18 - 25 minutes readMarch 6 – Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, Martyrs ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger

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March 6 – Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, Martyrs

The real Feast of these two illustrious heroines of the Faith is tomorrow, which is the anniversary of their martyrdom and triumph; but the memory of the Angel of the Schools, St. Thomas of Aquin, shines so brightly on the seventh of March that it almost eclipses the two glorious stars of Africa. In consequence of this, the Holy See allows certain Churches to anticipate their Feast, and keep it today. We take advantage of this permission and at once offer to the Christian reader the glorious spectacle, of which Carthage was the scene, in the year 203. Nothing could give us a clearer idea of that spirit of the Gospel, according to which we are now studying to conform our whole life. Here are two women, two mothers; God asks great sacrifices from them: he asks them to give him their lives, nay more than their lives; and they obey with that simplicity and devotedness which made Abraham merit to be the Father of Believers.

Their two names, as St. Augustine observes, are a presage of what awaits them in heaven: a perpetual felicity. The example they set of Christian fortitude is, of itself, a victory, which secures to the true Faith a triumph in the land of Africa. St. Cyprian will soon follow them, with his bold and eloquent appeal to the African Christians, inspiring them to die for their Faith: but his words, grand as they are, are less touching than the few pages written by the hand of the brave Perpetua, who, though only twenty-two years of age, relates, with all the self-possession of an angel, the trials she had to go through for God; and when she had to hurry off to the amphitheater, she puts her pen into another’s hand, bidding him go on where she leaves off, and write the rest of the battle. As we read these charming pages, we seem to be in the company of the Martyrs; the power of divine grace, which could produce such heroism amidst a people demoralized by paganism, appears so great that even we grow courageous; and the very fact that the instruments employed by God for the destruction of the pagan world were frequently women, we cannot help saying with St. John Chrysostom: “I feel an indescribable pleasure in reading the Acts of the Martyrs; but when the Martyr is a woman, my enthusiasm is doubled. For the frailer the instrument, the greater is the grace, the brighter the trophy, the grander the victory; and this, not because of her weakness, but because the devil is conquered by her, by whom he once conquered us. He conquered by a woman, and now a woman conquers him. She was once his weapon, is now his destroyer, brave and invincible. That first one sinned and died; this one died that she might not sin. Eve was flushed by a lying promise, and broke the law of God; our heroine disdained to live, when her living was to depend on her breaking her faith to Him who was her dearest Lord. What excuse, after this, for men, if they be soft and cowards? Can they hope for pardon when women fought the holy battle with such brave and manly and generous hearts?”

The Lessons appointed to be read on the Feast of our two Saints, give us the principal incidents of their Martyrdom. The passage from the account written by Perpetua herself, which is quoted in these Lessons, will make some of our readers long to read the whole of what she has left us. They will find it in our first volume of the Acts of the Martyrs.

