Ambrose of Milan vs. Andrew the Fisherman

The Elate Eight continues with reckless saintly abandon as Ambrose of Milan faces Andrew the Fisherman. To get this far, Ambrose defeated William Byrd and Gertrude the Great. While Andrew took down Polycarp and Hyacinth. 

Yesterday, Albert Schweitzer became the first saint to make the Faithful Four, as he defeated Cornelius the Centurion 69% to 31%.

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Ambrose of Milan

This is fire. As one 1990s cartoon creation reminds us, Fire is cool. Fire is very cool. Heh heh. Heh heh. Fire. While it might not seem relevant to this whole affair of convincing you to vote for Ambrose of Milan, fire is, in fact, used in a unique way in the Milanese Liturgy, which is known as the Ambrosian Rite after the saintly bishop. On days of the church calendar when the feast of a martyr is observed, a large cotton globe (called a faro) is suspended in the air and set on fire, perhaps from illuminating martyrs’ tomb in the catacombs. Fire, like Ambrose, is cool – even if the rite that bears his name doesn’t give him pyrotechnics on his own feast day.

Perhaps, your heart enflamed, you’ve decided you’d like to make a pilgrimage to Ambrose’s tomb at the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan. You’re looking to go to your local travel agent to book a flight, and the time comes to pay the fare, and, alas, all your cash and credit cards scatter everywhere as your wallet falls to shreds. You’ll want to do many things, but one thing you WON’T want to do is buy this wallet that features Ambrose of Milan. After all, as Ambrose was quite clear, “you must not usurp for yourself alone what was given for the common use of all” – so make your pledge, give to the poor, and yes, go on that pilgrimage… but keep the saintly bishop off your wallet!

Yet perhaps you need some token of devotion to embiggen your prayer life, inspired by Ambrose’s saying that “prayer is the wing to heaven and the eye to see God." Yes, you could get a resin statue of Ambrose to tuck away in a corner of your home. Sure, you could get a pendant necklace with a traditional “Saint Ambrose, Pray for Us” inscription. Yes, you could buy any of his countless writings on prayer. Or, you could… get a keychain. That makes Ambrose look like a character from a cartoon. While putting his words in a typeface that screams elementary school bulletin board. I’m not telling you how exactly, beloved, you should express your devotion to Ambrose. But I’m also not not telling you there are choices you need to make.

Maybe you’ve decided that, ok, given the market, maybe buying something isn’t the brightest idea. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use left over candles from last year’s Easter Vigil? Too hard you say, then perhaps you need your very own candle mold, in which you can melt down old candles and make a new one – into the visage of Ambrose of Milan. You can be sure that his fire burns bright. Because, as was previously stated… fire, like Ambrose, is cool.

David Sibley




Andrew the Fisherman

Saint Andrew's tale is an epic one: Deep faith meets Divine adventure. From humble beginnings of casting nets on the Sea of Galilee to an essential figure in Christian history, globe-trotting Andrew's résumé reads like the spiritual equivalent of Taylor Swift's concert tour itinerary.

(Yes, Andrew is the patron saint of fisherman, but he’s also patron saint of singers -- and sore throats! -- and unmarried women. I’m not saying that Andrew would be a Swiftie, but…maybe I am?)

Much like Taylor, Andrew traveled the world (with decidedly less carbon footprint): His apostolic world tour spread the good news so far that he's patron saint of Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Barbados, three cities in Italy, and one each in Portugal, Malta, the Philippines, and Greece – and Scotland, of course. Sounds exhausting! (Grab this pillow?)

Then, there’s branding. Insisting on an X-shaped saltire because you don't feel worthy of the standard cross model? That takes personal branding to a whole new level. Andrew's final act of martyrdom was one of humility and strength. This powerful symbol of sacrifice became an emblem of faith – permanently emblazoned as Scotland’s flag -- deeply revered and recognized around the world, and there’s no shortage of swag that celebrates it.

While Saint Andrew's mission reads like an ancient travelogue – and because I can’t carry the Taylor Swift parallel much farther – there’s also the matter of his relics. Each location that claims a piece of his legacy becomes a thread in the larger narrative of Christian history and devotion.

Still, it’s in Scotland (golf!) and fishing that Andrew's deepest legacy lives, giving you two recreational ways to celebrate St. Andrew (Three, if you want to join me in keeping T. Swift and her music compatriots in it.).

Saint Andrew's story is a reminder that faith is a journey, sometimes solemn, often joyous, and always worth sharing. You don't have to wait until November 30 to honor Andrew the Fisherman -- get your tickets today.

— Anon E. Muss

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65 comments on “Ambrose of Milan vs. Andrew the Fisherman”

  1. I relate to Ambrose because I’ve been pulled into positions of leadership a few times because of someone ( though never a child) dragging me in. In most cases I ended up being successful and actually fulfilled by the position. Sometimes others see something in us that we ourselves don’t recognize.
    I see that Andrew has had a far more successful catch so far and I do appreciate him too.

