ST PELAGIA, THE PENITENT
Coptic Date: 11 Paope
Saint Pelagia is called "Magdalene the Third" after the Egyptian Saint Mary, who was called "Magdalene II". This girl turned from a life of evil and profane to a pious ascetic life with super divine power. She died around the year 460 AD. It is difficult to describe the role of Pelagia, who lived in Antioch in the fifth century, having no concern but to pursue men to practice evil with her.. She was walking through the city streets in a procession, riding a white mule and wearing a loose-fitting dress that showed the charms of her body, especially since God endowed her with a wonderful beauty, which she used to hunt souls to account for evil. She was adorned with precious jewels and ornaments to reveal her delicacy and luxury.
A council convened in Antioch at the invitation of its patriarch. It was attended by a group of bishops, among them Father Nonnus, Bishop of Edessa. And the whole city was talking about this girl who broke the souls of many, even Christians. As the father the bishop sat with his colleagues, he said: “I was very pleased to see Pelagia, for God has sent her a lesson for us. She spends all her energy to preserve her beauty and practices her dances and pleases people, but we are less jealous of her in taking care of our dioceses and caring for our souls.” At night, when the bishop entered his room, his soul was passing by for this woman who was used by the enemy to seduce many, so he cried bitterly so that God would free her from this captivity and grant her salvation. And at night, when he fell asleep, he dreamed that he was serving the liturgy of the Eucharist (the Divine Liturgy). And when the deacon dismissed the catechumens at the beginning of the mass of the believers, the bird also set off, but it entered the baptismal room at the door of the church, then dipped into the water to bring out a white dove as snow, which went towards the sky and disappeared. (You will find more about these saints here on the Anba Takla website in the sections on biographies, synaxias, history, and sayings of the Fathers). In the morning, when it was a Sunday, the father the bishop stood preaching about the terrible judgment, and when Pelagian was present even though she had not joined the ranks of the preachers, she felt as if God was rebuking her, sending her a personal preaching word, so she began to weep with tears once, and after the sermon she went to the bishop Prostrate to God until the ground and ask the bishop to pray for her.
When everyone saw the sincerity of her repentance, the Antiochian Patriarch presented her with a deacon named Romana, who would undertake her spiritually, and when she received the baptismal sacrament, she remained in her white dress for a whole week, as was the custom of the early Church, mixing tears of her repentance with her deep inner joy for the sake of the richness of God's mercy. The deaconess became very attached to her, despite the short period of her acquaintance with her, until she could not bear her separation after that.
On the eighth day of her baptism she came with everything she owned and threw it at the feet of Bishop Nunnius to distribute it to the poor. Then she replaced the white dress with sackcloths, dressed as a man and set off to Jerusalem bearing the name "Pelagus". There she lived in a cave practicing a life of solitude on the Mount of Olives, and she attracted many souls to God by their prayers and silence.
No one discovered her, but many knew her virtues as a monk, and after three or four years she departed, and when they wanted to shroud her, they realized that she was a woman. Bishop Nonnius knew her story, and the dialogue that took place between him and her in the moments of her repentance, as she called herself "the sea of evil", "the abyss of impurity", "the jewel of Satan and his weapon." She met Abba Alexandros the patriarch of Jerusalem who sent her to one of the convents outside Jerusalem. She dwelt there for forty years and departed in peace.
May her prayers and blessings be with us all, and Glory be to God forever. Amen.