They never met, but enjoyed a positive correspondence for twenty-five years. Copies of a number of their letters still exist, and Augustine dedicated one of his written works to Paulinus. Meropius Pontius Paulinus was born about the year 355 (Augustine in 356) in Aquitaine in Gaul, and died on 22nd June 431 (Augustine in 430).
He was a member of a wealthy aristocratic family, and received a good education at Bordeaux. In 381 he served as governor (consularis in Latin) of Campania, the area around Naples, south of Rome. Like Augustine, then, he was an employee of the Roman imperial service. In Campania he visited the shrine of St Felix at Nola, and this may have been what spurred in interest in leading a dedicated Christian life. By 386 he had visited Milan in northern Italy, and there met Saint Ambrose. (Augustine first met Ambrose in the year 383). In Spain he married Therasia, a wealthy woman, and they had one child, Celsus, who died ten days after birth. In 389 Paulinus was baptised at Bordeaux (Augustine was baptised in Milan on Easter Saturday 386). In 393 Paulinus and Therasia began to dispose of their property and to take up monastic life at Nola.
On Christmas Day 394 Paulinus was ordained to the priesthood at Barcelona (Augustine had been ordained in 391), and after Easter 395 the couple returned to Nola, near Naples. In Nola he established separate monastic houses for men and women, with a rigorous and ascetic rule of life. Therasia died between 408 and 415, and Paulinus was made Bishop of Nola between 404 and 413 (Augustine became a bishop in Hippo in 395). Although Paulinus and Augustine never met, they corresponded with one another for twenty-five years, came to have friends in common (including Augustine’s life-long patron, Romanianus), and shared a deep friendship. Four letters from Paulinus to Augustine survive, including one that asks Augustine to clarify some Biblical matters, and another that asks questions about death and resurrection.
Copies of letters also remain from Paulinus to Augustine’s friend and fellow-bishop, Alypius, to Augustine’s patron Romanianus, and to the son of Romanianus, Licentius. These three men were persons who became known to Paulinus through his friendly contact with Augustine. Eight of Augustine’s letters to Paulinus survive. In one letter, Augustine informed Paulinus that he has been made a bishop, and invited Paulinus to visit Africa. With one letter he enclosed a copy of his work, De libero arbitrio (“On the Free Choice of the Will”). Other letters written by Augustine and Paulinus to one another have long been lost.
Between 401 and 404 Paulinus wrote a wedding hymn for Julian, who later as bishop of Eclanum was a follower of Pelagius, and who was to be the protagonist of Augustine during the latter’s final years of writing. In 405 Pelagius himself also wrote to Paulinus, and this prompted Augustine and Alypius to send Paulinus a joint letter about the dangers of Pelagianism. As a publishing method in that era, Augustine often deposited copies of his works with Paulinus, for their copying and their circulation in Italy. Augustine dedicated his work De cura pro mortuis gerenda ("On the Care to be given to the Dead"), which was written in about 420-422. Augustine mentioned Paulinus in De civitate Dei (“City of God”). AN1418