Ambrose (ca. A.D. 339-397) was born to a Roman noble family, becoming a provincial governor by the age of thirty. He was elected bishop of Milan after successfully calming clashes between Milan’s Nicene and Arian communities. As bishop, he was a staunch defender of Nicene orthodoxy against Arianism.

He was also remembered for his stand against imperial authority on two occasions. He refused to hand over for the use of the local Arian population the basilicas demanded by Valentinian II and his mother Justina (A.D. 385-6). Later, he refused to commune Theodosius I until he repented for the massacre of 7000 civilians in Thessalonica after an imperial official had been killed there. His statement that  “the Emperor is within the Church, not above it” was cited well into the Middle Ages.

His many writings reflected his busy pastoral life, and a spirited intellect. They were among the first patristic writings to be printed in the sixteenth century. He was regarded as one of the four “doctors” of the Western church.

The following is a complete listing of the writings of Ambrose in approximate chronological order, including letters written to him. The numbering system for the individual letters comes from CSEL. The date of completion, incipit (opening words) and addressee are provided where possible/applicable for each work. The dates primarily come from Boniface Ramsey’s Ambrose in the Early Church Fathers series. For more information on each work, simply click the title/letter number.

For a chart listing only the letters of Ambrose, click here

For a list of common abbreviations used in the pages for the following documents, click here

