St. John the Baptist Parish, A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canberra, Australia

8 / 21 October

Our Holy Mother Pelagia

A repentant sinner, she 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 Judgement and the punishment of sinners. These words so shook her, and wrought so great a change in her, that she was of a sudden filled with self-loathing and fear of God, and, repenting of all her filthy sins, fell down before St Nonnus, begging him to baptise her: 'Holy father, be merciful to me, a sinner; baptise 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 baptised 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 baptised. 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. Our Holy Mother Thals.

St. Keyne, hermitress of Cornwall

Icon of St. Keyne A Celtic saint who lived in the 5th century, was the daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, King of Brycheiniog in South Wales, a man of many children who became saints (some ancient sources said 24 daughters besides sons). Keyne spent her life performing good deeds in the West Country, where she is remembered by the well bearing her name, near Liskeard, Cornwall. Fifteen men of distinction sought the hand of Keyne in marriage. On a pilgrimage to St Michael’s Mount, she so endeared herself to the people that they would hardly allow her to depart. Her nephew, St Cadock, was also making a pilgrimage to the same place. Cadock stuck his stick in the earth, causing a spring to issue forth, and this spring St Keyne gave to the people of the district, who dedicated it in her honour. St Keyne liked to reside in a wood at the place now known as Keynsham. The chief of the country warned her of the venomous snakes that were prevalent in that forest, but St Keyne answered that she would pray and thus rid the country of serpents. Indeed, they were turned into the coils of stone that we know today as the ammonite fossils that are frequently found in the lias rock of that district. She planted four trees around the well that was dug at the spring – an oak, an elm, a willow and an ash:. When her final hour on earth approached, St Keyne had her followers bear her on a litter to the shady arbour that she had created, and soothed by the influence of the murmur of the flowing fountain, she blessed the waters.: St. Iwi, hierodeacon of Lindisfarne.

On the same day: The Holy Martyr Pelagia

Return to the index or the advanced search page.