Woman guides killer’s sword to throat: Story of St. Perpetua

4 07 2013

Perpetua2

In the year 202, Emperor Severus issued an anti-Christian law forbidding anyone to be baptized and become a Christian in the city of Rome. A twenty-two-year-old noble woman whose name was Perpetua  had become a Christian and was arrested along with four others. All were tried and sentenced to be thrown to the wild beasts in the amphitheater during a national holiday. Their deaths would be scheduled along with sports events and various games. Perpetua’s father, a wealthy pagan, pleaded with her to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods so she could be free, but she refused. She said, “Father do you see this water jar, or whatever it is, standing here? Could one call it by any other name than what it is? Well, in the same way I cannot be called by any other name than what I am—a Christian.”

On the day of the games, Perpetua and her companions were led into the amphitheater. At the demand of the crowd they were first scourged before a line of gladiators; Then a wild cow was let loose on the women. The cow tossed Perpetua with it’s horn and she fell on her back, her side torn open and blood and intestine poured out, yet managing to sit up she pulled down her skirt ripped along the side to cover her thighs, lest she offends God by her immodesty.

And seeing that Perpetua had been crushed to the ground, the mob asked to have her throat cut. A gladiator who approached with a sword was  horrified at the sight of such a delicate young woman and could not position the sword because his hands were trembling. But Perpetua reached out and took the tip of trembling sword of the gladiator and guided it to her throat.

The Holy men and women of the first christian century shed their glorious blood for the Lord. They loved Christ in their life, they imitated him in their death and therefore were crowned in triumph

The souls of the Saints are rejoicing in heaven, the Saints who followed the footsteps of Christ, and since for love of him they shed their blood, they now exult  with Christ forever.


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14 responses

31 07 2013
Madonna Mcvay

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29 07 2013
karolincomeaux

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24 07 2013
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24 07 2013
abraham-karr

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22 07 2013
Henry

I will always be a christain so help me God.AMEN

5 07 2013
Stephen Haller

Why do we as Christians insist on adding commentary to stories such as this one (such as the pulling down of the skirt) that we feel reinforces our own views? Does not the story stand on its own for someone that died for their beliefs? Are we sure that she really stopped mid-suffering to adjust her skirts and that she was thinking of modesty while her guts were spilling onto the dirt? This attempt to add other little object lessons while telling a bigger story does nothing but muddy and blur the original story and distracts readers from a larger good.

5 07 2013
Editor

Your is a valid point, Stephen. Still, for some reasons, all historical account of her life and death written actually mentions this little detail and even more. During her final moments, it was recorded that she was particularly fastidious about her modesty and tried as much as she could to put on a smiling face and a neat attire before entering the amphitheater to die. I did not think it wise to omit the detail. Thanks for your comments

4 07 2013
devoutman777

only a fool would answer a fool

4 07 2013
Editor

Devoutman777, no matter how you feel, please remain respectful to other when making comments on this blog, we are here to discuss issue and not to call each other names. Your comment is out of line. Thank you.

14 10 2013
Andy Russell

I think maybe he meant the gladiator and all those around him were fools, and she would be stupid to even respond to him and them because they wouldn’t listen anyways. I don’t think it was a reference to the previous posters. though I am not sure.

4 07 2013
Aluwa

I find it quite alarming that a person in the 21st century would sanction such a barbaric act. Doesn’t placing the sword on her throat amount to suicide which the Catholic church condemns, or is she to be excluded just because she is a ‘Saint’? An ordinary person could easily picture this woman as an overzealous and misguided fanatic. She had been disemboweled yet her first thought is to pull down her skirt. Tell me, would God have taken offence had she not done that considering that she was at the point of death? By the way, I think this issue of martyrdom is wrongly exalted. God knows your heart, so what would it cost to tell the oppressors what they want to hear given that you don’t owe them the truth, and save your life and those of your loved ones? Would a loving God send you to hell just because you told some bloodthirsty rascals, at the point of death (to you and your family), that you are not a Christian (perhaps after long years of faithful worship)? If that’s how God is then nobody in his right senses should be a Christian.

4 07 2013
Editor

Aluwa, you have made an important point here. But you must bear in mind that soldiers do this all the time, they die for their country and honor their father-land with their blood, no one ever says ” Why did you die, or why did you not try to run away or try to evade battle.” No, rather we give them medals for it. Same with this woman, she, like a good soldier, chose to die defending the name of Christ and become worthy of the medal of Eternal life. In the Holy book, Christ said explicitly, “He who denies me in the presence of men, I will deny before my Father in heaven” So I think this woman has the true Christian spirit, and was very, very brave. As for suicide, I don’t think her actions can in anyway be compared to suicide, that is the selfishly taking of one’s own life. No she was dying for another, she was dying for Christ, same way that Christ died for her, for me and for you. Would you call Christ death suicide? Christ had the power to save himself from death but chose not to out of his love and determination to save us and thus reconcile us to God. Perpetua did not wish to kill herself, rather she was the victim of a wicked emperor who hated Christians. For you to ask if she could not have told a lie to the oppressor, i.e to deny that she was a Christian and thus save her self. But that would have been apostasy, the denial of Christ and that is a serious offense in Christianity, let’s be honest. But then, I am not a saint, I pray to God for strength to become one one day. I truly think she was a great woman to have done what she did. Furthermore, I think the point you have just raised is one of the biggest problem with present day Christians. They have forgotten that Christianity is a religion established with the shedding of blood, Christ’s blood. And that, as Christians, they are called to be imitators of Christ. Christ has given his life for them, they, in turn, must give their life for Christ if they wish to be true Christians. This is what first Century Christians like Perpetua understood clearly and what 21st Century Christians have all but forgotten. They see God more like a giver, someone to save them from trouble or make them rich. This is not what the first century Christians understood as Christianity, they saw rather that Christians are wayfarer, on a journey to inherit the Kingdom of God, and that the earth is a testing ground where they prove they deserve to be inheritors of that kingdom by dying to themselves and living only for others and for Christ. They are here on earth to be tested to prove if they are really worthy, if they are made of the same stuff like Christ, if they are really true brothers of Christ. Because no one can enter heaven unless he is like Christ

4 07 2013
Aluwa

Thank you very much for your response.

4 07 2013
Editor

You are welcome Aluwa. Thanks for your comments. Appreciated

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