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 | By Michelle Sessions DiFranco

A Festive Italian Dessert for Your Holiday Table

Honoring St. Ambrose

St. John Chrysostom once said, “The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.” I can’t help but wonder if he was thinking of his contemporary, Aurelius Ambrosius, when he penned that quotation. Aurelius Ambrosius is better known to us as St. Ambrose.

St. Ambrose, whose feast we celebrate on Dec. 7,  is a Doctor of the Church and was one of the most influential and important figures in the Church in the fourth century.

As a prolific preacher and the Bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose was influential in advancing much of western Christianity in the fourth century. Interestingly, throughout most of his life, Ambrose kept bees. He loved them and bred them so he could give honey to the poor, which is why he’s the patron saint of bees and beekeepers. It is said that when Ambrose was an infant, a swarm of bees landed on his face, leaving behind a drop of honey before flying away. His father took this as a sign that he would become a great preacher with a “honeyed tongue.”

Like the bees St. Ambrose kept, this holy man gave his life’s work to others. He labored for the Church. And as his peer, St. John Chrysostom has said, this deserves honor.

With Christmas festivities around the corner, consider making this Italian dessert to honor a saint who spent most of his time in Italy and whose feast we celebrate this month. I share this recipe for a panna cotta with a nod to the preacher with the “honeyed tongue.” This silky sweet treat is made with lots of honey. Enjoy!

Michelle Sessions DiFranco is a designer and the busy mom of three children.