St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Memorial of
Saints Perpetua & Felicity MM
March 7



Ardo of Aniane, OSB Abbot (AC)
Born in Languedoc, France; died in 843. Saint Ardo changed his baptismal name of Smaragdus (wouldn't you?) on entering the abbey of Aniane under its first abbot Saint Benedict. He became director of the schools attached to the abbey, Saint Benedict's travelling companion and secretary--and eventually also his biographer--and his successor at Aniane when Benedict went to reside at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen, Germany). His cultus was well established at Aniane at an early date (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Deifer of Bodfari, Abbot (AC)
6th century. A Welsh saint, Deifer was both abbot and founder of Bodfari in Flintshire (Benedictines).


Drausius of Soissons B (AC)
(also known as Drausin, Drausius)

Died c. 576. Bishop of Soissons, Saint Drausius fostered monastic life. He even enlisted the services of the tyrant Ebroin for the building of a convent near Soissons. For this reason he is invoked against the machinations of enemies, and Saint Thomas a Becket is said to have visited his shrine before returning to England for the last time (Benedictines).


Enodoch (AC)
(also known as Wenedoc)

Died c. 520. Enodoch was a Welsh saint of the Brychan race. Some writers identify him with Saint Enoder, others state that she was a daughter--instead of a son--of Brychan and call her Saint Qwendydd. The traditions are very confused (Benedictines).


Esterwine of Wearmouth, OSB, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Easterwine)

Died 688. The noble Northumbrian Esterwine, spent his youth at court, and then entered the monastery of Wearmouth, where he was professed under his kinsman Saint Benedict Biscop. He succeeded Saint Benet as abbot of Wearmouth and ruled four years, dying before its founder. He was celebrated for his gentleness (Benedictines, Gill).


Eubulus of Caesarea M (RM)
Died 308. This is the other half of the Adrian and Eubulus duo martyred at Caesarea, Palestine, when they were visiting Christians there (Benedictines).


Blessed Frowin II, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as Blessed Frowin of Engelberg)

Died 1178. A Benedictine of Saint Blasien in the Black Forest, Frowin was made abbot of Engelberg in Switzerland in 1143. He founded the monastic school and library there, and was himself the chronicler of the abbey and an ascetical writer of distinction (Benedictines).


Gaudiosus of Brescia B (RM)
Died c. 445. Gaudiosus was the bishop of Brescia, where his relics are venerated (Benedictines).


Blessed Jermyn Gardiner,
John Larke & John Ireland MM (AC)

Died 1544; the first two were beatified in 1886; Ireland in 1929. Blessed Jermyn (German) was educated at Cambridge. He became secretary to Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, and was executed at Tyburn near London with John Larke and John Ireland for denying the royal supremacy.

These last two were secular priests. John Larke was rector of Saint Ethelburga's Bishopsgate, then of Woodford, Essex, and finally of Chelsea, to which he was nominated by Saint Thomas More.

John Ireland, after being chaplain to the same saint, was made rector of Eltham, Kent (Benedictines).


Paul of Prusa B (RM)
Died 840. Saint Paul was the bishop of Prusa (Plusias) in Bithynia. For his courageous resistance to the iconoclasts, he was banished to Egypt where he died (Benedictines).


Paul the Simple, Hermit (RM)
Died c. 339; feast day formerly March 16. An old Egyptian farmer, Saint Paul left his unfaithful wife when he was sixty, sought out Saint Antony, and became one of his first disciples.

At first, Antony refused to accept him because of his advanced age but was so impressed by Paul's persistence that he took him in. Antony subjected Paul to an arduous training in an attempt to discourage him, but was convinced by Paul's humility, eagerness, and obedience, and assigned a cell to him.

There Paul performed miracles of healing, revealed his power to read men's minds, and so impressed Antony that he referred to him as the ideal of what a monk should be. Paul was surnamed 'the Simple' because of his childlike innocence. His prompt obedience and disposition were referred to as "the pride of the desert. He is mentioned in the writings of Palladius and Rufinus (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Gill, Waddell).


Perpetua and Felicity MM (RM)
Died in Carthage, Tunisia, 203.

