Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2095
Presbyter Paulinus, later bishop of Nola, writes to Presbyter Sulpicius Severus from Primuliacum (Gaul). Sulpicius sold all his estates apart from one, which he gave to the church in which he serves, that is most certainly Primuliacum (Gaul). Paulinus of Nola, Letter 24, AD 400.
Letter 24 to Sulpicius Severus
1. Quae te apud te ipsum, ut dixi, conueniat, cur audeas nobis ut decertato agone uictoribus palmam perfectionis adscribere, quoniam omnem terrenae possessionis sarcinam exposuisse uideamur, te contra adhuc infelicem et in luto faecis infernae adhaerentem ingemiscas, quod uel unum, ut scripsisti, praediolum non uendidisse uidearis, cum ipsum quoque aeque ut uenditum a tuo iure praesenti alienaueris, ut maioribus fidei fructibus bis deuotus existeres deo, diuerso mercimonii opere sed uno uitae lucro intra eiusdem praecepti terminos uenditor largitor que fundorum et ideo sine animi captiuitate possessor, quia quae reseruasti ecclesia te seruiente possideat.
Sulpicius is like Job, Abraham, and Lot as he did not care about his earthly possessions,
2. Qui maioris opulentiae et inlecebrae praedia uendidisti.
3. Vnde confido parem tibi in medio diuinarum sortium requiem, ut dormias, sicut scriptum est, inter medios cleros id est sortes domini, quae in duobus testamentis accipiuntur, de quibus hereditas domini et sanctorum plenitudo perficitur.
[...] Non tricliniis tua tecta occupas neque supellectilis aut pecuniae molibus stipas, sed de peregrinis et egentibus unius ipse metator anguli conples tuorum que confamulus uernularum temporale habitaculum tui tecti non ut paterfamilias usurpas, sed ut mercennarius uel inquilinus manes, stipendium quasi precariae mansionis domino pensitans de socia et corporis tui et animi seruitute.
(ed. de Hartel 1894: 202-4)
Letter 24 to Sulpicius Severus
1. As I have said, the palm of perfection would be apposite for yourself; so why should you presume to ascribe it to me as though the contest were already fought and I were victorious, merely because I appear to have unloaded all the baggage of my earthly possessions? And why should you lament that you on the contrary are still unhappily clinging to the slimy dregs of hell below, just because from your letter you appear not to have sold one petty estate? Your forfeiture of your present right even to that farm is equivalent to selling it, so that by the greater fruits of your faith you showed to God a twofold dedication. As both a seller and a donor of your farms, you have applied your goods to different purposes, yet for the single gain of life and within the limits of the same divine command. So you are an owner without being mentally a captive to your wealth, for the goods you have kept back are possessed by the church which you serve.
Sulpicius is like Job, Abraham, and Lot as he did not care about his earthly possessions,
2. For you have sold the estates which have carried the greater wealth and allure.
3. So I am sure that there awaits you equal rest amongst the midst of the lots of God [Ps 68(67):14], which is how Scripture describes the sleep of the clergy. For the clergy are the lots of the Lord which we read of in both Testaments [cf. 1 Pet 5:3], and from which is fulfilled the inheritance of the Lord and the perfection of the saints.
[...] You do not crowd your housed with dining tables, or cram them with masses of furniture or wealth. You measure off a corner for yourself and fill the house with travellers and beggars. You live as a fellow servant with your own slaves. The temporary lodging which is your dwelling you do not possess like the father of a household, but you lodge there like a mercenary or a lodger, paying the Lord a regular rent for the favour of the lodging by serving your neighbours with body and mind.
(trans. Walsh 1966: 2.51-53)


This letter was most probably sent in 400, along with letters 23 and 29, see Walsh 1966: 2.301.
The location of Primuliacum was lost. Recently, Frank Riess (Riess 2013: 66-69) has, once again, proposed the identification of Primuliacum with Elusio, present-day Monferrand, which Paulinus mentions in his first letter to Sulpicius ([2055]). The hypothesis that it served also as the later site of Sulpicius’ monastery is strengthened by the recent excavations of two 4th or 5th century basilicas, positioned side by side, just as in Primuliacum (see the beginning of letter 32 [2108]).

Place of event:

  • Italy south of Rome and Sicily
  • Gaul
  • Nola
  • Primuliacum

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.
F. Riess, Narbonne and its Territory in Late Antiquity. From the Visigoths to the Arabs, Farnham-Burlington, VT 2013.


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2095,