Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ID
ER 2122
Presbyter Paulinus, later bishop of Nola, writes to Presbyter Sulpicius Severus from Primuliacum (Gaul). Paulinus comments on the erection of the new, larger basilica in Primuliacum, and prepares inscriptions praising relics buried beneath the altar. Relics support prayers the priest is saying at the altar. Paulinus of Nola, Letter 32, AD 403/404.
Letter 32 to Sulpicius Severus
 
7. Quod si dominus desiderium animae uestrae fecerit secundum fidem uestram adiciens ornatui et sanctificationi operum uestrorum, ut sacros cineres de benedictis gloriosorum apostolorum aut martyrum reliquiis adipiscamini: qui huius uoti praesumptione uos aliam apud Primuliacum nostram et priore maiorem basilicam praeparasse cognouimus, dignum opere fidei uestrae et operis fideliter elaborati dedicatione procul dubio celeberrima, sanctorum quoque reliquiis decens arbitramur, ut hoc etiam quod de cruce misimus pariter depositum sacratumque ueneremini.
 
There follows an inscription praising anonymous apostles and martryrs along the fragment of the True Cross that were buried beneath the altar. In the end of this inscription, Presbyter Clarus is mentioned once again as the companion of Martin of Tours and someone who Christians should emulate. Paulinus composed also a second poem in case Sulpicius decided that only the remains of the saints should be buried and the particle of the Holy Cross should be left for daily use. At one point the second inscriptions states:
 
8. Vota sacerdotis uiuentum et commoda paruo
Puluere sanctorum mors pretiosa iuuat.
 
(ed. de Hartel 1894: 282-284)
Letter 32 to Sulpicius Severus
 
7. Doubtless the Lord has through your faith granted your heart's desire by enhancing the beauty and holiness of your buildings through your acquisition of sacred ashes from the holy remains of glorious apostles or martyrs. I know that it was in expectation of this favour that you have built our second basilica, bigger than the first, at Primuliacum. Yet I think it worthy of the work of your faith, and of the dedication of that building now faithfully completed (which I am sure huge crowds attend), and also appropriate to the relics of the saints, that you should also venerate that fragment of the cross which I sent, and which lies consecrated in your church in company with the relics of the saints.
 
There follows an inscription praising the martryrs and the fragment of the True Cross that were to be buried beneath the altar. In the end of this inscription, Presbyter Clarus is mentioned once again as the companion of Martin of Tours and someone who Christians should emulate. Paulinus composed also a second poem in case Sulpicius decided that only the remains of the saints should be buried and the particle of the Holy Cross should be left for daily use. At one point the second inscriptions states:
 
The precious death of the saints assists, through this fragment of their ashes, the prayers of the priest and the welfare of the living.
 
(trans. Walsh 1966: 2.143; slightly altered and summarised by J. Szafranowski)

Discussion:

This letter was shortly before Sulpicius' basilica was dedicated, thus in 403 or, even more probably, in 404.
 
Primuliacum was one of Sulpicius estates which 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 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]).
 
It seems that the remains of Clarus were buried beneath the altar of the smaller of two basilicas in Primuliacum (see [2119]), and the relics of martyrs (and, possibly, of the True Cross) benath the altar of the larger one.
 
 

Place of event:

Region
  • Italy south of Rome and Sicily
  • Gaul
City
  • 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].
Edition:
G. de Hartel ed., S. Pontii Meropii Paulini Nolani opera, vol. 1 Epistulae, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 29, Prague-Wien-Leipzig 1894.
 
Translation:
Letters of St. Paulinus of Nola, trans. P.G. Walsh, Ancient Christian Writers 35, New York 1966.
Bibliography:
F. Riess, Narbonne and its Territory in Late Antiquity. From the Visigoths to the Arabs, Farnham-Burlington, VT 2013.

Categories:

Writing activity - Correspondence
Fame of sanctity
Ritual activity - Eucharist
    Ecclesiastical administration - Construction/Renovation
    Economic status and activity - Indication of wealth
    Reverenced by
    Relation with - Another presbyter
    Ritual activity - Dedication of churches and altars
    Theoretical considerations - On priesthood
    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, ER2122, http://www.presbytersproject.ihuw.pl/index.php?id=6&SourceID=2122