St. Perpetua, a noblewoman, and St. Felicity, a slave, were bound together in death when they were executed for the crime of being Christian in the early days of the Church.
What sets them apart from other martyrs is that Perpetua recorded her life up until her death in The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity and Their Companions, one of the earliest recorded Church writings by a woman. Her writing was groundbreaking, detailed and passionate. In the early days of Christianity, the account of her experiences was often shared when the faithful gathered together.
Perpetua was a beautiful and high-ranking young woman – possibly a widow – and mother, who lived in Carthage, North Africa. Her own mother was a Christian and father was pagan. Her father repeatedly begged her to renounce her faith, but she said, “See that pot lying there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is” When he said no, she said, “Neither can I call myself by any other name than what I am – a Christian.”
Living in the time of the great persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire, Perpetua knew it was dangerous to follow Jesus, but would not deny her faith. Eventually she was arrested along with several others who studied with her and their instructor, Saturus, and sentenced to die by order of the Emperor Septimius Severus. She was just 22 years old.
Felicity was a young pregnant slave who was in prison with Perpetua; by some accounts, she may have been Perpetua’s slave. After she gave birth, she and Perpetua, along with the men from her group, were taken to an arena to be executed during the public games. The men were killed by animal attack; the women beheaded.
Perpetua and Felicity’s bravery stands as an example to all who are religiously persecuted.
Ss. Perpetua and Felicty’s feast day is March 7.
They are the patron saints of mothers and expectant mothers.
Read more about Perpetua’s writing here.
Read their biography at Franciscan Media here.