Ambrose the Camaldulian

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Ambrose the Camaldulian, (Ambrogio Traversari) (1386-1439), was a theologian, born near Florence at the village of Portico.

At the age of fourteen he entered the Camaldulian Order in the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, 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 papacy. This attitude he showed clearly when he attended the Council of Basel as legate of Pope Eugenius IV. So strong was his hostility to some of the delegates that he described Basel as a western Babylon. He likewise supported the pope at Ferrara and Florence, and worked hard in the attempt to reconcile the Eastern and Western Churches.

Though this cause was unsuccessful, Ambrose is interesting as typical of the new humanism which was growing up within the church. Thus while among his own colleagues he seemed merely a hypocritical and arrogant priest, in his relations with his brother humanists, such as Cosimo de Medici, he appeared as the student of classical antiquities and especially of Greek theological authors.

His chief works are: -- Hodoeporicon, an account of a journey taken at the pope's command, during which he visited the monasteries of Italy; translations of Palladius' Life of Chrysostom; of Nineteen Sermons of Ephraem Syrus; of the St Basil On Virginity. A number of his manuscripts remain in the library of St Mark at Venice.

He died on October 20 1439.


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