  2. My vote goes nowhere in my bracket today - I had Byrd beating Andrew, then going to the final round. So I'm switching to Ambrose, because of the kitsch, because that was my great-grandfather's last name, and because in our family the search for any lost item (from a mitten to a diamond ring) was worthless unless accompanied by a prayer to St. Ambrose.

  3. I was born in Scotland, and I have just recovered from the worst sore throat I have ever had (Covid-related, alas!) so Andrew for many reasons has my vote today.

  4. As an alumnus and retired faculty member of St. Andrew’s School (Delaware)and with a son Andrew (and his twin Peter), my vote goes for Andrew!

  5. I voted for Andrew for a few different reasons. 1.Ukraine--it needs all the help it can get. 2. I've been singing in church choirs since I was about 6. 3. My husband and I have been to Scotland a few times, the first to bring our older son home from a summer at one of the universities, the second when we were visiting Great Britain. the third when we went with a singing group. As a brother-in-law might put it "A poor excuse is better than none." Each visit was wonderful.

  6. David Sibley is on fire today. My vote went to Ambrose, both because I couldn't resist "embiggen" as an active verb, and because Ambrose as a Southpark character is endearing. This Anon E. Muss interloper seems sketchy to me, like some Nigerian prince informing me by email that I have a large inheritance and just have to send boocoo bucks by wire-transfer in order to release it. Besides, I'm going to Olivia Rodrigo's "Guts" tour. Who's Swift?
    [Note to SEC: please put the voting buttons in the same order as the write-ups. I nearly accidentally voted for Andrew thinking that because he was second in order his button would also be the second one.]

  7. Knew it HAD to be Andrew until I saw Ambrose's kitsch. Where can we buy all these awesome items?

  8. While I LOVE any rite which includes fire, I really love the reminder that Andrew was one who helped spread the Gospel far and wide, though not sure I want those saltire nails.

  9. A hard one for me. Ambrose is a fav because, for one, he didn’t have to go through the Proccess. A bird just landed on him, and hey presto, a Bishop. And back when dinosaurs roamed, Ambrose was the saint I reported on in my catechism class prior to Baptism. But Andrew, quiet Andrew, who let his dumb brother Simon Peter do all the talking, and all the eating his foot. But he was the deep one, who hung out with Crazy John, and then followed Jesus, after dragging Peter along. And Scotland, really, and our Episcopal heraldic device. So that is the way the vote went.

  10. A tough choice today with some great kitsch. Although drawn to fire much more than to Swift, I cast my vote for Andrew largely because Scotland exerts a great pull for me too. Also reeling, and not in a Scottish way, from 'embiggen'.

  11. I'd vote for Andrew strictly on the basis of that fish t shirt alone!As a fishing enthusiast and an unmarried woman who else would I cast my vote for?!? (although the make your own candle in the shape of Ambrose is appealing as well)

  12. While I did appreciate the Bevis and Butthead reference in the recounting of the tale of Ambrose of Milan (and there is something I never thought to see in Lent Madness!) and I freely admit I am NOT AT ALL a Swiftie, I had to go with Saint Andrew.
    BUT very entertaining reading,m and tougher to choose and the weeks pass.

  13. Andew who how followed and shared the news with such faith. I admire the essential goodness of Taylor Swift the more I learn of her.

  14. It was tough, but I had to vote for Andrew because my oldest grandson's name is Andrew. I also have Scotch/Irish blood running in my veins, and last but not least, my paternal grandpa would take us fishing for blue gill. When we brought them home, he would prepare them & fry them for dinner.

    However, the kitsch for Ambrose brought a huge smile to my face, as did the kitsch for Andrew.

  15. I’m so impressed with the kitsch our Lent Madness bloggers have found! I suspected that Andrew would win, but I voted for Ambrose because I so enjoyed the reverential “stuff” David found!

  16. It started out being a tough choice, but (in spite of the Taylor Swift references) I voted for Andrew for several reasons, but chiefly brcause of his travel itinerary in his time, a lot of those places probably weren't on any maps! I am astpunded that he could remember them all. So Eat fish, sing a song, and make an auld Scotrish balad or two!

  17. Had to go with Andrew. My ancestral home is Scotland. I'm curious about these two brothers' names. Simon, later called Peter, is a Hebrew name but Andrew is a Greek name. Was their mom Greek?

  18. I wonder if the Milanese Liturgy (Ambrosian Rite), inspired Little Richard's Great Balls of Fire.

    We may never know, but I voted for Ambrose anyway, because that liturgy sounds cool. I'd love to see someday, but I'll probably have to go to Milan, as I cannot see Church Insurance allowing it to happen anywhere in The Episcopal Church.