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The Saints' Undivided Union with Jesus


One remarkable account of martyrdom in the early Church is that of two mothers, Saints Perpetua and Felicity.

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WhiteFlowersPhoto by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash.

Perpetua was a young woman, twenty-two years of age, of noble birth and well educated, and the mother of an infant. When she was accused of being a Christian, her father begged her to renounce her faith. He said that he prized her above all her brothers and that she was the light of his life. Perpetua was unwilling to renounce her Christian faith and grieved that her father and her other family members could not rejoice with her in her impending martyrdom. She was put in a dungeon with other Christians.

Felicity was a servant who was eight months pregnant. She, too, refused to renounce her faith and was put in the same prison. Pregnant women were not permitted to be publicly tortured. As a remarkable testimony of her faith, she prayed fervently for the early birth of her child so that she could be martyred with the others. The other prisoners joined her in passionate prayers to God for the delivery of the baby. Miraculously, their prayers were granted, and Felicity's sister took the child and raised her as her own daughter.

The soldier who guarded them was amazed at the holiness of the Christian prisoners, including the two young mothers. He allowed many visitors to come and be encouraged by them. On the day of their martyrdom, Perpetua, Felicity, and their companions entered the amphitheater with joyous and brilliant countenances. Perpetua walked as though the bride of Christ, assured of being loved by God. Felicity rejoiced and regarded the blood she was about to shed as the second cleansing after childbirth, a second baptism. When Felicity was knocked down, Perpetua extended her hand and helped her up. Eventually the two women were destroyed by the beasts and the swords of the gladiators.

This account of the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity portrays the women willingly facing their death, in the pattern of Christ, who willingly gave himself up for us on the cross. His death was purposeful and efficacious. So too, the early Church martyrs saw their deaths as meritorious, and counted it a privilege to be among those who walked in the steps of Christ.

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KathrynRombsKathryn Rombs, Ph.D. "The Saints' Undivided Union with Jesus," from Motherhood: An Extraordinary Vocation. Our Sunday Visitor (2021).

Printed in the March 2024 edition of Magnificat. Used with permission.

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The Author

Dr. Kathryn Rombs is a wife, mother, and convert to the Catholic faith. She teaches philosophy at the University of Dallas.

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