October 12, 2014 -
"ST. PELAGIA THE PENITENT"
The fascinating story of Pelagia the Penitent is told in an ancient account by James, the Deacon of Bishop Nonnus who converted her to the Christian faith. Pelagia had been the chief actress and cancer in Antioch, living a lurid life of sin and unrestraint. She passed the cathedral one day and heard the saintly Nonnus preach the Word. She was overcome with the message of the Gospel and approached the hierarch for help.
Bishop Nonnus taught her, baptized her, gave her the seal of the Holy Spirit and communicated her with the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Three days later she gave her wealth to the Church, which distributed it to the widows and orphans of the city. On the eighth day after her baptism, Pelagia rose in the night, clothed herself in a horsehair tunic and mantle given her by Nonnus, and from that day was seen no more in Antioch.
She made her way to the Holy Land, occupied a small cell in the wilderness and there she lived out her days in prayer and repentance. People in the area, noting the piety and strictness of her life, thought she was one of the monks that inhabited isolated cells and caves in the area. But when she fell asleep in Christ, nuns from the Holy Land monasteries came with lamps and candles to accompany the body in the ritual of internment. Her fame spread far and wide, and her story has inspired many faithful through the centuries. She dies around the year 457.