Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2129
Presbyter Paulinus, later bishop of Nola, writes to Sebastianus, a hermit living probably in Gaul. Paulinus describes the monastic vocation of Sebastianus and the clerical vocation of John, his companion and deacon, as complementary. Paulinus of Nola, Letter 26, ca 400.
Letter 26 to Sebastianus
4. Adhuc audeo dicere in utroque uestrum diuisa Iohannis et domini forma consistit, Iohannis in deserto clamantis et domini in templo docentis. Et unus uestrum in seruitutem ministerii uocatus est, alter in monachi libertatem. Sed uterque in unum dei regnum et gloriam conuocati et ambo liberi, quia ambo sub gratia, et ambo serui, quia ambo sub lege fidei. Ambo liberi peccato et ambo serui iustitiae et ambo in ieiuniis domino diem sapitis et ambo in epulis sinceritatis domino gratias agitis, qui dat escam omni carni et dat escam uiuam esurientibus ueram uitam.
(ed. de Hartel 1894: 237)
Letter 26 to Sebastianus
4. Further, I dare to say that you and your deacon are separate images of John and the Lord, John crying in the desert and the Lord teaching in the temple. One of you has been called to the slavery of attendance, the other to the freedom of the monk. But both of you are called to the one kingdom and glory to God. Both are free because both are under grace, and both are slaves because both are under the law of faith. Both are free from sin and slaves to rightousness. Both regard the day unto the Lord by fasting, and both give thanks by the feasting of uprightness to the Lord who giveth food to all flesh, and gives living food to those who hunger for true life.
(trans. Walsh 1966: 2.87)


This letter was sent at unknown date probably around the year 400, since this was the period when Paulinus was frequently visited by Victor from the monastery of Primuliacum (Gaul) who is Paulinus' source of information about Sebastianus. Sebastianus was, then, probably living in Gaul.
Although Paulinus compares here the life of the monk to the life of the deacon, this passus attests more broadly to the growing correspondence of monastic and clerical lifestyles.

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.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Monastic or common life
    Theoretical considerations - On priesthood
    Devotion - Fasting
      Devotion - Ascetic practice
        Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2129,