Friday, March 7, 2014

Feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

Happy Feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity!

Writings of the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity live in writings by both Perpetua and her teacher Saturus.  This is amazing to have, since the events took place in the 200s (yes--around 1800 years ago)!!  The account is known as the Acts of Pepetua and Felicity or the "Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity."  This will be a must read and the website attached to the link above carries many of the church's early writings.  It is a must for those wanting to dig deeper into the early church.  Onto the story at hand.  Perpetua was 22 years old, and we assume a widow and mother of a small child, when she decided to become a catechumen.  Her decision meant a possibility of death, due to the persecutions of Septimus.  Perpetua was baptized and soon after imprisoned, along with 4 other catechumens, which included 2 slaves (Felicity was one of these).  Perpetua was known for receiving messages from the Lord and was by him at her baptism to pray for endurance in the face of trials.  The prisoners were treated to extreme heat in the prison, as well as overcrowding and brutal treatment.  Perpetua was pained by the absence from her baby, but Felicity was 8 months pregnant while enduring the punishment.  Some deacons paid off the guards and had the martyrs moved to a better part of the prison, where Perpetua could have her baby stay with her and receive visitors.  When examined and sentenced before the judge, Perpetua's father pled for her to recent and deny her faith, but she refused.  She was sentenced with the rest of the martyrs to be thrown to wild beasts.  While still in prison, she had visions of her deceased brother in what sounds like purgatory, so she prayed for him unceasingly, even through her suffering in the stockades, until she had visions of him drinking from a golden bowl that never emptied.  Felicities time was also full of torments.  She was fearful that she would not give birth before the day of execution.  This was an issue, because it was against the law to kill a pregnant woman since you'd be spilling innocent blood.  (Amazing, how such a brutal time held life in the womb as precious, but today, in our modern and educated society, life in the womb is not even acknowledged as life.)  Two days before the martyrdom, she gave birth to a healthy girl who was adopted by a Christian family.  The strength and leadership of the Christians, especially, was noticed by those working the prison.  Even the warden later became a Christian.  The martyrs met their end with pride, joy and dignity.  The men were attacked by bears, leopards and boars.  The women were stripped and made to face a rabid heifer.  The crowd was appalled by the treatment of the women, so they were dress and their throats cut in front of the crowds.  Perpetua's last words were "Stand fast in the faith and love one another."

These 2 women, as well as the other martyrs, show us so many wonderful lessons for our lives. 
*The value of life, even in a society that did not value life, an unborn child held value.  It held such value that his mother could not be killed, even during the persecutions.  This was not a culture that valued life, their recreation was watching the loss of life. 
*The order of their lives JOY--Jesus, Others, You
*Leadership-Leading others to Jesus, not by force, but by example.

I hope to lead my life in the manner of these amazing martyrs.  As I heard one person say the other day, our lives should be lived so that seeing the separation of our lives from our faith is impossible.  That our everyday lives should be so intertwined with faith that there is no line of separation and that to try to divide ourselves from our faith would be the very end of us.  What a concept!  What a goal!

From the blog:
it contains comics on the life of St. Perpetua

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