Introductory Notice to the Martyrdom of
Perpetua and Felicitas
the year 202 a.d. Tertullian mentions Perpetua,11 and a further clue to the date is
given in the allusion to the birth-day of "Geta the Cµsar," the son of Septimius
Severus. There is therefore, good reason for rejecting the opinion held by some, that
they suffered under Valerian and Gallienus. Some think that they suffered at
Tuburbium in Mauritania; but the more general opinion is, that Carthage was the
scene of their martyrdom.
The "Acta," detailing the sufferings of Perpetua and Felicitas, has been held by all
critics to be a genuine document of antiquity. But much difference exists as to who
was the compiler. In the writing itself, Perpetua and Saturus are mentioned as
having written certain portions of it; and there is no reason to doubt the statement.
Who the writer of the remaining portion was, is not known. Some have assigned the
work to. Tertullian; some have maintained that, whoever the writer was, he was a
Montanist, and some have tried to show that both martyrs and narrator were
Montanists.12 The narrator must have been a contemporary; according to many
critics, he was an eye-witness of the sufferings of the martyrs. And he must have
written the narrative shortly after the events.
Dean Milman says, "There appear strong indications that the acts of these African
martyrs are translated from the Greek; at least it is difficult otherwise to account for
the frequent untranslated Greek words and idioms in the text.13
The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas was edited by Petrus Possinus, Rome, 1663;
by Henr. Valesius, Paris, 1664; and the Bollandists. The best and latest edition is by
Ruissart, whose text is adopted in Gallandi's and Migne's collections of the Fathers.
The Passion of the Holy Martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas.
If ancient illustrations of faith which both testify to God's grace and tend to man's
edification are collected in writing, so that by the perusal of them, as if by the
reproduction of the facts, as well God may be honoured, as man may be
strengthened; why should not new instances be also collected, that shall be equally
suitable for both purposes,-if only on the ground that these modern examples will
one day become ancient and available for posterity, although in their present time
they are esteemed of less authority, by reason of the presumed veneration for
antiquity? But let men look to it, if they judge the power of the Holy Spirit to be
one, according to the times and seasons; since some things of later date must be
esteemed of more account as being nearer to the very last times, in accordance with
the exuberance of grace manifested to the final periods determined for the world. For
"in the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and their
sons and their daughters shall prophesy. And upon my servants and my handmaidens
will I pour out of my Spirit; and your young men shall see visions, and your old men
shall dream dreams."2 And thus we-who both acknowledge and reverence, even as
we do the prophecies, modern visions as equally promised to us, and consider the
other powers of the Holy Spirit as an agency of the Church for which also He was
sent, administering all gifts in all, even as the Lord distributed to every one3 as well
needfully collect them in writing, as commemorate them in reading to God's glory;
that so no weakness or despondency of faith may suppose that the divine grace
abode only among the ancients, whether in respect of the condescension that raised
up martyrs, or that gave revelations; since God always carries into effect what He
has promised, for a testimony to unbelievers, to believers for a benefit. And we
therefore, what we have heard and handled, declare also to you, brethren and little
children, that as well you who were concerned in these matters may be reminded of
them again to the glory of the Lord, as that you who know them by report may have
communion with the blessed martyrs, and through them with the Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory and honour, for ever and ever.4 Amen.
Chapter I.-Argument.-When the Saints Were Apprehended, St. Perpetua Successfully
Resisted Her Father's Pleading, Was Baptized with the Others, Was Thrust into a
Filthy Dungeon. Anxious About Her Infant, by a Vision Granted to Her, She
Understood that Her Martyrdom Would Take Place Very Shortly.
1. The young catechumens, Revocatus and his fellow-servant Felicitas, Saturninus
and Secundulus, were apprehended. And among them also was Vivia Perpetua,
respectably born, liberally educated, a married matron, having a father and mother
and two brothers, one of whom, like herself, was a catechumen, and a son an infant
at the breast. She herself was about twenty-two years of age. From this point
onward she shall herself narrate the whole course of her martyrdom, as she left it
described by her own hand and with her own mind.
