Memorial of Saint Felicitas and Saint Perpetua

March 7 is the memorial for Saints Felicitas and Perpetua. These two women from northern Africa were Christian martyrs in the early 3rd century during the reign of the Roman Emperor Severus.

We know their story from no less than the hand written journal of Perpetua herself copies of which circulated with great popularity in the 4th century. Perpetua was a noble and educated woman who gave birth and was a new mother before she was imprisoned for being Christian. She was taken together with other Christians, Saturninus and Secundus, and two slaves Felicitas and Revocatus.

Felicitas was a slave-woman and she was pregnant when she was imprisoned with the others.

Like all other Christians exposed and taken, Perpetua and Felicitas endured great hardships in a roman prison in Carthage. Being two women who were both mothers, they shared each others’ struggles and developed a special bond of friendship. While we cannot be certain whether they developed romantic love, we can still conclude that they indeed loved (Philia and Agape) each other as fellow Christians. Because of their affection, they have been interpreted and viewed as Queer Saints, especially in MCC and other LGBT-affirming churches.

Felicitas gave birth a day before their scheduled execution. They were resolved to keep their faith even unto death hence the popularity of the journal of Perpetua in the 4th century CE. They were taken to the Arena of Carthage and there they were stripped of their clothes to be devoured or torn apart by wild beasts. Their male companions died immediately. The two women were injured but survived because the crowd watching have had enough. The next day, they were taken again into the Arena and there they were killed by the gladiator’s sword not before speaking aloud to encourage other Christians secretly witnessing their martyrdom amongst the crowd.

These two women saints are greatly honored in the Roman Catholic Church that their names are included in the eucharistic prayers.


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