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Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas

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Estimated Range of Dating: 202-203 A.D.

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Information on the Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas

J. Quasten writes (Patrology, vol. 1, p. 181):

The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas gives an account of the martyrdom of three catechumens Saturus, Saturninus and Revocatus, and two young women, Vibia Perpetua, 22 years of age, 'well born, liberally educated, honorably married, having father and mother and two brothers, one like herself a catechumen, and an infant son at the breast', and her slave Felicitas, who was pregant at the time of her arrest and gave birth to a girl shortly before her death in the arena. They suffered martyrdom on March 7, 202, at Carthage. The account is one of the most beautiful pieces of ancient Christian literature. It is unique as far as its authorship is concerned. The largest part of the account (ch. 3-10) is Perpetua's own diary: 'the whole story of her martyrdom is from this point onwards told by herself as she left it written by her own hand and with her own mind' (ch. 2). Chapters 11 and 13 were written by Saturus. There is reason to believe that the author of the other chapters and the editor of the entire Passion was no less a person than Tertullian, the contemporary of Perpetua and the greatest writer of the African Church at that time. The resemblance in phrase and syntax and in words and ideas between Tertullian's works Ad Martyres and De Patientia and the Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas is striking. At St. Augustine's time, the Acts were still held in such esteem that he has to warn his listeners not to put them on a level with the canonical Scriptures (De anima et eius origine I, 10, 12).

This is an eyewitness account written around 203 CE.

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Kirby, Peter. "Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas." Early Christian Writings. <>.