2. "While" says she, "we were still with the persecutors, and my father, for the sake
of his affection for me, was persisting in seeking to turn me away, and to cast me
down from the faith,-`Father, 'said I, `do you see, let us say, this vessel lying here
to be a little pitcher, or something else? 'And he said, `I see it to be so' And I
replied to him, `Can it be called by any other name than what it is? 'And he said,
`No.' `Neither can I call myself anything else than what I am, a Christian.' Then my
father, provoked at this saying, threw himself upon me, as if he would tear my eyes
out. But he only distressed me, and went away overcome by the devil's arguments.
Then, in a few days after I had been without my father, I gave thanks to the Lord;
and his absence became a source of consolation5 to me. In that same interval of a
few days we were baptized, and to me the Spirit prescribed that in the water of
baptism nothing else was to be sought for bodily endurance.6 After a few days we
are taken into the dungeon, and I was very much afraid, because I had never felt
such darkness. O terrible day! O the fierce heat of the shock of the soldiery, because
of the crowds! I was very unusually distressed by my anxiety for my infant. There
were present there Tertius and Pomponius, the blessed deacons who ministered to
us, and had arranged by means of a gratuity that we might be refreshed by being
sent out for a few hours into a pleasanter part of the prison. Then going out of the
dungeon, all attended to their own wants.7 I suckled my child, which was now
enfeebled with hunger. In my anxiety for it, I addressed my mother and comforted
my brother, and commended to their care my son. I was languishing because I had
seen them languishing on my account. Such solicitude I suffered for many days, and
I obtained for my infant to remain in the dungeon with me; and forthwith I grew
strong and was relieved from distress and anxiety about my infant; and the dungeon
became to me as it were a palace, so that I preferred being there to being elsewhere.
3. "Then my brother said to me, `My dear sister, you are already in a position of
great dignity, and are such that you may ask for a vision, and that it may be made
known to you whether this is to result in a passion or an escape.'8 And I, who knew
that I was privileged to converse with the Lord, whose kindnesses I had found to be
so great, boldly promised him, and said, `To-morrow I will tell you.' And I asked,
and this was what was shown me. I saw a golden ladder of marvellous height,
reaching up even to heaven, and very narrow, so that persons could only ascend it
one by one; and on the sides of the ladder was fixed every kind of iron weapon.
There were there swords, lances, hooks, daggers; so that if any one went up
carelessly, or not looking upwards, he would be torn to pieces and his flesh would
cleave to the iron weapons. And under the ladder itself was crouching a dragon of
wonderful size, who lay in wait for those who ascended, and frightened them from
the ascent. And Saturus went up first, who had subsequently delivered himself up
freely on our account, not having been present at the time that we were taken
prisoners. And he attained the top of the ladder, and turned towards me, and said to
me, `Perpetua, I am waiting for9 you; but be careful that the dragon do not bite
you.' And I said, `In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he shall not hurt me.' And
from under the ladder itself, as if in fear of me, he slowly lifted up his head; and as
I trod upon the first step, I trod upon his head. And I went up, and I saw an
immense extent of garden, and in the midst of the garden a white-haired man sitting
in the dress of a shepherd,10 of a large stature, milking sheep; and standing around
were many thousand white-robed ones. And he raised his head, and looked upon me,
and said to me, `Thou art welcome, daughter.' And he called me, and from the
cheese as he was milking he gave me as it were a little cake, and I received it with
folded hands; and I ate it, and all who stood around said Amen. And at the sound of
their voices I was awakened, still tasting a sweetness which I cannot describe. And I
immediately related this to my brother, and we understood that it was to be a
passion, and we ceased henceforth to have any hope in this world.
