07 March 2007

Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, Martyrs

Here's the bio from the LCMS website:

At the beginning of the third century, the Roman emperor Septimus Severus forbade conversions to Christianity. Among those disobeying that edict were Perpetua, a young noblewoman, and her maidservant Felicitas. Both were jailed at Carthage in North Africa along with three fellow Christians. During their imprisonment, Perpetua and Felicitas witnessed to their faith with such conviction that the officer in charge became a follower of Jesus. After making arrangements for the well-being of their children, Perpetua and Felicitas were executed on March 7, 203. Tradition holds that Perpetua showed mercy to her captors by falling on a sword because they could not bear to put her to death. The story of this martyrdom has been told ever since as an encouragement to persecuted Christians.

From the old text book the LCMS used to use to teach Church History to 8th graders:

"In most Christians the love for the Savior was stronger than family ties. They forsook parents, loved ones, and children rather than deny the Lord. Such was the case of Perpetua.

Perpetua was of noble birth. Through her own Christian mother she had been converted to Christianity. Perpetua was imprisoned shortly after giving birth to a child. All appeals by her heathen father to give up her faith were in vain. He asserted that he and the child, too, would be persecuted and tortured because of Perpetua's devotion to the cause of Christianity.

When Perpetua was condemned to die in the arena, her father pleaded with her again: 'Daughter, have pity on my gray hairs. Bring no such shame upon your father. Behold your child cannot live without your care. Do not bring ruin upon us all.'

The judge, beholding the father's grief, added his entreaties: 'Have mercy on the gray hairs of your father and on the tender age of your babe. Sacrifice to the emperor!' Perpetua affirmed: 'I am a Christian.'

She was thrown before the wild beasts, and when the executioner came to deal the deathblow, she guided his blade for the thrust to her heart." (The Church Through The Ages, page 269)

From the Brotherhood Prayerbook:

Today we remember Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, the martyrs.

Precious in the sight of the Lord: Is the death of His saints.
Jesus Christ the same; Yesterday, today, and forever.

Almighty God, who didst give Thy servants Perpetua and Felicitas boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we likewise may ever be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for His sake; through the same, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

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