Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Paulinus (d.644)

PAULINUS (d. 644), archbishop or bishop of York, was a Roman (Carmen de Pontificibus Ecclesiæ Eboracensis, ll. 135–6), and, it is said, a monk of the monastery of St. Andrew at Rome (Acta SS. Bolland. Oct. v. 104). He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great, together with Mellitus [q. v.], Justus [q. v.], and others, to join Augustine [q. v.] in England in 601. They carried commendatory letters to the bishops of the cities in Gaul through which they would pass on their way, and to the kings and queens of the Franks, and brought with them a pall for Augustine, answers to questions that he had laid before the pope, and directions concerning the establishment of sees in England, in which York was named as the future head of the northern province. Paulinus (though he may have been sent on a mission to East Anglia some time before 616) appears to have generally remained in Kent until 625. In that year Edwin or Eadwine [q. v.], king of the Northumbrians, who was then a pagan, obtained from Eadbald [q. v.], king of Kent, permission to marry his sister Ethelburga or Æthelburh [q. v.]; he promised to do nothing against his bride's religion, and to grant freedom of worship to her and to any attendants, priests, or ministers that she might bring with her, and declared that he would not refuse to embrace Christianity if, on examination, it should appear to his counsellors to be more pleasing to God than his own religion. It was determined to send Paulinus with Æthelburh and her attendants, that he might by daily exhortation and celebration of the sacraments strengthen them in the faith and keep them from the contamination of heathenism, and he was therefore ordained bishop by Archbishop Justus on 21 July. At the Northumbrian court he both ministered to those who had come with him and strove to convert others. For some time the pagans resisted his exhortations. Eadwine's escape from an attempt to assassinate him on 17 April 626, and the danger of his queen in childbirth, inclined him to listen to the words of Paulinus, and he promised the bishop that if he obtained victory over his enemies, and his queen was spared, he would accept Christianity, and as an assurance he allowed the bishop to baptise his newly born daughter, Eanflæd [q. v.], and eleven members of his household with her, on Whit-Sunday, 8 June (Historia Ecclesiastica, ii. c. 9), or more probably on the eve of that festival (Bright). Nevertheless the king delayed his conversion, until Paulinus one day placed his hand upon his head and asked him if he remembered that sign. The question referred to an incident in the earlier life of Eadwine [see under Edwin], when, during his residence at Rædwald's court, a man like Paulinus appeared to him at a moment of imminent danger, promised him deliverance, kingship, and power, and received from him in return a promise of obedience to be claimed by the sign that Paulinus at length gave the king. This incident is explained by some as a dream (Lingard, c. 2); others suppose that the stranger who appeared to Eadwine was some Christian of Rædwald's court known to Paulinus (Churton, Early English Church, p. 56), and others that he was Paulinus in person (Raine, p. 38); if the last view is accepted, the appearance of Paulinus at the East-Anglian court, which must be dated before 616, would imply that he was then on a mission to that kingdom, undertaken possibly to reclaim Rædwald, who had fallen from the faith (Haddan and Stubbs, iii. 75). Eadwine recognised the sign, declared his willingness to adopt Christianity, and his witan having pronounced in favour of the change at a meeting held at Goodmanham, about twenty miles from York, he and his nobles openly professed their acceptance of the teaching of Paulinus, and sanctioned the destruction of the idolatrous temples and altars. A wooden church was hastily raised at York and dedicated to St. Peter, and there Paulinus instructed the king as a catechumen, and, on Easter day, 12 April 627, baptised him and many other noble persons, among whom were two of the king's sons. Welsh writers represent Eadwine and his people as having been baptised by a British priest named Rhun or Rum, son of Urbgen, or Urien (Nennius, p. 54; Annales Cambr. an. 182, i.e. A.D. 696) [see under Edwin], and it has consequently been supposed that Paulinus was a Briton by birth, who had resided in Rome, and had been sent thence by Gregory to assist in the conversion of the English (Hodgson Hinde, History of Northumberland, i. 77; Raine, p. 36). This is, however, mere supposition, and is untenable ({sc|Haddan}} and Stubbs, iii. 75).

In accordance with a grant of Eadwine, Paulinus carried out the ordinance of Pope Gregory by establishing his episcopal see at York. At his bidding, the foundations were laid of a stone church, which was built in the form of a square, with the little wooden church preserved in the middle of it; the walls were not raised to their full height in his time. He laboured unceasingly in preaching and baptising the people, moving about from one part of Eadwine's dominions to another, and everywhere meeting with signal success. On one occasion he visited Adgefrin or Yeavering, in the present Northumberland, then a royal residence, and remained there with the king and queen for thirty-six days, from morning till evening instructing and baptising the people, who flocked to him in great numbers, and were, after preparation, baptised in the river Glen, a tributary of the Till. Another visit to Bernicia is commemorated by the name of Pallinsburn or Pallingsburn in the same county. Deira, where he used to reside with the king, was the chief scene of his labours, and he was wont to baptise his converts in the Swale above Catterick Bridge, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He is also believed to have preached at Dewsbury in the West Riding, and at Easingwold in the North Riding. At Dewsbury there was, in Camden's time, a cross with the inscription ‘Hic Paulinus prædicavit et celebravit’ (Britannia, col. 709); a successor to this cross was destroyed in 1812 (Whitaker). His custom was to preach in the open air and near some river, brook, or lake, that served for baptisms, and his work was simply one of foundation. Throughout the whole of Bernicia there was not, in his time, a single church, altar, or cross, and as regards Deira, the notice of the wooden basilica with a stone altar, that he raised at Campodonum—probably Tanfield, near Ripon—implies that the building was exceptional (Bright). South of the Humber, he preached in Lindsey; and Blæcca, the ealdorman of Lincoln, having, with all his house, received the gospel, built a church of stone in that city. There, in 628, Archbishop Justus having died the previous year, Paulinus, who was then the only Roman bishop in England, consecrated Honorius [q. v.] to the see of Canterbury. The corrupted name of St. Paul's Church at Lincoln preserves the memory of Paulinus, and of the church of Blæcca. He baptised many persons in the Trent in the presence of Eadwine and a multitude of people near a town called Tiovulfingchester—probably Southwell in Nottinghamshire—where tradition makes him the founder of the collegiate church (Monasticon, vi. 1312). He is also said to have preached at Whalley in Lancashire, then in Cumbria. In these labours he was assisted by his deacon James, whose diligence and faithfulness did much for the spread of the gospel.

