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E05093: Paulinus of Nola, writing in Latin in c.397 in Nola (southern Italy), refers to the Life of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) which its author, Sulpicus Severus, had recently sent him.

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posted on 2018-02-19, 00:00 authored by frances
Paulinus of Nola, Letter 11.11

Te uero uicta lege membrorum et exteriore corrupto puram conspersionem parare et sine fermento azymum Christo confici eloquia tua tam facunda quam casta testantur. neque enim tibi donatum fuisset enarrare Martinum, nisi dignum os tuum sacris laudibus mundo corde fecisses. benedictus igitur tu homo domino, qui tanti sacerdotis et manifestissimi confessoris historiam tam digno sermone quam iusto affectu percensuisti. beatus et ille pro meritis, qui dignum fide et uita sua meruit historicum, qui et ad diuinam gloriam suis meritis et ad humanam memoriam tuis litteris consecratur. haec quoque uerba tua uellera sunt et dominum Iesum gratissimo tegmine cooperiunt, cuius --- supellectili pulchra ambiunt et ingenii tui floribus comunt. uestiet ille te uicissim agnus de suo uellere in retributionis die, mortale tuum de sua inmortalitate superinduens.

'But your words, as eloquent as they are chaste, bear witness that you have conquered the law of the members and the outer corrupt man, that you are preparing a pure paste, and that unleavened bed without yeast is being got ready for Christ. You would not have been privileged to tell of Martin if you had not made your mouth worthy of such sacred praise by means of a pure heart. So you are a man blessed before the Lord, since you have recounted, in language as apposite as your life is righteous, the history of this great priest who is most clearly a Confessor of the Church. He, too, is blessed as he deserves, for he has merited an historian worthy of his faith and life, he is destined for heavenly glory by his merits, and for fame amongst men by your writing. And these words of yours are your fleece, helping to cover with most welcome garment our Lord Jesus, whose limbs they cover with fine adornment, and they deck out with the bloom of your talent. The Lamb will in his turn clothe you with his fleece on the day of retribution, investing your mortal frame with his own immortality.'

Text: Hartel 1999. Translation: Walsh 1967.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397 : S00050

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy south of Rome and Sicily

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Nola Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare

Major author/Major anonymous work

Paulinus of Nola

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


Letter 11 in the letter collection of Paulinus of Nola (ob. 431). It is one of many letters which Paulinus addressed to aristocratic and ascetic Roman circles in the later fourth and early fifth centuries. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Paulinus did not curate any collection of his letters: instead collections were compiled by friends and admirers.


This letter was sent to Paulinus’ friend and correspondent, Sulpicius Severus, who was based in Primuliacum (modern Prémillac) in southern Gaul, around 397. In it, Paulinus reprimands Severus for failing to join him in Nola (see E05092 and E02874). He also thanks him for the gift of his Life of Martin, which Severus author had recently completed. Paulinus helped spread the fame of Martin further: in a later letter, he describes how he read the Life aloud to prominent visitors to Nola (E05103). For more on the Life of Martin of Tours, see E00692. Dennis Trout has argued that gifts like written accounts of the Lives of saints or their relics replaced those more traditionally exchanged by Roman aristocrats such as gifts of food or drink. Items relating to the cult of saints (for example accounts of their lives or their relics) were viewed as more suitable presents for elite Romans living an ascetic life. In this way, engagement with the cult of saints became central in the social relationships of this group.


Edition: Hartel, W., Sancti Pontii Meropii Paulini Epistulae, 2nd ed., revised M. Kamptner (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 29; Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna, 1999). Translation: Walsh, P.G., Letters of St. Paulinus of Nola, vol. 1 (Ancient Christian Writers 35; Westminster MD: Newman Press, 1967). Further Reading Conybeare, Catherine, Paulinus Noster: Self and Symbols in the Letters of Paulinus of Nola (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Trout, Dennis, Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters and Poems (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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