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E05103: Paulinus of Nola, writing in Latin in c.400 in Nola (southern Italy), describes how he reads aloud the Life of Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) to prominent guests at his monastery.

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posted on 2018-02-20, 00:00 authored by frances
Paulinus of Nola, Letter 29.14 (to Sulpicius Severus)

Non tuli, frater, ut te ista nesciret. ut gratiam in te dei plenius nosceret, tuo te illi magis quam meo sermone patefeci. Martinum enim nostrum illi studiosissimae talium historiarum ipse recitaui. Quo genere te et uenerabili episcopo atque doctissimo Nicetae, qui ex Dacia Romanis merito admirandus aduenerat, et plurimis dei sanctis in ueritate non magis tui praedicator quam mei iactans reuelaui.

‘My brother, I could not allow her [Melania the Elder] to continue to be ignorant of you. So that she might more fully recognise the grace of God in you, I made you plain to her through your own words rather than mine, for with my own lips I declaimed to her our Life of Martin. She is most interested in such historical works. In the same manner I portrayed you to the most learned bishop Nicetas, who arrived from Dacia, a figure rightly admired by the Romans, and also to very many holy men abiding in God’s truth’.

Text: Hartel 1894. Translation: Walsh 1967, lightly adapted.


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 Italy south of Rome and Sicily

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Nola Cimitile

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

Nola Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare Cimitile 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

Women Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


Letter 27 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 dates from c. 400.


In this passage, Paulinus refers to the Life of Martin of Tours, composed by Sulpicius Severus around 397 (E00692). Severus had sent the Life to Paulinus shortly after its composition (E05093). The rest of the letter narrates the sanctity of *Melania the Elder (Roman aristocrat and monastic founder in Jerusalem, ob. 410, S01185) using hagiographic tropes (see E05102). This reference to the Life of Martin -- should be understood as a continuation on this theme.


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. 2 (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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