Monday, May 4, 2020

03 Works, Today, May 4th is Saint Pelagia's day, With Footnotes - #125

Unknown artist
Pelagia the Martyr

Pelagia (d. early 4th century), distinguished as Pelagia of Tarsus and Pelagia the Martyr, is a legendary Christian saint and martyr who lived in Tarsus in Cilicia (southeastern Asia Minor) during the reign of Roman emperor Diocletian. Originally, her feast day was celebrated on October 8, in common with SS Pelagia the Virgin & Pelagia the Harlot, both of Antioch and one or both of whom her story is probably modeled after. In the Roman Catholic Church, the feast was eventually moved to May 4.

Aureus of Emperor Diocletian

According to tradition, Diocletian's son, the heir to the throne, fell in love with her and wanted to marry Pelagia. At the same time, Pelagia convinced her mother to let her visit the nurse who had raised her in childhood. She secretly hoped to find Bishop Linus of Tarsus, who had fled to a mountain during a persecution against Christians, and to be baptized by him. 
Bishop Linus, instructed her in the Faith and baptized her. Pelagia then gave away all her many possessions, returned home, and told her parents and replied that she could not, because she had sworn to preserve her virginity and was wedded to Christ. In his sorrow, Diocletian's son killed himself. Pelagia was sent to Rome by her pagan mother, where Diocletian asked her to become his wife. She refused, calling the emperor insane. 

Unknown artist
Holy Virgin Pelagia, Constantinople, c.  985
Miniature Minology of Basil II.
Vatican Library. Rome.

The Emperor condemned her to be burned in a metal ox heated by fire. An account of her martyrdom says that, entering the ox with prayers of thanksgiving on her lips. Instantly melted like wax and smells of myrrh pervaded throughout Rome. By some versions, she was burned within a Brazen bull. The story concludes by relating that the pagans sent four lions to surround her bones, but instead they protected her bones from vultures and crows until a Christian bishop could recover them. Bishop Linus, who had baptised her, found a few of her bones and buried them on a hill near Tarsus. During the reign of the Emperor Constantine Copronymus (741-775), a church was built there in her honor. More on Saint Pelagia 

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