A second baptism

Daily Reading for March 7 • Perpetua and her Companions, Martyrs at Carthage, 202

The day of their victory dawned, with joyful countenances they marched from the prison to the arena as though on their way to heaven. If there was any trembling it was from joy, not fear. Perpetua followed with quick step as a true spouse of Christ, the darling of God; her brightly flashing eyes quelling the gaze of the crowd. Felicitas too, joyful because she had safely survived child-birth and was now able to participate in the contest with the wild animals, passed from one shedding of blood to another; from midwife to gladiator, about to be purified after child-birth by a second baptism. As they were led through the gate . . . Perpetua was singing victory psalms as if already crushing the head of the Eyptian. Revocatus, Saturnius and Saturus were warning the spectators, as they came within sight of Hilarion they informed him by nods and gestures: “You condemn us; God condemns you.” This so infuriated the crowds that they demanded the scourging of these men in front of the line of gladiators. But the ones punished rejoiced in that they had obtained yet another share in the Lord’s suffering.

From “The Martyrdom of Perpetua,” in Patricia Wilson-Kastner, G. Ronald Kastner, Ann Millin, Rosemary Rader, and Jeremiah Reedy, trans., A Lost Tradition: women Writers of the Early Church (University Press of America, 1981). This conclusion to the Vibia Perpetua is thought to have been written by Tertullian..

Past Posts