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Saints Perpetua and Felicity


Perpetua and Felicity, along with that other great Martyr, Anastasia, are the holy Matrons who have mention in the Gregorian Canon. The Acts of Saint Perpetua and her Companions are one of the greatest treasures of ecclesiastical history, and in the fourth century were read in the African Church like as if they were Holy Scripture itself. They were written by one of the blessed Companions of Perpetua, perhaps by the Martyr Satyr, and after their deaths were completed by another hand, and are therefore accepted as genuine.

According to these Acts, Perpetua and Felicity, in the persecution of the Emperor Severus in Africa, were seized along with Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus, and thrown into a very dark prison. Afterwards Satyr joined himself to them voluntarily. There in prison they were baptized, for hitherto they were but catechumens. Then were they condemned to the beasts. Whereupon one of the guards asked Felicity, who was in the labour of childbirth: What wilt thou do when thou art thrown to the beasts if thou groanest thus now? To whom she answered: I alone suffer now; but when I come to die, there is One who will comfort me, seeing that he is always with me, and that it is for him that I shall then be suffering.

Thereafter they were led into the amphitheatre, with all the people looking on. And first they were lashed with scourges. Then Perpetua and Felicity were tossed about by a very fierce heifer, which had been maddened for the purpose. Afterwards they were beaten by cudgels, and struck down to the earth. At last, with their Companions who had been harassed by divers beasts, they consummated martyrdom by the sword, probably on March 7th, about the year 203.


O GOD, who among the manifold works of thine almighty power hast bestowed even upon the weakness of women strength to win the victory of martyrdom: grant, we beseech thee, that we, who on this day recall the heavenly birth of blessed Perpetua and Felicity, thy Martyrs, may so follow in their footsteps, that we may likewise attain unto thee. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1128-1129

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