Today’s Proof of BLACKNESS: ST PERPETUA AND ST FELICITA – FROM THE MARTYRS MEMORIAL
Saints Perpetua and Felicitas (Felicity) were martyrs who died for the faith around the year 203.
St. Perpetua was a young, well-educated, noblewoman and mother living in the city of Carthage in North Africa (present day Tunis, Tunisia). Her mother was a Christian and her father was a pagan, and in terms of her faith, Perpetua followed the example of her mother. Despite the pleas of her father to deny her faith, Perpetua did the very opposite and fearlessly proclaimed it. At the age of 22, she was imprisoned for her faith where she received many visions of the serpent persecuting the young and struggling Church. While in prison she continued to care for her infant child and put up with the tortures designed to make her renounce her faith. Perpetua remained steadfast until the end.
St. Felicitas was a pregnant slave girl who was imprisoned with St. Perpetua. Little is known about the life of St. Felicitas because, unlike Perpetua, she did not keep a dairy (a great treasure of the Church still in existence today). After imprisonment and torture, Felicitas was condemned to die at the games. Only a few days before her execution Felicitas gave birth to a daughter who was secretly taken away to be cared for by some of the Faithful.
They were both martyred at games in Cartage on 7th March 209 with three men one of whom was her catechist. After being gored by a wild cow for the entertainment of Roman troops, Perpetua was ineffectually stabbed by a novice swordsman whose sword Perpetua took and threw herself on and so gained eternal life. Both were widely venerated across Christendom, a great Basilica was erected over the graves of all five who died together.
Perpetua and Felicitas are both named in the second part of the Roman Canon (The First Eucharistic Prayer).
Alternative Opening Prayer
O Father of love,
you have honoured the Church of Africa
with the glorious martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicita.
May their example make our own faith grow stronger
and their intercession
help us to be victorious
over the evils and temptations that threaten us.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.