In the year 203, Saint Perpetua made the decision to become a Christian, although she knew it could mean her death during Septimus’ persecution. Her brother followed her leadership and became a catechumen as well.
Her father was frantic with worry and tried to talk her out of her decision. We can easily understand his concern. At 22 years old, this well-educated, high-spirited woman had every reason to want to live — including a baby son who was still nursing. We know she was married, but since her husband is never mentioned, many historians assume she was 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 so upset her father that 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 catechist, Saturus, had already been imprisoned before them.
She was baptized before taken to prison. Perpetua 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 in the midst of 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 so that the martyrs would be put 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 “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. Her father was so furious that he refused to send her baby back to Perpetua. Perpetua considered it a miracle that her breasts did not become inflamed from lack of nursing.
While praying in prison, she suddenly felt “gifted with the Lord’s speech” and called out the name of her brother Dinocrates who had died at seven of gangrene of the face, a disease so disfiguring that those who should have comforted him left him alone. Now she saw a vision that he was even more alone, in a dark place, hot and thirsty — not in the eternal joy she hoped for him. She began to pray for Dinocrates and though she was put in stocks every day, her thoughts were not on her own suffering but on her prayers to help her brother. Finally she had another vision in which she saw Dinocrates healed and clean, drinking from a golden bowl that never emptied.
Meanwhile Felicity was also in torment. It was against the law for pregnant women to be executed. To kill a child in the womb was shedding innocent and sacred blood. Felicity was afraid that she would not give birth before the day set for their martyrdom and her companions would go on their journey without her. Her friends also didn’t want to leave so “good a comrade” behind.
Two days before the execution, Felicity went into a painful labor. The guards made fun of her, insulting her by saying, “If you think you suffer now, how will stand it when you face the wild beasts?” Felicity answered them calmly, “Now I’m the one who is suffering, but in the arena Another will be in me suffering for me because I will be suffering for him.” She gave birth to a healthy girl who was adopted and raised by one of the Christian women of Carthage.
The officers of the prison began to recognize the power of the Christians and the strength and leadership of Perpetua. In some cases this helped the Christians: the warden let them have visitors — and later became a believer. But in other cases it caused superstitious terror, as when one officer refused to let them get cleaned up on the day they were going to die for fear they’d try some sort of spell. Perpetua immediately spoke up, “We’re supposed to die in honor of Ceasar’s birthday. Wouldn’t it look better for you if we looked better?” The officer blushed with shame at her reproach and started to treat them better.
There was a feast the day before the games so that the crowd could see the martyrs and make fun of them. But the martyrs turned this all around by laughing at the crowd for not being Christians and exhorting them to follow their example.
The four new Christians and their teacher went to the arena (the fifth, Secundulus, had died in prison) with joy and calm. Perpetua in usual high spirits met the eyes of everyone along the way. We are told she walked with “shining steps as the true wife of Christ, the darling of God.”
When those at the arena tried to force Perpetua and the rest to dress in robes dedicated to their gods, Perpetua challenged her executioners. “We came to die out of our own free will so we wouldn’t lose our freedom to worship our God. We gave you our lives so that we wouldn’t have to worship your gods.” She and the others were allowed to keep their clothes.
The men were attacked by bears, leopards, and wild boars. The women were stripped to face a rabid heifer. When the crowd, however, saw the two young women, one of whom had obviously just given birth, they were horrified and the women were removed and clothed again. Perpetua and Felicity were thrown back into the arena so roughly that they were bruised and hurt. Perpetua, though confused and distracted, still was thinking of others and went to help Felicity up. The two of them stood side by side as all five martyrs had their throats cut.
Perpetua’s last words were to her brother: “Stand fast in the faith and love one another.”
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity please pray for me amen.
St Perpetua and Felicity , pray for my family
God pls help me with your grace to build a strong faith that will enable me to stand firm in thee in all the difficult situations of my life. St Perpetua n Felicity pls pray for me
St. Perpetua and felicity,
This is the first time that I will pray to you.
Thankyou for another Friday of my life.
I pray that Jv will come back in my life again.
Please help me. Thankyou
In Jesus name,
Give me and my family your Faith and Strength in the name of Jesus
I pray that God will give my family and I the grace and courage of saints Perpetus and Felicity in this present age, we pray in JESUS NAME, thank You Lord Amen
Pray for those who face persecution in the Middle East and Africa in the name of religion. Strengthen their faith and bring peace in the region. Pray for my family facing a lot problem after end of my job. Thank you Jesus for giving us wonderful saints.
St. Perpetual, pray for us!
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Saints Perpetua and Felicity, pray for us!
saint perpetua and felicity please help to have the faith to lay down my life for my lord Jesus christ. help me to always put others before myself . to help the n even when im in pain ,or am also being persecuted . help me to stand strong in my faith against everyone who is close to me who challenges my faith .in Jesus name amen.
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, pray for us.
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, pray for us.
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.
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.
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, for us Christians.
St Felicity and Perpetua my patroness pray for me,my younger ones and my family as a whole…may my exam be successful through ur prayers Amen
St. Felicity, St Perpetua, I pray to you to give me strength in my faith to understand the evil in this world and in front of me.
[…] For more about the martyrdom of these two great early Christian martyrs and witnesses of the faith, Perpetua and Felicity, please visit the Saint of the Day article "Saints Perpetua and Felicity" at the UCatholic blog site, March 7, 2021 at https://ucatholic.com/saints/perpetua-and-felicity/ . […]
To whom it may concern,
My name is Fr. Stephen Arabadjis. I am a member of the Society of St. Pius X. But I am in my 6th year of Sabbatical.Therefore I was hoping your group could do a 54 day rosary novena for my intentions. But any prayers and sacrifices would be greatly appreciated. I know Our Lady will reward you generously for this.
In Our Lady,
P.S. Thanking you in advance, since I don’t always get all my communications.