When all were seated, the bishops asked my lord Nonnus to speak to them, and at once the holy bishop began to speak words for the edification and salvation of all. Now while we were marveling at his holy teaching, lo, suddenly there came among us the chief actress of Antioch, the first in the chorus in the theatre, sitting on a donkey. She was dressed in the height of fantasy, wearing nothing but gold, pearls, and precious stones, even her bare feet were covered with gold and pearls…. When the bishops saw her bareheaded and with all her limbs shamelessly exposed with such lavish display, there was not one who did not hide his face in his veil or his scapular, averting their eyes as if from a great sin.
But the most blessed Nonnus gazed at her very intently for a long space of time. After she had gone by, he turned round and still gazed after her. Then he turned towards the bishops sitting round him and said, “Were you not delighted by her great beauty?” Still they did not answer, so “Indeed,” he said, “I was very greatly delighted and her beauty pleased me very much. See, God will place her before the judgment seat and will judge her on her gifts, just as God will judge us on our Episcopal calling.”
--Life of Pelagia the Harlot, ed. and tr. Benedicta Ward in Harlots of the Desert
Discuss: “To the pure all things are pure” is the title of this story. What does that mean to you? Have you, like the bishops, ever been shocked by another’s actions? What does that say to you?