St Ambrose healing oil
The St Ambrose healing oil is dedicated to the 4th century patron saint for learning.
Although St. Ambrose is a great saint in his own right—he had a brilliant mind, was a political star of his time, and is one of the thirty-six doctors of the Church—he is perhaps best remembered for prompting the conversion of the great St. Augustine.
Ambrose was born to a Roman family of nobility and had several siblings who also became saints: Marcellina and Satyrus. He was educated in Rome and became known as an eloquent and convincing speaker.
The great saint was trained in the law and was noticed by important politicians in Rome. He was appointed the governor of Milan, one of the most important offices in the empire, before he was 35 years old.
Ambrose gave up all of his belongings to the poor, as an example to the people of Milan and so that he could focus on his duties as bishop. He was famous as a teacher of the faith and a scholar of the Bible. His preaching drew crowds, including a young and noncommittal St. Augustine, whom Ambrose taught and later baptized.
History of his relics
Ambrose preached often against the Arian heresy. Ambrose’s learning and preaching earned him the title “Doctor of the Church,” an honorific given to thirty-six saints who are known for elucidating the faith by their words or example. His relics rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica and a stained glass window in the Basilica portrays Ambrose confronting Emperor Theodosius, who was responsible for ordering a massacre of 7,000. The emperor repented publicly for his action because of this encounter and was reconciled to the Church. Ambrose later presided over his funeral.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. Moreover, it is a sacramental. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Prayer and a gesture of faith, like applying the oil, are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. By doing so we place our trust in God.