Ambrose the Camaldulian

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Ambrose the Camaldulian (1386 – October 20, 1439), born Ambrogio Traversari, was an Italian theologian.



He was born near Forlì, at the village of Portico di Romagna.

At the age of fourteen he entered the Camaldulian Order in the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence, and rapidly became a leading theologian and Hellenist. In Greek literature his master was Emmanuel Chrysoloras. He became general of the order in 1431, and was a leading advocate of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.

This attitude he showed clearly when he attended the Council of Basel as legate of Pope Eugene IV, and defended the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and adjured the council not to "rend asunder Christ's seamless robe".

He was next sent by the Pope to the Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor to ask his aid for the pontiff in his efforts to end this council, which for five years had been trenching on the papal prerogatives. The Pope transferred the council from Basel to Ferrara on 18 September, 1437. In this council, and later, in that of Florence, Ambrose, by his efforts and charity toward some poor Greek bishops, greatly helped to bring about a union of the two Churches, the decree for which, 6 July, 1439, he was called on to draw up. He died soon after.


His works are a treatise on the Holy Eucharist, one on the Procession of the Holy Ghost, many lives of saints, a history of his generalship of the Camaldolites. He also translated from Greek into Latin a life of Chrysostom (Venice, 1533); the Spiritual Wisdom of John Moschus; The Ladder of Divine Ascent of John Climacus (Venice, 1531), P.G., LXXXVIII.

Between 1424 and 1433 he worked to the translation of the Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius that widely circulated in manuscript form and was published at Rome in 1472 (the first printed edition of the Lives; the Greek text was printed only in 1533).

He also translated four books against the errors of the Greeks, by Manuel Kalekas, Patriarch of Constantinople, a Dominican monk (Ingolstadt, 1608), P.G., CLII, col. 13-661, a work known only through Ambrose's translation. He also translated many homilies of St. John Chrysostom; the treatise of the Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite on the celestial hierarchy; St. Basil's treatise on virginity; thirty nine discourses of St. Ephrem the Syrian, and many other works of the fathers and writers of the Greek Church. Dom Mabillon's Letters and Orations of S. Ambrose of Camaldoli was published at Florence, 1759. St. Ambrose is honoured by the Church on 20 November.

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