Recognizing Black History Month: St. Perpetua and St. Felicity
February 22, 2023
In honor of Black History Month, each week in February, we will share the story of an African-American Saint. This week, we introduce you to two saints: St. Perpetua and St. Felicity.
St. Perpetua and St. Felicity lived in Northern Africa in the late second century. Both were studying to become Christians when Emperor Severus announced that anyone who did not make sacrifice to the Roman gods would be put to death. Felicity, Perpetua, and a few other Christian friends were rounded up and imprisoned, despite Felicity being eight months pregnant and Perpetua having a young son of her own.
Imprisoned, they helped each other remain convinced of their decision and strong in their faith. When they were thrown into the arena to wild animals and gladiators, they clung to each other and sang a Christian hymn. After being severely injured, Perpetua took a moment to stand up and fix her hair, telling the emperor she was ready to meet Christ and wanted to look beautiful when she presented herself to God in heaven. The account of their martyrdom is due to Perpetua having kept a journal during their last days of imprisonment. It is the oldest account of martyrdom that exists as a primary source.