Date Title/Letter No. Incipit Addressee
376-390 On Tobias Lecto prophetico libro
before 377 On Paradise De paradiso
before 377 On Cain and Abel Liber primus
377-391 On Elijah and Fasting Diuinum ad patres
377 On Virgins
377 On Widows
c. 378 On Virginity
c. 378-384 On Noah Noe Sancti adorimur
378- Books 1, 2 380- Books 3-5 On the Faith Gratian
379 Letter of Gratian to Ambrose Ambrose
379 Letter 1 Gratian
379 Letter 2 Constantius, a bishop
379 On the Death of Satyrus Niceas, a subdeacon of Aquileia
380s Commentary on the Gospel according to Luke Scripturi in evangeli librum
380 Letter 5 Syagrius, Bishop of Verona
380 Letter 6 Syagrius, Bishop of Verona
380 Letter 7 Justus (Bishops of Lyons?)
c. 380 On Abraham Abraham libri huius
381 Letter 8 Justus (Bishops of Lyons?)
381 On the Holy Spirit Gratian
381 Letter 9 The Bishops of Gaul
381 Letter 10 Emperors Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius
381 Letter 11 Emperors Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius
381 Letter 12 Emperors Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius
381/382 On the Sacrament of the Lord’s Incarnation
undated An Explanation of the Creed for Those about to be Baptized
381/382 Letter 13 Theodosius
381/382 Letter 14 Theodosius
after 381 Letter 3 Cornelius, bishop of Comum
after 381 Letter 4 Cornelius, bishop of Comum
383 Letter 15 Bishops of Macedonia
383 Letter 16 Anysius, bishop of Thessalonica
383 or 387-9 Prayer of David and Job Multas nobis perturbationes
384 Letter 17 Valentinian II
384 Memorial of Symmachus, Prefect of Rome Valentinian II
384 Letter 18 Valentinian II
384-394 On Repentance
c. 385 Letter 19 Vigilius, bishop of Trent
385 Letter 20 Marcellina, sister
385 Letter 45 Sabinus, bishop of Placentia
mid 380s Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah
386 Letter 21 Valentinian II
Palm Sunday 386 Against Auxentius on Handing over the Basilicas [sermon]
386 Letter 22 Marcellina
386 Letter 23 Bishops of Aemilia
after 386 Letter 34 Honorantius
after 386 Letter 35 Honorantius
after 386 Letter 36 Honorantius
after 386 Letter 37 Simplicianus
after 386 Letter 38 Simplicianus
386-388 On Jacob and the Happy Life
386-390 The Six Days of Creation Tantumne opinionis
386-390 Commentary of Psalm 118 Licet mystice quoque
c. 387 Letter 24   Valentinian II
c. 387 Letter 27   Iranaeus
c. 387 Letter 28   Iranaeus
c. 387 Letter 29   Iranaeus
c. 387 Letter 30   Iranaeus
c. 387 Letter 31   Iranaeus
c. 387 Letter 32   Iranaeus
c. 387 Letter 33   Iranaeus
c. 387 On the Mysteries Caput Primum
c. 387/8 On Joseph Sanctorum vita ceteris
c. 387/8 On Patriarchs Primum omnium quantam
387-391 On Isaac and the Soul In patre nobis
after 387 Letter 39 Faustinus
c. 388 Letter 25 Studius (Iranaeus)
c. 388 Letter 26 Iranaeus
388 Letter 40 Theodosius
388 Letter 41 Marcellina
389 Letter of Pope Siricius to the Church of Milan Ambrose and the Church of Milan
389 Letter 42 Pope Siricius
c. 389 Letter 43 Horontianus
c. 389 Letter 44 Horontianus
c. 389 Letter 46 Sabinus
late 380s On Naboth Nabuthae historia tempore
390 Letter 47 Sabinus
390 Letter 48 Sabinus
390 Letter 49 Sabinus
390? Letter 50 Chromatius
390 On the Good of Death Quoniam de anima
390 On the Sacraments
390 Letter 51 Theodosius
390 or after Defense of the Prophet David Theodosius
391 On the Duties of Ministers
391-394 On Flight from the World Frequens nobis
391/2 An Instruction for a Virgin Eusebius (personal lay friend)
Winter 391/Spring 392 Letter 56 Theophilus of Alexandria
392 Letter 52 Titianus
392 Letter 53 Theodosius
392 On the Death of Valentinian II
c. 392-393 Letter 54 Eusebius, a lay friend
c. 392-393 Letter 55 Eusebius, a lay friend
393 Letter 57 Eugenius, usurping emperor in the West
c. 393 Letter 58 Sabinus
393/4 Letter 59 Severus, Bishop of Naples
393-395 In Praise of Virginity
393 Letter 60 Paternus
394 Letter 61 Theodosius
394 Letter 62   Theodosius
25 February 395 On the Death of Theodosius  
396 Letter 63   Church of Vercellae
Later career to death (unfinished) Explanations of Twelve Psalms of David Summum incentinum
undated Letter 64 Iranaeus
undated Letter 65 Simplicianus
undated Letter 66 Romulus
undated Letter 67 Simplicianus
undated Letter 68 Romulus
undated Letter 69   Iranaeus
undated Letter 70 Horontianus
undated Letter 71 Horontianus
undated Letter 72 Constantius
undated Letter 73 Iranaeus
undated Letter 74 Iranaeus
undated Letter 75 Iranaeus
undated Letter 76 Iranaeus
undated Letter 77 Horontianus
undated Letter 78 Horontianus
undated Letter 79 Bellicius
undated Letter 80 Bellicius
undated Letter 81 certain of the clergy
undated Letter 82 Marcellus
undated Letter 83 Sisinnius
undated Letter 84 Cynegius
undated Letter 85 Siricius
undated Letter 86 Siricius
undated Letter 87 Bishops Segetius of Agens and Delphinus of Bordeaux
undated Letter 88 Atticus
undated Letter 89 Alypius
undated Letter 90 Antoninus
undated Letter 91 Candidianus


Drobner, Hubertus R. The Fathers of the Church. Translated by Siegfried S. Schatzmann. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2007.

Mara, Maria Grazia. “Ambrose of Milan.” In Encyclopedia of the Early Church. Edited by Angelo Di Berardino. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 28-29.

McLynn, Neil B. Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital. Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 1994.

Swift, Louis J. “Ambrose.” From Encyclopedia of Early Christianity. Edited by Everett Ferguson. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1990, p. 30-31.

Created by EG, revised by MS

Last updated: 11-18-2013

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