Perpetua and Felicity are two of the most celebrated martyr saints in Christian history. Their story is about courage, faith, and perseverance in facing persecution and death.
The Background of Perpetua and Felicity
Perpetua and Felicity lived in the early third century AD and were martyred for their faith in the Roman province of Africa. They have been an inspiration to many throughout the centuries. In this article, we will explore the lives and legacy of Perpetua and Felicity and the lessons we can learn from their example of faith.
Perpetua and Felicity were both young women from the Roman province of Africa. Perpetua was a noblewoman and the mother of a young child, while Felicity was her slave and companion. They were both catechumens, or converts to Christianity, and were part of a group of Christians who were arrested and persecuted for their faith.
We are lucky to have the genuine account of Perpetua and Felicity’s bravery written by Perpetua herself, her teacher Saturus, and other people who knew them because information about the lives of many early martyrs are murky and frequently dependent on legend. Nevertheless, in the early years, this story—known as “The Passion of St. Perpetua, St. Felicitas, and their Companions”—became so well-known that liturgies included readings from it.
A Diary of Perpetua’s Prison and a Prisoner’s Experience
A well-educated noblewoman named Vivia Perpetua decided to follow her mother’s example and convert to Christianity in 203, even though she was aware that doing so might result in her death during the persecutions ordered by Emperor Severus.
Her surviving brother, the only sibling left after the death of the other when he was seven, took her lead and joined her in becoming a catechumen, which meant he would get an education from a Catechist in the Catholic Christian religion and be ready for baptism.
Her pagan father attempted to convince her otherwise out of a panicked state of anxiety. Nevertheless, the intelligent, energetic woman was 22 years old and had every motive to desire to live, including a young kid who was still nursing.
The story of Perpetua begins with a disagreement between her and her father over his desire for her to change her mind. When Perpetua objects, she is baptized just before being taken to prison. In the days before Perpetua’s martyrdom, she was imprisoned in Carthage. She wrote about these days and her struggles in her diary. Before her martyrdom, Perpetua spoke of the physical and mental anguish she endured in prison.
The intense heat, brutal prison guards, and the end of her regular nursing all contributed to Perpetua’s physical suffering. However, Perpetua also talked about how the prison conditions improved once she bribed the guards and got her newborn, along with the other martyrs, transported to a different prison area.
The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity, a Confession of Their Faith
The persecution of Perpetua and Felicity began in AD 202, when a group of Christians, including Perpetua and Felicity, were arrested and brought before a Roman judge. They were charged with being Christians and refusing to worship the Roman gods.
Despite the threats and intimidation they faced, Perpetua and Felicity refused to renounce their faith and were sentenced to death.
Perpetua and Felicity were martyred in AD 203 in the city of Carthage. They were thrown to wild beasts in the arena, but miraculously, the animals refused to attack them. Eventually, they were killed by the sword. Their martyrdom was a powerful witness to their faith and the strength of their conviction.
Saints Perpetua and Felicity in the Basilica Maiorum of Carthage
An old inscription with the names of Perpetua and Felicity has been discovered in the Basilica Maiorum. Which was built over the martyrs’ tomb in Carthage. Among the martyrs honored by name in the Roman Canon of the Mass are Saints Felicitas and Perpetua.
The day of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, March 7, was observed as a feast day across the Roman Empire. And was noted in the Philocalian Calendar. A calendar of martyrs from the fourth century widely observed in Rome. However, the two African saints were only remembered once Saint Thomas Aquinas’ feast was added to the Roman calendar and celebrated on the same day.
The two were celebrated by the Tridentine Calendar. Which Pope Pius V instituted until 1908, when Pope Pius X moved the celebration date up to March 6. The feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas was relocated. And the feasts of Saints Perpetua and Felicity were returned to their customary dates of March 7 in the General Roman Calendar modification of 1969.
The Legacy of these two Martyrs
Perpetua and Felicity’s legacy lives on today through the stories and writings passed down through the centuries. Their story is recorded in a document known as the “Passion of Perpetua and Felicity.”
Considered one of the earliest Christian texts. This document provides a detailed account of their arrest and trial. And martyrdom and is a powerful testimony to their faith and courage.
Their legacy also lives on through the many churches, chapels, and monasteries dedicated to them throughout the centuries. They are also the patron saints of many groups and organizations, including pregnant women, martyrs, and converts.
The Lessons We Can Learn from Perpetua and Felicity
Perpetua and Felicity’s story inspires many and teaches valuable lessons about faith, courage, and perseverance. They remind us that even in the face of persecution and death. We can remain strong in our faith and true to our beliefs. They also remind us that true faith cannot be taken away but is deeply rooted in our hearts.
Their story also teaches us the importance of standing up for what we believe in. Even when it is difficult or dangerous. They remind us that there are times when we must be willing to sacrifice our comfort and safety for the sake of our faith.
In conclusion, Perpetua and Felicity are two of the most inspiring martyr saints in Christian history. Their story of courage, faith, and perseverance in the face of persecution and death continues to inspire many. They remind us that true faith is deeply rooted in our hearts. And that we must be willing to stand up for what we believe in, even when it is difficult or dangerous.