Holy Fathers On the Triumphal Entry

St. Ambrose ca. 338-397
The colt of the jenny is mounted ‘on which no man ever yet sat,’ because none before Christ called the peoples of the nations to the Church. So it was held tied by the fetters of unbelief, bonded to a wicked lord, enslaved by error, but could not claim for itself mastery, which not nature but guilt had made lord. (Expositions Bk. IX 7)


The colt was in town and tied with the ass (Zech. 9:9, Mt. 21:5, Jn. 12:15). He could not be unloosed, save at the Lord’s command (Ps. 145[146]:8[7]). The hand of the apostle released him; such a grace…Now since each sex had been cast out from Paradise through two human beings, each sex is recalled through two creatures. Thus, there St. Matthew pictures, as it were, Even in her sins through the jenny (Mt. 21:2), but here St. Luke expressed the universality of the Gentile people in the colt. (Ibid., Bk. IX 3,4)

Blessed Jerome ca. 347-420
By this ass we are to understand the Synagogue, which was tamed, and broken to the yoke of the law. The colt of the ass, wanton and unbroken, is the people of the Gentiles, upon whom Christ sat; and that He had sent His two disciples to them; the one to the circumcision, and the other to the Gentiles. (The Meaning of the Gospel, P.L. 26, III, 21, in Toal, II:173)
Blessed Augustine ca. 354-430
[B]y the ass’s colt, on which no man had ever sat (for so it is found recorded in the other evangelists), we are to understand the Gentile nations which had not received the law of the Lord; by the ass, on the other hand (for both animals were brought to the Lord), that people of His which came of the nation of Israel, and was already so far subdued as to recognize its Master’s crib. (Tractate 51 John 12:12-26)
St. Cyril of Alexandria ca. 376-444
Christ appears seated on an ass, we do not say that He so sat for the reason that it was a long distance to the city; for it was not more than fifteen furlongs off: nor because there was a multitude; for it is certain that on other occasions when He was found with a multitude He did not do this: but He does so, to indicate that He is about to make subject to Himself as a new people the unclean among the Gentiles, and to lead them up to the prerogative of righteousness, and to the Jerusalem above, of which the earthly is a type; into which this people being made clean shall enter with Christ, Who will be hymned by the guileless angels, of whom the babes are a type. And He calls the ass a colt, because the people of the Gentiles had been untrained to the piety which faith produces. (Commentary on John Bk. 8)
Blessed Theophylact ca. 1055-1107
Luke and Mark on the one hand speak of one beast of burden, but Matthew on the other hand mentions an ass and a foal; yet they are not speaking in opposition. The mother followed the foal which was lead. ‘He sat thereon’ does not mean the two beasts, but on the garments. Or He first sat on the ass and then the foal, since the first took rest in the Synagogue of the Jews and then later among the people of the nations. (P.G. 123:109 AB [col. 369])