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Vibia Perpetua – Christian martyr

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Vibia Perpetua with her son
Vibia Perpetua with her son | Photo: Enric | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Vibia Perpetua lived at the turn of the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE. She came from a wealthy Roman home, and her parents professed various faiths: her father was a pagan, and her mother was a Christian. Vibia went down in history as a Christian martyr from Carthage.

It is worth mentioning that the beginning of the 3rd century CE this is the time of the reign of Septimius Severus was characterized by the persecution of Christians. The local authorities did not forcefully search for Christians, but when a follower of Christ was discovered, he was ordered to deny Jesus and offer a sacrifice to Roman gods. If he did not, he was sentenced to execution. Moreover, in 202 CE Severus issued an ordinance that prohibited the adoption of the Christian and Jewish faith and assembly, which increased the repression of these groups.

In 203 CE 22-year-old Vibia, along with other believers, was captured near Carthage and thrown into prison. She was breastfeeding at that time, so other followers brought her baby to the jail so that she could feed him. A woman’s diary titled “The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity” has survived to our times, in which we learn about the woman’s thoughts and her visions before her execution. The aforementioned Felicita was a pregnant slave who gave birth to a child in prison and shared Perpetua’s fate in the arena.

Vibia – as she herself says – her father visited the prison, who was supposed to ask: “Spare your father’s grey hairs; spare the infancy of the boy. Make sacrifice for the Emperors’ prosperity”. However, the request was not heard by the woman. Finally, Vibia, being at the last hearing with the prosecutor’s office, when asked if she was a Christian, was to answer: Christiana sum (“I am a Christian”). Vibia, like other Christians, was condemned to be killed by wild animals in the arena. However, when the beasts were admitted, they lay down at their feet. The furious prosecutor ordered everyone to be killed with the sword.

  • Beard Mary, SPQR. Historia starożytnego Rzymu, Poznań 2016
  • The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity

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