The story is told that Ambrose, a father’s-footsteps-following Governor in northern Italy, was summoned to address the people of Milan as their crowd threatened to become a mob, and their election a melee. The former bishop of Milan had died, and the Christians responsible for choosing his successor were factionalized between Athanasians and Arians: those who believed the Son of God to be coeternal with the Father, and those who believed him to be the Second Person of the Trinity in time and essence, not only in name. If that seems a little esoteric a thing to be rioting over, well, I am not sure we are always in a position to say so.
Anyway, public order was in disarray, the elections were getting out of hand, the city officials were worried, and the Governor was called in to calm things down. As he appealed for calm, for orderly behaviour and Christian unity, a voice called out from the crowd. An infant’s voice, if some legends are to be believed.
The cry was taken up by the crowd and the people were finally united in voice and will, chanting, “Ambrose! Bishop!”, until the Governor acquiesced and agreed to stand down from his political post and take the bishop’s seat for the good of the public order, the people of God and Christian unity and orthodoxy…
To be continued. At 6 o’clock Evensong at Trinity Cathedral in downtown Cleveland, to be more specific. Come join the crowd!