Paulinus stayed in Spain between 389 and 395. At some point between 390 and 393 his wife, Therasia, bore him a son who died within eight days. After this tragedy, Paulinus and Therasia decided to separate from their marital bed (see Paulinus of Nola, Poem 21.449-450). It is impossible to determine whether son's death had any impact on Paulinus' consent to become ordained.
Paulinus' ordination took place almost certainly at Christmas 394. This dating is based on the Natalicia that Paulinus wrote every year in January to commemorate Felix of Nola. In the first, written in 395, he asked Felix to watch over him during his journey from Barcelona to Nola.
Paulinus was ordained by Bishop Lampius of Barcelona .
The end of this letter seems to indicate that Paulinus wanted to concelebrate Easter eucharist with Sulpicius Severus, which would testify to the latter's presbyterial ordination (for other evidence of his ordination, see  and ).
According to Paulinus, Eluso, where Sulpicius then lived, was eight days' journey away from Barcelona. It should probably be identified with Primuliacum, Sulpicius' villa-monastery, possibly near present-day Montferrand close to Toulouse, see Riess 2013: 66-69 and .
Paulinus was indeed anxious as to whether his ordination would not hamper the monastic way of life he wanted to pursue. Shortly before or after he accepted the holy orders, he sent the letter to Jerome, asking how to combine monasticism and an ecclesiastical career. Jerome's response was simple: it is impossible to do so (see ).