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st.Perpetua and Felicity-Carthaginian martyrs, with three companions

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st.Perpetua and Felicity

Feast Day : March 7

 

 

The martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity (also Felicitas), which took place on March 7, 203, in Carthage, is recorded in the alleged first-person accounts of Perpetua and one of her slave companions, and by others. Vibia Perpetua was of noble birth to a pagan father and Christian mother. She married and had an infant son. Her father tried to persuade her to renounce Christianity, but she would not. At age 22 she was a catechumen, and was arrested under the imperial edict of Septimius Severus (r. 193–211) forbidding anyone to become a Christian. She was still nursing her son at the time. Arrested with her were the slave Felicitas and her fellow slaves Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus. Another man named Saturus, who declared himself a Christian, also was arrested. They were all baptized before they were imprisoned. Perpetua’s father visited her in jail and begged her to renounce her faith and not disgrace her name. She refused. She was allowed to suckle her child. She had a vision in which she and Saturus went up a bronze ladder to heaven, where Perpetua was welcomed by a white-headed man in shepherd’s clothing who was milking his sheep. He gave some curd to her. At the trial of the six, her father again appeared, this time carrying her infant son, but she would not relent. Her father was forcibly removed with a whip. The six Christians were sentenced to be torn apart by wild beasts at games. While awaiting their fate, Perpetua and Saturus had visions. In two visions, Perpetua saw her younger brother, Dinocrates, who had died at age seven. In the first vision, he was in a dark place and looking wretched; in the second he was clean and happy. In another vision, she saw herself led to the amphitheater, where she was transformed into a man and did battle with an enormous Egyptian who towered over the top of the arena. She understood that she was not fighting wild beasts, but the devil; she won. Saturus saw himself and Perpetua transported by four angels toward the east, to a beautiful garden where they met four other North African Christians who had died in persecutions: Jocundus, Saturninus and Artaxius, who had been burned alive, and Quintus, who had died in prison. Saturus and Perpetua were taken to a building whose walls were made of light, to the presence of a white-headed man surrounded by many elders. They were blessed by the man. Secundulus died in prison. Felicitas, who was eight months pregnant, feared she would not be martyred, for law forbade the execution of pregnant women. For three days the prisoners prayed, and two days before the games, Felicity gave birth to a daughter, who was adopted by a Christian woman. On March 7 the five Christians were led to the arena and were scourged. A boar, bear and a leopard were set on the men as they were chained to a bridge, and a wild cow was set on the women. After they were wounded, their throats were slit by sword. The swordsman did not strike Perpetua properly, and so she set the blade on her neck herself. They were buried at Carthage. Later a grand basilica was built over their tomb. The names of Perpetua and Felicity were entered onto the calendar of martyrs venerated in the fourth century in Rome

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