Paulinus of Nola bigraphy, stories - Religion

Paulinus of Nola : biography

354 - 431

Paulinus of Nola (also known as Paolino di Nola; full name, Pontius Meropius Anicius Paulinus)Löffler, K. (1911). "St. Paulinus, Bishop of Nola". The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. (ca. 354 Bordeaux – 22 June 431 Nola) was a Latin poet and letter-writer, and a convert to the Christian faith. His renunciation of wealth and a senatorial career in favour of a Christian ascetic and philanthropic life was held up as an example by many of his contemporaries, including Augustine, Jerome, Martin of Tours, and Ambrose. After his conversion he wrote to his friend and teacher, the poet Ausonius, affirming his friendship but insisting on the priorities of his new life. He and his wife settled at Nola near Naples, where he wrote poems in honor of St. Felix and corresponded with Christian leaders throughout the Roman Empire. After his wife's death he became Bishop of Nola, and was invited to help resolve the disputed election of Pope Boniface I.

He was recognized as a saint in the undivided Church and is commemorated on 22 June.

Life

Pontius Meropius Paulinus was born ca. 352 at Bordeaux, in southwestern France. He was from a notable senatorial family with estates in the Aquitaine province of France, northern Spain, and southern Italy. He was educated in Bordeaux, where his teacher, the poet Ausonius, also became his friend. At some time during his boyhood he made a visit to the shrine of St Felix at Nola near Naples.

His normal career as a young member of the senatorial class did not last long. In 375 the Emperor Gratian succeeded his father Valentinian. Gratian made Paulinus suffect consul at Rome ca. 377, and appointed him governor of the southern Italian province of Campania ca. 380-1, but in 383 Gratian was assassinated at Lyon, France, and ca. 384 Paulinus returned to Bordeaux. There he married a Spanish Christian woman named Therasia. Paulinus himself became a Christian and was baptized ca. 389 by Bishop Delphinus of Bordeaux. Shortly afterwards, his wife and he moved to their estates in Spain. When they lost their first child, a boy, only eight days after birth, the couple decided to live a secluded religious life.

In 393 or 394, after some resistance from Paulinus, he was ordained a presbyter on Christmas day by Lampius, Bishop of Barcelona.Bardenhewer, Otto. Translated by Thomas J. Shahan (2006). Patrology: The Lives and Works of the Fathers of the Church. Kessinger Publishing. p.447. (This was similar to what had happened with St. Augustine of Hippo, who had been ordained against his protestations in the year 391 at the behest of a crowd cooperating with Bishop Valerius in the north African city of Hippo Regius.) However, there is some debate as to whether the ordination was canonical, since Paulinus received ordination "at a leap" (per saltum), without receiving minor orders first.

Paulinus refused to remain in Barcelona, and in late spring of 395 he and his wife moved from Spain to Nola in Campania where he remained until his death. Paulinus credited his conversion to St. Felix, who was buried in Nola, and each year would write a poem in honor of the saint. He and Therasia also rebuilt a church commemorating St. Felix. During these years Paulinus engaged in considerable epistolary dialogue with St. Jerome among others about monastic topics.

Therasia died some time between 408 and 413, and shortly afterwards Paulinus received episcopal ordination.

Paulinus died at Nola on 22 June 431. The following year the presbyter Uranus wrote his De Obitu Paulini, an account of the death and character of the saint.

Influence

Already during his governorship Paulinus had developed a fondness for the 3rd-century martyr, St. Felix of Nola. Felix was a minor saint of local importance and patronage whose tomb had been built within the local necropolis at Cimitile, just outside the town of Nola. As governor, Paulinus had widened the road to Cimitile and built a residence for travelers; it was at this site that Paulinus and Therasia took up residence. Nearby were a number of small chapels and at least one old basilica. Paulinus rebuilt the complex, constructing a brand new basilica to Felix and gathering to him a small monastic community. Paulinus wrote an annual hymn (natalicium) in honor of St. Felix for the feast day when processions of pilgrims were at their peak. In these hymns we can understand the personal relationship Paulinus felt between himself and Felix, his advocate in heaven. His poetry shares with much of the work of the early 5th century an ornateness of style that classicists of the 18th and 19th centuries found cloying and dismissed as decadent, though Paulinus' poems were highly regarded at the time and used as educational models.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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