Chapter II.-Argument. Perpetua, When Besieged by Her Father, Comforts Him. When
Led with Others to the Tribunal, She Avows Herself a Christian, and is Condemned
with the Rest to the Wild Beasts. She Prays for Her Brother Dinocrates, Who Was
1. "After a few days there prevailed a report that we should be heard. And then my
father came to me from the city, worn out with anxiety. He came up to me, that he
might cast me down, saying, `Have pity my daughter, on my grey hairs. Have pity on
your father, if I am worthy to be called a father by you. If with these hands I have
brought you up to this flower of your age, if I have preferred you to all your brothers,
do not deliver me up to the scorn of men. Have regard to your brothers, have regard
to your mother and your aunt, have regard to your son, who will not be able to live
after you. Lay aside your courage, and do not bring us all to destruction; for none of
us will speak in freedom if you should suffer anything.' These things said my father
in his affection, kissing my hands, and throwing himself at my feet; and with tears
he called me not Daughter, but Lady. And I grieved over the grey hairs of my father,
that he alone of all my family would not rejoice over my passion. And I comforted
him, saying, `On that scaffold11 whatever God wills shall happen. For know that we
are not placed in our own power, but in that of God.' And he departed from me in
2. "Another day, while we were at dinner, we were suddenly taken away to be heard,
and we arrived at the town-hall. At once the rumour spread through the
neighbourhood of the public place, and an immense number of people were gathered
together. We mount the platform. The rest were interrogated, and confessed. Then
they came to me, and my father immediately appeared with my boy, and withdrew
me from the step, and said in a supplicating tone, `Have pity on your babe.' And
Hilarianus the procurator, who had just received the power of life and death in the
place of the proconsul Minucius Timinianus, who was deceased, said, `Spare the grey
hairs of your father, spare the infancy of your boy, offer sacrifice for the well-being of
the emperors.' And I replied, `I will not do so.' Hilarianus said, `Are you a Christian?
'And I replied, `I am a Christian.' And as my father stood there to cast me down
from the faith, he was ordered by Hilarianus to be thrown down, and was beaten
with rods. And my father's misfortune grieved me as if I myself had been beaten, I
so grieved for his wretched old age.12 The procurator then delivers judgment on all
of us, and condemns us to the wild beasts, and we went down cheerfully to the
dungeon. Then, because my child had been used to receive suck from me, and to
stay with me in the prison, I send Pomponius the deacon to my father to ask for the
infant, but my father would not give it him. And even as God willed it, the child no
long desired the breast, nor did my breast cause me uneasiness, lest I should be
tormented by care for my babe and by the pain of my breasts at once.
3. "After a few days, whilst we were all praying, on a sudden, in the middle of our
prayer, there came to me a word, and I named Dinocrates; and I was amazed that
that name had never come into my mind until then, and I was grieved as I
remembered his misfortune. And I felt myself immediately to be worthy, and to be
called on to ask on his behalf.13 And for him I began earnestly to make supplication,
and to cry with groaning to the Lord. Without delay, on that very night, this was
shown to me in a vision.14 I saw Dinocrates going out from a gloomy place, where
also there were several others, and he was parched and very thirsty, with a filthy
countenance and pallid colour, and the wound on his face which he had when he
died. This Dinocrates had been my brother after the flesh, seven years of age15 who
died miserably with disease-his face being so eaten out with cancer, that his death
caused repugnance to all men. For him I had made my prayer, and between him and
me there was a large interval,16 so that neither of us could approach to the other.
And moreover, in the same place where Dinocrates was, there was a pool full of
water, having its brink higher than was the stature of the boy; and Dinocrates raised
himself up as if to drink. And I was grieved that, although that pool held water, still,
on account of the height to its brink, he could not drink. And I was aroused, and
knew that my brother was in suffering. But I trusted that my prayer would bring help
to his suffering; and I prayed for him every day until we passed over into the prison
of the camp, for we were to fight in the camp-show. Then was the birth-day of Gets
Cµsar, and I made my prayer for my brother day and night, groaning and weeping
that he might be granted to me.
4. "Then, on the day on which we remained in fetters,17 this was shown to me. I
saw that that place which I had formerly observed to be in gloom was now bright;
and Dinocrates, with a clean body well clad, was finding refreshment. And where
there had been a wound, I saw a scar; and that pool which I had before seen, I saw
now with its margin lowered even to the boy's navel. And one drew water from the
pool incessantly, and upon its brink was a goblet filled with water; and Dinocrates
drew near and began to drink from it, and the goblet did not fail. And when he was
satisfied, he went away from the water to play joyously, after the manner of
children, and I awoke. Then I understood that he was translated from the place of
Chapter III.-Argument. Perpetua is Again Tempted by Her Father. Her Third Vision,
Wherein She is Led Away to Struggle Against an Egyptian. She Fights, Conquers, and
Receives the Reward.
