Loading
March 08, 2013
Perpetua's witness
By Joe Tremblay *

By Joe Tremblay *

March 7, the feast day for St. Perpetua, is behind us. But, her inspirational testimony still lives on. St. Perpetua was an incredible young African woman, mother and martyr of the Catholic Church. She bore witness to her Savior with her very life; this, around the year 203 A.D. She was one of those Catholics who were martyred shortly after her baptism.

The new convert was arrested and imprisoned for being a Christian. Summoned before the court in northern Africa, she was given the opportunity to renounce her faith in Christ. St. Perpetua’s father, who was standing by, first pleaded with her in anger and then in tears for her to deny her Christian identity. But neither the judge nor her own father could prevail on her. As pagans, they could not understand why this young mother would not renounce her faith in order to live. Incensed by St. Perpetua’s “stubbornness,” he sentenced her to the wild beasts in the amphitheater (a kind of mini-coliseum).

With resolve and joy in her heart, she returned to her cell. But the conditions of the prison were oppressive. With an infant to nurse and care for, it was all the more difficult to remain joyful. During the days leading up to her death she had time to write an account of those dark days in the dungeon.

"A few days later we were lodged in the prison, and I was much frightened, because I had never known such darkness. What a day of horror! Terrible heat, owing to the crowds! Rough treatment by the soldiers! To crown all I was tormented with anxiety for my baby. But Tertius and Pomponius, those blessed deacons who ministered to us, paid for us to be moved for a few hours to a better part of the prison and we obtained some relief. All went out of the prison and we were left to ourselves. My baby was brought and I nursed him, for already he was faint for want of food. I spoke anxiously to my mother on his behalf and encouraged my brother and commended my son to their care. For I was concerned when I saw their concern for me. For many days I suffered such anxieties, but I obtained leave for my child to remain in the prison with me, and when relieved of my trouble and distress for him, I quickly recovered my health. My prison suddenly became a palace to me and I would rather have been there than anywhere else.”

“My prison became a palace to me!” Ah! What an insight. It is life’s best kept secret: to taste the joy of knowing Christ even in the greatest of difficulties. When the charms of this earthly life loses its sparkle and its promise seems to fade, it is then that the Good Lord often communicates the joys of heaven; so much so that people who feel close to God amid great trials develop a nostalgia for it when life prospers again.

It was reported that during St. Perpetua’s last meal (with other Christians such as St. Felicity) there were many conversions. She, as with her companions, was ready to lay down her life for Christ. This inspired many onlookers, to be sure. In fact, as she was led to the amphitheater, St. Perpetua was singing hymns. Indeed, a kind of spiritual levity came over her. And she was heard saying to her brother: “Stand fast in the faith and love one another! Do not let suffering be a stumbling block for you.”

To make a long story short, St. Perpetua provided the kind of entertainment the blood-thirsty pagans were looking for. After she entered the arena, a mad bull (or cow) tossed her about. Refusing to be disheveled, the young disciple of Christ picked herself up, straightened out her robe and proceeded to fix her hair. Apparently, she wanted to look good for Christ on her wedding day, the day that she was to be walked down that isle in Heaven.

In any case, St. Felicity, her companion, had also been attacked and wounded in the amphitheater during the same show. St. Perpetua approached her saintly companion and gave her the kiss of peace. It just so happened that the wild animals were no longer in the mood for killing. They had retreated into the cages. Nevertheless, the show had to go on. A few novice gladiators came out to finish the job. One gladiator in particular – nervous as can be – attempted to apply the sword to St. Perpetua’s neck but he was shaking too hard. The young Saint helped guide the sword to her own throat. The rest is history.

Joe Tremblay writes for Sky View, a current event and topic-driven Catholic blog. He was a contributor to The Edmund Burke Institute, and a frequent guest on Relevant Radio’s, The Drew Mariani Show. Joe is also married with five children. The views and opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily reflective of any organizations he works for.
« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Jul
28

Liturgical Calendar

July 28, 2014

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:31-35

Gospel
Date
07/28/14
07/27/14
07/26/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 13: 1-11
Gospel:: Mt 13: 31-35

Saint of the Day

St. Victor I, Pope »

Saint
Date
07/27/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 13:31-35

Homily
Date
07/28/14
07/27/14
07/26/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: