St. Ambrose, Patron Saint of Bees and Beekeeping

Legend has it that when Ambrose was an infant a swarm of bees settled on his face while he was lying in his cradle and didn’t leave behind a sting, but a drop of honey. This prompted his father to declare it was a sign that his son would become a sweet-tongued preacher of great significance.  He did eventually get the title “Honey Tongued Doctor” because of his speaking and preaching ability. The legend and his title led to the use of a beehive and bees as his symbols, as you can see here:

The Catholic Encyclopedia describes him as having an “enthusiastic love of virginity which became his distinguishing trait.”

Ambrose also made use of the bee metaphor in some of his writings, comparing virgins to bees:

“40. Let, then, your work be as it were a honeycomb, for virginity is fit to be compared to bees, so laborious is it, so modest, so continent. The bee feeds on dew, it knows no marriage couch, it makes honey….

41. How I wish you, my daughter, to be an imitator of these bees, whose food is flowers, whose offspring is collected and brought together by the mouth….”

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