Perpetua and her Companions, Martyrs

The collect for today, the Feast of Saint Perpetua, Saint Felicitas, and their companions (d. 203), Martyrs at Carthage (source):

O holy God,
who gavest great courage to Perpetua,
Felicity and their companions:
grant that we may be worthy to climb the ladder of sacrifice
and be received into the garden of peace;
through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Epistle: Hebrews 10:32-39
The Gospel: St. Matthew 24:9-14

Perpetua, Felicitas, and five other catechumens were arrested in North Africa after emperor Septimus Severus forbade new conversions to Christianity. They were thrown to wild animals in the circus of Carthage.

The early church writer Tertullian records, in what appear to be Perpetua’s own words, a vision in which she saw a ladder to heaven and heard the voice of Jesus saying, “Perpetua, I am waiting for you”. She climbed the ladder and reached a large garden where sheep were grazing. From this, she understood that she and her companions would be martyred.

Tertullian’s The Passion of the Holy Martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas is posted here.

Felix Louis Leullier, Combat Arena or Martyrdom of SS. Perpetua and FelicityArtwork: Felix Louis Leullier, Combat Arena or Martyrdom of SS. Perpetua and Felicity, 1840, Private collection.

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