Felicitas (2), martyr at Carthage
Felicitas (2), Mar. 7; martyr at Carthage with Perpetua, Revocatus, Saturninus,
and Secundinus, all catechumens, and baptized after their arrest. Felicitas and
her companions having been interrogated by Hilarianus, the proconsul, and remaining
steadfast, were condemned to be thrown to the beasts on the anniversary of the young
Geta's accession. Felicitas, being in the eighth month of her pregnancy, and the
law not permitting women in her condition to be executed, was greatly distressed
at the delay of her martyrdom. Prayer was therefore made that God might grant her
an earlier delivery, and this accordingly took place a few days after. While the
pangs of labour were upon her, the jailer, hearing some exclamations of pain, said,
"If thy present sufferings are so great, what wilt thou do when thou art thrown
to the wild beasts? This thou didst not consider when thou refusedst to sacrifice."
Whereupon she answered, "What I now suffer I suffer myself, but then there will
be another Who will suffer for me because I also shall suffer for Him." They were
all put to death together in a.d. 202
or 203, during the reign of Severus, whose latter
364years were marked by a very rigorous persecution (Ael. Spart. Sever.
Imp. § 27 in Hist. August. Scriptt.). Few martyrdoms are better attested
than this. The ancient Roman calendar, pub. by Bucherius, and dating from c.
360, mentions only three African martyrs, viz. Felicitas, Perpetua, and Cyprian.
Their names are in the canon of the Roman Mass, which mentions none but really primitive
martyrs. Their martyrdom is mentioned by Tertullian in de Anima, lv., and
treated at length in three sermons (280, 281, 282) by St. Augustine, while their
burial at Carthage, in the Basilica Major, is asserted by Victor Vitensis, lib.
i. de Pers. Vandal. There are three texts of these Acts—the original
Lat. text, an ancient Gk. version, and a shorter Lat. text, probably an excerpt
from the Gk. version. For all three texts see the ed. of Dean J. A. Robinson in
Texts and Studies, i. 2; cf. also von Gebhardt's Acta.