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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 April 22, 2021

Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God rather for s...

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April 22

 

Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God
rather for sinners than for the just, since
Jesus Christ declares that
He came to call not the just, but sinners.

St. Anselm

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Theodore of Sykeon

Endowed with the gift of prophecy and miracles, on a second...

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St. Theodore of Sykeon

Born in the Roman Galatian town of Sykeon in Asia Minor, Theodore was the son of a woman of ill repute, who kept an inn along the imperial highway.

As a child, he was so given to prayer that he would often give up a meal to spend time in church. From an early age he shut himself up first in the cellar of his mother’s house and then in a cave beneath a disused chapel. Later, for a time, seeking to further escape the world, he sought solitude on a mountain.

On a pilgrimage to Jerusalem Theodore assumed a monk’s habit, and though only eighteen years of age, was ordained a priest by his own bishop. His life was most austere, wearing an iron girdle about his body and only sparingly partaking of vegetables.

Endowed with the gift of prophecy and miracles, on a second pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he obtained abundant rain after a severe drought.

Theodore founded several monasteries, and ruled as abbot in Sykeon. He was consecrated Bishop of Anastasiopolis, though he deemed himself totally unfitted. After ten years he succeeded in relinquishing his post and retired to Sykeon.

From Sykeon he was recalled to Constantinople to bless the emperor and the senate and there healed one of the Emperor’s sons of a skin disease, reputedly leprosy.

Theodore had a great devotion to St. George and did much to propagate devotion to him.

He died in Sykeon on April 22, 613.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a...

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The Robber Who Stole Heaven

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. His occupation being what it was, he would only increase his property by decreasing that of his victims.

One day, he was admonished by a local religious to change his course of life and thereby insure his eternal salvation. The only answer the robber gave was that for him there was no remedy.

"Do not say so," said the religious, "do what I tell you. Fast on each Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, and on that day of the week do no harm to anyone. She will obtain for you the grace of not dying in God’s displeasure.”

The robber thought to himself, “This is a small price to pay to insure my salvation; I will do as this holy man has prescribed.” He then obediently followed the religious’ advice, and made a vow to continue to do so. That he might not break it, from that time on he traveled unarmed on Saturdays.

Many years later, our robber was apprehended on a given Saturday by the officers of justice, and that he might not break his oath, he allowed himself to be taken without resistance. The judge, seeing that he was now a gray-haired old man, wished to pardon him.

Then the truly miraculous occurred. Rather than jump for joy thanking the judge for his leniency, the old robber, said that he wished to die in punishment of his sins. He then made a public confession of all the sins of his life in that same judgment hall, weeping so bitterly that all present wept with him.

He was beheaded, a death reserved for the nobility, rather than hanged. Then his body was buried with little ceremony, in a grave dug nearby.
Very soon afterwards, the mother of God came down from Heaven with four holy virgins by her side. They took the robber’s dead body from that place, wrapped it in a rich cloth embroidered with gold, and bore it themselves to the gate of the city.

There the Blessed Virgin said to the guards: "Tell the bishop from me, to give an honorable burial, in such a church to this dead person, for he was my faithful servant." And thus it was done.

All the people in the village thronged to the spot where they found the corpse with the rich pall, and the bier on which it was placed. And from that moment on, says Caesarius of Heisterbach, all persons in that region began to fast on Saturdays in honor of she who was so kind to even a notorious robber.

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

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. 

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