« Pegasius, bp. of Troas Pelagia, surnamed Margarita Pelagianism and Pelagius »

Pelagia, surnamed Margarita

Pelagia (3), surnamed Margarita, Marina, and Peccatrix, an actress of Antioch about the middle of 5th cent., celebrated for her repentance. Her history is discussed at length in the AA. SS. Boll. Oct. iv. 248–268, where she is distinguished from two other Pelagias of Antioch, and Pelagia of Tarsus, martyr under Diocletian. The story of our Pelagia has been told by Jacobus, a deacon and eyewitness of her conversion. Nonnus, bp. of Edessa and successor of Ibas in that see, was once preaching at Antioch when present at a synod of eight bishops. Pelagia was then the favourite actress and dancer of Antioch, whose inhabitants had poured riches upon her and surnamed her Margarita from the number of pearls she wore. She came into the church during the sermon, to the astonishment and horror of the other bishops. Nonnus had been an ascetic of the severe order of Pachomius of Tabenna, and he addressed Pelagia with such plainness and sternness touching her sins and the future judgments of God, that she at once repented, 820and with many tears desired baptism, which, after some delay, was granted, the chief deaconess of Antioch, Romana, acting as sponsor for her. She finally left Antioch for a cell on the Mount of Olives, where she lived as a monk in male attire, and died some three years afterwards from excessive austerities. Jacobus the deacon, recounting a visit he paid to her there, gives a very interesting description of an anchorite's cell, such as can still be seen in many places in Ireland. She was living as an enclosed anchorite, in a cell with a window as the only communication with the external world. Her whole history is full of interesting touches, describing the ancient ritual of baptism and other ecclesiastical usages.

[G.T.S.]

« Pegasius, bp. of Troas Pelagia, surnamed Margarita Pelagianism and Pelagius »
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