„For what is the joy of the heart but the draughts of wisdom?” (Ep. 1, 7) – about how Ambrose of Milan described a joy in his letters

Marcin Wysocki

Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II , Poland


This article presents the concept of joy in surviving more than 90 letters of St. Ambrose of Milan. As it is clear from the above analysis of St. Ambrose’s letters, he included in them broad and deep reflections on a joy. Certainly the vocabulary that was used by Bishop of Milan to describe the phenomenon of joy reflects the richness of this phenomenon. The variety of topics, context, sources of joy prsented in his letters show the importance of joy in the life and work of the Bishop of Milan. He appreciates the earthly joy, drawing from ordinary, earthly life, but beyond it he submits the spiritual joy, „joy of the heart” (iucundi­tas cordis), which comes from God, the Giver of wisdom.


Ambrose of Milan, joy, letters

Ambrosius, Epistula, ed. G. Banterle, SAEMO 20, Milano – Roma 1988, tłum. P. Nowak: Ambroży z Mediolanu, Listy, II, BOK 20, Kraków 2003.

Andrzejewski R., Kult relikwii według św. Ambrożego, AK 93 (1979) 64-72.

Augustinus, Confessiones, PL 32, tłum. Z. Kubiak: Św. Augustyn, Wyznania, Kraków 1994.

Barnes T.D., Ambrose and the Basilicas of Milan in 385 and 386: The primary documents and their implications, ZACh 4 (2000) 282-299. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zac-2000-0207

Colish M., Why the Portiana?: Reflections on the Milanese Basilica Crisis of 386, JECS 10 (2002) 361-372. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/earl.2002.0038

Cracco Ruggini L., Ambrogio a le opposizioni anticattoliche fra il 383 e il 390, „Augustinianum” 14 (1974) 409-449. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5840/agstm197414343

Fitzgerald A., La dynamique de la joie chez Ambroise de Milan, CPE 93 (2004) 11-23. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3917/tumu.023.0011

Nauroy G., Le fouet et le miel. Le combat d’Ambroise en 386 contre l’arianisme milanaise, RechAug 23 (1988) 3-86. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1484/J.RA.5.102173

Pałucki J., Święty Ambroży jako duszpasterz w świetle ekshortacji pastoralnych, Lublin 1996.


Wysocki, M. (2012). „For what is the joy of the heart but the draughts of wisdom?” (Ep. 1, 7) – about how Ambrose of Milan described a joy in his letters. Vox Patrum, 58, 289–305. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.4079

Marcin Wysocki 
Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II


Pursuant to the Act on Copyright and Related Rights of February 4, 1994, the Author of the publication grants the Publisher of the journal "Vox Patrum" a non-exclusive and free license to use the Work submitted for publication for an indefinite period of time on an unlimited territory in the following fields of use:
a. In the field of recording and reproducing the work - producing copies of the work using a specific technique, including printing, reprographic, magnetic recording and digital technology;
b. Within the scope of trading in the original or copies on which the work has been recorded - marketing, lending or renting the original or copies;
c. In the scope of disseminating the work in a manner other than specified in point b - public performance, exhibition, display, reproduction, broadcasting and rebroadcasting, as well as making the work available to the public, so that everyone can have access to it at a place and time chosen by them.
Moreover, the Author allows the Publisher free of charge to use and dispose of the compilations of the Works.
The publisher may grant sub-licenses.
Third parties may use the Works and other materials containing or based on the Works in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (also known as CC-BY-NC 4.0) license pattern.