1. "Again, after a few days, Pudens, a soldier, an assistant overseer18 of the prison,
who began to regard us in great esteem, perceiving that the great power of God was
in us, admitted many brethren to see us, that both we and they might be mutually
refreshed. And when the day of the exhibition drew near my father, worn with
suffering, came in to me, and began to tear out his beard, and to throw himself on
the earth, and to cast himself down on his face, and to reproach his years, and to
utter such words as might move all creation. I grieved for his unhappy old age.19
2. "The day before that on which we were to fight, I saw in a vision that Pomponius
the deacon came hither to the gate of the prison, and knocked vehemently. I went
out to him, and opened the gate for him; and he was clothed in a richly ornamented
white robe, and he had on manifold calliculµ.20 And he said to me, `Perpetua, we
are waiting for you; come!' And he held his hand to me, and we began to go through
rough and winding places. Scarcely at length had we arrived breathless at the
amphitheatre, when he led me into the middle of the arena, and said to me, `Do not
fear, I am here with you, and I am labouring with you; 'and he departed. And I gazed
upon an immense assembly in astonishment. And because I knew that I was given
to the wild beasts, I marvelled that the wild beasts were not let loose upon me.
Then there came forth against me a certain Egyptian, horrible in appearance, with
his backers, to fight with me. And there came to me, as my helpers and encouragers,
handsome youths; and I was stripped, and became a man21 Then my helpers began
to rub me with oil, as is the custom for contest; and I beheld that Egyptian on the
other hand rolling in the dust.22 And a certain man came forth, of wondrous height,
so that he even over-topped the top of the amphitheatre; and he wore a loose tunic
and a purple robe between two bands over the middle of the breast; and he had on
calliculµ of varied form, made of gold and silver; and he carried a rod, as if he were a
trainer of gladiators, and a green branch upon which were apples of gold. And he
called for silence, and said, `This Egyptian, if he should overcome this woman, shall
kill her with the sword; and if she shall conquer him, she shall receive this branch.'
Then he departed. And we drew near to one another, and began to deal out blows.
He sought to lay hold of my feet, while I struck at his face with my heels; and I was
lifted up in the air, and began thus to thrust at him as if spurning the earth. But
when I saw that there was some delay I joined my hands so as to twine my fingers
with one another; and I took hold upon his head, and he fell on his face, and I trod
upon his head23 And the people began to shout, and my backers to exult. And I
drew near to the trainer and took the branch; and he kissed me, and said to me,
`Daughter, peace be with you: 'and I began to go gloriously to the Sanavivarian
gate.24 Then I awoke, and perceived that I was not to fight with beasts, but against
the devil. Still I knew that the victory was awaiting me. This, so far, I have
completed several days before the exhibition; but what passed at the exhibition
itself let who will write."
Chapter IV.-Argument. Saturus, in a Vision, and Perpetua Being Carried by Angels
into the Great Light, Behold the Martyrs. Being Brought to the Throne of God, are
Received with a Kiss. They Reconcile Optatus the Bishop and Aspasius the Presbyter.
1. Moreover, also, the blessed Saturus related this his vision, which he himself
committed to writing:-" We had suffered," says he, "and we were gone forth from the
flesh, and we were beginning to be borne by four angels into the east; and their
hands touched us not. And we floated not supine, looking upwards, but as if
ascending a gentle slope. And being set free, we at length saw the first boundless
light; and I said, `Perpetua' (for she was at my side), `this is what the Lord
promised to us; we have received the promise.' And while we are borne by those
same four angels, there appears to us a vast space which was like a
pleasure-garden, having rose-trees and every kind of flower. And the height of the
trees was after the measure of a cypress, and their leaves were falling25
incessantly. Moreover, there in the pleasure-garden four other angels appeared,
brighter than the previous ones, who, when they saw us, gave us honour, and said
to the rest of the angels, `Here they are! Here they are!' with admiration. And those
four angels who bore us, being greatly afraid, put us down; and we passed over on
foot the space of a furlong in a broad path. There we found Jocundus and Saturninus
and Artaxius, who having suffered the same persecution were burnt alive; and
Quintus, who also himself a martyr had departed in the prison. And we asked of
them where the rest were. And the angels said to us, `Come first, enter and greet
your Lord.'
