Sts Perpetua and Felicity Prayer
your love enabled the saints Perpetua and Felicity
courage to endure a cruel martyrdom.
By their prayers, help us to develop in love of you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
“Blessed Saints Perpetua and Felicity, please watch over all mothers and children who are separated from each other because of war or persecution. Give special attention to mothers who are imprisoned and guide them to follow your example of faith and courage. Amen.”
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, were martyrs. They lived during the period of early persecution of the church in Africa by emperor Severus. Where as most saints lives are considered to be mythical or were under doubt. St. Perpetua recorded her trials on her account “The Passion of St Perpetua, St Felicitas and their companions.”
In the year 203 AD Vivia Perpetua a well educated noble woman. Decided to follow in her mothers footsteps and become a christian. This was despite the ongoing christian persecution at the hands of emperor Severus. Her brother also decided to follow the path of Christianity.
Saint Perpetuas father was very worried about her. He tried to convince her to denounce Christianity in order to save her life. She was twenty two years old, well educated and had a child. There was no mention of the father so it is assumed she might have already been widowed.
After an altercation with her father about her religious stand. He attacked her and they had to be seperated for a few days. She was happy about this even though it meant she was to be imprisoned.
She was arrested along with four other catechumens. Including two slaves Felicity and Revocatus. Also there was Saturninas and Secundulus. Perpetuas was baptized before being arrested. She had a gift of “The Lords Speech” and could receive messages from God.
The prisons were overcrowded and the heat unbearable. There was also no lights, and they were constantly being pushed around. She also admitted to being scared, but the most painful thing was being separated from her child.
At the time young slave Felicity was even worse off. She did not only have to endure the stifling heat, overcrowding and rough handling. But also had to do it while 8 months pregnant.
There was a pair of deacons who ministered to the prisoners. They paid the guards to move the martyrs to a better part of the prison. Thanks to this Perpetuas mother and brother were able to visit her and to also bring her young child.
During the trial St Perpetuas father once again tried to convince her to renounce her faith. The judge also took pity on her and tried to convince her renouncing Christianity would save her life. But she was steadfast in her faith, and refused. As a result she was sentenced together with the others to be thrown to the wild beasts of the arena.
while praying after her brother suggested it to her, Perpetua was shown a long golden ladder. It reached the heavens and on the sides it had; swords, lances, hooks and daggers. This was so that anyone climbing without looking up to heaven would be harmed. At the bottom was a dragon to scare anyone coming down from heaven.
Perpetua first saw Saturus go up first, he told her he would wait for her. When she got up the ladder, she saw a beautiful vast garden and a tall man with white hair and dressed like a shepherd milking sheep. He gave her curd from the milk and she ate it. She woke up with the sweet taste still in her mouth. when she told her brother what had trnspired they immediately understood they had to suffer.
Meanwhile Felicity was also in torment. It was against the law to execute a pregnant woman, since it was seen as spilling innocent and sacred blood. She was afraid she would be left behind by her friends when they get executed. But two days before the execution date she gave birth to a girl who was adopted by some Christian women.
There was a feast the day before the execution. This was to allow the people to see the martyrs and mock them before the execution. But the instead turned it on them by laughing at them for not being Christians and even urged them to join the faith.
When they got to the arena, they refused to be dressed in the pagans traditional religious garbs. They maintained they are dying to maintain their freedom to worship God.
The men were attacked by Bears, Leopards and Wild boars. The women on the other hand were stripped and made to face a rabid heifer. After they were attacked by the heifer for a while, the crowed cried out they had had enough. The two women were removed and clothed, they were then made to face the gladiators. Perpetua called out to her brother and other Christians to stand fast in faith and love ona another. Also they urged them not to let suffering and stumbling to block their path to salvation.
Saints Perpetua and Felicity stood side by side and were killed by swords at Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. They are the Patron Saints of mothers, expectant mothers, ranches and butchers. Their feast day is March 7.