“Can that vessel, which you see, change it’s name?” St Perpetua asked of her pagan father as she sat with other catechumens apprehended at Carthage for the faith. “No” her father replied. “Nor can I call myself any other than I am, that is to say, a Christian,” St Perpetua replied.
St Perpetua was born into a noble pagan family. Raised by her parents, at some point during Perpetua’s life, she, her mother and brother became Christians. Perpetua went on to become a saint. At twenty two, married to a “person of quality in the city”, with a baby in her arms, she became part of the violent persecution of emperor Severus in 203 in Africa.
In prison, Perpetua was given daily tokens of God’s goodness. When she asked if she and her companions were to have their death in martyrdom, God blessed her with a vision. She saw in this vision the martyrdom to come and the image of a golden ladder reaching to the heavens that would need to be taken with care.
Perpetua continued to have her nursing baby brought to her while in prison, yet later Perpetua’s father denied bringing her baby to her in the hopes that she would deny Christ. Faced with this added hardship, Perpetua continued joyfully to accept her days in prison.
When St Perpetua and the others received their sentence, death by being exposed to wild animals, along with scourging for some, and beatings for others, St Perpetua and her companions continued to live in heroic and supernatural joy until the last of their days.
Joy sparkled in Perpetua’s eyes on her last day. She walked composed, with an easy pace, as a woman cherished by Jesus Christ, with her eyes modestly cast down, she entered the amphitheatre. Perpetua and her female companion Felicitas were exposed to a wild cow and attacked, her clothes being torn; Perpetua was thinking more of her decency than her sufferings. She was finally led into the hands of an unskilled gladiator that caused wounds which made her suffer in pain for a long time, dying a martyred death on March 7th.
I will accept my day with a joy like Saint Perpetua’s as she awaited her martyrdom. Let joy fill my eyes and every action of my day.
Throughout my day, I pray that my decency in thoughts, words, and deeds, are all done for the glory of God.
Lord, I am happy to accept all that you give me. Everything you give me is a gift of your love. Please help me to be open these gifts and make them beautiful for you.