The Venerable Pelagia the Penitent lived a life of debauchery, earning a living as an exotic dancer and a prostitute. Once, when passing by a church elegantly dressed and adorned in riches, the congregation turned their faces away to not look at her. The Holy Bishop Nonnus reproached them for this. He said “behold how much care this woman takes to adorn her body, yet what care to we take to adorn our wretched souls!” The. bishop then fervently prayed for Pelagia, and so one day as she was passing by, she heard the bishop preaching about repentance and the Day of Judgment. These words affected her so deeply that she changed her life completely and asked to be baptised by the bishop. That night, the devil himself appeared to Saint Pelagia ordering her to return to her debauched lifestyle. She made the sign of the cross and prayed, and immediately the evil one disappeared. Pelagia then gathered her riches which she had earned through her profligate life and sold them and gave the money to the poor, to which the bishop said, “let this be wisely dispersed, so that these riches gained by sin may become a wealth of righteousness.” The venerable one then entered into a male monastery disguised as the monk Pelagius where she excelled in spiritual virtue. She reposed having lived a life of prayer and repentance.
Ἦχος δ’. Ὁ ὑψωθεῖς ἐν τῷ Σταυρῷ.
Ἐξ ἀκανθῶν καθάπερ ρόδον εὐῶδες, τὴ Ἐκκλησία Πελαγία ἐδείχθης, ταὶς ἐναρέτοις πράξεσιν εὐφραίνουσα ἠμᾶς, ὅθεν καὶ προσήγαγες, ὡς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας, τῷ σὲ θαυμαστώσαντι, τὸν σὸν βίον Ὁσία. Ὂν ἐκδυσώπει σώζεσθαι ἠμᾶς, παθῶν παντοίων, ψυχῆς τὲ καὶ σώματος.
Ἦχος β’. Τὰ ἄνω ζητῶν
Τὸ σῶμα τὸ σὸν νηστείαις κατατήξασα, ἀγρύπνοις εὐχαῖς, τὸv Κτίστην καθικέτευες, τοῦ λαβεῖν σῶν πράξεων, τὴv τελείαν Μῆτερ συγχώρησιv, ἢν καὶ ἔλαβες ἀληθῶς, ὁδὸν μετανοίας ὑποδείξασα.
Troparion — Tone 4
Like a fragrant rose growing from thorns, / You were revealed to the Church through your virtuous deeds / Becoming a source of joy for the faithful. / You offered your life in sweet-smelling fragrance / To him who made you wonderful. / Entreat him to deliver us from every soul-destroying passion, / O righteous Pelagia!
Kontakion — Tone 2
You wore out your body through fasting, vigils, and prayer / beseeching the Creator to completely forgive your deeds. / You achieved this, holy Mother Pelagia, / thereby showing us the way to repentance.