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Perpetua quote

Perpetua quote

Perpetua and Felicitas at their deaths.

Think of the absurdity of the statement! Consider how contrary it is to our cultural assumptions about self-fulfillment. The words were uttered by a young woman about 22 years of age from Carthage in North Africa. It was around AD 200.

Perpetua had recently given birth to baby boy and she had also recently been put in the dungeon because she would not disown her Christian faith. She kept a diary of her prison experience, possibly the first document we have from the hands of a Christian woman. At first Perpetua was not allowed to have her baby with her in prison. Then the authorities relented and permitted her to nurse and care for the child. All at once, she reported, she began to feel better and felt her health return. Then it was that the prison became her palace and she adds that she was content to stay there.

This from a young woman of considerable wealth and education. Dire circumstances did not defeat her. The prospect of torture and death could not break her spirit. She demonstrated how for a believer external conditions in the final analysis are not as important as our attitude toward them.

Perpetua refused repeated opportunities to deny she was a Christian and so was eventually brought into the arena and killed. Observers noted she went joyfully as though on the way to heaven. The world again was baffled by the secret many Christians across the centuries have discovered. Simply put, with Christ as Lord they feasted upon an inner joy that enabled them to meet with serenity of spirit whatever came their way.

Originally published April 28, 2010.

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