On the overthrow of Eadwine in 633, Paulinus, seeing no safety except in flight, left his work in the north and sailed with the widowed queen Æthelburh and the king's children to Kent. His flight is commended by Canon Raine, and, for reasons which he fully states, is condemned by Canon Bright in his ‘Early English Church History.’ Bede, while not pronouncing any judgment on the matter, seems to have held that Paulinus had no choice, and that he owed attendance to the queen whom he had brought with him to Northumbria (see Historia Ecclesiastica, ii. c. 20). If this was Bede's opinion, it should, in spite of Canon Bright's weighty reasons on the other side, be taken as absolving Paulinus from blame. The fugitives were escorted by Bass, one of the most valiant of the king's thegns. Along with other of Eadwine's precious vessels, Paulinus carried with him a large gold cross and the gold chalice that he used at the service of the altar; these were in Bede's time preserved at Canterbury. His deacon James remained in Northumbria, dwelling for the most part at a village that was called by his name near Catterick, and was the means of converting many from heathenism. He lived until Bede's time, and, being skilled in sacred song, taught the Roman or Canterbury mode of chanting to the Christians of the north, when peace had been restored to the church, and the number of believers had increased. Paulinus and his company were joyfully received by Eadbald, and the see of Rochester having been vacant since the death of Romanus in 627, he accepted it at the request of Eadbald and Honorius. It was probably while he was there, and certainly while he was in Kent, that he received the pall which Pope Honorius sent to him in 634 in answer to a request that Eadwine had made before his death. As he had then ceased to occupy the see of York, it is open to question whether he should be reckoned an archbishop (Canon Bright denies him the title, but it is accorded to him in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and elsewhere. No other occupant of the see of York received a pall until Egbert or Ecgberht (d. 766) [q. v.]). He died at Rochester on 10 Oct. 644 (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sub an., Peterborough version; Florence, sub an.), and was buried in the secretarium of his church there (Anglia Sacra, i. 154). In person he was tall, with a slightly stooping figure; he had black hair, a thin face, and an aquiline nose, and was of venerable and awe-inspiring aspect (Historia Ecclesiastica, ii. 16). His name was inserted in the calendar, his day being that of his deposition. His memory was specially revered at Rochester, and, on the cathedral church being rebuilt, his body was translated by Archbishop Lanfranc, who laid his relics in a silver shrine, and gave a silver cross to stand above the feretory (Registrum Roffense, p. 120). A Glastonbury tradition represents Paulinus as residing some time there, and as covering the ancient church of the house with lead (Will. Malm. De Antiquitatibus Glastoniæ, p. 300). Some of his bones and teeth were among the relics in York minster (Fabric Rolls, p. 151), and his name was inserted in ‘Liber Vitæ’ of Durham (p. 7).

[Bede's Hist. Eccl. ii. cc. 9, 12–14, 16–20 (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Anglo-Saxon Chron. ann. 601, 625, 633, 644; Alcuin's Carmen de SS. Ebor. ll. 135–6 ap. Historians of York, i. 353 (Rolls Ser.); Will. of Malmesbury's Gesta Pontiff. pp. 134, 211 (Rolls Ser.), and De Antiq. Eccl. Glast. ap. Gale's Scriptt. iii. 300; Nennius, p. 54 (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Ann. Cambr. an. 626, ap. Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 832; Haddan and Stubbs's Eccl. Documents, i. 124, iii. 33, 75, 82, 83; Anglia Sacra, i. 154; Acta SS. Bolland. Oct. v. 102 sqq.; Reg. Roffense, pp. 120, 124, ed. Thorpe; Fabric Rolls of York, p. 151, Liber Vitæ Dunelm. p. 7 (both Surtees Soc.); Camden's Britannia, col. 709 (ed. 1695); Whitaker's Whalley, p. 50, and Loidis and Elmete, pp. 299, 300; Hodgson Hinde's Hist. of Northumberland, i. 77; Dugdale's Monasticon, i. 152, vi. 1312; Bright's Chapters of Early English Church Hist. pp. 55, 111–23, 128–30; Raine's Fasti Ebor. pp. 35–46, and his art. ‘Paulinus’ (20) in Dict. Chr. Biogr. iv. 248; Churton's Early English Church, p. 56; Lingard's Hist. of England, i. 58 (ed. 1854).]

W. H.