The Passion Of Saints Perpetua And Felicity

The document, “The Passion of Saints Perpetua and
Felicity,” shows just how mighty and fearless the faith of
the martyrs were in Rome around 203 A.D. in which our story
takes place. During the rule of Diocletian, Christianity was
not the religion of popular belief. Many of Romans
practiced polytheism. As a result, numerous Christian
believers were persecuted for their divine faith in God.
Surprisingly, the Christian martyrs did not care that they
were sentenced to death. They believed that by dying for
what they believe, it would only bring them closer to God
and the Gates of Heaven. The document states, “For this
cause have we devoted our lives, that we might do no such
thing as this; this we agreed with you” (para. 18). To the
martyrs, nothing was more important than fulfilling God’s
The martyrs in the document take on the role of
mediator between God and man, spreading the Word of God to
the masses of people and the relaying to them his holy
message, in a sense taking on the role of Jesus Christ, the
Son of God. Perpetua, one of the martyrs when confronted
about her faith by her father retorts, “I am Christian”
(para.6). Another martyr, Felicity, confidently defends
her faith and proclaims it openly by stating, “Stand fast in
the faith, and love you all one another; and be not offended
because of our passion” (para.20). This statement portrays
to the reader the martyrs general attitude towards their
faith and how they embraced the lifestyle of Christ and his
teachings with no fear for death.
The way these martyrs died is a crucial element in the
rise of Christianity. When Christian martyrs were sentenced
to death, they were not executed in a private manner, but
rather were tormented and killed publicly, allowing all the
citizens of Rome to witness the account. The official of
the Roman government hoped that by making the martyrs’
execution public, it would deter others from joining the
religion and moving away from the traditions of Roman life,
which in essence secured the wealth and social status of the
Roman elite. Despite the cruelty and crudeness of the
gladiator contest, the citizens of Rome wanted to witness
the brutal torment of these martyrs in expectations that
they would give up their proclaimed faith, in fear of death.
However, regardless of the Roman officials’ and citizens’
intentions, the martyrs in fact viewed death as the Gateway
to Heaven, thus making the act of dying more appealing to
In early Christian perception, the boundary between
supernatural and natural was that of one’s willingness to
die for his faith. Throughout the document, the martyrs are
regarded as being saintly and embodying the holy spirit in
its entirety, that they would give up their life on earth,
for the chance to live in heaven. This was and still is
something that most people would not do, or are even capable
of doing. Therefore, in early Christian times, this
sacrifice was considered something out of a person’s
“natural” state and thus being “supernatural.”

Category: History