Severo imperatore, apprehensi sunt in Africa adolescentes catechumeni, Revocatus et Felicitas conserva ejus, Saturninus et Secundulus: inter quos et Vivia Perpetua, honeste nata, liberaliter instituta, matranaliter nupta, habens filium ad ubera. Erat autem ipsa annorum circiter viginti duorum. Hæc ordinem martyrii sui conscriptum manu sua reliquit. Quum adhuc, inquit, cum persequutoribus essemus, et me pater avertere, pro sua affectione, perseverarat: Pater, inquio, aliud me dicere non possum, nisi quod sum Christiana. Tunc pater, motus in hoc verbo, misit se in me, ut oculos mihi erueret. Sed vexa, vit tantum; et profectus est victus cum argumentis diaboli. In spatio paucorum dierum baptizati sumus: mihi autem Spiritus dictavit, nihil aliud petendum in aqua, nisi sufferentiam carnis. Post paucos dies, recipimur in carcerem: et expavi, quia numquam experta eram tales tenebras. Mox rumor cucurrit ut audiremur. Supervenit autem et de civitate pater meus, consumptus tædio; et ascendit ad me, ut me dejiceret, dicens: Miserere, filia, canis meis; miserere patri, si dignus sum a te pater vocari. Aspice ad fratres tuos, aspice ad matrem tuam: aspice ad filium tuum, qui post te vivere non poterit. Depone animos, ne universos nos extermines. Hæc dicebat pater pro sua pietate: se ad pedes meos jactans, et lacrymis non filiam, sed dominam me vocabat. Et ego dolebam canos patris mei: quod solus de passione mea gavisurus non esset de toto genere meo. Et confortavi eum, dicens: Hoc fiet quod Deus voluerit. Scito enim nos non in nostra potestate esse constitutos, sed in Dei. Et recessit a me contristatus. During the reign of the Emperor Severus, several Catechumens were apprehended at Carthage, in Africa. Among these were Revocatus and his fellow servant Felicitas, Saturninus and Secundulus, and Vivia Perpetua, a lady by birth and education, who was married to a man of wealth. Perpetua was about twenty-two years of age, and was suckling an infant. She has left us the following particulars of her martyrdom. “As soon as our persecutors had apprehended us, my father came to me, and, out of his great love for me, he tried to make me change my resolution. I said to him: ‘Father, I cannot consent to call myself other than what I am—a Christian.’ At these words he rushed at me, threatening to tear out my eyes. But he only struck me, and then he left me, when he found that the arguments suggested to him by the devil, were of no avail. A few days after this, we were baptizes; and the Holy Ghost inspired me to look on this baptism as a preparation for bodily suffering. A few more days elapsed, and we were sent to prison. I was terrified, for I was not accustomed to such darkness. The report soon spread that we were to be brought to trial. My father left the city, for he was heartbroken, and he came to me, hoping to shake my purpose. These were his words to me: ‘My child, have pity on my old age. Have pity on thy father, if I deserve to be called Father. Think of thy brothers, think of thy mother, think of thy son, who cannot live when thou art gone. Give up this mad purpose, or thou wilt bring misery upon thy family.’ While saying this, which he did out of love for me, he threw himself at my feet, and wept bitterly, and said he besought this of me, not as his child, but as his lady. I was moved to tears to see my aged parent in this grief, for I knew that he was the only one of my family that would not rejoice at my being a martyr. I tried to console him, and said: ‘I will do whatsoever God shall ordain. Thou knowest that we belong to God, and not to ourselves.’ He then left me, and was very sad.
