St. Paulinus of Nola, Bishop and Confessor
From his own works, St. Austin, St. Jerom, &c. collected by l’Abbe Le Brun Desmarettes, who died in 1731, in the end of his edition of the works of this father, printed at Paris in 1685, in 2 vols. 8vo. and at Verona in 1736. See also Tillemont, t. 14, p. 1. Ceillier, t. 10, p. 543, and Remondi of the congregation of Somasco, in his second Tome della Nolana Ecclesiastica Storia, in which he gives us the life of St. Paulinus, with an excellent Italian translation of his works, especially his poems, dedicated to Pope Benedict XIV. at Naples, 1759, in folio.
PONTIUS MEROPIUS PAULINUS was born at Bourdeaux in 353. In his pedigree, both by the father and mother’s side, was displayed a long line of illustrious senators, and his own father, Pontius Paulinus, was præfectus prætorio in Gaul, the first magistrate in the western empire. But the honours and triumphs of his ancestors were eclipsed by his superior virtues, which rendered him the admiration of his own and all succeeding ages, and excited St. Martin, St. Sulpicius Severus, St. Ambrose, St. Austin, St. Jerom, St. Eucherius, St. Gregory of Tours, Apollinaris, Cassiodorus, and others to vie with each other in celebrating his heroic actions, and to become the publishers of his praises to the corners of the earth. Besides the pre-eminence of his birth and riches, he received from nature a penetrating and elevated understanding, and an elegant genius, with other excellent accomplishments of mind and body, by which he was qualified for the highest attainments, and seemed born for everything that is great. These talents he cultivated from his infancy, by the closest application to the study of all the liberal arts, and he acquired the most extensive compass of useful learning. He had for master in poesy and eloquence the famous Ausonius, the first man of his age in those sciences, whose delicacy and wit would have ranked him among the greatest poets, if industry, evenness of style, and the purity of the Augustan age had not been wanting in his writings. 1 That professor, merely for his literary abilities, was honoured by Valentinian with the dignity of præfectus prætorio, and by Gratian, whose preceptor he was, with that of consul. Under such a master Paulinus fully answered the hopes which his friends had conceived of him, and, whilst young, harangued at the bar with great applause. “Every one,” says St. Jerom, 2 “admired the purity and eloquence of his diction, the delicacy and loftiness of his thoughts, the strength and sweetness of his style, and the liveliness of his imagination.” Such were the acquirements of Paulinus in his youth, whilst a desire of pleasing men yet divided his heart. Probity, integrity, and other moral virtues were endowments of his soul still more admirable than his learning. His merit was soon distinguished by those who had the administration of the state, and by the emperors themselves, by whom he was raised, yet young, to the first dignities, and declared consul before his master Ausonius; consequently before the year 379. He took to wife a Spanish lady of sincere piety, and one of the most accomplished of her sex; her name was Therasia, and she brought him a great estate in land. The prudence, generosity, affability, and other social and religious virtues of the young statesman attracted veneration and esteem wherever he came, and gained him many friends and clients in Italy, Gaul, and Spain; in all which countries he had displayed his talents during fifteen years in the discharge of various employments and affairs both public and domestic. But God was pleased to open his eyes to see the emptiness of all worldly pursuits, and to inspire him with a more noble and innocent ambition of becoming little for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. 1 Continue reading