Stubborn Ladies

Carthage ampitheater excavation
Excavation of the arena where Ss. Perpetua and Felicity died

Today we mark the 1,810th anniversary of the martyrdom of two young mothers.

The Emperor Septimus Severus ordered the enforcement of laws which required Christians to renounce Christ and offer sacrifices to the gods of Rome for the prosperity of the Empire. The emperor hoped to develop a universal pagan religion which incorporated all the local cults. Christianity, of course, does not tolerate this kind of syncretism. So it was illegal to convert to Christianity. But Perpetua and Felicity did anyway.

Perpetua mosaicPerpetua’s father begged and pleaded with her to give up on Christianity, for his sake and for the sake of her newborn child. Her heart broke, but she had no choice. She entrusted her family to God.

Perpetua, Felicity, and their companions were thrown to wild beasts in the arena for the amusement of the crowd. But the animals did not finish them off. Gladiators then stabbed them to death.

Perpetua and Felicity sang through the entire ordeal. They had been chosen to die for Christ, and they rejoiced at the opportunity.

We have every reason to believe that they were both gentle and accommodating young women. But about one thing they were adamant, stubborn, utterly impervious to any persuasion: they would hold fast to their faith in the triumph of Jesus Christ.