Alio die, quum pranderemus, subito rapti sumus ut audiremur: et pervenimus ad forum. Ascendimus in catasta. Interrogati cæteri confessi sunt. Ventum est et ad me. Et apparuit pater illico cum filio meo: et extraxit me de gradu, et dixit supplicans: Miserere infanti. Et Hilarianus procurator: Parce, inquit, canis patris tui, parce infantiæ pueri: fac sacrum pro salute imperatorum. Et ego respondi: Non facio: christiana sum. Tunc nos universos pronuntiat et damnat ad bestias: et hilares descendimus ad carcerem. Sed quia consueverat a me infans mammas accipere, et mecum in carcere manere, statim mitto ad patrem, postulans infantem. Sed pater dare noluit: et, quomodo Deus voluit, neque ille amplius mammas desideravit, neque mihi fervorem fecerunt. Atque hoc scripsit beata Perpetua usque in pridie certaminis. Felicitas vero, quæ prægnans octo jam mensium fuerat apprehensa, instante spectaculi die, in magno erat luctu, ne propter ventrem differretur. Sed et commartyres ejus graviter contristabantur, ne tam bonam sociam in via ejusdem spei relinquerent. Conjuncto itaque gemitu, ad Dominum orationem fuderunt ante tertium diem muneris. Statim post orationem dolores eam invaserunt. Et quum in partu laborans doleret, ait illi quidam ex ministris: Quæ sic modo doles, quid facies objecta bestiis, quas contempsisti quum sacrificare noluisti? Et illa respondit: Modo ego patio quod patior: illic autem alius erit in me qui pateitur pro me; quia et ego pro illo passura sum. Ita enixa est puellam, quam sibi quædam soror in filiam educavit. “On the following day, as we were taking our repast, they came upon us suddenly, and summoned us to trial. We reached the forum. We were made to mount a platform. My companions were questioned and they confessed the faith. My turn came next, and I immediately saw my father approaching towards me, holding my infant son. He drew me from the platform, and besought me, saying, ‘Have pity on thy babe!’ Hilarion, too, the governor, said to me, ‘Have pity on thy aged father, have pity on thy babe! Offer up sacrifice for the Emperors.’ I answered him: ‘I cannot; I am a Christian.’ Whereupon, he sentences all of us to be devoured by the wild beasts; and we, full of joy, return to our prison. But as I had hitherto always had my child with me in prison, and fed him at my breast, I immediately send word to my father, beseeching him to let him come to me. He refused; and from that moment, neither the babe asked me for the breast, nor did I suffer inconvenience; for God thus willed it.’ All this is taken from the written account left by the blessed Perpetua, and it brings us to the day before she was put to death. As regards Felicitas, she was in the eighth month of her pregnancy, when she was apprehended. The day of the public shows was near at hand, and the fear that her martyrdom would be deferred on account of her being with child, made her very sad. Her fellow-martyrs, too, felt much for her, for they could not bear the thought of seeing so worthy a companion disappointed in the hope, she had in common with themselves, of so soon reaching heaven. Uniting, therefore, in prayer, they with tears besought God in her behalf. It was the last day but two before the public shows. No sooner was their prayer ended, than Felicitas was seized with pain. One of the jailers, who overheard her moaning, cried out: ‘If this pain seem to thee so great, what wilt thou do when thou art being devoured by the wild beasts, which thou pretendest to heed not when thou wast told to offer sacrifice.’ She answered: ‘What I am suffering now, it is indeed I that suffer; but there, there will be another in me, who will suffer for me, because I shall be suffering for Him.’ She was delivered of a daughter, and one of our sisters adopted the infant as her own.

