Friday, March 7, 2008

SS Perpetua, Felicity, and Companions, Holy Martyrs

Today, on our patronal feast, we celebrate the memory of SS. Perpetua, Felicity, and their companions, who witnessed to the Faith by the shedding of their blood around the year AD 202 in Carthage, North Africa:

Passion of Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs

At the heart of their story is the testimony of St. Felicity as she gave birth in prison:

"But respecting Felicity... when she had already gone eight months with child (for she had been pregnant when she was apprehended), as the day of the exhibition was drawing near, she was in great grief lest on account of her pregnancy she should be delayed,—because pregnant women are not allowed to be publicly punished,—and lest she should shed her sacred and guiltless blood among some who had been wicked subsequently. Moreover, also, her fellow-martyrs were painfully saddened lest they should leave so excellent a friend, and as it were companion, alone in the path of the same hope. Therefore, joining together their united cry, they poured forth their prayer to the Lord three days before the exhibition. Immediately after their prayer her pains came upon her, and when, with the difficulty natural to an eight months' delivery, in the labour of bringing forth she was sorrowing, [a guard] said to her, 'You who are in such suffering now, what will you do when you are thrown to the beasts, which you despised when you refused to sacrifice?'

And she replied, 'Now it is I that suffer what I suffer; but then there will be another in me, who will suffer for me, because I also am about to suffer for Him.'

Thus she brought forth a little girl, which a certain sister brought up as her daughter." (5:2)

Charles Williams was of the opinion that in saying this, Felicity was found to have been placed in the ranks of the Doctors of the Church.

"Holy Martyrs of Carthage, Perpetua, Felicity, and Companions, pray to God for us that our souls may be saved."


Jim Huffman said...

It's funny; I've always admired St. Perpetua. I wanted to name one of our girls by that name, but my wife vetoed and I didn't overrule. Still, Perpetua is a great example of the faith, and one to be remembered.

FrGregACCA said...

Absolutely, Jim. In my case, I've always wanted to name a son "Shadrack." It's an old family name; however, my wife was not interested either, and as it happened, I have no biological sons. So the lobbying has now begun for a grandson named Shadrack. (I doubt I'll have much luck there either.)