jump to navigation

Saints Perpetua and Felicitas March 6, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Christendom, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Liturgical Year, martyrdom, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.

Today is the Feast of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas in the traditional calendar. From Dom Prosper Gueranger’s The Liturgical Year.  As St. Augustine notes, these Saints very names remind us of the perpetual felicity of our heavenly home.  These Saints beckon us there!  Since this is such a long history of these Saints and Martyrs, that’s all the intro you get:

It is the Year of Our Lord 203:

During the reign of the Emperor Severus, several catechumens were apprehended at Carthage, in Africa. Among Perpetuathese were Revocatus and his fellow servant Felicitas, Saturninus and Secundulus, and Vivia Perpetua, a lady by birth and education, who was married to a man of wealth.  Perpetua was about twenty-two years of age and was suckling an infant. She ha left us the following particulars of her martyrdom. “As soon as our persecutors had apprehended us, my father came to me, and our of his great love for me, he tried to make me change my resolution. I said to him: “Father, I cannot consent to call myself other than what I am, a Christian.” At these words, he rushed at me threatening to tear out my eyes. But he only struck me, and then he left me, when he found that he arguments suggested to him by the devil were of no avail. [Oh that parents would support their children more when called to great acts of piety, or even offering up their lives from Christ in religious life or some other means!]  A few days after this, we were baptized; and the Holy Ghost inspired me to look on this Baptism as a preparation for bodily suffering. A few more days elapsed, and we were sent to prison. I was 22222terrified, for I was not accustomed to such darkness. The report soon spread that we were to be brought to trial.

‘My father left the city, for he was heart-broken, and he came to me, hoping to shake my purpose.  There were his words to me: “My child, have pity on my old age. Have pity on thy father, if I deserve to be called that. Think of thy brothers, think of thy mother, think of thy son, who cannot live without thee. Give up this mad purpose, or thou wilt bring misery upon thy family.”  Whilst saying this, which he did out of love for me, he threw himself at my feet, and wept bitterly, and said he besought this of me not as his child, but as his lady. I was moved to tears to see my aged parent in this grief, for I knew that he was the only one of my family that would not rejoice at my being a martyr. I tried to console him, saying: “I will do whatsoever God shall ordain. Thou knkowest that we belong to God, and not to ourselves.” He then left me, and was very sad.

‘On the following day, as we were taking our repast, they came upon us suddenly, and summoned us to trial. We PerpetuaFelicityreached the forum.. We were made to mount a platform. My companions were questioned, and they confessed the Faith. My turn came next, and I immediately saw my father approaching towards me, holding my infant son. He drew me from the platform, and besought me, saying: “Have pity on thy babe!” Hilarian, the governor, too said to me: “Have pity on thy aged father, have pity on thy babe!  Offer up sacrifice for the emperors.” I answered him: “I cannot; I am a Christian.” Whereupon, he sentences all of us to be devoured by wild beasts; and we, full of joy, return to our prison. But as I had hitherto always had my child with me in prison, and fed him at my breasts, I immediately sent word to my father, beseeching him to let him come to me. He refused; and form that moment, neither the babe asked for the breast, nor did I suffer inconvenience; for God thus willed it.’

All the above is taken from the written account left us by the blessed Perpetua, and it brings us to the day before she was put to death. As regards Felicitas, she was in the eighth month of pregnancy, when she was apprehended. The day of the public shows was near at hand, and the fear that her martyrdom would be deferred on account of her being with child, made her very sad. Her fellow martyrs, too, felt much for her, for they could not bear the thought of seeing so worthy a companion disappointed in the hope, she had in common  with themselves, of so soon reaching Heaven. Uniting, therefore, in prayer, they with tears besought God in her behalf. It was but three days before the public shows. No sooner was their prayer ended, that Felicitas was seized with pain. One of the Saints_Nazarius_Celsusjailers who overheard her moaning, cried out: “If this pain seem to thee so great, what wilt thou do when thou are being devoured by the wild beasts, which thou pretendedst to heed not when thou was told to offer sacrifice.” She answered: “What I am suffering now, it is indeed I that suffer; but there will be Another in me, who will suffer for me, because I shall be suffering for Him.” She was delivered of a daughter, and one of our sisters adopted the infant as her own.