Illuxit dies victoriæ illorum: et processerunt de carcere in amphitheatrum, quasi in cœlum, hilares, vultu decori: si forte, gaudio paventes, non timore. Sequebatur Perpetua placido vultu, et pedum incessu ut matrona Christi dilecta: vigorem oculorum suorum dejuciens ab omnium conspectu. Item Felicitas, salvam se peperisse gaudens, ut ad bestias pugnaret. Illis ferocissimam vaccam diabolus præpraravit. Itaque reticulis indutæ producuntur. Inducitur prior Perpetua. Jactata est et concidit in lumbus: et ut conspexit tunicam a latere discissam, ad velamentum femorum adduxit, pudoris potius memor quam doloris. Dehinc requista et dispersos capillos infibulavit. Non enim decebat martyrem dispersis capillis pati; ne in sua gloria plangere videretur. Ita surrexit; et elisam Felicitatem quum vidisset accessit et manum ei tradidit, et sublevavit illam. Et ambæ pariter steterunt; et populi duritia devicta, revocatæ sunt in portam Sanavivariam. Illic Perpetua, quasi a somno expergita, adeo in spiritu e extasi fuerat, circumspicere cœpit;: et stupentibus omnibus, sit: Quando producimur ad vacam illam, nescio. Et quum audisset quod jam evenerat; non prius credidit, nisi quasdam notas vexationis in corpore et habitu suo recognovisset. Exinde accersitum fratrem suum, et catechumenum Rusticum nomine, adloquuta est eos, dicens: In fide state, et invicem omnes diligite; et passionibus nostris ne scandalizemini. The day of their victory dawned. They left their prison for the amphitheater, cheerful, and with faces beaming with joy, as though they were going to heaven. They were excited, but it was from delight, not from fear. The last in the group was Perpetua. Her placid look, her noble gait, betrayed the Christian matron. She passed through the crowd and saw no one, for her beautiful eyes were fixed upon the ground. By her side was Felicitas, rejoicing that her safe delivery enabled her to encounter the wild beasts. The devil had prepared a savage cow for them. They were put into a net. Felicitas was brought forward the first. She was tossed into the air, and fell upon her back. Observing that one side of her dress was torn, she adjusted it, heedless of her pain, because thoughtful of her modesty. Having recovered from the fall, she put up her hair which was disheveled by the shock, for it was not seemly that a martyr should win her palm and have the appearance of one distracted by grief. This done, she stood up. Seeing Felicitas much bruised by her fall, she went to her, and giving her her hand, she raised her from the ground. Both were now ready for a fresh attack; but the people were moved to pity, and the martyrs were led to the gate of Sana-Vivaria. There Perpetua, like one that is roused from sleep, awoke from the deep ecstasy of her spirit. She looked around her, and said to the astonished multitude: “When will the cow attack us?” They told her that it had already attacked them. She could not believe it, until her wounds and torn dress reminded her of what had happened. Then beckoning her brother, and to a catechumen named Rusticus, she thus spoke to them: “Be staunch in the faith, and love one another, and be not shocked at our sufferings.”
Secundum Deus maturiore exitu de sæculo adhuc in carcere evocaverat. Saturninus et Revocatus leopardum experti, etiam ab urso vexati sunt. Saturus apro oblatus est; deinde ad ursun tractus, qui de cavea prodire noluit: itaque bis illæsus revocatur. In fine spectaculi, leopardo objectus, de uno morsu ejus tanto perfusus est sanguine, ut populus revertenti illi secundi baptismatis testimonium reclamaverit: Salvul lotum, salvum lotum. Exinde jam exanimis, prosternitur cum cæteris ad jugulationem solito loco. Et quum populus illos in medium postularet, ut gladio penetrante in eorum corpore, oculos suos comites homicidii adjungeret; ultro surrexerunt, et se quo volebat populos transtulerunt: ante jam osculati invicem, ut martyrium per solemnia pacis consummarent. Cæteri quidem immobilies et cum silentio ferrum receperunt: multo magis Saturus, qui prior reddidit spiritum. Perpetua autem, ut aliquid doloris gustaret, inter costas puncta exululavit; et errantem dexteram tirunculi gladiatoris ipsa in jugulum suum posuit. Fortasse tanta femina aliter non potuisset occidi, quia ab immundo spiritu timebatur, nisi ipsa voluisset. God soon took Secundulus from this world, for he died while he was in the prison. Saturninus and Revocatus were exposed first to a leopard, and then to a bear. Saturus was exposed to a boar, and then to a bear, which would not come out of its den; thus was he twice left uninjured: but at the close of the games, he was thrown to a leopard, which bit him so severely, that he was all covered with blood, and as he was taken from the amphitheater, the people jeered at him for this second baptism, and said, “Saved, washed! Saved, washed!” He was then carried off, dying as he was, to the appointed place, there to be despatched by the sword, with the rest. But the people demanded that they should be led back to the middle of the amphitheater, that their eyes might feast on the sight, and watch the sword as it pierced them. The Martyrs hearing their request, cheerfully stood up, and marched to the place where the people would have them go; but first they embraced one another, that the sacrifice of their martyrdom might be consummated with the solemn kiss of peace. All of them, without so much as a movement of a moan, received the swordman’s blow, save only Saturus, who died from his previous wounds, and Perpetua, who was permitted to feel more than the rest. Her executioner was a novice in his work, and could not thrust his sword through her ribs; she slightly moaned, then took his right hand, and pointing his sword towards her throat, told him that that was the place to strike. Perhaps it was that such a woman could not be otherwise slain than by her own consent, for the unclean spirit feared her.

