Perpetua and Felicitas
The Lady and the Slave of Carthage
Martyred 202 A.D.
The fifth general persecution of the Christians was raised by Septimius Severus in 202. Among the Christians seized at Carthage were the two named above. Their martyrdom is among the most touching events of church history.
Perpetua was a lady of rank. Her father was a pagan, but had a deep affection for his daughter, though she had become a Christian. He visited her in prison and pleaded with her to renounce her faith. He knelt weeping at her feet and besought her to have pity on his gray hairs and her own babe which she held to her breast. Though deeply moved, she would not turn from Christ. When she was brought before the judge he entreated her to “sacrifice for the posterity of the emperors.” “I will not,” she answered. “Are you then a Christian?” “I am,” was the firm reply.
Sentence was passed upon her and Felicitas. They were to be exposed to the wild beasts. On the way back to prison, Perpetua asked for her babe but her father refused her.
The festival of Geta was approaching, at which time shows were given for the amusement of the soldiers. The condemned Christians were kept for that day. At the appointed time, Perpetua and Felicitas left the prison for the amphitheater. Perpetua sang as one who has conquered. They were stripped, put into nets, and exposed to a wild cow. But even the brutal audience counted this indecent. The executioner withdrew them from the arena, gave them loose garments and led them back again. After they had been tossed and torn by the wild creatures they were dragged to the gate to be dispatched. The bloodthirsty crowd called for them to be slain in the sight of all. They were again led to the arena. Lady and slave gave each other the kiss of peace. They were sisters because Christians. The executioner’s sword ended their earthly existence, but not their influence. In after a time a yearly festival was held in their honor at Carthage.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.