Perpetua and Felicitas (203) - “Stand fast in the faith and love one another”
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28
Perpetua, a well-educated woman, was arrested with Felicitas, a slave, after they both converted to Christianity, an act banned in Carthage (in present-day Tunisia) by the Roman emperor Septimus. They were baptised before being imprisoned. Felicitas was pregnant and Perpetua, who was still nursing her baby son, was granted special permission for him to stay with her in prison.
Perpetua’s father begged her to renounce her new faith, and pleaded with the judge, who also tried to persuade her to change her mind, but she held firm. The two women, along with three others, were sentenced to be thrown to wild beasts in the circus.
Felicitas gave birth to a healthy baby girl two days before the execution, and her daughter was adopted by a Christian woman from Carthage. The prisoners were paraded before a jeering crowd, but they were un-perturbed, laughing at the mockers for being so foolish as to deny that Jesus was the Son of God.
Their jailers stripped them and tried to dress them up as pagan gods before throwing them to the animals, but they resisted. Perpetua and Felicitas were stunned and gored by a mad bull and were then killed with a sword. Perpetua’s final words were, “Stand fast in the faith and love one another.”
O Lord Jesus
Stretch forth your wounded hands in blessing over your people,
To heal and restore,
And to draw them to yourself and to one another in love.
Prayer from the Middle East
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.
Originally appeared on Isaac Publishing
For Other Articles by Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho (2008) - Endured Harassment