Martini), attracted the patronage of the Merovingian aristocracy. By the late seventh century, the cloak (capella) that Martin had shared with a beggar in his most famous miracle - an act of charity that was rewarded with a vision of Christ - became the most important protective relic for the Merovingian kings. It was tended by special clergy (capellani, the origin of English 'chaplain') and carried onto the battlefield, a custom that the Carolingian kings continued. At the last count, there were at least 3,602 parishes dedicated to Martin in France alone.18 Neither the location of Martin's cult nor its later success could have been anticipated at the time of his death. His popularity was the result of the intermittent initiatives of later bishops of Tours, which was one of the three places that could lay claim to him.

The cult of Felix at Nola, near Naples, illustrates the close interconnection between a saint and his patron and the role that literary production can play in this context. The original promoter of the cult of St Felix was Paulinus. The offspring of a noble family from Spain, Paulinus shocked his extensive network of learned friends when he decided to abandon status, marriage and wealth in order to lead an ascetic life. He was eventually called to the priesthood in Nola, and soon became bishop of that city, a position he retained for many years until his death in 431.

In Nola, Paulinus developed a special affinity for Felix, a local martyr in the Great Persecution. He applied his literary skill to the composition of fifteen 'Birthday poems' (carmina natalicia) which celebrated the anniversary of Felix' death. And he applied his significant financial resources to the promotion of Felix' cult by constructing a splendid basilica complex over the martyr's tomb, complete with structures for visitors and pilgrims. When Paulinus died, he was buried next to his beloved Felix, and his deacon and successor delivered a funerary oration that had the potential of developing into hagiographical celebration. In his death and burial, Paulinus was thus even more closely linked to his saint Felix than in life.

Paulinus pressed his network of Christian literati into service to promote Felix' cult. Sulpicius Severus in Gaul, the biographer of Martin of Tours, contributed poems to be inscribed along the walls of the new basilica at Nola. Paulinus reciprocated by composing poems celebrating St Martin for a similar purpose at Tours. And a question he addressed to Augustine in North Africa prompted the latter to compose a treatise on how to look after the dead, including the 'very special dead' (De cura pro mortuis gerenda), which is dedicated to Paulinus and makes favourable mention of Felix' cult. In short, the

18 Bibliotheca Sanctorum, col. 1274.

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