▪ Christian martyr
in full  Vibia Perpetua 
born c. 182
died March 7, 203, feast day March 7, Carthage [now a residential suburb of Tunis, Tunisia]

      Christian martyr who wrote The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, a journal recounting her trial and imprisonment that was continued by a contemporary who described Perpetua's death in the arena. Both her martyrdom and its account have been highly revered by ancient and modern Christians. Her text is one of the rare surviving documents written by a woman in the ancient world.

       Carthage in the 2nd century AD had a vibrant Christian community that included the Church Father Tertullian. Among those drawn to the growing church was a young mother, Perpetua, the daughter of a prosperous provincial family. Sometime after 201, the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (Severus, Septimius) forbade conversion to Christianity or Judaism, and in 203 the governor of Carthage, Hilarian, enforced this edict. Perpetua and four companions were arrested. In clear violation of the emperor's edict, all five were catechumens (catechumen) (people preparing for baptism). Another Christian voluntarily joined the small group. The six were tried, refused to renounce their faith, and were condemned to death in the arena.

      Perpetua began her diary with an account of her imprisonment and continued it with descriptions of her trial and her father's impassioned but fruitless plea for her to renounce her Christian identity. Most of Perpetua's text concerns her prison dreams (which she believed were prophetic) offering visions of her entry into heaven, her deceased younger brother Dinocrates, and her ordeal in the arena. On the evening before her scheduled death, Perpetua gave her diary to another Christian, who then continued the story of the martyrdom of Perpetua and her fellow Christians. He described how one of Perpetua's companions—the pregnant slave Felicity—gave birth while in prison; he also wrote of the young Christians' bravery in the arena when they were attacked by wild beasts and, finally, of Perpetua's voluntary acceptance of death by the sword.

      Perpetua's diary was read annually in Carthage's churches for centuries. It was so influential that it was praised by orthodox Christians and heretical Montanists (Montanism) alike, and 200 years later the Church Father Augustine (Augustine, Saint) (354–430) wrote sermons commenting on the young martyr's words. Perpetua's text, with its powerful, personal voice, continues to draw readers.

Joyce Ellen Salisbury

Additional Reading
A useful introduction to the life and passion of Perpetua is Joyce E. Salisbury, Perpetua's Passion: The Death and Memory of a Young Roman Woman (1997).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • perpetua — PERPETUÁ, perpetuez, vb. I. tranz. şi refl. A face să dureze sau a continua să dureze veşnic sau vreme îndelungată; a (se) transmite (din generaţie în generaţie, din veac în veac), a (se) continua. [pr.: tu a] – Din fr. perpétuer, lat. perpetuare …   Dicționar Român

  • Perpetŭa — Perpetŭa, 1) angeblich Frau des Apostels Petrus; 2) Sta. P., Tochter eines heidnischen Vaters u. einer christlichen Mutter in Carthago, wurde mit Felicitas eingekerkert u. empfing die Taufe; da sie das Christenthum nicht verleugnen wollten,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Perpetua — Perpetua, 1) nach später Tradition die Gattin des Apostels Petrus (s. d.). 2) P. und Felicitas (s. d.), Heilige, Märtyrerinnen zu Karthago während der Verfolgung des Septimius Severus. Die sogen. Akten der P. sind ein teilweise von P. selbst… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Perpetua — Perpetŭa, Heilige, christl. Märtyrerin in Karthago 202, zusammen mit ihrer Sklavin Felicitas (s.d.). – P., nach der Tradition Name der Gattin des Apostels Petrus, die diesen auf seinen Reisen begleitete (1 Kor. 9, 5) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Perpetua — Perpetua,   Märtyrerin, ✝ Karthago 7. 3. 202 oder 203; vornehme Christin aus Karthago, die mit ihrer Sklavin Felicitas u. a. Christen hingerichtet wurde. Heilige (Tag, zusammen mit der heilige Felicitas: 7. 3.).   …   Universal-Lexikon

  • perpetua — /per pɛtwa/ s.f. [dal nome della governante di don Abbondio nei Promessi Sposi di A. Manzoni]. 1. (fam.) [donna di servizio di un sacerdote]. 2. (estens.) [donna, spec. anziana, che attende alle faccende domestiche e viene per questo retribuita]… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • perpétua — s. f. 1.  [Botânica] Gênero de plantas da família das compostas cuja flor, do mesmo nome, conserva a cor primitiva ainda depois de seca. 2. Flor dessa planta …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • perpetua — sustantivo femenino 1. Género de plantas cuyas flores conservan su aspecto y olor después de arrancadas. 2. Flor de las perpetuas …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • perpetua — f. ☛ V. perpetuo …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Perpetua, SS. (4) — 4SS. Perpetua et Soc. M. M. (7. al. 4. März, al. 2. Febr.) Die berühmten Acten der hhl. Perpetua, Felicitas8, Satur, Vivia, Saturninus, Revocatus und Secundulus sind aus der Bibliothek des Klosters Catina um die Mitte des siebenzehnten… …   Vollständiges Heiligen-Lexikon

  • Perpetua — Das Martyrium der hl. Perpetua und ihrer Gefährten (zur Linken Felicitas), Glasfenster in der Kirche Unserer Lieben Frau in Vierzon Perpetua und Felicitas († 7. März 203 in Karthago) gehören zu den ersten Märty …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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