Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2119
Presbyter Paulinus, later bishop of Nola, writes to Presbyter Sulpicius Severus from Primuliacum (Gaul). Paulinus sends Sulpicius poems he composed in the praise of monk and Presbyter Clarus. Paulinus of Nola, Letter 32, AD 403/404.
Letter 32 to Sulpicius Severus
Paulinus also composed several versions of a poem praising Presbyter Clarus, a monk from Martin of Tours' monastery at Marmoutier whose remains were buried in Primuliacum.
6. Nominis ut titulo, sic mentis lumine Clarus
Presbyter hoc tegitur; sed membra caduca sepulchro,
Libera corporeo mens carcere gaudet in astris
Pura probatorum sedem sortita piorum.
Sancta sub aeternis altaribus ossa quiescunt,
Vt dum casta pio referuntur munera Christi,
Diuinis sacris animae iungantur odores.
Presbyter hic situs est meritis et nomine Clarus,
Martino studiis comes et meriti modo consors.
Digna pio domus est altaria, sub quibus artus
Conditur, exanimo; nam spiritus aethere gaudet
Discipulum que pari sociat super astra magistro.
Clare fide, praeclare actu, clarissime fructu,
Qui meritis titulum nominis aequiperas,
Casta tuum digne uelant altaria corpus,
Vt templum Christi contegat ara dei.
Sed quia tu non hac, qua corpus, sede teneris,
Qui meritis superis spiritus inuolitas,
Siue patrum sinibus recubas dominiue sub ara
Conderis aut sacro pasceris in nemore,
Qualibet in regione poli situs aut paradisi,
Clare, sub aeterna pace beatus agis.
Haec peccatorum bonus accipe uota rogantum,
Vt sis Paulini Therasiae que memor.
Dilige mandatos interueniente Seuero
Quos ignorasti corpore sic meritos.
Vnanimi communis amor sit fomes utrisque
Perpetui summo foederis in domino.
Non potes inplicitos diuellere; si trahis unum,
Vnus adhaerentes qua rapitur rapiet.
Ergo indiuiduos pariter conplectere fratres,
Vt que sumus, sic nos dilige participans.
Sic deus acciuit, sic nos Martinus amauit;
Sic et tu pariter, Clare, tuere pares,
Non meritis sed amore pares. Tu, sancte, ualebis
Exorare pares et meritis fieri,
Si cum Martino socia pietate labores,
Vt uincant uestrae crimina nostra preces,
Et simul in uestri ducamur sorte Seueri
Vestra que nos semper protegat ala sinu.
(ed. de Hartel 1894: 280-282)
Letter 32 to Sulpicius Severus
Paulinus also composed also several versions of a poem praising Presbyter Clarus, a monk from Martin of Tours' monastery at Marmoutier whose remains were buried in Primuliacum.
6. Clarus the presbyter is clothed in that inner light which reflects his name. His mortal body lies in the tomb. But his mind, freed from the prison of the body, finds joys amongst the stars, for its purity has gained the haven of the holy men who are approved. His sacred bones are at rest beneath the ethernal altar; and so when the chaste gift of Christ is devoutly offered there, the fragrance of his soul may be joined to the divine sacrifice.
A presbyter lies here, Clarus by name and famed by his merits, Martin’s companion in meditation and now his partner in praise. The altar is a worthy home for this devoted man now dead, whose limbs lie beneath it. But his spirit rejoiced in the upper air. Above the stars, he shares with the Master he resembles his disciple here below.
Clarus, renowned in faith, highly renowned in deeds, most renowned in your harvest, your name is reflected by your merits. It is right that a pure altar covers your body, so that God’s altar may conceal the temple of Christ. But you are not restricted to the abode where your body lies, for your spirit flies to the reward you have merited above. Whether you lie in the bosom of our fathers, or are buried beneath the Lord’s altar, or feast in a sacred grove – wherever, Clarus, you are set in heaven or Paradise, you live happily in eternal peace. In your kindness receive these prayers of sinners who ask you to be mindful of Paulinus and Therasia. Love these persons entrusted to you by the meditation of Severus, though when you were here in the flesh you were unaware of their merits. Let the love of a friend held in common kindle in both of us an eternal covenant in the highest Lord. You cannot separate men who are united; should you seek to drag away one, he will draw to his forced destination those who cling to him. So embrace Severus and Paulinus together as brothers indivisible. Love us and join with us in this union. God summoned us together, Martin loved us together. So, Clarus, you must likewise protect us together. Our equality lies not in merit, but in love; but you, holy Clarus, will be able to ensure our equality also in merit, if you become Martin’s partner in the toil of paternal love, so that your prayers may prevail over my sins. So I may attain the destiny of Severus and your wing may ever protect me in its folds.
(trans. Walsh 1966: 2.140-141; slightly altered and summarised by J. Szafranowski)


This letter was written shortly before the second of Sulpicius' basilicas was dedicated, thus in 403 or, even more probably, in 404.
Primuliacum was one of Sulpicius estates that he did not sell when he was rejecting his wealth [2095]. Its exact location 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 also served 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]).
It seems that the remains of Clarus were buried beneath the altar of the smaller of two basilicas in Primuliacum, and the relics of martyrs (and, possibly, of the True Cross) beneath the altar of the larger one (see [2122]).
Therasia was Paulinus' wife; they both adopted an ascetic way of live in the 390s. Therasia accompanied Paulinus when he moved to Nola.

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.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Burial/Funerary inscription
Functions within the Church - Monastic presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Fame of sanctity
Reverenced by
Relation with - Another presbyter
Monastic or common life
Devotion - Veneration of saints and relics
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2119,