Friday, December 07, 2012

On the Feast of St. Ambrose of Milan

Today being the feast of St. Ambrose, that great father of the church in Milan, I thought it might be fitting to briefly quote from the biographical section related to him from Blessed Cardinal Schuster's The Sacramentary -- Schuster being himself a former Cardinal Archbishop of that venerable See and successor of St. Ambrose.

Ambrose Uranius Aurelius was born probably at Treves, of an ancient and illustrious Roman family, which had already given to the Church the martyr St. Soter, and which was to enrich the martyrology with two more names besides that of the holy Doctor of whom we are speaking, those of Satyrus and Marcellina, his own brother and sister. St. Ambrose died at Milan on Easter Eve, April 4, 397. As, however, that day always recurs in Lent, or in Paschal week, when in accordance with the ancient liturgy all feasts in honour of the saints are excluded, his festival is kept today, which is the anniversary of his ordination as bishop.

This substitution dates at Rome from the eleventh century at least, and is founded on the very ancient liturgical custom of solemnly celebrating the natale ordinationis of bishops and priests.
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In addition, it would seem an apt occasion to once again revisit the splendid Basilica Sant'Ambrogio in Milan.


The forecourt and facade of the basilica itself


The altar and ciborium


The ambo


Mosaics of St. Ambrose (centre), Sts. Protasius and Gervasius. These mosaics apparently show the oldest known depiction of St. Ambrose, dating from the 5th century.


A better view of the mosaic of St. Ambrose

Found within the crypt, beneath the high altar, are the relics of St. Ambrose (as well as Sts. Protasius and Gervasius).