St. Paulinus of Nola
A baptizer of classical poetry, Paulinus (353-431) wrote Christian
hymnography in standard Roman forms, and some modern scholars see his life
as an embodiment of the Christianization of the Roman empire. The scion of
a wealthy senatorial family, Pontius Meropius Paulinus was born at
Bordeaux and, after studying law, pursued a bureaucratic career: he held
the posts of consul and senator before becoming the governor of Campagna.
Retiring from public life, he returned to Gaul and later lived in Spain,
where he married Therasia. After the death of their only child, he became
increasingly religious, and the couple began to give their wealth to the
poor. He was ordained to the priesthood at the insistence of a crowd in
Barcelona, and in 395, he returned to Campagna, where he established a
church and a monastery near the tomb of St. Felix of Nola. As he became
more solitary, his tutor Ausonius wrote verse epistles expressing his
distaste for Paulinus' behavior; he defended himself in kind. (Henry
Vaughan translated one of these poems.) Most of Paulinus' other poetry,
typical in form for the verse of his day, honors St. Felix and echoes the
work of Virgil and Horace; its language is complex and difficult. Chosen
bishop of Nola c. 411, Paulinus corresponded with Augustine,
Ambrose, as well as with Martin of Tours and Sulpicius Severus. Paulinus
is said to have protected his see from Alairic's army.
Karen Rae Keck
- ASSOCIATED PEOPLE:
Epistle 58: To Paulinus.
Paulinus had sent Jerome a copy of his book in defence of the Emperor
Theodosius and a letter asking for advice on the ascetic life.
Paulinus' messenger was
Vigilantius, later a notable heretic.
Return to St Pachomius Library.