St. Paulinus was born in Bordeaux, France. His father was a governor and a wealthy landowner. Paulinus received a good education and became a famous lawyer and poet. He traveled in France, Spain and Italy, wherever work or pleasure took him. In 381, at the age of twenty-eight, he became the governor of Campania, Italy.
When he was thirty-six, Paulinus and his Spanish wife, Theresia were baptized and became Catholics. They had one child, a son who died when he was just a few weeks old. The couple then decided to devote their lives to God and gave away their wealth and property to the poor. They kept only what they needed to live on.
Paulinus and Theresia agreed that they wanted to live simply and decided not to live as a married couple any more. They prayed, made sacrifices and lived holy lives to show their love for Jesus. Paulinus and his wife were greatly admired by the Christian community.
They were very pleased when Paulinus became a priest in 394. Then he and Theresia started a small community of monks in Nola, Italy. They decided to remain in Nola near the shire of one of his favorite saints, St. Felix of Nola. There they opened a hospital for poor people and travelers, too.
St. Felix a priest and bishop who had died in 260 had been a great defender of his people during the cruel torture of Christians by Emperor Decius. Bishop Felix had been known for his prayerfulness, his love for the people, and his poor lifestyle.
Almost hundred years later, Paulinus prayed to him and wrote about him. Then in 409, Paulinus was chosen to be bishop of Nola. The people were so happy. He was a wise, gentle bishop, just as St. Felix had been. He was praised by many great saints who lived at that time, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Martin of Tours and others.
Although some of his wonderful writings have been lost, thirty-two poems and fifty-one letters remain. St. Paulinus was bishop of Nola, living in his own home until his death in 431.