The Holy See has approved of the three following Hymns composed in honour of our two Martyrs. We unite them under one conclusion.

Christi Sponsa piis laudibus efferat
Binus impavido pectore feminas:
In sexu fragili corda virilia
Hymnis pangat ovantibus.
Let the Church, the Spouse of Christ, celebrate in holy praise, the two dauntless women; and sing, in joyous hymns, how the weaker sex had here two manly hearts.
Ad lucem genitæ sole sub Africo,
Nunc ambæ pugiles actibus inclytis
In toto radiant orbe: micantibus
Fulgent tempora laureis.
Both were born in Africa’s sunny land; and now both shine throughout the whole world as the two glorious combatants, wearing bright laurels on their brows.
Exornat generis Perpetuam decus;
Sponso connubiis juncta recentibus
Clarescit; sed honos hanc trahit altior;
Christi fœdera prætulit.
Perpetua is honored by her fellow citizens as being of high birth, and had but recently contracted an honorable marriage. But there was an honor far higher, in her eyes—the love and service of Christ.
Se Regis famulam libera profitens,
Dum servile jugum Felicitas aubit:
Ad luctam properans gressibus æmulis,
Palmas ad similes volat.
Felicitas, though she served an earthly master, was free in this—that she was a servant of the great King. Like Perpetua, she thirsts for battle; and like her, she culls a palm.
Frustra Perpetuam fletibus et minis
Impugnat genitor: quæ simul angitur,
Errantem miserans. Oscula filio
Lactenti dedit ultima.
Perpetua was beseiged by her father, who sought, by tears and threats, to make her deny her faith. She, on her side, was full of grief and pity at seeing him a victim of error. Her babe was taken from her; she kissed him and was content.
Terris Eva parens quæ mala contulit,
Horum sentit onus Felicitas grave;
Nunc et passa sibi parturiens gemit,
Mox passura Deo libens.
Felicitas begins her sufferings by those cruel pangs which Eve, our mother, brought upon the earth. Now, in child-birth, she suffers for herself, and she moans; but, in her martyrdom, she suffers for her God, and she rejoices.
Cœli Perpetuæ pauditor ostium;
Inspectare datur: jam sibi prælia
Exortura videt; sed requiem Deus
Post certamina conferet.
The gate of heaven is thrown open to Perpetua, and she is permitted to look within. She there learns that a contest awaits her, but that, after the battle, God will grant her repose.
Tangit scala domus aurea cœlitum:
Ast utrumque latus cuspidibus riget;
Lapsos terribilis faucibus excipit
Hanc infra recubans draco.
She sees a golden ladder reaching to the palace of heaven; but both its sides are armed with spikes, and at its foot lies an angry dragon, which devours them that fall.
Ascendas, mulier, nec draco terreat;
Contritumque caput sit tibi pro gradu,
Per quem sidereos incipias pede
Orbes scandere concito.
Ascend, Perpetua! fear not the dragon. Trample on his head, and make it a stepping-stone, whereby thou mayst quickly mount to the starry land above.
Hortus deliciis jam patet affluens,
In quo mulget oves Pastor amabilis:
Huc optata venis, filia: sic ait,
Hanc dulci recreans cibo.
There shalt thou find a paradise of delights, where the loving shepherd caresses his sheep. “Thou art welcome here, my daughter!” Thus did he address the Martyr, and then gave her to eat of sweetest food.
In circum rapitur: fœdus et horrida
Occurrit specie vir gladium vibrans:
Dejectus territur femineo pede.
Victrix, suscipe præmia.
In another vision, she thought she was hurried to the amphitheater. There she was met by a man, whose face was swarth and terrible to look at. He brandished his sword. She encountered him, threw him on the ground, and trampled on his head. A cry was heard: “Thou hast conquered! Come, take the prize!”
Luxit clara dies, vincere qua datur
Athletis Domini. Pergite Martyres:
Omnis Perpetuam curia Cœlitum,
Et te, Felicitas, cupit.
But at length came the glorious day of victory for the soldiers of Christ. On, Martyrs, to the field! Perpetua and Felicitas! the court of heaven is longing to receive you!
Quassat Perpetuæ membra tenerrima;
Elidit sociam bellua. Te soror
Stans, o Felicitas, ad nova prælia
Erectam reparat manu.
The wild beast rushes upon them, tossing, tearing, and wounding their tender limbs. See, Felicitas! thy sister’s hand emboldens thee to renew the fight.
E cœli pugilum respiciens, Deus
Certamen, geminas ad bravium vocat.
Effuso properet sanguine spiritus,
In Christi remeans sinum.
God looks down from heaven on the two brave combatants, and calls them to the prize. Their blood streams from the wounds, and their spirits speed their way to the bosom of Christ.
Optatus penetrat corpora Martyrum
Lictoris gladius: sed trepidam manum
Fortis Perpetuæ dextera dirigit,
Præbens guttura cuspidi.
The sword, the welcome sword, is thrust; the Martyrs die, all save Perpetua; bravely she takes the trembling lictor’s hand, and offering him her heck, tells him his surest aim is there.
Nunc, o magnanimæ, gaudia quæ manent
In Sponsi thalamo capite jugiter
Vos exempla dedit: præsidium potens
Vestris ferte clientibus.
Go, now, brave-hearted ones, to him who is your Spouse, and there eternally enjoy the bliss he has in store for you. He gave us you as models; oh, show your power, and help us your clients.
Laus æterna Patri, laus quoque Filio;
Par individuo gloria Flamini;
In cunctis resonet Christiandum choris
Virtus martyribus data. Amen.
Eternal glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the co-equal Spirit! And let every choir in Christian lands sound forth its praise to the grace bestowed on Martyrs. Amen.

Perpetua! Felicitas! Oh! glorious and prophetic names, which come like two bright stars of March, pouring out upon us your rays of light and life! You are heard in the songs of the Angels; and we poor sinners, as we echo them on earth, are told to love and hope. You remind us of that brave woman who, as the Scripture says, kept up the battle begun by men: The valiant men ceased: who will follow them? A Mother in Israel. Glory be to that Almighty power which loves to choose the weak things of the world that it may confound the strong! Glory to the Church of Africa, the daughter of the Church of Rome; and glory to the Church of Carthage, which had not then heard the preaching of her Cyprian, and yet could produce two such noble hearts!

