1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Paulinus, Saint

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PAULINUS, SAINT, of Nola (333–431). Pontius Meropius Anicius Paulinus, who was successively a consul, a monk and a bishop, was born at Bordeaux in A.D. 353. His father, pracfectus praclorio in Gaul, was a man of great wealth, who entrusted his son's education, with the best of results, to Ausonius. In 378 Paulinus was raised to the rank of consul sujfediis, and in the following year he appears to have been sent as consular is into Campania. It was at this period, while present at a festival of St Felix of Nola, that he entered upon his lifelong devotion to the cult of that saint. He had married a wealthy Spanish lady named Therasia; this happy union was clouded by the death in infancy of their only child — a bereavement which, combined with the many disasters by which the empire was being visited, did much to foster in them that world-weariness to which they afterwards gave such emphatic expression. From Campania Paulinus returned to his native place and came into correspondence or personal intimacy with men like Martin of Tours and Ambrose of JVIilan, and ultimately (about 389) he was formally received into the church by bishop Delphinus of Bordeaux, whence shortly afterwards he withdrew with his wife beyond the Pyrenees. The asceticism of Paulinus and his liberality towards the poor soon brought him into great repute; and while he was spending Christmas at Barcelona the people insisted on his being forthwith ordained to the priesthood. The irregularity of this step, however, was resented by many of the clergy, and the occurrence is still passed lightly over by his Roman Catholic panegyrists. In the following year he went into Italy, and after visiting Ambrose at MUan and Siricius at Rome — the latter of whom received him somewhat coldly — he proceeded into Campania, where, in the neighbourhood of Nola, he settled among the rude structures which he had caused to be built around the tomb and relics of his patron saint. With Therasia (now a sister, not a wife), while leading a life of rigid asceticism, he devoted the whole of his vast wealth to the entertainment of needy pilgrims, to payment of the debts of the insolvent, and to public works of utility or ornament; besides building basilicas at Fondi and Nola, he provided the latter place with a much needed aqueduct. At the next vacancy, not later than 409, he succeeded to the bishopric of Nola, and this office he held with ever-increasing honour until his death, which occurred shortly after that of Augustine, whose friend he was, in 431. He is commemorated by the Church of Rome on the 22nd of June.

The extant writings of Paulinus consist of some fifty Epistolae, addressed to Sulpicius Severus, Delphinus, Augustine, Jerome and others; thirty-two Cannina in a great variety of metre, including a series of hexameter " natales, " begun about 393 and continued annually in honour of the festival of St Felix, metrical epistles to Ausonius and Gestidius, and paraphrases of three psalms; and a Passio S. GenesU. They reveal to us a kindly and cheerful soul, well versed in the literary accomplishments of the period, but without any strength of intellectual grasp and peculiarly prone to superstition.

His works were edited by Rosweyde and Fronton le Due in 1622 (Antwerp, 8vo), and their text was reprinted in the Bibl. max. patr. (1677). The next editor was Le Brun des Marettes (2 vols. 4to, Paris, 1685), whose text was reproduced in substance by Muratori (Verona, 1736), and reprinted by Migne. The poems and letters are edited in the Vienna Corpus script, eccl. lat. vol. xxviii. See also P. Reinelt, Studien iiber die Briefe d. h. Paulin von Nola Breslau, 1904) and other literature cited in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyk. fur prot. Theol. vol. xv.