Paulinus (Pontius Meropius) of Nola, St
Paulinus (Pontius Meropius) Of Nola, St., a noted prelate of the early Christian Church, was born about A.D. 353, at Bordeaux, of a noble family. He was a pupil of Ausonius, and was recommended by him to the emperor Gratian, who appointed him consul in 378, and afterwards advanced him to several offices of great importance. Through the influence and exhortations of St. Ambrose, he was induced to relinquish the world and give his property to the Church. He retired from official life, caused himself and his wife to be baptized, and lived quietly for a while in the vicinity of the Pyrenees. But he was finally induced to enter the service of the Church, and was ordained presbyter, in 393, at Barcelona, in Spain. He did not, however, long remain to exercise his ecclesiastical functions in this region of country, but crossed over the Alps to Italy. Passing through Florence, where he was greeted with much cordiality by St. Ambrose, he proceeded to Rome, and, after meeting with a cold reception from pope Siricius, who probably looked with suspicion on the hasty irregularity of his ordination, reached Nola, in Campania, where he possessed some property, soon after Easter, A.D. 394. In the immediate vicinity of this city were the tomb and miracle-working relics of Felix, a confessor and martyr, over which a church had been erected, with a few cells for the accommodation of pilgrims. In these Paulinus, with a small number of followers, took up his abode, conforming in all points to the observances of monastic establishments, except that his wife appears to have been his companion. After nearly fifteen years, passed in holy meditations and acts of charity, he was chosen bishop of Nola in A.D. 409 (or, according to Pagi, in A.D. 403), and during the stormy inroad of the Goths attended in the episcopal capacity the Council of Ravenna (q.v.) in 419. He died in 431. Paulinus wrote several works, of which only a few have come down to us; the principal of them are a discourse on almsgiving, some letters, and some thirty poems on religious subjects. Paul was intimate with the most distinguished theologians of his time, and is frequently mentioned in the Epistles of St. Augustine and St. Jerome. Paul of Nola was, in a sense, a believer in image and saint worship. He caused Biblical pictures to be exhibited annually at the festival season, on the ground "that by them the Bible scenes were made clear to the uneducated rustic as they could not otherwise be, and impressed themselves on his memory, awakened in him holy feelings and thoughts, and restrained him from all kinds of vice." His poems, too, are full of direct prayers for the intercession of the saints, especially of St. Felix, in whose honor he erected a basilica, and annually composed an ode, and whom he calls his patron, his father, his lord. He relates that the people came in great crowds around the wonder-working relics of this saint on his memorial day, and could not look on them enough. His works were published for the first time by Badius (Paris, 1516); but the best editions are by Muratori (Verona, 1736, fol.), and by Le Brun (Paris, 1685, 2 vols. 4to). See Jortin, Remarks on Eccles. Hist. 2:339 sq.; Schaff, Ch. Hist. 2:442; 3:568, 598; Cave, Hist. Litt. i; 228; Alzog, Patrologie, § 69; Ceillier, Hist. des Auteurs Sacre, vol. viii; Tillemont, Memoir Ecclesiastiques, vol. xiv; Schonemann, Biblioth. Patr. Lat. vol. i, cap. 4, § 30; Bahr, Gesch. der Romischen Literatur (supplement vol.), pt. i, § 23-25; pt. ii, § 100; Buse, Paulinus von Nola und seine Zeit (Regensb. 1856, 2 vols. 8vo); Gilly, Vigilantius and his Times (Lond. 1844). The article in Smith's Dict. of Greek and Roman Biog. and Mythol, we think, underestimates the pious character of Paul of Nola, and belittles his ability and scholarship. It is, however, a nearly exhaustive sketch of the life and writings of this personage.