Saint Of The Day On March 7: Perpetua And Felicita
A true Christian holocaust or one might say a concentration camp was the one in which Perpetua and Felicita immolated themselves
The words of Jesus: ‘Do not fear’ mark the steps of history, no matter how far back in time one goes.
The martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicita dates back to 203 A.D. in an arena, in the face of their firm and obstinate response of adherence to the Christian faith.
‘Yes, I am Christian; yes, I am Christian’ is the cry of martyrs everywhere and at all times.
Let us read with Tertullian the passion of Perpetua and Felicita
Most probably we owe to Tertullian the story handed down of the two martyrs.
The figure of Felicita emerges strongly. She rejoices in giving birth early to her child, even though she gives herself up to the pangs of martyrdom.
These were her words in the face of those who manifested blatant disbelief: ‘Down there another will be suffering in me because I am now suffering for him’.
As if to say: ‘It is Christ who lives in me’!
A quietly renewing faith.
And no less was the example of Perpetua, also a mother, and also of the same Carthaginian origin.
Perpetua is our Anne Frank: she wrote the diary of their internment
Perpetua’s poignant words make us shudder and we would not for a second want to be in their shoes: ‘Crammed in there, we felt suffocated by the heat, because the soldiers had no regard for us.
She was a rich woman from a wealthy family, also giving birth while Felicita was part of the servants.
Normal custom of the time for nobles and lords.
To be a Christian, according to the rule of Septimius Severus meant to vow oneself to death.
Faced with her father’s reprimand, Perpetua replied that just as a jug or any other object could not be called anything else, so could she herself.
She could not but be a Christian.
Along with the two of them, five catechumens and their catechist were also imprisoned.
One seems to hear their screams; yet heartfelt was the prayer to endure the suffering, in imitation of Christ the Redeemer.
What greater figure then than that of Perpetua and Felicita in this crucial time of preparation for Easter?
Sister Ines Carlone Daughters of Mary Missionaries