(October 21, October 8 old calendar).
Arepentant sinner, Saint Pelagia was born a pagan in Antioch and endowed by God with great physical beauty, but she used this beauty to destroy her own soul and those of others, acquiring great wealth from her prostitution. One day, walking past the church of the holy martyr Julian, where Bishop Nonnus was preaching, she turned into the church and listened to the sermon, which was about the Dreadful Judgment and the punishment of sinners. These words so shook her, and wrought so great a change in her, that she was suddenly filled with self-loathing and fear of God. Repenting all of her filthy sins, she fell down before St. Nonnus, begging him to baptize her, "Holy father, be merciful to me, a sinner; baptize me, and teach me repentance. I am a sea of iniquity, an abyss of destruction, a net and weapon of the devil." Thus this penitent implored Christ's hierarch with tears. And he baptized her. Blessed Romana, a deaconess of that church, stood sponsor to her at her baptism and, after that, as her spiritual mother, grounded her well in the Christian faith. But Pelagia was not content just to be baptized. Feeling the weight of her many sins and the pricking of her conscience, she decided on a great ascesis. She gave away to the poor the enormous wealth she had amassed by her immorality and went secretly to Jerusalem, where, under a man's name as the monk Pelagius, she shut herself in a cell on the Mount of Olives and there began a strict ascesis of fasting, prayer and vigils. Three years later, St. Nonnus's deacon, James, visited her and found her still alive, but when he went to her again a few days later, he found her dead body and gave it burial. St. Pelagia entered into rest in about 461. Thus, that sometime great sinner, by repentance and striving, received the mercy of God, the forgiveness of her sins and sanctification, and her purified and sanctified soul was made worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Troparion, Tone 4
Like a fragrant rose growing from thorns/ thou wast shown to the Church through thy virtuous deeds/ and wast a source of joy for the faithful./ Thou didst offer thy life in sweet-smelling fragrance to Him Who made thee wonderful./ Entreat Him to save us from every passion, O righteous Pelagia.
Kontakion, Tone 2
Thou didst wear out thy body with fasts, vigils and prayers/ and pray thy Creator for total forgiveness./ This thou didst obtain/ and dost show us the way to repentance,/ O holy Mother Pelagia.
Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church
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