He began to go to his sermons, not so much with an expectation of profiting by them as to gratify his curiosity.
For an unhappy Augustine in Rome in the year 384, the chair of rhetoric at Milan was to prove a godsend for him - literally.
This was not because of the fact that Milan was then the city of the Emperor and his court.
No, it was because Milan was the home of the bishop, Ambrose.
At that time, the name of Ambrose was ever on the lips of any master of oratory and rhetoric.
He was then the most eminent bishop in the Western church, and locally was an extremely popular public figure.
The way that Ambrose preached the Scriptures swayed Augustine. Ambrose showed Augustine how to appreciate the Bible in spiritual terms.
His sermons were quite mystical, and used the concept of the soul taken from Neo-Platonism.
Ambrose immediately became another incentive in the roundabout route of Augustine towards conversion to the Christian religion.
Ambrose was born in Trier, Germany in about the year 340. By the age of thirty-three Ambrose had a successful career as a lawyer, an important position as the governor of Milan, the approval and friendship of the emperor, and a large estate.
And then the people insisted he become their priest and bishop. Reluctantly he accepted about the year 373, and was baptised, ordained and made Bishop of Milan all within a period of two days.
In his new role in the church, he acted decisively. He spoke out against errors in belief, converted pagans, built churches, and wrote books of instruction about the faith.
Tradition holds that he wrote the great hymn of thanksgiving, the Te Deum.
A further tradition, which is now very seriously doubted, was that Ambrose and Augustine spontaneously composed the Te Deum at the baptism of Augustine by Ambrose.
As well as compose religious hymns, Ambrose wrote books on Scripture, dogma, and morality.
As a bishop he lived in a spirit of prayer and material simplicity. He slept little and fasted frequently.
He gave liberally of his wealth to the poor. As a result, he attracted huge crowds wherever he went.
In his writings about the duties of the clergy, Ambrose provided humane rules for dealing with those in need, the old, the sick, and children without parents.
Ambrose urged his priests not to lavish attention upon those who had wealth, but rather to favour those without wealth.
(Continued on the next page.)