The Altar of Victory

The Josias

Epistle XVII

by St. Ambrose of Milan


Among the Fathers of the Church St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 340-370) is particularly important for the subsequent development of Catholic Social Teaching. On many questions his teaching constitutes both a precious witness to the perennial tradition, and a solid foundation on which subsequent teachers built. For example, he gives one of the clearest patristic witness to the principle of the universal destination of goods. But perhaps his most important contribution was to the question of the relation of spiritual and temporal power. A talented politician, as well as a great pastor and theologian, Ambrose expounded his teaching in direct confrontation with several Christian emperors at a time in which the persecutions of the Christians had but recently ended, and Christianity was becoming the majority religion of the empire.

Epistle XVII, written in the Summer of the year 384 to the young…

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