Perpetua and Felicity were young mothers who died for their faith during a time of persecution in Carthage, northern Africa (modern-day Tunisia), around A.D. 202 or 203. Perpetua and most of her companions were catechumens, individuals instructed in the Christian faith, preparing for baptism. Felicity was a slave, eight months pregnant.
The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity, a Latin document, tells their story. Perpetua, whose name means enduring, was a 22-year-old married woman from an elite family. Her eight-chapter prison diary comprises nearly half of the Passion.
Ancient martyrdom literature reflects a worldview that is strange to modern readers. Though we should not downplay their suffering, the martyrs understood their deaths as victory.
Perpetua and Felicity’s story shows that God strengthens and nourishes the faith of Christians in the midst of persecution. The stories of martyrs can inspire and nurture our own faith as we face difficulties in life.
This message is an excerpt from “Ultimate Price” by Joy A. Schroeder in the March 2015 issue of Gather magazine. Today we remember Perpetua and Felicity and companions, martyrs at Carthage, died circa 202, 203.