Lydia's early life is unknown to us, though we can guess that she was born in Thyatira in Asia Minor, the town where she lived as an adult. Our knowledge of Lydia comes from the Acts of the Apostles in which we learn that she was a businesswoman dealing in dyed cloth, the trade of the town. Lydia dealt specifically in purple cloth which earned her the title "Purpuria," meaning "purple-seller." Due to this she is sometimes referred to as St. Lydia Purpuria.
Lydia was the first person we know of who was converted by St. Paul. As St. Luke states: "On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, 'If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,' and she prevailed on us." (Acts 16:13-15)
Following her conversion Lydia appears to have opened her home to her fellow Christians and received Paul and Silas into her home following their escape from prison. St. Luke records, "When they had come out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and then they left." (Acts. 16:40)
St. Lydia is the patroness of dyers.