHEMIES AND INGRATITUDE. YOU, AT LEAST, TRY TO CONSOLE ME, AND SAY THAT I PROMISE TO ASSIST AT THE HOUR OF DEATH WITH ALL THE GRACES NECESSARY FOR SALVATION, ALL THOSE WHO, ON THE FIRST SATURDAY OF FIVE CONSECUTIVE MONTHS GO TO CONFESSION AND RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION, RECITE FIVE DECADES OF THE ROSARY AND KEEP ME COMPANY FOR A QUARTER OF AN HOUR WHILE MEDITATING ON MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY, WITH THE INTENTION OF MAKING REPARATION TO ME.'

The Five Reasons
Lucia once asked this question of Our Lord and received as an answer: 'MY DAUGHTER, THE MOTIVE IS SIMPLE, THERE ARE FIVE KINDS OF OFFENCES AND BLASPHEMIES UTTERED AGAINST THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY: (1) BLASPHEMIES AGAINST THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: (2) BLASPHEMIES AGAINST HER VIRGINITY: (3) BLASPHEMIES AGAINST HER DIVINE MATERNITY: (4) BLASPHEMIES OF THOSE WHO OPENLY SEEK TO FOSTER IN THE HEARTS OF CHILDREN INDIFFERENCE OR EVEN HATRED FOR THIS IMMACULATE MOTHER: (5) THE OFFENCES OF THOSE WHO DIRECTLY OUTRAGE HER IN HOLY IMAGES.'
From the above, it is easy to see that each of the Five Saturdays can correspond to a specific offence. By offering the graces received during each First Saturday as reparation for the offence being prayed for, the participant can hope to help remove the thorns from Our Lady's Heart.
What Do I Have To Do?
The devotion of First Saturdays, as requested by Our Lady of Fatima, carries with it the assurance of salvation. However, to derive profit from such a great promise of Our Lady, the devotion must be properly understood and duly performed.
The requirements as stipulated by Our Lady are as follows:
(1) CONFESSION, (2) COMMUNION, (3) FIVE DECADES OF THE ROSARY, (4) MEDITATION ON ONE OR MORE OF THE ROSARY MYSTERIES FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES, (5) TO DO ALL THESE THINGS IN THE SPIRIT OF REPARATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY, and (6) TO OBSERVE ALL THESE PRACTICES ON THE FIRST SATURDAY OF FIVE CONSECUTIVE MONTHS.
(1) CONFESSION: A reparative confession means that the confession should not only be good (valid and licit), but also be offered in the spirit of reparation, in this case, to Mary's Immaculate Heart. This confession may be made on the First Saturday itself or some days before or after the First Saturday within the preceding octave would suffice.
(2) COMMUNION: The communion of reparation must be sacramental duly received with the intention of making reparation. This offering, like the confession, is an interior act and so no external action to express the intention is needed.