"I Should Fight, Not With Beasts, But Against the Devil": The Passion of Perpetua

On March 7, 203, Perpetua fought with the beasts in the arena of Carthage just weeks after her baptism as a Christian. She and her maid Felicity and four companions had been arrested and convicted on the charge of being Christians. Perpetua left behind a prison diary recording the events of her arrest, trial, imprisonment, and martyrdom.[i] This diary, unusual in giving a first-person account of martyrdom, is also notable as the earliest writing known to be written by a Christian woman. It provides glimpses into early Christianity in North Africa and the meaning of martyrdom in the early Christian church. The document, known as The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, has three parts: the prison diary by Perpetua, “written with her own hand and in her own words,” a prologue and epilogue written by an unknown hand (possibly Tertullian, her contemporary in Carthage), and an unknown eyewitness who writes of the martyrdom itself. 


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/article/beverly-beem/2012/03/07/i-should-fight-not-beasts-against-devil-passion-perpetua