Sts. Perpetua and Felicity Served God to the End
Saints Perpetua and Felicity are often referred to in the Eucharistic Prayer and they share a feast day on March 7th, but why are these two women so important to the church? The importance comes from their astounding grace and courage to face death because of their love of the faith.
Perpetua and Felicity lived in a time when the Romans made a game of arresting and torturing Christians. The two women were arrested and thrown into prison because of their Christian faith. Perpetua was a Roman noblewoman and new mother. At the time of her arrest, she was still nursing her infant son. Felicity was a slave and was in her third trimester of pregnancy. Perpetua kept a diary of their imprisonment, and her writings are among the oldest works in the church depicting martyrdom.
Perpetua’s family pleaded with her to renounce her faith and to honor a pagan god so that her life would be spared, and she could care for her young son. She refused and declared that she would always be a Christian. She asserts that she could never deny her faith even if it meant leaving her son behind. Perpetua was known for her gift of wisdom and insight from God. She would often receive messages from Him. In her writings she shares that God encouraged her to pray, pray, pray for nothing but endurance in the face of her trials.
Felicity prayed night and day to deliver her baby before her execution. God answered her prayers, and she delivered a healthy baby girl who was immediately handed off to a sympathetic Christian woman who raised her as her own child.
Both women remained firm in their faith even as death loomed before them. Along with a few other Christians, Perpetua and Felicity were thrown into an amphitheater in front of a cheering crowd where they were tortured and mistreated by wild animals. After much pain, suffering and humiliation their throats were cut, and they were presented to the exuberant crowd. It is recorded that Perpetua’s last words were spoken to her brother. She said,
“Stand fast in the faith and love one another.”
Saints Perpetua and Felicity are a reminder that God always comes first in our lives. These two women show us that the path to holiness isn’t always easy and sometimes we are called to endure unexpected and unwanted pain and suffering. It was their unwavering loyalty to Jesus that brought them great joy and gave them the courage to face their situation with determination and peace in their hearts.
The next time you hear these two brave saints mentioned in Mass, ask them to pray for you. When you encounter difficult situations in your life or when you feel like you are being attacked because of your faith, call on the intercession of these two powerful saints. Hold close to your heart the message that God often shared with St. Perpetua to pray, pray, pray.
Jennie Guinn is a Catholic speaker, Life Coach, Podcaster, Weekly Radio Show Host on Nashville Catholic Radio and Radio Maria USA, and the founder of Catholic Moms in the Middle. After 26 years of working in Catholic education, Jennie felt God calling her "to step out of the boat" to serve in a new way. In her new ministry, she equips and encourages middle-life women to encounter the love of the Father and to be transformed and healed by the power of the Holy Spirit so they can MAGNIFY Christ in their corner of the world.