St. Pelagia was born Margarita, the daughter of pagan parents. Her beauty is said to have caught the attention of the son of Emperor Diocletian, but Pelagia had no desire to marry.
One day, Pelagia attended a Mass said by the bishop. She was so inspired by his sermon that she sought his counsel by writing to him on wax tablets. He asked her to come in person for advice.
Through the inspiration of the bishop, Pelagia was baptized. The emperor’s son turned against her, and so did her mother. They reported her to the emperor, hoping that Pelagia would abandon her faith under torture. Diocletian interviewed her, but Pelagia refused to renounce God.
Pelagia gave away all her possession, set her slaves free, and ran away from home to live as a hermit in the mountains. She was called “the beardless hermit,” and went by the name Pelagius.
After a few years, Pelagia died, apparently as a result of extreme asceticism, which had emaciated her so that she could no longer be recognized.