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Born at Nola, near Naples, and lived in the third century. After his father's death he distributed almost all his goods amongst the poor, and was ordained priest by Maximum Bishop of Nola. In the year 250, when the Decian persecution broke out, Maximus was forced to flee. The persecutors seized on Felix and he was cruelly scourged, loaded with chains, and cast into prison. One night an angel appeared to him and bade him go to help Maximus. His chains fell off, the doors opened, and the saint was enabled to bring relief to the bishop, who was then speechless from cold and hunger. On the persecutors making a second attempt to secure Felix, his escape was miraculously effected by a spider weaving her web over the opening of a hole into which he had just crept. Thus deceived, they sought their prey elsewhere. The persecution ceased the following year, and Felix, who had lain hidden in a dry well for six months, returned to his duties. On the death of Maximus he was earnestly desired as bishop, but he persuaded the people to choose another, his senior in the priesthood. The remnant of his estate having been confiscated in the persecution, he refused to take it back, and for his subsistence rented three acres of land, which he tilled with his own hands. Whatever remained over he gave to the poor, and if he had two coats at any time he invariably gave them the better. He lived to a ripe old age and died 14 January (on which day he is commemorated), but the year of his death is uncertain. Five churches were built in his honour, outside Nola, where his remains are kept, but some relics are also at Rome and Benevento. St. Paulinus, who acted as porter to one of these churches, testifies to numerous pilgrimages made in honour of Felix. The poems and letters of Paulinus on Felix are the source from which St. Gregory of Tours, Venerable Bede, and the priest Marcellus have drawn their biographies (see PAULINUS OF NOLA). There is another Felix of Nola, bishop and martyr under a Prefect Martianus. He is considered by some to be the same as the above.


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