Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2063
Presbyter Paulinus, later bishop of Nola, writes to Bishop Alypius of Thagaste (North Africa). Among other things, he claims that Ambrose of Milan wanted him to join his clergy. Account of Paulinus of Nola, Letter 3, AD 395.
Letter 3 to Bishop Alypius of Thagaste
Paulinus thanks Alypius for the five books of Augustine Alypius sent him.
4. Quod enim indicasti iam de humilitatis nostrae nomine apud Mediolanium te didicisse, cum illic initiareris, fateor curiosius me uelle condiscere, ut omni parte te nouerim, quo magis gratuler, si a suscipiendo mihi patre nostro Ambrosio uel ad fidem inuitatus es uel ad sacerdotium consecratus, ut eundem ambo habere uideamur auctorem. Nam ego etsi a Delphino Burdigalae baptizatus, a Lampio apud Barcilonem in Hispania per uim inflammatae subito plebis sacratus sim, tamen Ambrosii semper et dilectione ad fidem innutritus sum et nunc in sacerdotii ordinatione confoueor. Denique suo me clero uoluit uindicare, ut, etsi diuersis locis degam, ipsius presbyter censear.
Paulinus then addresses Alypius as father, explaining that he will not dare to call him brother.
6. Benedictos sanctitatis tuae comites et aemulatores, in domino fratres, si dignantur, nostros tam in ecclesiis quam in monasteriis Carthagini, Tagastae, Hippone Regio et totis paroeciis tuis atque omnibus cognitis tibi per Africam locis domino catholice seruientes multo affectu et obsequio salutari rogamus.
(ed. de Hartel 1894: 16-18)
Letter 3 to Bishop Alypius of Thagaste
Paulinus thanks Alypius for the five books of Augustine Alypius sent him.
4. As for your information that you had already heard my insignificant name at Milan when you were baptised there, I confess, in my eagerness to know everything about you so that I may add to my felicitations, that I am rather curious to learn whether you were either received into the faith or ordained priest by our father Ambrose, who is worthy of my esteem. If so, it appears that we have the same adviser. For though I was baptised at Bordeaux by Delphinus, and ordained at Barcelona in Spain by Lampius, when the people there were suddenly fired to put compulsion on me, yet I have always been nurtured in the faith by Ambrose's affection, and now that I am ordained priest he cherishes me. In fact, he wanted to claim me as one of his clergy, so that even if I live away from Milan I may be regarded as presbyter of his.
Paulinus then addresses Alypius as father, explaining that he will not dare to call him brother.
6. I ask you to greet with great affection and allegiance the blessed companions and imitators of your holiness (perhaps they will allow me to call them brothers in the Lord) who serve the Lord in the faith in churches and monasteries in Carthage, Tagaste, Hippo Regius, and in all your parishes and places in Africa known to you.
(trans. Walsh 1966: 1.45-47)


Paulinus was baptised shortly before his departure to Spain, that is ca 389. He was ordained presbyter in Barcelona at Christmas 394. In the letter in which he gives details of his ordination, he stresses that he was not ascribed to the Church of Barcelona or any other city [2055]. At the time of writing of the present letter he was almost certainly already in Nola (Italy) where he established a monastery in 395.
Paulinus is very careful to always address bishops as fathers and fellow presbyters as brothers (for example Augustine of Hippo, who was at that time still a presbyter, see also [2066]).

Place of event:

  • Italy south of Rome and Sicily
  • Latin North Africa
  • Gaul
  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Nola
  • Thagaste
  • Bordeaux
  • Barcelona

About the source:

Author: Paulinus of Nola
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Nola (Italy south of Rome and Sicily)
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
Travel and change of residence
Ecclesiastical transfer
    Functions within the Church - Parish presbyter
      Functions within the Church - Rural presbyter
        Functions within the Church - Urban presbyter
          Functions within the Church - Wandering presbyter/Without office
          Functions within the Church - Monastic presbyter
            Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
            Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
            Described by a title - Titles of respect
              Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
              Writing activity
              Education - Theological interest
              Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2063,