2. "And we came near to place, the walls of which were such as if they were built of
light; and before the gate of that place stood four angels, who clothed those who
entered with white robes. And being clothed, we entered and saw the boundless
light, and heard the united voice of some who said without ceasing, `Holy! Holy!
Holy!'26 And in the midst of that place we saw as it were a hoary man sitting,
having snow-white hair, and with a youthful countenance; and his feet we saw not.
And on his right hand and on his left were four-and-twenty elders, and behind them
a great many others were standing. We entered with great wonder, and stood before
the throne; and the four angels raised us up, and we kissed Him, and He passed His
hand over our face. And the rest of the elders said to us, `Let us stand; 'and we
stood and made peace. And the elders said to us, `Go and enjoy.' And I said,
`Perpetua, you have what you wish.' And she said to me, `Thanks be to God, that
joyous as I was in the flesh, I am now more joyous here.'
3. "And we went forth, and saw before the entrance Optatus the bishop at the right
hand, and Aspasius the presbyter, a teacher,27 at the left hand, separate and sad;
and they cast themselves at our feet, and said to us, `Restore peace between us,
because you have gone forth and have left us thus.' And we said to them, `Art not
thou our father, and thou our presbyter, that you should cast yourselves at our feet?
'And we prostrated ourselves, and we embraced them; and Perpetua began to speak
with them, and we drew them apart in the pleasure-garden under a rose-tree. And
while we were speaking with them, the angels said unto them, `Let them alone,
that they may refresh themselves;28 and if you have any dissensions between you,
forgive one another.' And they drove them away. And they said to Optatus, `Rebuke
thy people, because they assemble to you as if returning from the circus, and
contending about factious matters.' And then it seemed to us as if they would shut
the doors. And in that place we began to recognise many brethren, and moreover
martyrs. We were all nourished with an indescribable odour, which satisfied us.
Then, I joyously awoke."
Chapter V.-Argument. Secundulus Dies in the Prison. Felicitas is Pregnant, But with
Many Prayers She Brings Forth in the Eighth Month Without Suffering, the Courage of
Perpetua and of Saturus Unbroken.
1. The above were the more eminent visions of the blessed martyrs Saturus and
Perpetua themselves, which they themselves committed to writing.29 But God called
Secundulus, while he has yet in the prison, by an earlier exit from the world, not
without favour, so as to give a respite to the beasts. Nevertheless, even if his soul
did not acknowledge cause for thankfulness, assuredly his flesh did.
2. But respecting Felicitas (for to her also the Lord's favour approached in the same
way), when she had already gone eight months with child (for she had been
pregnant when she was apprehended), as the day of the exhibition was drawing
near, she was in great grief lest on account of her pregnancy she should be
delayed,-because pregnant women are not allowed to be publicly punished,-and lest
she should shed her sacred and guiltless blood among some who had been wicked
subsequently. Moreover, also, her fellow-martyrs were painfully saddened lest they
should leave so excellent a friend, and as it were companion, alone in the path of
the same hope. Therefore, joining together their united cry, they poured forth their
prayer to the Lord three days before the exhibition. Immediately after their prayer
her pains came upon her, and when, with the difficulty natural to an eight months'
delivery, in the labour of bringing forth she was sorrowing, some one of the servants
of the Cataractarii30 said to her, "You who are in such suffering now, what will you
do when you are thrown to the beasts, which you despised when you refused to
sacrifice? "And she replied, "Now it is I that suffer what I suffer; but then there will
be another in me, who will suffer for me, because I also am about to suffer for Him."
Thus she brought forth a little girl, which a certain sister brought up as her daughter.