The day of their victory dawned. They left their prison for the amphitheater, cheerful, and with faces beaming with joy, as though they were going to Heaven. They were excited, but it was from delight, not from fear. The last in the group was Perpetua.  Her placid look, her noble gait, betrayed the Christian matron. She passed through the crowd, and saw no one, for her beautiful eyes were fixed upon the ground. By her side was Felicitas, rejoicing that her safe delivery enabled her to encounter the savage beasts.  The devil had prepared a savage cow for them. They were put into a net. Perpetua was brought forward the first. She was tossed into the air, and fell upon her back. Observing PerpetuaandFelicitasthat one side of her dress was torn, she adjusted it, heedless of her pain, because thoughtful for modesty. Having recovered from the fall, she put up her hair which was disheveled by the shock, for it was not seemly that a martyr should win her palm and have the appearance of one distracted by grief. this done, she stood up. Seeing Felicitas thrown down she went to her, and given her hand to her, raised her from the ground. Both were now ready for a fresh attack: but the people were moved to pity, and the martyrs were led to the gate called Sana-Vivaria. There Perpetua, like one that is roused from sleep, awoke from the deep ecstasy of her spirit. She looked around her, and said to the astonished multitude: “When will the cow attack us?” They told her that it had already attacked them. She could not believe it, until her wounds and torn dress reminded her of what had happened. Then beckoning to her brother, and to a catechumen named Rusticus, she thus spoke to them: “Be staunch in the Faith, and love one another, and be not shocked at our sufferings.”

God had already taken Secundulus from this world; for he died while he was in the prison.  Saturninus and Revocatus were exposed first to a leopard, and then to a bear. Saturus was exposed to a boar, and then to a bear, thCABPZ8O7which would not come out of it den’ thus was he twice left  uninjured; but at the close of the games, he was thrown into a pit with a leopard, which bit him so severely that he was all covered with blood, and as he was taken from the amphitheater, the people jeered at him for this second Baptism, and said: “Saved, washed! Saved, washed!” [We like to think that the Roman people, who were not Christian, were not so out of ignorance for Christ’s Promise.  That is not the case.  By this time, pretty much any half-educated person had some idea of what Christians believed, though generally erroneously and not in great depth. They were certainly aware the Church purported to offer salvation.  So, it was not just some revelation, as some moderns like to postulate, of the possibility of redemption through Christ that converted many people, but the whole depth and breadth of Christian Doctrine. Doctrine was key to the early Church, the key to be accepted into the Church and the key to remain in it as a faithful soul.  Those who rejected Doctrine were cast out.  It was not as so many progressives like to paint it, just a ancient hippy love-groove society.  It was a hard doctrinal Church, which was part of what so incensed non-Christian Romans.]  He was then carried off, dying as he was, to the appointed place, there to be dispatched by the sword, with the rest.

But the people demanded that they should be led back into the middle of the amphitheater, that their eyes might feast upon the sight, and watch the sword as it pierced them. The martyrs hearing their request, cheerfully stood perpetuasup, and marched to the place where the people would have them go; but first they embraced on another, that the sacrifice of their martyrdom might be consummated with the solemn kiss of peace. They all received the fatal stroke without a movement or a moan; Saturus being the first to expire. Perpetua was permitted to feel more than the rest. Her executioner, who was a novice in his work, thrust his sword through her ribs: she slightly moaned, then took his right hand, and pointing his sword towards her throat, told him that that was the place to strike. Perhaps it was that such a woman could not be otherwise slain than by her own consent, for the unclean spirit feared her.

———–End Quote———

Thus ends one of the best documented early Church martyrdoms, a martyrdom which was widely known among Christians of the third century.

Long martyrology!  But very good.  It is amazing to see how eagerly the early Christians suffered. They were so sure in their faith!  Our Lenten sufferings are paltry in comparison, no?  Such bravery!  Such nobility!  I pray you find this inspiring for your Lent.  Our brilliant Mother the Church knows how to inspire her children, we should thank Her for the example of the glorious Martyrs.


1. cg - March 6, 2014

Reblogged this on Catholic Glasses and commented:
Ss Perpetua and Felicity pray for us.

2. Cori - March 7, 2014

Holy moley! That will stick with me today.

Sorry comments are closed for this entry

%d bloggers like this: