medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
On Tuesday, April 4, 2006, at 7:32 am, John Briggs wrote:
> John Dillon wrote:
> > On Tuesday, April 4, 2006, at 2:51 am, John Briggs wrote:
> >> St Ambrose [who seems to have got lost somewhere along the way]
> > The revisers of the Roman Calendar seem to have used on Ambrose of
> > Milan (now celebrated liturgically in the Roman church on 7.
> > December) the same lever they applied to Gregory the Great in order
> > to spring both of them to another time of the year: consecration as
> > bishop. Perhaps they were implying that, in some cases at least,
> > elevation to episcopal dignity may be tantamount to birth into
> > eternal life :-)
> Except that Ambrose was moved earlier, and was presumably the
> precedent for
> Gregory. Does anyone know when Ambrose was moved (and why)?
This turns out to be rather interesting. I had naively assumed that
A.'s move was recent too. But it's not. In listing A.'s _depositio_
on 4. April, what is said to be Benedict XIV's ed. of the RM (1749)
notes that his feast is celebrated rather on 7. December, the day of
his ordination as bishop of Milan:
"Mediolani depositio sancti Ambrosii Episcopi, Confessoris et Ecclesiae
Doctoris; cujus studio, inter cetera doctrinae et miraculorum insignia,
tempore Arianae perfidiae, tota fere Italia ad catholicam fidem conversa
est. Ipsius tamen festivitas septimo Idus Decembris potissimum
recolitur, quo die Episcopus Mediolanensis ordinatus est."
The online version this is from:
is defective for December, so here's a text of A.'s _laterculus_ of 7.
December as given from another site claiming to present the 1749 ed.
(though its statement "Corrected in 1749 by Benedict XII" could give
"Sancti Ambrosii Epíscopi, Confessóris et Ecclésiæ Doctoris, qui pridie
Nonas Aprilis obdormívit in Dómino, sed hac die potíssimum colitur, qua
Mediolanensem Ecclésiam gubernandam suscépit."
The latter "1749" ed. includes Albertus Magnus (canonized 1931),
mentioning in the latter's _laterculus_ on 15. November both Pius XI
and Pius XII. And the previously cited one takes its text from an
undated "editio novissima". So in neither case are we dealing with the
edition of 1749 _tout court_. But that by 1749 A.'s chief liturgical
celebration in the Roman church already fell on 7. December rather than
on 4. April can be inferred from the absence of an entry for him in
the seventeenth-century _Acta Sanctorum_ (which, as is known, omits the
saints of December).
Chances are that A.'s celebration has been given as falling on 7.
December in all editions of the RM since its late sixteenth-century
inception. But in Usuard, the early modern RM's chief creditor, A.'s
_laterculus_ occurs on 4. April:
"Mediolani, depositio beati Ambrosii episcopi et confessoris, cuius
studio inter cetera doctrinae et miraculorum insignia, tempore Arrianae
perfidiae, tota Italia ad catholicam fidem conversa est." (ed. Dubois
, p. 206). Usuard has nought for Ambrose on 7. December (so also
Ado, in case anyone cares). One might suspect, then, that the change
occurred on Baronio's watch, during the making of the RM.
The change for the church of Rome as a whole, that is. This is
apparently but one of a number of changes in the post-Tridentine festal
calendar that reflect the already established practice of the Roman
Curia as seen in the latter's Breviary. Anselm Rosenthal OSB, ed.,
_Martyrologium und Festkalender der Bursfelder Kongregation. Von den
Anfängen der Kongregation (1446) bis zum nachtridentinischen
Martyrologium Romanum (1584)_ (Münster: Aschendorff, 1984), pp. 144-45,
identifies several such changes and gives reasons for these. For A.'s
move the reason offered (without documentation but nonethless quite
plausibly) is a desire to have the celebration always fall outside of
Lent. According to R. (p. 145, n. 947), in most of these cases the new
date had some other connection with the saint or saints being
That said, in some places the practice of commemorating A. on 7.
December is of very long standing. The De Rossi / Duchesne edition of
the _Martyrologium [pseudo-]Hieronymianum_ has A.'s feast falling on
"Depos[itio] S[an]c[t]i ambrosi ep[iscop]i"
but notes that one of the three main branches of the tradition of this
text, that of the codex Wissenburgensis, has at its usually Ambrose-
free listings of 7. December a variant entry: "Natalis s. ambrosi".
It's not clear how old that variant. But there's a very similar datum
in the Marble Calendar of Naples (first half of the ninth century),
which lists A. twice, once on 3. November (this is said to be a Greek
festal date for him) as his feast and again on 4. December, this time
as a commemoration of his _depositio_ (sic). In both instances (MH and
Marble Calendar), we seem to be dealing with descendants of an entry
written for 4. April and moved, unedited, to the later date.
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