Milanese Apostolic Catholic Church

Milanese Apostolic Catholic Church

The City See of the Church

Milan is a main city in the Po valley, at the North of Italy. Originally founded by the Celts around 600 BC and was conquered by the Romans around 222 BC, who gave it the name of Mediolanum. The city was the capital of the Roman Empire for a short time in the Fourth century. This area was conquested by Ostrogoths, Lombards and Byzantines, prior Charlemagne defeat the last Lombard king and subsequently the city became part of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire as a semi-republic.

Christianity in Milan

Foundation of the Diocese

The Gospel was brought to Milan by St. Barnabas, and the first Bishop of Milan, St. Anathalon, was a disciple of that apostle. But a diocese cannot have been established there before 200, and possibly not until much later, for the list of the bishops of Milan names only five predecessors of Merocles, who was at the Council of Rome (313). During the persecutions several Christians suffered martyrdom at Milan; among them Saints Gervasius and Protasius (first persecution of Diocletian), Sts. Victor (304), Nabor and Felix, and Saints Nazarius and Celsus.

Historically the Milanese church has been in full communion with Rome, recognizing it and its bishops. The Milanese Bishop (honorly called the Patriarch of Milan) is an equal to the Bishops of the World, be it of Rome or Constantinople.

Among its bishops should be named St. Protasius, St. Eustorgius and St. Dionysius, who firmly opposed apostasy imposed by the Roman Emperor Constantius II. St. Dionysus was exiled to Cappadocia (355), while the Romans put the heretic Auxentius on the episcopal throne of Milan. But many people remained faithful to the original faith. At the death of Auxentius, the great St. Ambrose was elected bishop by the people of Milan (374-97), and was the guide of princes Gratian, Valentinian II, and Theodosius. He was succeeded by St. Simplicianus (397), and Venerius (400); Lazarus (438-49) appears to have amplified the Ambrosian rite of Milan; St. Datius (530-52), lived almost always in exile at Constantinople, on account of the Gothic War; Vitalis (552) reaffirmed the independence of the Milian Church in relation of Rome, but Auxanus (556) re-established the yoke with Rome.

Councils were held at Milan in 343 and 347, against Photinus; in the cause of St. Athanasius, at which the Emperor Constans menaced the bishops; 390, against Jovinian; 451, against the Robber Council of Ephesus; 680, against the Monothelites; 1060, 1098, 1117, 1287, for ecclesiastical reforms.

Beginning of Roman political control

During the Lombard invasion many things happened to the church in Milan. The Three-Chapter Controversy guaranteed autonomy of the Milanese Church for almost 200 years, since the Lombards were enemies of the Romans and the Byzantines. At the siege of Milan by the Lombard Alboin, the Bishop Honoratus (568) sought refuge in Genoa, with a great number of his clergy, , and at his death the Milanese at Genoa elected to succeed him Laurentius II, while Fronto (elected at Milan) was not recognized. When Laurentius died, King Agilulfus wished to secure the election of an Arian bishop, but the Romans managed to put Constantius and the Lombards and Milaneses started to align with Rome.

The Frankish king Childebert gave to Bishop Laurentius II the title of Patriarch.

The domination of Rome brought corruption to the Milanese church, but such men as the priest Anselmo da Biaggio, later Bishop of Lucca, and the cleric Arialdo, used force to compel the clergy to observe continence, and to drive its members from benefices obtained by simony. From this great confusion ensued. In 1059 Nicholas II sent to Milan St. Peter Damian and the same Anselmo, at which the people murmured, demanding that the church of Milan be not subject to that of Rome. The Roman Archbishop Guido, however, promised amendment, and accepted the conditions imposed upon him, but soon relapsed, and Arialdo was brutally assassinated in 1065. The people of Milan revolted and Guido was compelled to leave the city, but before he sold his see. Until 1085 there were several pretenders to the see, but finally the Romans took control of the church.

Some of the Milanese became Roman popes, like Uberto Crivelli Pope Urban III in 1185 and Pietro Filargo (1402), who became Alexander V. Another Milanese, Charles Borromeo battle for the reformation of morals. The city elected without the consent of the Vatican, Filippo Visconti (1784-1801), under protection of the Austrian Emeperor Joseph II. Rome later appointed the Cardinal Caprara, who was an ally of Napoleon I till his death in 1811. Since then the Milanese Church has been without (in the Milanese Apostolic Church eyes) a legitimate Bishop and Patriarch, because Rome put Cardinal Carlo Gætano Gaisruck in 1818 and governed the diocese until 1848 "more as a soldier than as a prelate". Some did not recognized the Roman archbishops and led it to break away from the Roman Church.

Present Status

Today, the Milanese Apostolic Church has a Patriarch ruling the Church of Lombardia, and spiritual overseer of those Ambrosian Christians in Eastern Europe through the Archidiocese of Venice (NE Italy, Austria) Diocese of Dalmatia (see in Ragusa, jurisdiction over Balkans and Greece) and the West: Archidiocese of Turin (jurisdiction on NW Italy, Switzerland) Diocese of Ravenna (rest of Italy), Diocese of Lyon (France) and the expatriates (Vicariate of the South America, with see in São Paulo).

The Patriarchate of Milan has close fellowship with the continuing Italo-Byzantine Orthodox Church and the Lusitanian Orthodox Church.

Doctrine & Liturgy

Doctrinally the Ambrosian Catholics accept the first Seven Ecumenical Councils; the succession of the Apostles is regarded as necessary to the true Church, but rejects any claim of superiority of any bishop over another; the mass is celebrated in the Ambrosian Rite in the vernacular and having communion in both species.

External links

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