3. Since then the Holy Spirit permitted, and by permitting willed, that the
proceedings of that exhibition should be committed to writing, although we are
unworthy to complete the description of so great a glory; yet we obey as it were the
command of the most blessed Perpetua, nay her sacred trust, and add one more
testimony concerning her constancy and her loftiness of mind. While they were
treated with more severity by the tribune, because, from the intimations of certain
deceitful men, he feared lest they should be withdrawn from the prison by some sort
of magic incantations, Perpetua answered to his face, and said, "Why do you not at
least permit us to be refreshed, being as we are objectionable to the most noble
Cµsar, and having to fight on his birth-day?31 Or is it not your glory if we are
brought forward fatter on that occasion? "The tribune shuddered and blushed, and
commanded that they should be kept with more humanity, so that permission was
given to their brethren and others to go in and be refreshed with them; even the
keeper of the prison trusting them now himself.
4. Moreover, on the day before, when in that last meal, which they call the free
meal, they were partaking as far as they could, not of a free supper, but of an
agape; with the same firmness they were uttering such words as these to the
people, denouncing against them the judgment of the Lord, bearing witness to the
felicity of their passion, laughing at the curiosity of the people who came together;
while Saturus said, "To-morrow is not enough for you, for you to behold with
pleasure that which you hate. Friends today, enemies to-morrow. Yet note our faces
diligently, that you may recognise them on that day of judgment." Thus all departed
thence astonished, and from these things many believed.
Chapter VI.-Argument. From the Prison They are Led Forth with Joy into the
Amphitheatre, Especially Perpetua and Felicitas. All Refuse to Put on Profane
Garments. They are Scourged, They are Thrown to the Wild Beasts. Saturus Twice is
Unhurt. Perpetua and Felicitas are Thrown Down; They are Called Back to the
Sanavlvarian Gate. Saturus Wounded by a Leopard, Exhorts the Soldier. They Kiss
One Another, and are Slain with the Sword.
1. The day of their victory shone forth, and they proceeded from the prison into the
amphitheatre, as if to an assembly, joyous and of brilliant countenances; if
perchance shrinking, it was with joy, and not with fear. Perpetua followed with placid
look, and with step and gait as a matron of Christ, beloved of God; casting down the
luster of her eyes from the gaze of all. Moreover, Felicitas, rejoicing that she had
safely brought forth, so that she might fight with the wild beasts; from the blood
and from the midwife to the gladiator, to wash after childbirth with a second
baptism. And when they were brought to the gate, and were constrained to put on
the clothing-the men, that of the priests of Saturn, and the women, that of those
who were consecrated to Ceres-that noble-minded woman resisted even to the end
with constancy. For she said, "We have come thus far of our own accord, for this
reason, that our liberty might not be restrained. For this reason we have yielded our
minds, that we might not do any such thing as this: we have agreed on this with
you." Injustice acknowledged the justice; the tribune yielded to their being brought
as simply as they were. Perpetua sang psalms, already treading under foot the head
of the Egyptian; Revocatus, and Saturninus, and Saturus uttered threatenings
against the gazing people about this martyrdom. When they came within sight of
Hilarianus, by gesture and nod, they began to say to Hilarianus, "Thou judgest us,"
say they, "but God will judge thee." At this the people, exasperated, demanded that
they should be tormented with scourges as they passed along the rank of the
venatores.32 And they indeed rejoiced that they should have incurred any one of
their Lord's passions.
2. But He who had said, "Ask, and ye shall receive,"33 gave to them when they
asked, that death which each one had wished for. For when at any time they had
been discoursing among themselves about their wish in respect of their martyrdom,
Saturninus indeed had professed that he wished that he might be thrown to all the
beasts; doubtless that he might wear a more glorious crown. Therefore in the
beginning of the exhibition he and Revocatus made trial of the leopard, and
moreover upon the scaffold they were harassed by the bear. Saturus, however, held
nothing in greater abomination than a bear; but he imagined that he would be put
an end to with one bite of a leopard. Therefore, when a wild boar was supplied, it
was the huntsman rather who had supplied that boar who was gored by that same
beast, and died the day after the shows. Saturus only was drawn out; and when he
had been bound on the floor near to a bear, the bear would not come forth from his
den. And so Saturus for the second time is recalled unhurt.
