Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2062
Presbyter Paulinus, later bishop of Nola, describes to Presbyter Amandus of Bordeaux (Gaul) the circumstances of his presbyterial ordination which took place on Christmas 394 in Barcelona (Iberial Peninsula). Account of Paulinus of Nola, Letter 2, AD 395.
Letter 2 to Presbyter Amandus of Bordeaux
2. Nunc huic domino placuit in uase fictili ponere thesaurum suum, qui me uocauit per gratiam suam, suscitans de terra inopem et de stercore erigens pauperem, ut conlocaret cum principibus populi sui et inter sacerdotes indueret salutare, ut dum curro in odorem unguentorum eius, fierem gutta eius unguenti, quod descendit in barbam Aaron. In cuius domo domesticus fieri et benedicere dominum de fontibus Israel cum pro meritorum meorum conscientia recusarem uel potius non auderem recipere, ego uermis et non homo ui subita inuitus, quod fateor, adstrictus et multitudine strangulante conpulsus, quamuis cuperem calicem ipsum a me transire, tamen necesse habui dicere domino: uerum non mea uoluntas sed tua fiat, cum praesertim ipsum de se dominum dixisse legerem: filius hominis non uenit ministrari sed ministrare. Praeuenti igitur a domino et adprehensi ab eo, quem necdum adprehendimus, deseruimus altario dei et mensis salutaribus ministramus iam nomine officioque seniores, sensu autem adhuc paruuli et sermone lactantes.
Paulinus asks Amandus to pray for him to be a good presbyter.
4. Igitur quia facti sumus de hostibus ciues, de longinquis proximi, de ouibus pastores et positi sumus in fundamento apostolorum et prophetarum, erudite et confirmate manus ad aedificandi scientiam.
[...] Ergo ut tuum ac te cum manentem spiritaliter uidens ac tenens instrue iuua hortare confirma. De uobis enim et per uos deo natus in Christo uestra potissimum cura esse debeo, quia uestrum obprobrium, si indignus, aut uestrum gaudium ero, si ex fructibus bonis uestrae arboris ramus esse cognoscar.
(ed. de Hartel 1894: 10–13)
Letter 2 to Presbyter Amandus of Bordeaux
2. Now it has pleased the Lord to place his treasure in an earthenware vessel. He has called me by his grace, raising up the needy from the earth and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill that He might place me with the princes of His people, and clothe me with salvation amongst his priests. So in hastening to the odour of His ointments I may become a drop off that ointment which ran down upon the beard of Aaron. Out of awareness of my deserts, I tried to refuse (or rather, I did not dare to consent) to become a servant in the Lord's house and to bless the Lord from the fountains of Israel. I admit that I, a worm and no man, was unwillingly forced by sudden coercion, compelled by the crowd with their fingers at my throat. Though I desired my chalice to pass from me, still I was compelled to say to the Lord: Yet not my will but Thine be done, especially when I read that the Lord Himself had said of His own person: The Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister. Therefore, restrained by the Lord and apprehended by Him whom I do not yet apprehend, I attend God's altar. I serve at the table of salvation as one now senior in title and office, but as still a child in sense and a suckling in speech.
Paulinus asks Amandus to pray for him to be a good presbyter.
4. Since, then, I am no longer enemy [or "guest" – JSz] but a citizen, no longer afar but close at hand, no longer sheep but shepherd, and since I have been set on the foundation of apostles and prophets, school and strengthen my hands in the knowledge of building [i.e. Church].
[...] Instruct, help, encourage, and strengthen me. As one born of you, and through you of God, I should be your especial care in Christ. For if I am unworthy, I shall be a reproach to you; but I shall be your joy if I am recognised by my good fruit as a brunch of your tree.
(trans. Walsh 1966: 1.39–42, summarised by J. Szafranowski)


Paulinus' ordination took place almost certainly at Christmas 394. This dating is based on the Natalicia which he wrote every year in January to commemorate Felix of Nola. In the first one, written in 395, he asked Felix to watch over him during his travel from Barcelona to Nola. This letter was probably written in early 395, when Paulinus still did not depart from Barcelona.
The second part of this letter suggests that Paulinus was instructed as a catechumen by Amandus (he was baptised by Bishop Delphinus of Bordeaux, see [2063]).
Gregory of Tours cites the text of Paulinus of unknown provenance, which mentions Amandus as Bishop of Bordeaux around 407/409 (Histories II.13). Gregory also mentions Amandus as bishop in his account on Bishop Severinus of Bordeaux who succeeded Amandus in bishopric (Glory of the Confessors 44)

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Gaul
  • Barcelona
  • Bordeaux

About the source:

Author: Paulinus of Nola
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Barcelona (Iberian Peninsula)
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].
G. de Hartel ed., S. Pontii Meropii Paulini Nolani opera, vol. 1 Epistulae, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 29, Prague-Wien-Leipzig 1894.
Letters of St. Paulinus of Nola, trans. P.G. Walsh, Ancient Christian Writers 35, New York 1966.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Further ecclesiastical career - Bishop
Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
Reasons for ordination - Involuntary ordination
Act of ordination
Relation with - Another presbyter
Described by a title - Senior
Pastoral activity - Spiritual direction
Described by a title - Pastor
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2062,