Felicity and Perpetua lived in the North African city of Carthage. Carthage at the time was part of the Roman Empire. In 202, Emperor Severus declared the penalty for being a Christian was death. There were seven martyrs in this group, Perpetua, her infant son, Felicity, who was pregnant, and four men.
Perpetua began a diary when she was baptized. She had to go against her father’s wishes. She told her father, I cannot call myself anything else other than what I am. Being a follower of Christ was more important than anything, including her life. She knew she must be baptized even knowing the price.
She was arrested with the others, a few days after their baptism. She was able to keep her baby with her in prison. While waiting for her trial Perpetua had visions of Jesus. These visions showed she was going to have to suffer. She should not have hope for the world they were living in.
The Romans gathered a large crowd and questioned the group about their faith. Her father was there with her baby. He begged her to deny her faith. They were condemned to die with the beasts. With great joy, the group returned to prison. They were held for the birthday of the emperor’s son. They would be taken to the amphitheater and given to wild animals. Perpetua kept having visions. She knew she would become a martyr.
Felicity was incredibly sad because of her pregnancy. Her martyrdom would be delayed. It was against the law for a pregnant woman to be killed. She prayed for her baby to be born. Two days before the birthday, she gave birth to a baby girl.
The day of their martyrdom came. They looked as though they were on their way to heaven. The soldiers tried to make the group put on costumes of the pagan gods. Perpetua refused until the soldiers gave in. Two men were killed by the animals. Felicity and Perpetua were charged by a mad bull. Both women were bruised but helped each other up. They started to head for the gate where those who had been victorious were allowed to leave. The mob at the arena shouted for them to be killed. They were beheaded in 203. Perpetua and Felicity are the patron saints of mothers and expectant mothers.