The Memorial of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs is the Patron Saint of Mothers,
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs Date of Birth, Country of Birth, Profession, Place of Work, Date of Death, Place of Death, Feast Day, Beatification Date, Canonization DateMatrimony/Holy OrdersMarried People who became Saints
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs brief life History
|Date of Birth||2nd Century|
|Country of Birth||Tunisia in Africa|
|Profession||Christian and Martyrs|
|Place of Work||Carthage, Roman Province of Africa (modern-day Tunisia)|
|Date of Death||203 AD|
|Place of Death||Carthage, Roman Province of Africa (modern-day Tunisia)|
|Feast Day||March 7|
|Patron Saint of||Mothers,
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs Short life History
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity were Christian martyrs who lived during the early persecution of the Church in Africa by the Emperor Severus.
In the year 203, Vivia Perpetua, a well-educated noblewoman, made the decision to follow the path of her mother and become a Christian, although she knew it could mean her death during the persecutions ordered by the Emperor Severus. Her surviving brother (another brother had died when he was seven) followed her leadership and became a catechumen as well, meaning he would receive instruction from a Catechist in the Catholic Christian faith and be prepared for Baptism.
Her pagan father was frantic with worry and tried to talk her out of her decision. At 22-years-old, the well-educated, high-spirited woman had every reason to want to live — including a baby son whom she was still nursing. We know she was married, but since her husband is never mentioned, many historians assume she was already a widow.
Perpetua’s answer was simple and clear. Pointing to a water jug, she asked her father, “See that pot lying there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is?”
Her father answered, “Of course not.” Perpetua responded, “Neither can I call myself by any other name than what I am — a Christian.”
This answer upset her father and he attacked her. Perpetua reports that after that incident she was glad to be separated from him for a few days — even though that separation was the result of her arrest and imprisonment.
Perpetua was arrested with four other catechumens, including two slaves, Felicity and Revocatus, and Saturninus and Secundulus. Their instructor in the faith, Saturus, chose to share their punishment and was also imprisoned.
Perpetua was baptized before taken to prison. She was known for her gift of “the Lord’s speech” and receiving messages from God. She tells us that at the time of her baptism she was told to pray for nothing but endurance in the face of her trials.
The prison was so crowded with people that the heat was suffocating. There was no light anywhere and Perpetua “had never known such darkness.”
The soldiers who arrested and guarded them pushed and shoved them without any concern. Perpetua had no trouble admitting she was very afraid, but during all this horror, her most excruciating pain came from being separated from her baby.
The young slave, Felicity was even worse off, for Felicity suffered the stifling heat, overcrowding, and rough handling while being eight months pregnant.
Two deacons who ministered to the prisoners paid the guards to place the martyrs in a better part of the prison. There, her mother and brother were able to visit Perpetua and bring her baby to her.
When she received permission for her baby to stay with her she recalled, “my prison suddenly became a palace for me.” Once more her father came to her, begging her to give in, kissing her hands, and throwing himself at her feet. She told him, “We lie not in our own power but in the power of God.”
When she and the others were taken to be examined and sentenced, her father followed, pleading with her and the judge. The judge, out of pity, also tried to get Perpetua to change her mind, but when she stood fast, she was sentenced with the others to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena.
Perpetua recanted how her brother spoke to her, “Lady sister, you are now greatly honored, so greatly that you may well pray for a vision to show you whether suffering or release is in store for you.” Perpetua, who spoke to the Lord often, told her brother she would tell him what happened the next day.
While she prayed, Perpetua was shown a golden ladder of the highest length, reaching up to heaven. On the sides of the ladder were swords, lances, hooks and daggers so that if anyone did not climb looking up on Heaven, they would be severely injured. At the bottom of the ladder laid a large dragon to try to scare those journeying up away from Heaven.
Today’s Catholic Quote:
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, watch over all mothers and children who are separated from each other because of war or persecution. Show a special care to mothers who are imprisoned and guide them to follow your example of faith and courage. Amen