Alexander Grenkov, the future father Ambrose, was born in November 1812, in the spiritual family of the village of Bolshiye Lipovitsy, Tambov Diocese. After graduating from the Theological School, he then successfully completed a course at the Theological Seminary. However, he did not go to either the Theological Academy or the priesthood. For some time he was a home teacher in a landowner's family, and then a teacher at the Lipetsk Spiritual School. Possessing a lively and cheerful character, kindness and wit, Alexander Mikhailovich was very loved by his comrades and colleagues. In the last class of the Seminary, he had to endure a dangerous illness, and he vowed to be tonsured a monk if he recovered.
After his recovery, he did not forget his vow, but for several years he put off his fulfillment, “shrinking,” as he put it. However, his conscience did not give him rest. And the more time passed, the more painful the pangs of conscience became. Periods of carefree fun and carelessness gave way to periods of acute melancholy and sadness, intense prayer and tears. Once, while already in Lipetsk, walking in a nearby forest, he, standing on the bank of a stream, clearly heard the words in its murmur: "Praise God, love God ...".
At home, secluded from prying eyes, he fervently prayed to the Mother of God to enlighten his mind and direct his will. In general, he did not possess a persistent will and already in his old age he told his spiritual children: “You must obey me from the first word. I am a yielding person. If you argue with me, I can give in to you, but it will not be to your advantage.” Exhausted from his indecision, Alexander Mikhailovich went for advice to the well-known ascetic Hilarion, who lived in that area. “Go to Optina,” the elder told him, “and you will be experienced.” Grenkov obeyed. In the autumn of 1839 he arrived at Optina Pustyn, where he was kindly received by the elder Leo.
Soon he took tonsure and was named Ambrose, in memory of St. Mediolan, then he was ordained a hierodeacon and, later, a hieromonk. When Fr. Macarius started his publishing business, Fr. Ambrose, who graduated from the seminary and was familiar with ancient and new languages (he knew five languages), was one of his closest assistants. Soon after his ordination, he fell ill. The illness was so severe and prolonged that it forever undermined the health of Father Ambrose and almost chained him to bed. Due to his morbid condition, until his death, he could not perform liturgies and participate in long monastic services.
The Monk Ambrose died on October 23, 1891 in the Shamorda monastery and was buried in Optina Hermitage next to the grave of the Monk Elder Macarius. After his death, Elder Ambrose appeared to many people in different parts of Russia, healing the sick and helping the suffering. The sanctity of the life of Elder Ambrose is revealed in his active love for his neighbors, and the Orthodox people have always responded to him with deep reverence. In 1988, at the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, St. Ambrose was canonized among the holy saints of God. His honest relics found (in 1998) rest in the Vvedensky Cathedral of Optina Hermitage.