Pelagia (originally Margarita) was born as the beautiful daughter of pagan parents, and was said to have caught the eye of the Emperor Diocletian's son. However, she had no desire to marry. One day, she attended mass, given by the bishop. She was so inspired by his sermon that she anonymously sought counsel through writing on wax tablets. He asked her to come in person.
Under his inspiration, Pelagia was baptized. As a result of this, the emperor's son turned against her, as did her mother. Together they reported her to the emperor in hopes that her faith would weaken under torture. Diocletian interviewed her, but he failed to persuade her to change her mind and heart about being a Christian.
She ran from home, giving away all of her possessions and setting her slaves free, and lived as a hermit within the mountains. She was called "the beardless hermit," and went by the name of "Pelagius." She then died three or four years later, apparently as a result of extreme asceticism, which had emaciated her to the point she could no longer be recognized.