Perpetua (181-203 A.D.)

Vibia Perpetua was a young woman of noble birth. She was twenty-two, a wife, a mother of a young son and a Christian. Her story comes to us from three eyewitness accounts written shortly after her death.

Perpetua was one of five believers condemned to death in the arena that day. Her father was a pagan and came often to the prison where she was kept (many times with Perpetua’s son in his arms) to plead with his daughter to renounce her religion and save her life – but to no avail.

“When I was in the hands of the persecutors, my father in his tender solicitude tried hard to pervert me from the faith.

‘My father,’ I said, ‘you see this pitcher. Can we call it by any other name than what it is?’

‘No,’ he said.

‘Nor can I’ [I said], ‘call myself by any other name than that of Christian.’

So he went away, wasted away with anxiety.

Thus spake my father, kissing my hands, and throwing himself at my feet. And I wept because of my father, for he alone of all my family would not rejoice in my martyrdom.

On March 7th, in the year 203 and in the city of Carthage, Perpetua and another Christian woman, Felicitas, were tossed into the arena. They were first hung nude in nets to be brutally attacked by a bull that had been tormented to great fury. The audience felt some compassion and insisted that they be clothed.

The bull attacked again–Both were extremely mauled. Perpetua awaited another attack while holding Felicitas at her side–the bull refused to advance further. Upon removing the bull from the arena, the crowd demanded that they both be killed. One final time they exhorted the brethren to ‘stand fast in the faith and love one another’, then they were ordered to be stabbed by the roman soldiers. Perpetua’s inexperienced assassin was young and quite nervous. At this, the bloody Perpetua guided to her own throat the uncertain, shaking hand of the young gladiator.”

Writing that you may be certain of the things you believe-

Matt