Letter 31 to Sulpicius Severus
Paulinus greets his holy and loving brother Severus.
1. In telling me of your other activities and desires, our brother Victor has reported to me that you desire for our basilica, which you have built in the village of Primuliacum on bigger lines than your previous one, some blessed object from the sacred relics of the saints, with which to adorn your family church in a manner worthy of your faith and service. The Lord is my witness that if I had even the smallest measure of sacred ashes over and above what we shall find necessary for the dedication of the basilica soon to be completed here in the Lord's name, I should have sent it to you, my loving brother. But because I did not possess abundance of such a gift, and because Victor said that he had great hope of a similar favour from the holy Silvia who had promised him some of the relics of many eastern martyrs, I have found instead a fragment of a sliver of wood of the holy Cross to send you as a worthy gift. This will enhance both the consecration of your basilica and your holy collection of sacred ashes. This goodly gift was brought to me from Jerusalem by the blessed Melania, a gift of the holy bishop John there; my fellow servant Therasia has sent it specially to our venerable sister Bassula. Though presented to one of you, it belongs to you both, for you are both animated by a single vocation, and the faith which brings you together into a perfect man empties you of your sex. [...]
2. But I do not also bid you imitate the arrangement by which I have enclosed the relic, which imparts a great blessing, in a golden casing. Rather in this adornment I have imitated your faith. I sent you your own exemplar clothed with gold, for I know that you have within you, like gold tried in the fire, the kingdom of God: in other words, faith in the cross, by which we enter the kingdom of heaven.
(trans. Walsh 1966: 2.125-126)