Paulinus of Nola

Pontius Meropius Anicius Paulinus Paulinus of Nola, or (c. 354 in Bordeaux, † June 22 431 in Nola, near Naples ) was a late antique bishop and writer.


Paulinus comes from a well-known Roman senatorial family with possessions in Aquitaine, in the northern Hispania and southern Italy. He was educated in Bordeaux poet Ausonius, who became his friend. Paulinus became governor of Campania in southern Italy, but soon returned to Bordeaux when he seriously turning to Christianity - at this time the upper class was Christian in large parts, though not of strict observance. When his only child, a son, died young, he and his wife Theresa seem to have withdrawn from worldly life, a process that began at 390 with a move from Bordeaux to Barcelona.

As Augustine of Hippo, who was 391 ordained against his will in Hippo Regius from cooperating with Bishop Valerius amount Paulinus was persuaded to 395 at Christmas time from a lot to get ordained. Paulinus refused to stay in Barcelona, ​​and moved to Campania with his wife. Married priests in the early church were not uncommon, but the interests of Paulinus turned to monasticism.

He had developed already during his first stay in Campania a fondness for the martyrs Felix of Nola (4th century), and they now settled in the vicinity of his tomb; Paulinus had to build the complex again, increase the shrine and build guesthouses for pilgrims. Every year he wrote for the feast of Saints, when the pilgrims were at their peak, a hymn in his honor, from which one can imagine the personal relationship between Paulinus and his invisible friend and heavenly lawyer. His poetry shows much of the overcharge awareness of the early 5th century, which disgusts the classicists since the 18th century and is rejected by them as decadent.

Many letters of Paulinus to his contemporaries, including Ausonius and Sulpicius Severus in southern Gaul, Victricius of Rouen in northern Gaul, and Augustine in Africa, remained intact. Paulinus could also be responsible directly for Augustine Confessions: He wrote to Alypius, Bishop of Thagaste and close friend of Augustine, wherein he asks after his conversion and how he started his ascetic life. Alypius ' autobiographical answer is not known - Augustine response, however, are the Confessions.

To 410 Paulinus was elected bishop of Nola. As an increasing number of aristocrats in the late 4th and early 5th century, joined the clergy rather than the usual education path in the imperial administration service, Paulinus also donated a large part of his fortune to his chosen church and city.

Its built for St. Felix buildings are known by the literary and archaeological evidence, especially from his long letter to Sulpicius Severus, in which he describes the arrangement of the buildings and their decoration, it included a detailed description of the mosaics in the apse above the high altar and a long inscription on the wall below the portrait. As he explains how he wants to bring visitors close to an understanding of the image above the altar, Paulinus gives a rare insight into the intentions of a patron of the arts in the late Roman Empire.


  • Evangelical: June 22 in the Protestant calendar name (as teachers of the Church )
  • Roman Catholic: June 22 ( a saint )
  • Orthodox June 22 and 23 January ( a saint )
  • Armenian: September 8 ( a saint )

Text output

  • Pontius Paulinus Meropius: Epistulae - letters. Translated and introduced by Matthias Skeb ( Fontes Christiani =. Vol. 25, Part Volumes 1-3). Herder Verlag, Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 1998.