As to thee, Perpetua, thou art held in veneration by the whole Christian world. Thy name is mentioned by God’s Priests in the Holy Mass, and thus thy memory is associated with the Sacrifice of the Man-God, for love of whom thou didst lay down thy life. And those pages written by thine own hand, how they reveal to us the generous character of thy soul! how they comment those words of the Canticle: Love is strong as death! It was thy love of God that made thee suffer and die and conquer. Even before the water of Baptism had touched thee, thou wast enrolled among the Martyrs. When the hard trial came of resisting a father, who wished thee to lay down the palm of martyrdom—how bravely didst thou not triumph over thy filial affection, in order to save that which is due to our Father who is in heaven! Nay, when the hardest test came—when the babe that fed at thy breast was taken from thee in thy prison—even then thy love was strong enough for the sacrifice, as was Abraham’s, when he had to immolate his Isaac.

Thy fellow-martyrs deserve our admiration; they are so grand in their courage; but thou, dear Saint, surpassest them all. Thy love makes thee more than brave in thy sufferings, it make thee forget them. “Where wast thou,” we would ask thee in the words of St. Augustine, “where wast thou, that thou didst not feel the goading of that furious beast, asking when it was to be, as thou it had not been? Where wast thou? What didst thou see, that made thee see not this? On what wast thou feasting, that made thee dead to sense? What was the love that absorbed, what was the sight that distracted, what was the chalice that inebriated thee? And yet the ties of flesh were still holding thee, the claims of death were still upon thee, the corruptible body was still weighing thee down!” But our Lord had prepared thee for the final struggle, by asking sacrifice at thy hands. This made thy life wholly spiritual, and gave thy soul to dwell, by love, with Him, who had asked thee for all and received it; and thus living in union with Jesus, thy spirit was all but a stranger to the body it animated.

It was impatient to be wholly with its Sovereign Good. Thy eager hand directs the sword that is to set thee free; and as the executioner severs the last tie that hold thee, how voluntary was thy sacrifice, how hearty thy welcome of death! Truly, thou wast the Valiant, the Strong Woman, that conqueredst the wicked serpent! Thy greatness of soul has merited for thee a high place among the heroines of our holy Faith, and for seventeen hundred years thou hast been honored by the enthusiastic devotion and love of the servants of God.

And thou, too, Felicitas! receive the homage of our veneration, for thou wast found worthy to be a fellow-martyr with Perpetua. Thou she was a rich matron of Carthage, and thou a servant, yet Baptism and Martyrdom made you companions and sisters. The Lady and the Slave embraced, for Martyrdom made you equal; and as the spectators saw you hand in hand together, they must have felt that there was a power in the Religion they persecuted, which would put an end to Slavery. The power and grace of Jesus triumphed in thee, as it did in Perpetua; and thus was fulfilled thy sublime answer to the pagan, who dared to jeer thee—that when the hour of trial came, it would not be thou that wouldst suffer, but Christ, who would suffer in thee. Heaven is now the reward of thy sacrifice; well didst thou merit it. And that babe, that was born in thy prison, what a happy child to have for its mother a Martyr in heaven! How wouldst thou not bless both it and the mother who adopted it! Oh! what fitness in such a soul as thine, for the Kingdom of God! Not once looking back, but ever bravely speeding onwards to him that called thee. Thy felicity is perpetual in heaven; thy glory on earth shall never cease.

And now, dear Saints, Perpetua and Felicitas, intercede for us during this season of grace. Go, with your palms in your hands, to the throne of God, and beseech him to pour down his mercy upon us. It is true, the days of paganism are gone by; and there are no persecutors clamoring for our blood. You, and countless other Martyrs, have won victory for Faith; and that Faith is now ours; we are Christians. But there is a second paganism, which has taken deep root among us. It is the source of that corruption which now pervades every rank of society, and its own two sources are indifference, which chills the heart, and sensuality, which induces cowardice. Holy Martyrs! pray for us that we may profit by the example of your virtues, and that the thought of your heroic devotedness may urge us to be courageous in the sacrifices which God claims at our hands. Pray, too, for the Churches which are now being established on that very spot of Africa which was the scene of your glorious martyrdom; bless them, and obtain for them, by your powerful intercession, firmness of faith and purity of morals.


This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)