Monday, March 07, 2016

St. Perpetua and Felicity

My youngest daughter had a devotion to St. Perpetua and wants her as her confirmation saint in a few years. My goddaughter took Felicity as her patron when she came into the church last Easter Vigil.


Easter 2015 009


The martyrdom of Saint Perpetua and Felicity has been remembered through the ages. These beautiful you women were strong and steadfast in their Christian faith and showed great bravery for the love of Christ. They willing to died rather than give up Christ, even though that meant leaving their beloved babies. They are also remembered because of the gruesome and cruel manner of their deaths. The written words of Perpetua herself survived, as did the Christian witnesses who knew her.


Medieval Sourcebook: St. Perpetua: The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, 203 AD

The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity

The writings of St. Perpetua was so popular that they were read at mass, and St. Augustine issued a warning that they should not be given as much weight as sacred scripture. 

 Modern Catholics hear their names at mass whenever the first Eucharistic prayer is said. 

For ourselves, too, we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs, with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, (Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia) and all the saints.

Sts. Perpetua and Felicity were mauled by wild beasts and then died by the sword in 203 at Carthage, North Africa.

Carthage, Tunisia
Verity Cridland via flickr, licensed creative commons   View from the toms of Sts. Felicity and Perpetua.


At age 22, St. Perpetua converted to Christianity during the time of Septimus' persecution. Her brother converted as well. She had a nursing baby, but there is no mention of her husband and it has been assumed by historians that she was a young widow.

Perpetua's father was desperate to change his daughter's mind, because he feared for her well being. One exchange between them is very famous. Perpetua pointed to a water jug and asked her father, "Can you call it by any other name than what it is?" Her father answered of course not, to which Perpetua responded, "Neither can I call myself by any other name than what I am - a Christian."


Perpetua was arrested with four other catechumens including two slave, Felicity and Revocatus. Felicity was eight months pregnant.  The prisoners were treated cruelly in the stifling heat and over crowded conditions. Perpetua was able to receive visitors and her baby was allowed to stay with her. She said "my prison suddenly became a palace for me."

Felicity had her own burdens. It was unlawful to execute a pregnant woman, and Felicity was afraid that she would have her baby before her date of execution. When she did go into labor, the guards mocked her. She gave birth to a girl who was adopted by a Christian woman in Carthage.

Before they were martyred the women were stripped of their clothing. When the crowd saw that the women had obviously just given birth there was an uproar, and they hastily had to be reclothed. After much suffering they eventually were put to the sword, along with their companions. Perpetua and Felicity died side by side.

Perpetua's last words were to her brother: "Stand fast in the faith and love one another."




My oldest daughters made spoon saints commemorating Sts. Felicity and Perpetua.
St. Perpetua and Felicity
Spoon Saints of Perpetua and Felicity my daughter made a few years ago.


Perpetua and Felicity
Last year Rosie made peg saints.

I ordered the story of Perpetua from Catholic Heroes for the Faith.  I did watch this with my kids. Rosie, who was 5 at the time, had a hard time with it, but she is always very sensitive when watching shows and movies.  We're going to give it a try this year.  It did hold the interest of my older children though and I thought it told the story well.



Patronage: cattle, death of children, mothers and expectant mothers

1 comment:

Ceil said...

Hi Elena! Thank you for your wonderful words about Felicity and Perpetua! You have a real connection to them through your family members. I remember their names from the mass preface, as they come before my own patron saint, St. Cecilia!
Our history is so deep and beautiful, it's great to see you keep us informed in that beauty.
It's a pleasure to meet you!
Ceil

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