Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Apprehensi sunt adolescentes catechumeni, Reuocatus et Felicitas, conserua eius, Saturninus et Secundulus. Inter hos et Vibia Perpetua, honeste nata, liberaliter instituta, matronaliter nupta, habens patrem et matrem et fratres duos, alterum aeque catechumenum, et filium infantem ad ubera. erat autem ipsa circiter annorum uiginti duo. haec ordinem totum martyrii sui iam hinc ipsa narrauit sicut conscriptum manu sua et suo sensu reliquit.

The young catechumens, Revocatus and his fellow-servant Felicitas, Saturninus and Secundulus, were apprehended. And among them also was Vivia Perpetua, respectably born, liberally educated, a married matron, having a father and mother and two brothers, one of whom, like herself, was a catechumen, and a son an infant at the breast. She herself was about twenty-two years of age. From this point onward she shall herself narrate the whole course of her martyrdom, as she left it described by her own hand and with her own mind.

Perpetua [Vibius family]
22 years

--- Slaves Revocatus and Felicity but not clear whose slave?
English translations

The ancient city of Carthage flourished until the Moslem conquest starting in 647. Hassan Ibn al Numan led in 698 AD a force of 40.000 soldiers and utterly destroyed it. After this catastrophe Carthage was abandoned as Tunis was established as the new capital. The ruins of Carthage are protected in a suburb of Tunis. Archaeological excavations continue there today with local and international scholars working on this important historical site with support from UNESCO

UNESCO tells that
The property comprises the vestiges of Punic, Roman, Vandal, Paleochristian and Arab presence. The major known components of the site of Carthage are the acropolis of Byrsa, the Punic ports, the Punic tophet, the necropolises, theatre, amphitheatrecircus, residential area, basilicas, the Antonin baths, Malaga cisterns and the archaeological reserve.
Archaeological Site of Carthage

Punic and Roman Carthage
The name Carthage (latin Carthago) comes from the Punic word Qart-ḥadašt meaning New City. In its heydays it was settled by Phoenicians building a "New Tyro" and was a leading cultural centre in Mediterranean. The name of Hannibal is still vividly remembered. Romans destroyed their competitor in the Third Punic War 146 BC.

The Romans later rebuilt Carthago and at the times of Jesus Christ it already was the second largest city in the Western side of the Empire. Carthage was a major harbour for African wheat to reach Rome. At its peak the Late Antiquity period city had half million inhabitants.

Donatians and Arians
Later in the Byzantine the good Christian citizens of Carthage had particular difficulties in following the lead of the Bishop of Rome. St. Augustine of Hippo waged serious theological battle with the followers of Bishop Donatius at the turn of fifth century AD. The Vandals invading the region in the 6th century AD had no difficulty in establishing their capital in Carthage which became the kingdom officially confessing Arian Christianity and persecuting trinitarians.

Did the history of ancient Carthagians and the long history of Roman occupation played any role in these theological choices?

Date of martyrdom
Accordingly, the birthday celebrations and day of martyrdom was March 7. This is the official day for St. Perpetua and St. Felicity in the Latin Church.

But which year?

The edict of Septimus Severus was given in 202 A.D. followed by a period of serious persecutions 202 - 215 AD. The death of St Perpetua and her fellow Christians is dated by some historians to May 7 203 A.D.

But Geta was made Augustus only in 209 A.D.

Their date of their martyrdom is traditionally given as 203 CE. The Severan Persecution of 202-203, was the first calculated attempt through edict to suppress Christianity across the empire. Thus, the martyrdom may have occurred in the aftermath of Septimus Severus’s decrees of 202 that forbade conversion to Judaism and Christianity. The association of the martyrdom with a birthday festival of the Emperor Geta, however, might seem to place it after 209, when Geta was made "Augustus" (having held the junior title Caesar since 198 when his elder brother had been made "Augustus"), though before 211, when he was assassinated. The Acta notes that the martyrdom occurred in the year when Minucius Timinianus was proconsul in the Roman province of Africa, but as Timinianus is not otherwise attested in history, this information does not clarify the date

Note, however, that St. Perpetua herself uses the term Caesar and not Augustus.

First Marcomanic War
Miracle of the Water
legio XII Fulminate

In 173, the Romans campaigned against the Quadi, who had broken their treaty and assisted their kin, and defeated and subdued them. During this campaign, a famous incident, the so-called "miracle of the rain", occurred, which was later depicted on the column of Marcus Aurelius and on coins. According to Cassius Dio, the legio XII Fulminata was hemmed in by a superior Quadi force and almost forced to surrender because of the heat and thirst. They were saved, however, by a sudden shower, which refreshed the Romans, while lightning struck the Quadi. Contemporaries and historians attributed it to divine intervention: Dio stated that it was called by an Egyptian magician praying to Mercury, while Tertullian attributed it to a prayer by Christians.

In the same year, Didius Iulianus, the commander of the Rhine frontier, repelled another invasion of the Hermunduri, while in the Gallia Belgica wikipedia

Susan Raven
 Some authorities have seen in the cruelty of the amphitheatre, in which criminals as well as Christians were torn to death by wild animals, not only a pandering to the bloodthirsty tastes of the onlookers and the reassurance (however illusory) of seeing justice publicly meted out in an ill-policed age, but a revival of the long tradition of human sacrifice. Wild beasts were sacred to the gods, and wore religious ornaments in the arena; their victims were sent to meet them either naked or in the costume of priests, so that their ordinary clothes should not profane the gods. A more ancient superstition hovered in the background: the games took place at set times of the year, ostensibly to celebrate the Emperor's anniversary or victories, but perhaps also to renew the fertility of the earth, and to placate the unknown forces of nature.

The Christian martyrs were, in a sense, the accomplices of their persecutors. Just as the Punic religion had taught that sacrificial victims became divine, so for them death in the arena was a certain passport to paradise. Martyrdom was already and was to remain, an important part of African Christianity.

in her single-minded courage Perpetua is of the company of Dido and Sophoishba and the wife of the defending commander of beleaguered Carthage.

Passion of St Perpetua and her companions, written... is one of the most moving documents in the history of African Christianity

Cyprian (Latin: Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus) (died September 14, 258) was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education. After converting to Christianity, he became a bishop in 249 and eventually died a martyr at Carthage.

Was born near the time St Perpetua died and became Christian partly by reading Tertullian.

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