Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose, was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was the Roman governor of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, Ambrose was a staunch opponent of Arianism, and has been accused of fostering persecutions of Arians, Jews, and pagans. Ambrose was one of the four original Doctors of the Church and he is notable for his influence on Augustine of Hippo. Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family about 340 and was raised in Gallia Belgica and his mother was a woman of intellect and piety. Ambroses siblings, Satyrus and Marcellina, are venerated as saints. There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on his face while he lay in his cradle and his father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue. For this reason, bees and beehives often appear in the saints symbology, after the early death of his father, Ambrose followed his fathers career. He was educated in Rome, studying literature, law, Ambrose was the Governor of Aemilia-Liguria in northern Italy until 374, when he became the Bishop of Milan. He was a popular political figure, and since he was the Governor in the effective capital in the Roman West. In the late 4th century there was a conflict in the diocese of Milan between the Nicene Church and Arians. In 374 the bishop of Milan, Auxentius, an Arian, died, Ambrose went to the church where the election was to take place, to prevent an uproar, which was probable in this crisis. His address was interrupted by a call Ambrose, bishop, which was taken up by the whole assembly. Ambrose was known to be Nicene Christian in belief, but also acceptable to Arians due to the charity shown in matters in this regard. At first he refused the office, for which he was in no way prepared. Upon his appointment, Ambrose fled to a colleagues home seeking to hide, upon receiving a letter from the Emperor Gratian praising the appropriateness of Rome appointing individuals evidently worthy of holy positions, Ambroses host gave him up. Within a week, he was baptized, ordained and duly consecrated bishop of Milan and this raised his popularity even further, giving him considerable political leverage over even the emperor. Ambrose also wrote a treatise by the name of The Goodness of Death, according to legend, Ambrose immediately and forcefully stopped Arianism in Milan. He studied theology with Simplician, a presbyter of Rome, in the confrontation with Arians, Ambrose sought to theologically refute their propositions, which were contrary to the Nicene creed and thus to the officially defined orthodoxy
Early mosaic of Ambrose that might be an actual portrait.
Statue of Saint Ambrose with a scourge in Museo del Duomo, Milan. Unknown Lombard author, early 17 century.