Virginmartyr Pelagia of Antioch

The Holy Virgin Martyr Pelagia (Πελαγία) came from Antioch in Syria and was descended from a prominent family during the reign of Emperor Numerian (282- 284). When the ruler of Antioch discovered that Pelagia was a Christian, he sent soldiers to rape her. They had surrounded her house and were about to seize her.

When the Saint learned of this, she asked the soldiers to let her go and change her clothes. Lifting her hands and her eyes to heaven, she prayed fervently to God not to allow the soldiers to rape her, but that she might depart this life as a pure virgin. Then she opened a window and jumped out, sustaining fatal injuries. Thus, she delivered her pure soul to God, in order to preserve herself from being defiled by the boorish soldiers. She was just fifteen years old.

Saint John Chrysostom has written a famous encomium for this Saint, in which he suggests that when Saint Pelagia threw herself out of the window, she was probably hoping to escape in that way, even though she was risking her life because of the danger she was in, and not because she wanted to commit suicide.

There was a church at Antioch, and another in Constantinople, which were dedicated to Saint Pelagia.