Third century martyrs, Perpetua and Felicitas, hold a special place in my heart, because of their courage, charity toward each other, and family ways (Perpetua was nursing when condemned and Felicitas 8 months along). They were charged as being catechumens at a time when the Emperor was attempting to crack down on new Christian and Jewish converts. Before they were jailed, they were baptized into Christ.
Perpetua was in great discomfort while jailed (I imagine physically and emotionally), until her mother brought her nursing son. Then she wrote, "and straightway I became well and was lightened of my labour and care for the child; and suddenly the prison was made a palace for me." The jailer was very sympathetic and allowed many Christian visitors. Her pagan father often came to try to dissuade her from her shameful charge and penalty, but she refused to "sacrifice to pagan gods."
Felicitas delivered a few days before the Christians were sent into the arena, and her daughter was adopted by a Christian family. She had prayed for this, since pregnant women were not allowed to be sent into the arena, and desired to die with her companions, instead of alone.
You can read a translation of the account here (a portion was apparently written by Perpetua while in prison).
Today I will emphasize/contemplate:
* The love of Perpetua and Felicitas toward each other, although Perpetua was a noblewoman, and Felicitas a slave. Perfect love casts out all fear! I will talk to my kids about true brotherhood in Christ. (Tradition says Perpetua was pale-skinned, while Felicitas was dark.)
* The ladies' fulfilling their vocations as mothers, even under certain persecution. Likewise, not succumbing to (what would be my) weakness, denying Christ in order to remain with their husband and children (a false unselfishness). I pray God would give me He strength if I ever am tempted!
* The imprisoned had many visions before their death, often centered around fighting Satan, not just flesh-and-blood beasts. We will pray for Christians facing death around the world, whether by martyrdom or natural death, that they would resist the temptations of Satan with God's Word and Promises. If you own it, read passages from The Art of Dying, by Luther.
* Pray for suffering Christians in Africa (esp. Egypt); Perpetua and Felicity were Carthaginians
(For the kids I'll simplify and soften these themes: loving God even more than our families and friends; fulfilling the job God has given us, even if it is hard or we're persecuted for it; and not fearing death, because Christ has overcome fear and death!)
|Felicite and Perpetue, an antique heirloom rambling rose|