Sometimes we have the impression that Christians were persecuted always and everywhere prior to the Edict of Milan in 312; conversely, many do not know about persecutions that occurred in Europe after Christianity was the established religion. Neither was the case. Persecutions tended to be sporadic and localized. Today's martyrs died during a local persecution at Carthage in North Africa.

Why was popular sentiment so set against Christianity? For some good insights you might pick up the book The Christians as the Romans saw them by Robert L. Wilken (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984). Basically, Christians were seen as outsiders--they refused to belong to trade guilds, attend theatrical performances or the games, or enter private houses, the baths, nor markets because in each of these places the gods were honored and sacrifices made.

Christians were also believed to celebrate mysterious rites at night that included human sacrifice (we eat the body and drink the blood of Christ), while impiously refusing due sacrifice to the gods--a patriotic obligation of every Roman citizen. The gods of conquered peoples were incorporated into the life of Rome; why did these Christians stand aloof?

The Passion of SS. Perpetua and Felicity with their four male companions is perhaps the most moving and impressive of the authentic narratives of the early martyrs. The document was written in part by Perpetua herself, in part by another of the martyrs, Saturus (her brother), and completed by an anonymous hand (believed to have been Tertullian) after the martyrdom. It is detailed and reads like a diary in the sections written by Perpetua. The story's fascination is so great that Saint Augustine had to forbid his priests from placing it on the same level as the Holy Scriptures.

In 202 AD in Carthage, Emperor Septimius Severus issued an edict that no one was to become a Christian. Vibia Perpetua was a 22- year-old catechumen with a small son at her breast. She may have been a widow for her husband is never mentioned. Her father was a Roman proconsul and a pagan, her mother a Christian, her brother a catechumen. Her son was taken away and she was imprisoned in a private home with other catechumens--Felicity (her slave), Revocatus (Felicity's husband and a slave), Secundulus, Saturninus. There they were all baptized, probably by their catechist, Saturus, who joined them of his own free will to strengthen them.

Later they were all transported to prison. Perpetua was given permission to keep her child with her in prison. She who had been so gently nurtured found prison conditions almost unbearable, yet she persisted in her faith. Conditions were so bad that Secundulus died in prison. The Bible speaks joyfully of songs in the nights, and Perpetua and her companions prayed and sang in their darkest hour to the glory of God.

Her brother asked her to pray to discern their fate; thus, she dreamed of a ladder beset with knives and with a dragon at its base. Saturninus climbed first, she followed, trampling on the head of the dragon. She stepped off the ladder into a pasture, where a Shepherd sat with His flock. He greeted her, "Welcome, child." and gave her "milk and cheese that He had milked."

Saturus writes that he saw another vision of the elders before the throne of God who told her: "Go and play." In the vision, Perpetua observed, "I was happy in the flesh. Now I am far happier."

Thrice she refused her father's plea to renounce her faith outwardly. When she was taken before the tribunal, her father took her baby, who thereafter, miraculously did not need his mother's milk and her breasts dried up.

She prayed for her brother Dinocrates, who died at age seven without having been baptized, and came to know he was in heaven. I believe that this passage attests to the antiquity of the belief in purgatory--that it was a common understanding. Remembering that Perpetua is a catechumen who had been raised in a pagan family helps to put the passage in perspective.

"7. A few days after, while we were all praying, suddenly in the midst of the prayer I uttered a word and named Dinocrates; and I was amazed because he had never come to my mind save then; and I sorrowed, remembering his fate [he had died at age seven]. And straightway I knew that I was worthy, and that I ought to ask for him. And I began to pray for him long, and to groan unto the Lord. Forthwith the same night, this was shown me.

"I beheld Dinocrates coming forth from a dark place, where there were many others also; being both hot and thirsty, his raiment foul, his color pale; and the wound on his face which he had when he died. This Dinocrates had been my brother in the flesh, seven years old, who being diseased with ulcers of the face had come to a horrible death, so that his death was abominated of all men. For him therefore I had made my prayer; and between him and me was a great gulf, so that either might not go to the other. There was moreover, in the same place were Dinocrates was, a font full of water, having its edge higher than was the boy's stature; and Dinocrates stretched up as though to drink. I was sorry that the font had water in it, and yet for the height of the edge he might not drink.

