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Vita Sanctae Pelagiae




Vita Pelagiae

Vita Sanctae Pelagiae

Name of the Portuguese translation

Vida de Santa Pelágia

Vida de Sancta Pellagya

Vida de Santa Paia (pt.012)


The text is attributed to Jacobus Diaconus, about whose life there is no concrete data (Waddell, 1942: 250).


Latin (the original text is in Greek).


Hagiographic text about the life of Pelagia, or Margaret, and her change of life, caused by a bishop called Nonnus. After giving up her sinful life, Pelagia travels to the Holy Land, where she lives as a hermit monk and is considered a saint, without anyone suspecting that she is a woman (her condition is discovered only after her death).

The life of St. Pelagia was written in Greek by Jacobus Diaconus in the mid-fifth century AD, although there are doubts about whether there is an older version (Beresford, 2007: 20). This life was later translated into Latin by Eustochius - of whom we know nothing (Waddell, 1942: 250) - according to Acta Sanctorum (October 8, page 261) (Nunes, 1907: 178-179). From this Latin version appeared others, among which we find the Portuguese witnesses.


Ninth century A.D. (this is the date of the Latin translation of the Greek text, that was written in the mid-fifth century A.D.).



Extant witnesses

The translation into Portuguese was made from a Latin copy of the thirteenth century which no longer exists. There is a shorter version of the Latin text, also from the thirteenth century, in the Códice Alcobacense 283/454, which is in the National Library of Portugal (Duarte, 1993: 674).


Online there are several versions:

Greek text:

De sancta Pelagia virgine et martyr:




Latin text:

1.   Suyskeno, Constantino et al. (1866), Acta Sanctorum – Octobris tomus quartus. Parisiis et Romae: apud Victorem Palmé.

2.  Documenta Catholica Omnia: Migne, JP, Patrologia Latina – Vita Sanctae Pelagiae Meretricis (Interprete Eustochio) – Documento em pdf


Portuguese text:

Nunes, J. J. (1907), "Textos antigos portugueses III. [Vida de Santa Pelágia]", Revista Lusitana 10, 177-190.


English-Latin translation:

1.   http://ldysinger.stjohnsem.edu/@texts/0400_apophth/07_pelagia-all.htm

2.   http://www.vitae-patrum.org.uk/page46.html


Online databases:

Monastic Matrix: http://monasticmatrix.usc.edu/vitae/index.php?function=detail&id=1568

Arlima: http://www.arlima.net/mp/pelagie_sainte.html



BERESFORD, Andrew M. (2007), The Legends of the Holy Harlots: Thaïs and Pelagia in Medieval Spanish Literature. Woodbridge: Tamesis.

Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementino-Vaticana: Jacobus Diaconus Edessenus, Caput XXII, 258

OLSEN, B. Munk (1984), "La 'Vida de Santa Pelágia': une traduction portugaise médiévale et son modèle latin". In Pélagie la pénitente: métamorphoses d'une legende. Paris: Études Augustiniennes, 2, 243-277

WADDELL, Helen (1942), The desert fathers. New York: Sheed & Ward.

SMITH, William e Wace, Henry (1882), A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines. London: J. Murray, s.u. Jacobus (40), 335.