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Perpetua and Felicitas, Martyrs

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Readings for Perpetula and Felicity, Martyrs

Catholic Daily Readings Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs

From the Proper of Saints

FIRST READING

Romans 8:31b–39

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

RESPONSE

Psalm 124:7

7 We have escaped like a bird

from the snare of the fowlers;

the snare is broken,

and we have escaped!

PSALM

Psalm 124:2–8

2 if it had not been the LORD who was on our side

when people rose up against us,

3 then they would have swallowed us up alive,

when their anger was kindled against us;

4 then the flood would have swept us away,

the torrent would have gone over us;

5 then over us would have gone

the raging waters.

6 Blessed be the LORD,

who has not given us

as prey to their teeth!

7 We have escaped like a bird

from the snare of the fowlers;

the snare is broken,

and we have escaped!

8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,

who made heaven and earth.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION

Matthew 5:10

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

GOSPEL

Matthew 10:34–39

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

St. Perpetua kept a diary during her last days, while she awaited her execution. Her diary, along with an eyewitness’s account of her death, is one of the oldest, most reliable histories of a martyr’s sufferings. This account was passed down to encourage other Christians to witness to the world with their lives—to teach others that greater than life itself is knowing Jesus and being loyal to him.
Perpetua’s account records the events that took place in Carthage, North Africa, in the year 202, when the Emperor Severus issued an anti-Christian law forbidding anyone to be baptized and become a Christian. At that time twenty-two-year-old Perpetua was a catechumen, studying to become a Christian. She was also the mother of an infant son. Perpetua was arrested along with four other catechumens, including Felicity, her slave woman, who was about to give birth to a child. All were tried and sentenced to be thrown to the wild beasts in the amphitheater during a national holiday. Their deaths would be scheduled along with sports events and various games.
During the days before their execution, their teacher Saturus voluntarily joined the catechumens so that he might die for Christ with them. Perpetua’s father, a wealthy pagan, pleaded with her to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods so she could be free, but she refused. She said, “Father do you see this water jar, or whatever it is, standing here? Could one call it by any other name than what it is? Well, in the same way I cannot be called by any other name than what I am—a Christian.”
While they were awaiting death, Perpetua and her companions were baptized. Shortly before the scheduled execution, Felicity gave birth to a baby girl. During childbirth, she had cried out in pain. Someone hearing her asked her how she would ever endure the suffering of martyrdom. She replied, “Now it is I who suffer what I am suffering; then, there will be another in me who will suffer for me, because I will be suffering for him.”
On the day of their execution, the martyrs left their prison “joyfully as though they were on their way to heaven” and entered the arena, where they were killed before the cheering crowd. Perpetua and Felicity were beheaded; the others were killed by wild beasts. Today these women are mentioned in the first Eucharistic Prayer.
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