Sunday, March 7, 2010
Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity
Today the Church commemorates the martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicity who suffered martyrdom at Carthage in the year 203. A most accurate account of their death still exists, derived partly from their own testimonies and partly from a writer of the period.
Perpetua was a young Roman noblewoman and Felicity was her servant girl. When Perpetua was arrested for being a Christian she was pregnant and her execution was delayed until after she gave birth.
Perpetua, along with other Christians of Carthage, went bravely to her death while admonishing other Christians, "Stand firm in faith, love one another and do not be tempted to do anything wrong because of our sufferings."
Not being killed outright by the beasts, Saint Perpetua guided the sword of a frightened gladiator assigned to kill her to her own throat. The ancient account of her death says "Such a woman - one before whom the unclean spirit trembled - could not perhaps have been killed, had she herself not willed it."
Several years ago, I read an excellent scholarly book about the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Septimus Severus and the martyrdom of Saint Perpetua and the martyrs of Carthage. The book is called Perpetua's Passion.
PRAYER: FATHER, YOUR LOVE GAVE THE SAINTS PERPETUA AND FELICITY COURAGE TO SUFFER A CRUEL MARTYRDOM. BY THEIR PRAYERS, HELP US TO GROW IN LOVE OF YOU. WE ASK THIS THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, YOUR SON, WHO LIVES AND REIGNS WITH YOU AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE GOD, FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN.