Friday, March 07, 2008

On the commemoration of Sts Perpetua and Felicity

From the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours:

From the story of the death of the holy martyrs of Carthage

(Cap. 18, 20-21: edit. van Beek, Noviomagi, 1936, pp. 42. 46-52)

The day of the martyrs' victory dawned. They marched from their cells into the amphitheater, as if into heaven, with cheerful looks and graceful bearing. If they trembled it was foro joy and not for fear.

Perpetua was the first to be thrown down, and she fell prostrate. She got up and, seeing that Felicity was prostrate, went over and reached out her hand to her and the crowd was appeased, and they were ordered to the gate called Sanavivaria. There Perpetua was welcomed by a catechumen named Rusticus. Rousing herself as if she began to look around. To everyone's amazement she said: "When are we going to be led to the beast?" When she heard that it had already happened she did not at first believe it until she saw the marks of violence on her body and her clothing. Then she beckoned to her brother and the catechumen, and addressed them in these words: "Stand firm in faith, love one another and do not be tempted to do anything wrong because of our sufferings."

...

The others stood motionless and received the deathblow in silence, especially Saturus, who had gone up first and was first to die; he was helping Perpetua. But Perpetua, that she might experience the pain more deeply, rejoiced over her broken body and guided the shaking hand of the inexperienced gladiator to her throat. Such a woman - one before rwhom the unclean spirit trembled - could not perhaps have been killed, had she herself not willed it.

Bravest and happiest martyrs! You were called and chosen for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.


------
Prayer:

Father,
your love gave the Saints Perpetua and Felicity
courage to suffer a cruel martyrdom.
By their prayers, help us to grow ini love of you.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

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