"And I awoke, and I knew that my brother was in travail. Yet I was confident I should ease his travail; and I prayed for him every day till we passed over into the camp prison. (For it was in the camp games that we were to fight; and the time was the feast of Geta Caesar.) And I made supplication for him day and night with groans and tears, that he might be given me.

"8. On the day when we abode in the stocks, this was shown me.

"I saw that place which I had seen before, and Dinocrates clean of body, finely clothed, in comfort; and where the wound was before, I saw a scar; and the font I had seen before, the edge of it being drawn down to the boy's navel; and he drew water thence which flowed without ceasing. And on the edge was a golden cup full of water; and Dinocrates came up and began to drink therefrom; which cup failed not. And being satisfied he departed away from the water and began to play as children will, joyfully.

"And I awoke. Than I understood that he was translated from his pains" (translation by Walter Shewring).

Perpetua had another dream of fighting an Ethiopian before a celestial umpire in the amphitheater. This let her understand that the final battle would be one against evil.

Felicitas was due to give birth in another month, and it was forbidden to give a pregnant woman to the beasts, so she was anxious lest she not be allowed to die with the others. In birth pangs, she was taunted with the pains she would suffer when she would be thrown to the beasts and replied, "Now it is I who suffer. But there, Another will be within me, who will suffer for me, and I for Him." A Christian woman adopted her baby daughter, who was one month premature.

Their final meal together on the eve of the Emperor's birthday was celebrated as a "love-feast." The jailer Pudens was converted to Christ by this spiritual grace and grandeur. The next day they entered the amphitheater and freely gave their lives.

Perpetua, we are told, was radiant and high-spirited. She was young and glorious, and all who saw her were moved by her youth and beauty as without hesitation she stepped into the stadium, refusing to wear the vestments of the pagan temple. They were scourged in union with Christ's passion. Saturninus and Satyrus were lacerated by a leopard and a bear, but not killed.

The women were stripped, but reclothed because their tortured bodies offended the crowd, and given to a mad cow. Perpetua went first; after the ordeal, she fixed her hair beforehand, lest it be thought that she was grieving, then went to Felicitas and lifted her from the ground--not knowing that they had already withstood the test.

When next it was the turn of her brother and Rusticus, she begged them to stand firm. After all had been tortured, they were thrown together for the deathstroke. There they managed to exchange the Kiss of Peace. When the executioner came to Perpetua, he hesitated and his first blow failed. She herself guided the sword for a second, fatal blow. "Perhaps so great a woman, feared by the unclean spirit, could not have been slain unless she so willed it."

Their feast soon gained fame in the Christian Church and is recorded in the earliest Roman and Syriac calendars. They were buried in the Basilica Majorum in Carthage.

These details need to be combined with those found elsewhere for a more complete story (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Gill, Martindale, Sheed, White).

I highly recommend that anyone reading this far, find and read the original, well-authenticated account written by Saint Perpetua herself. It reads like a diary. A translation of the complete Passio can be found in Sheed's Saints are not sad, pp. 7-18; I've also found it other places.

In art, SS. Perpetua and Felicity are two maidens with a wild cow or ox in the amphitheater (Roeder).


Blessed Reinhard of Reinhausen, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died after 1170. Reinhard was a monk and the headmaster of the abbey school of Stavelot-Malmedy. About 1130 he was appointed the first abbot of Reinhausen in Saxony (Benedictines).


Theophylact of Nicomedia B (RM)
Died 845. Theophylact is wrongly called Theophilus in the Roman Martyrology. An Asiatic monk, he became bishop of Nicomedia. Theophylact opposed the iconoclastic fury of Leo the Armenian by whom he was banished to Caria, where he died thirty years later (Benedictines).


Blessed Volker of Siegburg, OSB Monk (AC)
Died 1132. Volker was a missionary monk of Siegburg put to death by the Obotrites, whom he was evangelizing (Benedictines).



About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on www.saintpatrickdc.org with the permission of the author. Note that the content has not been updated since that time and represents the research of the author. An alphabetical index of all saints on our site is available. Source references are also available. HTML formatting © 2007-2008 by St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.