Saints Perpetua and Felicity were martyrs who died for the faith around the year 203, killed at Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.
St. Perpetua was a young, well-educated, noblewoman and mother living in the city of Carthage. Her mother was a Christian and her father was a pagan. She made the decision to follow the path of her mother and become a Christian, although she knew it could mean her death during the persecutions ordered by the Emperor Severus.
Despite the pleas of her father to deny her faith, Perpetua did the very opposite, and fearlessly proclaimed it. At the age of 22, she was imprisoned for her faith along with four other catechumens, including slaves Felicity and Revocatus, and Saturninus and Secundulus. Their instructor in the faith, Saturus, chose to share their punishment and was also imprisoned.
While in prison, she continued to care for her infant child and put up with the tortures designed to make her renounce her faith. Perpetua remained steadfast until the end. St. Perpetua was sacrificed to wild beasts at the games as a public spectacle for not renouncing her faith.
St. Felicity was a pregnant slave girl who was imprisoned with St. Perpetua. Little is known about the life of St. Felicity because, unlike Perpetua, she did not keep a diary of her life. She was eight months pregnant when she was imprisoned and tortured, but it was against the law for a pregnant woman to be executed. Felicity was afraid that she would not give birth before the day set for her martyrdom and that her companions would go on their journey without her. But, two days before the execution, Felicity went into a painful labor and gave birth to a daughter, who was secretly taken away to be cared for by one of the Christian women of Carthage.
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity are the patron saints of mothers, expectant mothers, ranchers and butchers. Their feast day is celebrated on March 7.
Catholic News Agency