Today the Church celebrates the feast day of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity. These valiant young women were martyred in the year 203 by the Emperor Severus in Carthage. St. Perpetua was the daughter of a pagan father and a Christian mother. She chose the path of her mother and converted to Christianity shortly before her martyrdom. St. Perpetua was the mother of an infant and it is assumed that she was a widow since there is no historical record of her husband at the time of her death.
St. Felicity was a slave and 8 months pregnant when she was imprisoned for her Christian Faith. According to Catholic Online, a woman who was pregnant could not be executed until she had given birth to their child, since it would be the spilling of innocent blood. She went into labor a couple of days before her scheduled execution and gave birth to a baby girl who was adopted by a fellow Christian woman.
On the day of their execution, both women were stripped of their clothing and sent out into the arena to face a wild heifer. Afterwards the women were sent in with the gladiators where they died by the sword. Before she met a martyr’s death St. Perpetua sought to strengthen her brothers by telling them: “Stand fast in the faith, and love one another. Do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you.”
Lent is a time when we enter more deeply into learning how to die to self. We may not be called to shed our blood for Christ, but we are called to enter into this season of denial and discipline so that when we reach Holy Week we may be even more conformed to Christ and able to enter into the joy of Easter. This necessarily means that the next few weeks are a period of intentional suffering. We choose through our Lenten practices to suffer for Christ so that He can free us from our attachments and show us the path to our true home in heaven.
Read more at Catholic Exchange.