Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Pammachius, Confessor


This holy man was a Roman senator, and the ornament of the most illustrious family of the Camilli, as he is styled by Saint Jerom, whose schoolfellow he was in his youth. Those who were intrusted with his education took care to season their instructions with delight, in order to make him be in love with his studies; thus they led him through flowery paths to the sources of eloquence; he was also initiated in sacred literature. Coming out of school in 370, when Saint Jerom retired into the desert, Pammachius entered the senate, and by his virtue and abilities was the honour of that illustrious body. He was raised to the proconsular dignity, and married Paulina, the second daughter of Saint Paula. He was the first who detected the impious errors of Jovinian, and denounced them to Pope Siricius, who condemned that heresiarch in 390. Friendships begun in childhood, and cemented by a sympathy of inclinations and studies, according to the remark of Quintilian, are usually the most agreeable of all others, and hold out to the last, especially when they are founded in virtue. Such was the union of hearts which linked together Saint Jerom and Pammachius. The latter assisted that holy doctor in his works against Jovinian, and often consulted him in his own difficulties. The younger Paulina died in 393, within a few years after her marriage. Pammachius, after the holy sacrifice was offered for her, according to custom, gave an entertainment to all the poor in Rome, as Saint Paulinus mentions, who concludes his letter to him as follows: “Your spouse is now a pledge and a powerful intercessor for you with Jesus Christ. She now obtains for you as many blessings in heaven as you have sent her treasures from hence, not honouring her memory with fruitless tears, but making her partner of these living gifts—viz., by alms given for the repose of her soul; she is honoured by the merit of your virtues; she is fed by the bread you have given to the poor,” etc. Saint Jerom says, that Pammachius watered her ashes with the balm of alms and mercy, which obtains the pardon of sins; that from the time of her death he made the blind, the lame, and the poor his coheirs, and the heirs of Paulina; and that he never went abroad without being followed by a troop of such attendants. This saint exhorted him to outdo himself in the perfection of his humility. Pammachius built an hospital for strangers in the Roman port, and used to serve the sick and the poor with his own hands. By his letters he converted all the farmers and vassals upon his large estates in Numidia from the Donatist schism to the Catholic communion; which zealous charity drew a letter of congratulation from the great Saint Austin in 401. Saint Pammachius never seems to have entered holy orders, as some moderns have imagined; but lived sequestered from the world, devoting himself entirely to the exercises of devotion, penance, and charity. He died in 410, a little before the sacking of Rome, and is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on this day. See Saint Jerom, ep. 54, etc. Ceillier, t. 10. Fontanini Histor. Litter. Aquileiensis, p. 225, etc.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Pammachius, Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 August 2014. Web. 18 January 2019. <>