St. AMBROSE

HIS LIFE AND TIMES

(AD 340-397)

BY

R.   THORNTON

NICE READING
Selected Works and Letters
The letters of St. Augustine
St Basil the Great
Arians of the fourth century

 

I. BIRTH AND INFANCY (AD 340-341)

II. YOUTH AND MANHOOD (AD 341-374)

III. THE EPISCOPATE (AD 374)

IV. DIFFICULTIES AND DANGERS (AD 374)

V. DEATH OF VALENTINIAN (AD.374—375)

VI. THEODOSIUS (AD 378-380)

VII. SYNODS OF AQUILEIA AND ROME (AD 380-383)

VIII. AUGUSTINE (AD 383-385)

IX. CONFLICT WITH THE ARIANS (AD 385-386)

X. CHURCH-BUILDING. MAXIMUS AND JUSTINA (AD 386-387)

XI.THEODOSIUS (AD 388)

XII. THE SIN AND PENANCE OF THEODOSIUS (AD 389-390)

XIII. EUGENIUS (AD 392-393)

XIV. VICTORY AND DEATH (AD 394-395)

XV. THE END OF A GREAT LIFE (AD 395—397)    

 

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF THE TIMES AND WORKS OF ST. AMBROSE

339 St. Ambrose born at Treves early in this year

341. Seventh Council of Antioch. Second exile of St. Athanasius.

343 Beginning of heresy of Photinus.

348 Birth of Prudentius, the Christian Vergil.

349 Synod of Sirmium against Photinus.

350 Death of Emperor Constans.

St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers.

Magnentius declared Emperor of West.

351 Condemnation of Photinus by a semi-Arian synod.

352 Liberius succeeds Julius as Pope.

353-4 St. Ambrose taken by mother to live in Rome. His sister Marcellina receives veil from Liberius at Christmas. Emperor Magnentius commits suicide.

354 Birth of St. Augustine on November 13. Death of Emperor Gallus.

355 Arian synod at Milan banishes Pope Liberius, Dionysius, Bishop of Milan, and Lucifer, Bishop of Cagliari.

356 St. Hilary of Poitiers is banished.

357 According to Arians, Liberius subscribes an Arian Creed, and returns to Rome

358 Between April 28 and May 29, Emperor Constantius visits Rome.

359 Council of Ariminum. Birth of Gratian on April 18.

361 Julian made emperor on November 3.

363 Emperor Julian dies on June 26. Felix becomes pope.

364 Emperor Jovinian dies. Valentinian and Valens become emperors.

365 Having completed education, Ambrose and Satyrus leave Rome and go to Sirmium as advocates.

366 Liberius dies in September. Damasus is elected in his place, but Ursinus also claims see.

367 Gratian, still a boy, declared Augustus on August 24 by Valentinian, his father.

370 Ambrose named 'Consular' or Governor of province of Aemilia-Liguria.

372 Conspiracy of Theodorus against Valens.

373 Auxentius, Arian bishop of Milan, dies sometime in October. St. Ambrose, still a catechumen., elected Bishop of Milan by acclamation, and consecrated on December 1. He was baptized on November 24, and on the following six days was made to pass formally through the successive grades of the ministry. St. Martin Bishop of Tours.

374-5 St. Ambrose sends delegation of clerics to St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, to ask for body of St. Dionysius, late Catholic Bishop of Milan. Cf. St. Basil, Letter 197.

375 Valentinian dies in November. His son Valentinian, though only four years old, recognized by Gratian as Emperor of East. Gratian refuses title of Pontifex Maximus. Satyrus, brother of St. Ambrose, dies in February. Two treatises on his death (De Excessu fratris sui Satyri) are written. Some hymns are written in September.

376 St. Ambrose writes De virginibus in three books and De viduis in one. Goths cross Danube.

377 St. Ambrose writes De paradiso and De Cain, also De virginitate (June). The Goths rebel at Marcianople.

378 First two books of De fide are written during August and September at request of Gratian, who sets out to support Valens against Goths. De Noe is written in autumn. Valens is killed at Adrianople. St. Ambrose sells church plate to redeem the many Christians made captives.

379-380 Disastrous famine in Rome.

379 Theodosius is proclaimed Augustus at Sirmium. Consulship of Ausonius. Gratian, on way back from Thrace, asks Ambrose to come and meet him. He receives first two books of the De fide and asks for one on Holy Spirit. The latter is written two years later. In July the sequestrated basilica at Milan is restored to Catholics by Gratian. Maximus the Cynic goes to Constantinople.

380 Emperor Theodosius is baptized at Thessalonica. Books 3 and 4 of the De fide are written. St. Ambrose attends synod at Rome under Damasus. He consecrates Anamius Bishop of Sirmium, although Arians oppose. Council of Zaragossa in autumn. Theodosius enter Constantinople on November 24. On November 26 the Arians are expelled from the churches of Constantinople.

381 Athanaricus, leader of the Goths, dies at Constantinople. De Spiritu Sancto in three books is written. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, dies. Ecumenical Council of Constantinople under Meletius of Antioch opens. At Aquileia a council, in which St. Ambrose takes leading part, opens against heretics Palladius and Secundianus. Cf. Letters 9-12 of Ambrose. Nectarius consecrated Bishop of Constantinople, and Flavian Bishop of Antioch. Toward the end of the year the De incarnationis dominicae sacramento is written.

382 Council of Italian bishops under Ambrose's direction meets to consider difficulties at Antioch and Constantinople. Cf. Letters 13, to Theodosius, and 14, his reply. Theodosius calls similar council at Constantinople. On October 3, Theodosius makes peace with the Goths. Emperor Gratian orders the removal of statue of Victory from Roman Forum. Cf. Letters 17 and 18. Acholius, Bishop of Thessalonica, dies during winter and is succeeded by Anysius.

