Perpetua & Felicity, VM

Vespers

Legend
Perpetua and Felicity were arrested during the persecution of the emperor Severus in Africa, together with Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus, and were cast into a dark dungeon, where Satyrus was added to their company. They were as yet catechumens but shortly afterwards they were baptized. After a few days they and their companions were led forth from prison to the court, and, after a glorious profession of faith, were condemned by the procurator Hilarion to the beasts. Thereupon they went down to the prison rejoicing, and there they were refreshed with many visions, and fired with longing for the martyr’s palm. Neither the repeated prayers and tears of Perpetua’s father, a man of extreme old age, nor her motherly love for her baby son still at the breast, nor the atrocity of the torture, could shake her faith in Christ.

As the day of the spectacle came close, Felicity was afflicted with great sorrow lest it should be put off, since she was eight months with child ; and the law forbade expectant mothers to be put to the torture. But at the prayers of her fellow-martyrs her delivery was hastened, and she gave birth to a daughter. While she was groaning in the pains of childbirth, one of the jailers said to her : What wilt thou do when thrown to the beasts, if thou groanest thus now? She replied : Now it is I who suffer ; but then Another will be within me, who will suffer on my behalf, seeing that it is for him that I am to suffer.

At length the noble-hearted women were brought into the amphitheatre, in the sight of all the people, on the 7th day of March, and were first beaten with scourges. Then they were tossed for some time by a ferocious cow, beaten with lashes, and dashed on the ground. Lastly, together with their companions, who had been attacked by various beasts, they were slain with blows of the sword.

V. Thou hast crowned them with glory and worship, O Lord.
R. And hast made them to have dominion of the works of thy hands.

Antiphon on Magnificat:
Blessed are they * who have despised earthly pleasure, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: they have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, and have won the heavenly great reward.

Collect:
Grant unto us, we beseech thee, O Lord our God, to reverence with unceasing devotion the glory of thy holy Martyrs Perpetua and Felicity; and though it be not ours worthily to honour their triumph, to persevere in offering them the humble tribute of our duty. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee in the Unity of the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

Matins
Invitatory
Let us praise our God * In thanksgiving for blessed Perpetua and Felicity.

V. Thou hast crowned them with glory and worship, O Lord.
R. And hast made them to have dominion of the works of thy hands.

Antiphon on Benedictus:
Blessed are they * who have despised earthly pleasure, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: they have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, and have won the heavenly great reward.