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E04656: Two inscriptions, probably set up after 484, celebrate the decoration and expansion of the church of *Felix (priest and confessor of Nola, S00000) at Nola/Cimitile, southern Italy, by Paulinus, bishop of Nola (ob. c. 431).

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posted on 2018-01-23, 00:00 authored by frances
Inscription A

Felicis penetrat prisco venerabile cultu
lux nova diffusis nunc aperit spatiis
angusti memores solii gaudete videntes
praesulis ad laudem quam nitet hoc solium

‘Fresh light and extended space now open the shrine of Felix to men’s eyes, though it has long been revered and venerated. When you recall his tiny tomb, you must rejoice to see how it now glitters in praise of our patron.’

Inscription B

Paruus erat locus ante sacris angustus agendis
supplicibusque negans pandere posse manus
nunc populo spatiosa sacris altaria praebet
officiis medii martyris in gremio.
cuncta deo renovato placent, novat omnia semper
Christus et in cumulum luminis amplificat.
sic et dilecti solium Felicis honorans
et splendore simul protulit et spatio.

‘This place was earlier confined and small for celebrating the sacred ritual. It did not allow those at prayer to raise wide their arms. But now it affords the congregation a shrine with plenty of room for their sacred duties, embraced by the martyr at the centre. All things renewed are pleasing to God; Christ is ever renewing all things, and ennobling them to enhance his light. So he has honoured the tomb of his beloved Felix by improving both its brightness and its access.’

Text: Hartel 1894. Translation: Walsh 1975.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Felix, priest and confessor of Nola (southern Italy) : S00000

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy south of Rome and Sicily Italy south of Rome and Sicily

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Cimitile Nola

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Cimitile Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare Nola Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare

Major author/Major anonymous work

Paulinus of Nola

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



These two epitaphs both celebrate the decoration and expansion of the churches surrounding Felix's tomb at Nola/Cimitile. These building works were completed under Paulinus, the bishop of Nola. Originally, these inscriptions were both attributed to Paulinus, and Hartel included them in his edition of Paulinus’ poems as Poem 30. They are similar to inscriptions from churches in Nola/Cimitile and Fundi (central Italy) which Paulinus replicated in a letter to Sulpicius Severus written in 403/4 (see E05104). Yet they are not included in this collection. It is likely they were composed much later: a more recent dating based on archaeological evidence places them in the period between 484 and 523. This would mean they were only created after Paulinus death in 431. They may not have been composed in Paulinus’ lifetime, but they are a testament to the development of Felix’s cult and shrine, which Paulinus oversaw. See, for example, E04767, E04741 and E04768.


The inscription: Hartel, W., Paulini Nolani Carmina, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 30 (Vienna, 1894), p. 307. De Rossi, G.B., Inscriptiones christianae Urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquiores 2.1 (Rome: Ex Officina Libraria Pontificia, 1888), 189. Translation: Walsh, P.G., The Poems of Paulinus of Nola, Ancient Christian Writers (New York: Newman Press, 197 5), p. 308. Further Reading: Brown, Peter, The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015). Dolveck, Franz, Carmina, Paulini Nolani, Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2015). Mratschek, Sigrid, "Multis enim notissima est sanctitas loci: Paulinus and the Gradual Rise of Nola as a Center of Christian Hospitality," Journal of Early Christian Studies, 9:4 (2001), 511-53. Trout, Dennis, Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters and Poems (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

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