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Essay/Term paper: The passion of saints perpetua and felicity

Essay, term paper, research paper:  History

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The document, "The Passion of Saints Perpetua and

Felicity," shows just how mighty and fearless the faith of

the martyrs were in Rome around 203 A.D. in which our story

takes place. During the rule of Diocletian, Christianity was

not the religion of popular belief. Many of Romans

practiced polytheism. As a result, numerous Christian

believers were persecuted for their divine faith in God.

Surprisingly, the Christian martyrs did not care that they

were sentenced to death. They believed that by dying for

what they believe, it would only bring them closer to God

and the Gates of Heaven. The document states, "For this

cause have we devoted our lives, that we might do no such

thing as this; this we agreed with you" (para. 18). To the

martyrs, nothing was more important than fulfilling God"s


The martyrs in the document take on the role of

mediator between God and man, spreading the Word of God to

the masses of people and the relaying to them his holy

message, in a sense taking on the role of Jesus Christ, the

Son of God. Perpetua, one of the martyrs when confronted

about her faith by her father retorts, "I am Christian"

(para.6). Another martyr, Felicity, confidently defends

her faith and proclaims it openly by stating, "Stand fast in

the faith, and love you all one another; and be not offended

because of our passion" (para.20). This statement portrays

to the reader the martyrs general attitude towards their

faith and how they embraced the lifestyle of Christ and his

teachings with no fear for death.

The way these martyrs died is a crucial element in the

rise of Christianity. When Christian martyrs were sentenced

to death, they were not executed in a private manner, but

rather were tormented and killed publicly, allowing all the

citizens of Rome to witness the account. The official of

the Roman government hoped that by making the martyrs"

execution public, it would deter others from joining the

religion and moving away from the traditions of Roman life,

which in essence secured the wealth and social status of the

Roman elite. Despite the cruelty and crudeness of the

gladiator contest, the citizens of Rome wanted to witness

the brutal torment of these martyrs in expectations that

they would give up their proclaimed faith, in fear of death.

However, regardless of the Roman officials" and citizens"

intentions, the martyrs in fact viewed death as the Gateway

to Heaven, thus making the act of dying more appealing to


In early Christian perception, the boundary between

supernatural and natural was that of one"s willingness to

die for his faith. Throughout the document, the martyrs are

regarded as being saintly and embodying the holy spirit in

its entirety, that they would give up their life on earth,

for the chance to live in heaven. This was and still is

something that most people would not do, or are even capable

of doing. Therefore, in early Christian times, this

sacrifice was considered something out of a person"s

"natural" state and thus being "supernatural."


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