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In the ancient city of Carthage, North Africa in the year 203, Perpetua, a young married lady and the mother of an infant son, and Felicita, a pregnant slave girl found themselves in a dark dungeon.

With them were Felicita’s fellow slave Revocatus and two free men Saturninus and Secundulus. Another, Seturus, who declared himself a Christian before the judge, joined them – he was probably Perpetua’s husband.

The first five were catechumens and were imprisoned for violating the decree issued by Emperor Septimus Severus forbidding any one from becoming a Christian. They were baptized before being incarcerated.

Perpetua, who was of a patrician family and well educated, left an amazing chronicle of their ordeal up to the day before their martyrdom. Her father was a pagan and her mother a Christian. Her father repeatedly pleaded with her to give up her faith for the sake of her family and infant son.

In her account she writes: “When my father in his affection for me was trying to turn me from my purpose by arguments and thus weaken my faith, I said to him, ‘Do you see this vessel, water pot, or whatever it may be? Can it be called by any other name than what it is? ‘No’, he replied. ‘So also I cannot call myself by any other name than what I am – a Christian.’”

Later, in prison she recounts: “What a day of horror! Terrible heat on account of the crowd! Rough treatment by the soldiers! To crown all, I was tormented with anxiety for my baby…" But Pepetua’s mother was able to bring her child to her to suck, which relieved her "...and being relieved of my…anxiety for him, I at once recovered my health, and my prison became a palace to me and I would rather have been there than anywhere else.”

In prison Perpetua and Saturus were given visions foretelling their martyrdom and their entrance into heaven.

Felicita was anxious that being pregnant she would not be able to suffer martyrdom with her companions, as Roman law forbade the execution of expectant mothers. But two days before their martyrdom she gave birth to a little girl who was adopted by a Christian woman.

Secundulus died in prison.

The account of the martyrdom of the five holy confessors comes to us through an eye-witness.

The martyrs suffered as part of the games for the Emperor’s birthday on March 7, 203. The pagan mob first demanded they be scourged. Then a boar, a bear and a leopard were set on the men.

The two women were thrown before a raging bull which wounded them. Then they were put to the sword.

Before dying Perpetua made a profession of faith:  “For the sake of this cause, we came willingly into prison, that our liberty may not be obscured. To this Christian cause have we devoted our lives.”

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 21, 2021

All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going...

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January 21

 

All the strength of Satan’s reign
is due to
the easy-going weakness of Catholics.


Pope St. Pius X


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Agnes

Even pagans were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant...

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St. Agnes

Agnes was born around 291 in a Christian, patrician family of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in the terrible persecution of Diocletian.

As a young maiden, she pledged herself to Christ and defended her virginity to the death.

Exceptionally beautiful, she turned down numerous suitors, but when she refused Procop, the Prefect’s own son, things became very complicated. Procop tried to win Agnes with gifts and promises but she answered: “I’m already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!”

Angered, Procop  took  the maiden before his father, and accused her of being a Christian. The Prefect tried to turn her from her Faith first by cajolements, and then by placing her in chains, but she only rejoiced.

The pagan official, set on overcoming Agnes by any means, next had her taken to a house of prostitution but she was visibly protected by an angel.

Finally, Agnes was condemned to death, but she was happy as a bride about to meet her bridegroom. Even pagan bystanders were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant maiden going to her death, and begged her to relent, to which she retorted: “If I were to try to please you, I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then praying, she offered her neck for the death stroke.

St. Agnes is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron of chastity, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins. She is depicted holding a lamb as her name in Latin means “lamb”, “agnus”. But the name “Agnes” is actually taken from the Greek “hagne” meaning chaste, pure, sacred.

Agnes’ relics repose beneath the high altar of the Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura, built upon the place she was originally buried. This church was built in her honor by the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, and is one of the oldest in Rome.  St. Agnes’ skull is in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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