3. Moreover, for the young women the devil prepared a very fierce cow, provided
especially for that purpose contrary to custom, rivalling their sex also in that of the
beasts. And so, stripped and clothed with nets, they were led forth. The populace
shuddered as they saw one young woman of delicate frame, and another with
breasts still dropping from her recent childbirth. So, being recalled, they are
unbound.34 Perpetua is first led in. She was tossed, and fell on her loins; and when
she saw her tunic torn from her side, she drew it over her as a veil for her middle,
rather mindful of her modesty than her suffering. Then she was called for again, and
bound up her dishevelled hair; for it was not becoming for a martyr to suffer with
dishevelled hair, lest she should appear to be mourning in her glory. So she rose up;
and when she saw Felicitas crushed, she approached and gave her her hand, and
lifted her up. And both of them stood together; and the brutality of the populace
being appeased, they were recalled to the Sanavivarian gate. Then Perpetua was
received by a certain one who was still a catechumen, Rusticus by name, who kept
close to her; and she, as if aroused from sleep, so deeply had she been in the Spirit
and in an ecstasy, began to look round her, and to say to the amazement of all, "I
cannot tell when we are to be led out to that cow." And when she had heard what
had already happened, she did not believe it35 until she had perceived certain signs
of injury in her body and in her dress, and had recognised the catechumen.
Afterwards causing that catechumen and the brother to approach, she addressed
them, saying, "Stand fast in the faith, and love one another, all of you, and be not
offended at my sufferings."
4. The same Saturus at the other entrance exhorted the soldier Pudens, saying,
"Assuredly here I am, as I have promised and foretold, for up to this moment I have
felt no beast. And now believe with your whole heart. Lo, I am going forth to that
beast, and I shall be destroyed with one bite of the leopard." And immediately at
the conclusion of the exhibition he was thrown to the leopard; and with one bite of
his he was bathed with such a quantity of blood, that the people shouted out to him
as he was returning, the testimony of his second baptism, "Saved and washed,
saved and washed."36 Manifestly he was assuredly saved who had been glorified in
such a spectacle. Then to the soldier Pudens he said, "Farewell, and be mindful of
my faith; and let not these things disturb, but confirm you." And at the same time
he asked for a little ring from his finger, and returned it to him bathed in his wound,
leaving to him an inherited token and the memory of his blood. And then lifeless he
is cast down with the rest, to be slaughtered in the usual place. And when the
populace called for them into the midst, that as the sword penetrated into their body
they might make their eyes partners in the murder, they rose up of their own accord,
and transferred themselves whither the people wished; but they first kissed one
another, that they might consummate their martyrdom with the kiss of peace. The
rest indeed, immoveable and in silence, received the sword-thrust; much more
Saturus, who also had first ascended the ladder, and first gave up his spirit, for he
also was waiting for Perpetua. But Perpetua, that she might taste some pain, being
pierced between the ribs, cried out loudly, and she herself placed the wavering right
hand of the youthful gladiator to her throat.37 Possibly such a woman could not have
been slain unless she herself had willed it, because she was feared by the impure
O most brave and blessed martyrs! O truly called and chosen unto the glory of our
Lord Jesus Christ! whom whoever magnifies, and honours, and adores, assuredly
ought to read these examples for the edification of the Church, not less than the
ancient ones, so that new virtues also may testify that one and the same Holy Spirit
is always operating even until now, and God the Father Omnipotent, and His Son
Jesus Christ our Lord, whose is the glory and infinite power for ever and ever. Amen.
[1] Anti Nicene Fathers Vol. III - Translated by the Rev. R. E. Wallis, Ph.D.
touching history of these Martyrs. It illustrates the
period of history we are now considering, and
sheds light on the preceding treatise. I can hardly
read it without tears, and it ought to make us love
"the noble army of martyrs." I think Tertullian was
the editor of the story, not its author.10 Felicitas
is mentioned by name in the De Anima: and the
closing paragraph of this memoir is quite in his
style. To these words I need only add that Dr.
Routh, who unfortunately decided not to re-edit it,
ascribes the first edition to Lucas Holstenius. He
was Librarian of the Vatican and died in 1661. The
rest may be learned from this Introductory Notice
of the Translator:
Lives of the Saints