June 22 on the church calendar honors the memory of Paulinus—a wealthy man who gave away his money, a married man who became a priest, a lawyer who became a poet.
Paulinus was born in Bordeaux, Gaul (France), into a noble and wealthy family. His mind was good, his education advanced, his future bright. He was admitted to the bar at a young age and entered political life in his twenties. He traveled widely and acquired homes in Gaul, Italy, and Spain. The empire’s most prominent people sought his friendship, and he was one of Europe’s most eligible bachelors. He fell in love with a Spanish lady named Theresia. They were married and retired to private life on their French estate.
Theresia, a Christian, shared the gospel freely with her new husband. He listened and sought out the local bishop with whom he became friends. As Paulinus investigated Christianity, he was impressed with its truthfulness and relevance. At age 34, he gave his life to Christ and was baptized alongside his brother about the year 393.
Then tragedy made a visit. After years of childlessness, Theresia became pregnant and bore a son. When the baby died within a week, the couple was heartbroken. They reconsidered their values and decided on a far simpler lifestyle. Most of their possessions were sold, the money going to the poor.
The couple moved to Nola, a small town near Naples, and purchased a long, two-story building. They devoted the lower floor to the homeless, and turned the upper floor into an informal monastery where they lived, taught Scripture, and encouraged God’s people. Paulinus built a church for the community and funded a needed aqueduct. In time Paulinus was chosen to lead the church. He spent the rest of his life preaching there, overseeing the ministry, writing poetry, penning prayers, and corresponding with the most famous Christians of his generation. He encouraged Christian art as a tool for understanding Scripture. And according to tradition he was the first to introduce bells into Christian worship.
Warn the rich people of this world not to be proud or to trust in wealth that is easily lost. Tell them to have faith in God, who is rich and blesses us with everything we need to enjoy life. Instruct them to do as many good deeds as they can and to help everyone. Remind the rich to be generous and share what they have. This will lay a solid foundation for the future, so that they will know what true life is like. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). June 22.