Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sts. Perpetua & Felicity

Among the most powerful stories of the early church is that of Perpetua & Felicity, whose martyrdom around the year 200 the church remembers today. My favorite part is when Perpetua tries to explain her choice to face death to her father.
"Do you see this vessel—a waterpot or whatever name it may have? Can it be called by any other name than what it is? So also I cannot call myself by any other name than what I am—a Christian.” So wrote Perpetua, a beautiful, well-educated, noblewoman of Carthage, mother of an infant son and chronicler of the Emperor Septimius Severus' persecution of the church.

Despite death threats, Perpetua and Felicity (a slavewoman and expectant mother), and others, refused to renounce their Christian faith. For this, they were imprisoned, and sentenced to death in the public games in the amphitheater.

Perpetua’s mother was a Christian and her father a pagan. He continually pleaded with her to deny her faith. Not willing to renounce Christianity, she comforted her father in his grief over her decision. “It shall happen as God shall choose, for assuredly I depend not on my own power but on the power of God.“

As part of the games, Perpetua and Felicity were beheaded. Felicity gave birth to her girl a few days before her death.

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