“Shall I show joy or sorrow?” (Poem 31). Pain of loss – a study of Paulinus of Nola’s works

Marcin Wysocki

The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland , Poland


Unfortunately, Paulinus of Nola is not a very appreciated Father of the Church today, because he did not contribute much to the development of the dogmas of the early Church, and yet his contemporaries respected him and indicated him as an example and referred to his conversion and spiritual path. He was regarded as a spiritual master. Therefore, when discussing the issue of passiones, and above all the pain after the loss of loved ones, it is worth and should refer to the preserved works of Paulinus: his letters and poems. He himself experienced the tragic death of his brother, the premature death of his only son, and finally the death of his wife Therasia. All this allows us to find in his works an answer to the question of how to deal with emotions after the departure of a loved one and about a Christian interpretation of experiencing death and mourning. Thanks to the analyzes of the surviving Paulinus’ texts and their results, presented in this article, we can see that Paulinus, although educated on the classical models, shows the Christian understanding of mourning contained in the title question: on the one hand, he emphasizes its human side and the sadness over the passing of a loved one, on the other hand, he emphasizes the supernatural joy of salvation and being with God. In his works, Paulinus also shows other aspects of experiencing death, which together create a rich phenomenon expressed by four Stoic passiones: spes - metus - gaudium - dolor.


Paulinus of Nola, death, consolatio, passions, letter, poem

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Wysocki, M. (2022). “Shall I show joy or sorrow?” (Poem 31). Pain of loss – a study of Paulinus of Nola’s works. Vox Patrum, 82, 221–236. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.13736

Marcin Wysocki  mwysocki@kul.pl
The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5448-5566


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