Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ID
ER 2067
Presbyter Paulinus, later bishop of Nola, writes to Presbyter Sulpicius Severus from Primuliacum (Gaul) that Pope Siricius refused to meet him in Rome when Paulinus journeyed from Barcelona to Nola. After Paulinus had reached Nola he fell sick. Numerous bishops either visited him or sent their clerics with letters. Account of Paulinus of Nola, Letter 5, AD 396.
Letter 5 to Sulpicius Severus
 
Paulinus acknowledges the difficulties faced by those privileged in social status and wealth who wish to renounce them and follow ascetic practice, just as Paulinus himself and Sulpicius did. For instance, we learn that Sulpicius married into a consular family. Afterwards, Paulinus mentions the jealous clerics of Rome he met on his way from Barcelona to Nola.
 
14. Sed plenius indicare poterunt conserui nostri, pueri tui, quantum nobis gratiae dominicae detrimentum faciat urbici papae superba discretio, qui paucis ipsis diebus quibus interfuere uiderunt, quam adsidua nos, quam sedula sollicitorum fratrum monachorum antistitum clericorum atque etiam ipsorum saepe saecularium officia toto illo nostro aegritudinis tempore celebrauerint. Quod apud unanimitatem tuam de dominica tamen gratia, cuius hoc quoque opus et munus est, gloriari licet, nemo propemodum tota Campania episcoporum non uisitare nos fas existimauit sibi. Et quos infirmitas uel necessitas aliqua deuinxerat, missis uice sua clericis et litteris adfuerunt. Afri quoque ad nos episcopi reuisendos prima aestate miserunt.
 
Paulinus then urges Sulpicius to visit him. He attaches some Campanian bread with the letter as a blessing.
 
21. Ac ne panis siligineus tibi modum nostrae humilitatis excedere uideretur, misimus testimonialem diuitiarum nostrarum scutellam buxeam; ut apophoreta uoti spiritalis accipies, habiturus exemplo, si necdum simili argento uteris.
Quod si nigellatum habes, mitte nobis per ea uascula, quae pueris, filiis nostris, demandauimus. Amamus enim uasa fictilia, quia et secundum Adam cognata nobis sunt et domini thesaurum in talibus uasis commissum habemus.
 22. Praeterea peto, quia summum animi tui ius habere me confido, ut, si necesse fuerit deficientibus a me et libertis et seruis et fratribus tuam curam inpendi, ordinare digneris, qualiter ad nos uinum uetus, quod Narbone adhuc nos habere credimus, peruehatur. Ne timeas, frater sancte, damnum, si nos feceris etiam pecuniae debitores.
 
(ed. de Hartel 1894: 33-39)
Letter 5 to Sulpicius Severus
 
Paulinus acknowledges the difficulties faced by those privileged in social status and wealth who wish to renounce them and follow ascetic practice, just as Paulinus himself and Sulpicius did. For instance, we learn that Sulpicius married into a consular family. Afterwards, Paulinus mentions the jealous clerics of Rome he met on his way from Barcelona to Nola.
 
14. But your couriers, who are my fellow servants, will be able more fully to reveal to you how little I am deprived of the Lord's kindness by the Pope of Rome's haughty refusal to see me. In the few days they have been here they have witnessed how unremitting and zealous are the services performed for me by my brother monks, by bishops, clerics, and even laymen during the whole period of my illness. I can boast before you my friend that by the grace of the Lord, whose work and gift this also has been, almost every bishop from the whole Campania has thought of his duty to visit me. Those incapacitated by sickness or unavoidably detained have been represented by their clergy and their letters. Even bishops from Africa sent a courier to visit me a second time at the beginning of the summer.
 
Paulinus then urges Sulpicius to visit him. He attaches some Campanian bread with the letter as a blessing.
 
21. In case you think that wheaten bread is a gift which carries my practice of humility too far, I send you a platter made of boxwood to attest my riches. You must take it as a gift of my spiritual longing to you, and regard it as an example to follow if you are not yet using wood as a substitute for silver.
If you have any dark oil (nigellatum), send it to me in the vessels which I have entrusted to my sons the couriers. For I love earthenware vases, because they are related to us through Adam and we bear the treasure of the Lord entrusted to us in such vessels.
22. Since I trust that I have the highest claim to your affection, I also make this request. If my freedmen, servants, and brothers fail me and your supervision becomes necessary, please arrange that the vintage wine, which I believe I still possess at Narbo, be sent to me. My holy brother do not fear the financial loss if you make me your debtor in money as in other things.
 
(trans. Walsh 1966: 1.63-69)

Discussion:

The bishop of Rome who declined to see Paulinus was Pope Siricius. Several hypotheses were put forward to explain his decision. One of them, suggested by Lagrange (1886: 1.198), states that Siricius might have been displeased with Paulinus' irregular ordination at Christmas AD 394 in Barcelona [2055].
 
It is not clear what Paulinus means by nigellatum translated here as dark oil.
 
This letter was most probably sent in the summer of 396, shortly after Paulinus had settled in Nola in late 395.

Place of event:

Region
  • Italy south of Rome and Sicily
  • Rome
  • Gaul
City
  • Nola
  • Rome
  • Primuliacum

About the source:

Author: Paulinus of Nola
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Nola (Italy south of Rome and Sicily)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Paulinus of Nola (Pontius Metropius Paulinus) was born into a very affluent family ca 335. Although most of his estates were located near Bordeaux in Gaul, he was appointed the governor of Campania in his early twenties. He then returned to Gaul. In 389, after being baptized, Paulinus and his wife moved to Spain. They both started to follow a semi-monastic way of life. Following the death of his newborn son, Paulinus was ordered a presbyter at Christmas 394. In 395, Paulinus established a monastery in Nola in Campania. He served as a bishop of that city from 409 till his death in 431. Paulinus corresponded with many principal Christian intellectuals of the era, including Sulpicius Severus, Jerome, Ambrose of Milan, and Augustine of Hippo. Of this rich epistolographic corpus, however, only fifty-one letters survived. For the list of all letters Paulinus sent as a presbyter, and their addressees, see [2059].
Edition:
G. de Hartel ed., S. Pontii Meropii Paulini Nolani opera, vol. 1 Epistulae, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 29, Prague-Wien-Leipzig 1894.
 
Translation:
Letters of St. Paulinus of Nola, trans. P.G. Walsh, Ancient Christian Writers 35, New York 1966.

Categories:

Social origin or status - Social elite
Writing activity - Correspondence
Family life - Marriage
Family life - Permanent relationship before ordination
Food/Clothes/Housing - Food and drink
Travel and change of residence
Ecclesiastical administration - Ecclesiastical envoy
    Economic status and activity - Ownership or possession of land
    Economic status and activity - Indication of wealth
    Economic status and activity - Slave ownership
    Reverenced by
    Disrespected by
    Friendship
    Relation with - Another presbyter
    Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
    Monastic or common life
    Devotion - Ascetic practice
    Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2067, http://presbytersproject.ihuw.pl/index.php?id=6&SourceID=2067