The citizens of Thessalonica had aroused the Emperor’s wrath, but at Ambrose’s request he had pardoned them. Later the ruler, secretly influenced by some malicious courtiers, ordered the execution of a huge number of those he had pardoned. Ambrose knew nothing of this at the time, but when he learned what had happened, he refused to allow the Emperor to enter the church. Theodosius pointed out that David had committed adultery and homicide, and Ambrose responded: You followed David in wrongdoing, follow him in repentance. The most clement Emperor accepted the order gracefully and did not refuse to do public penance....
Being thus reconciled, he went into the church and stood inside the gates of the chancel. Ambrose asked him why he was waiting there. He said that he was waiting to take part in the sacred mysteries, to which Ambrose replied: O Emperor, the space inside the chancel is reserved for priests. Go outside therefore, and participate with the rest of the people. The purple makes emperors, not priests. The Emperor promptly obeyed.
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