June 21, 2017

St. Paulinus of Nola, Bishop and Confessor

Saint Paulinus of Nola

Optional Memorial - June 22nd

Saint Paulinus was born of a patrician Roman family in Bordeaux, Gaul. He was successively prefect, senator and consul. His wife, wishing to consecrate herself to God, gave up rank and riches; he followed her example and went to live an austere hermit's life in Nola. There he became a priest and then bishop of the city, and gave his people not only an example of virtue but also wise guidance during the ravages and calamities of the Gothic invasion. A Church Father, he was a contemporary of St Augustine to whom he was bound by a firm friendship. He died in 431, at the age of 78, and was buried in Nola near the tomb of St. Felix.

Of his life and profound literary works Pope Benedict XVI observed:

"Paulinus' conversion impressed his contemporaries. His teacher Ausonius, a pagan poet, felt 'betrayed' and addressed bitter words to him, reproaching him on the one hand for his 'contempt', considered insane, of material goods, and on the other, for abandoning his literary vocation.

Paulinus replied that giving to the poor did not mean contempt for earthly possessions but rather an appreciation of them for the loftiest aim of charity. As for literary commitments, what Paulinus had taken leave of was not his poetic talent — which he was to continue to cultivate — but poetic forms inspired by mythology and pagan ideals.

A new aesthetic now governed his sensibility: the beauty of God incarnate, crucified and risen, whose praises he now sang. Actually, he had not abandoned poetry but was henceforth to find his inspiration in the Gospel, as he says in this verse: 'To my mind the only art is the faith and Christ is my poetry' (At nobis ars una fides, et musica Christus: Carm., XX, 32)."

O God who the Bishop Saint Paulinus of Nola outstanding for love of poverty and for pastoral care, graciously grant that, as we celebrate his holy merits, we may imitate the example of his charity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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