Thoughts for Life: Quotes from St Ambrose (339-397 AD)
A number of people have asked recently for details of the St Ambrose quote often referred to by CAFOD. He was Bishop of Milan in the 4th century and classed as one of the learned leaders or Doctors of the Church.
Quotes from St Ambrose (339-397 AD):
|“God created the universe in such a manner that all in common might derive their food from it, and that the earth should also be a property common to all. Why do you reject one who has the same rights over nature as you?
It is not from your own goods that you give to the beggar; it is a portion of his own that you are restoring to him. The earth belongs to all. So you are paying back a debt and think you are making a gift to which you are not bound.”
This found renewed expression in England by Rev John Ball during the Peasants Revolt (1381) and in 1649 with Wigan’s Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers (“True Levellers”):
“The Earth is a Common Treasury for all, both rich and poor, that every one that is born in the land, may be fed by the Earth his Mother that brought him forth.”
The teachings of St Ambrose have since spread far and wide across the world and he said elsewhere (apologies for the single gender used but hope you get the drift!):
“Feed him who is dying of hunger; if you have not fed him you have killed him.”
(Exposition of Psalm 118, Sermon 12, 44, as quoted in Loci Theologici, Vol. II, p. 406; also quoted in Treatise on Good Works, p. 109)
He also wrote the immortal quote (slightly fuller here):