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From one of the foremost medievalists of our time, a groundbreaking work on history and memory that goes well beyond the life of this influential saint.

Elected bishop of Milan by popular acclaim in 374, Ambrose went on to become one of the four original Doctors of the Church. There is much more to this book, however, than the compelling story of the bishop who baptized Saint Augustine in the fourth century. Trace and Aura investigates how a crucial figure from the past can return in different guises over and over again, in a city that he inspired and shaped through his beliefs and political convictions. His recurring lives actually span more than ten centuries, from the fourth to the fourteenth.

In the process of following Ambrose's various reincarnations, Patrick Boucheron draws compelling connections between religion, government, tyranny, the Italian commune, Milan's yearning for autonomy, and many other aspects of this fascinating relationship between a city and its spiritual mentor who strangely seems to resist being manipulated by the needs and ambitions of those in power.

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