383 Priscillianists visit Rome in vain effort to win Pope Damasus and St. Ambrose to their cause. Gratian, through plot directed by Maximus, is assassinated at Lyons on August 25. Famine in Rome. Cf. De officiis 37 and 49; Letter 18.

383-4 St. Ambrose sends first legation to Maximus in behalf of Empress Justina and her son Valentinian II.

384 Symmachus, prefect of city, appeals to Valentinian for restoration of Altar of Victory. St. Ambrose makes reply. Cf. Letters 17 and 18. A synod is held at Bordeaux against the Priscillianists. Pope Damasus dies and is succeeded by Siricius. De poenitentia probably written in this year.

385 The Spanish Bishops Idacius and Ithacius instigate death sentence against Priscillian and his followers at Treves. Ithacians consecrate Felix as Bishop. Cf. Letters 42-51. Persecution of Catholics at Milan by Justina during Holy Week. Cf. Letter 20. Valentinian II passes law granting Arians equal rights with Catholics. Auxentius lays claim to see of Milan. Cf. Sermon against Auxentius and Letter 21. St. Ambrose succeeds in procuring restitution of deposit which a widow had entrusted to the Church at Trent and which had been carried off by imperial order. Cf. De officiis 2.29, 150, 151. Consecration of new basilica at Milan.

386 Discovery of bodies of St. Gervasius and St. Protasius. Cf. Letter 22. St. Ambrose writes Letter 23 to the bishops of province of Aemilia, regarding right day for observing Easter. In spring, St. Ambrose writes the Sermo contra Auxentium and De Iacob, and in middle of year De officiis.

387 St. Augustine is baptized by St. Ambrose at Milan on Easter. Second mission of St. Ambrose to Maximus. Cf. Letter 24. St. Ambrose is expelled from Treves because he refuses to communicate with murderer of his sovereign. Maximus crosses into Italy and enters Milan. In this year St. Ambrose writes In psalm. 61 enarratio, Hexaemeron, Apologia prophetiae David, and possibly De mysteriis. De sacramentis was in all probability written earlier.

388 Arians destroy residence of Bishop Nectarius at Constantinople. Cf. Letter 30 sec. 13. Empress Justina dies. Valentinian II is converted by Theodosius. Theodosius wages war against Maximus, who is thoroughly defeated (cf. Letter 40, sec. 23), and is executed at Aquileia. Third application is made for restoration of Altar of Victory. St. Ambrose composes De Ioseph and De Interpellatione Iob et David. In December St. Ambrose and Theodosius collide on affair at Collinicum.

389 De elia et ieiunio is composed before Lent, and from May until February 390 the series of sermons, Expositio psalmi CXVIII

390 Theodosius punishes a sedition at Thessalonica with excessive cruelty. St. Ambrose rebukes him severely and excludes him from communion. The Emperor repents and is readmitted to communion. Synod against Ithacian heretics and Felix, Bishop of Treves, is held at Milan. Cf. Letter 51. Publication of Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam and the In psalm. I enarratio.

391-2 Anti-pagan edict for Rome (Cod. Theod. XVI 10.10) promulgated on February 24; for Egypt (Cod. Theod. XVI 10.11), on June 16. Part of Roman senate approaches Valentinian to request restoration of the Altar of Victory in Forum. Cf. Letter 57, sec. 5. De institutione virginis was written at about this time. Council of Capua was held in winter.

392 De institutions virginis published at Easter time. Valentinian II killed at Vienne by Arbogast. Cf. Letter 53 sec. 2; De ob. Valent. 25ff. His body is brought to Milan. St. Ambrose delivers Consolatio de obitu Valent. Still another delegation regarding Altar of Victory is sent by senate to Eugenius. Cf. Letter 57, sec. 6ff. Condemnation of Jovinian by Pope Siricius and Roman synod.

393 When Eugenius arrives at Milan, St. Ambrose leaves for Bononia Faventia and Florence. He writes letters to Eugenius and Sabinus. On January 10, Honorius, who was born September 9, 384, was created emperor.

393-4 In Florence St. Ambrose dedicates a basilica and deposits therein the bodies of martyrs Vitalis and Agricola he brought from Bononia. Delivers Exhortatio virginitatis; also writes Letter 59.

394 Theodosius sets out against Eugenius from Constantinople. Early in August St. Ambrose returns to Milan, On September 6, Theodosius defeats and slays Eugenius. St. Ambrose intercedes and wins pardon for followers of Eugenius. St. Ambrose writes Enarrationes in Psalmos 35-40; also Letters 61 and 62. Arbogast commits suicide on September 8. Toward end of year, Paulinus, later Bishop of Nola, and his wife Therasia renounce world. Theodosius becomes ill, and Honorius arrives at Milan.

395 Theodosius dies in Milan. St. Ambrose delivers De obitu Theodosii. Honorius and Arcadius become emperors. St. Augustine made Bishop of Hippo. Arcadius marries Eudoxia on April 27. On November 27, Rufinus is murdered. Remains of Saint Nazarius and Gelsus are discovered by St. Ambrose and brought to Basilica of Apostles. Composition of De nabuthe Iezraelita.

396 Affair of Cresconius and Ambrose's correspondence with Queen Fritigil. Because of dissensions at Vercellae, St. Ambrose visits Church there and writes Letter 63.

397 St. Ambrose consecrates a bishop at Ticinum. A little later he falls ill. He commences but is unable to finish Enanatio in Psalm. 43. He recommends Simplicianus as his successor and dies very early in the morning of Easter Eve. He is buried in Ambrosian Basilica on April 5.