Pick ONE of these ancient accounts of martyrdom and analyze how the martyr(s) in the story imitate(s) Christ’s Passion, citing specific examples from the text to support your answer. How does the martyr view his/her impending death? How might the example of the martyr’s courage, calm—and even joy—in the face of death have encouraged and sustained other Christians facing potential martyrdom? What transformations occur in and through the martyr’s death (e.g., in the martyr’s body, in the lives of Christians and non-Christians who witnessed the martyr’s death)?
I chose to analyze and compare “The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas” to Christ’s Passion. In many ways the Perpetua’s story reminds me of different aspects of Christ’s life beyond His Passion. For example, the reoccurring visits from her father to dissuade her from proclaiming to be a Christian remind me of Jesus’ encounters with the temptations of the Devil. While it is said that her father is “moved with love for her,” his goal is for Perpetua to renounce God for the well being of her family. She steadfastly holds to her beliefs and is soon shown confirmation of her salvation in a series of visions.
With these visions, Perpetua and Saturus were certain of what they had to do, much like how Jesus was well aware of the time and manner of His death. Both welcomed what was to come calmly and dutifully. Pudens, a man in charge of the prison realized their great power and showed them favor. It is specifically said that he is transformed into a Christian through his experiences with Perpetua and Saturus. This reminded me of Pontius Pilate’s hesitation to condemn Jesus. A great feast of love was held on the eve of their deaths perhaps similarly to the Last Supper? They, like Jesus, were taunted and forced to dress clothing to mock them. As Jesus was dressed as the King of the Jews and crowned with thorns, Perpetua and Saturus were clothed in the robes of the priests and priestesses of false gods. The most evident parallel between these martyrs and Jesus’ Passion is their purpose. “These things should not disturb you but rather strengthen you.” Saturus says this to explain the predictions that were coming true. It is done to provide strength and foundation to doubters, believers, and other martyrs. They sacrificed themselves to provide an example and save more in the future. As Jesus was the suffering Messiah, they were suffering martyrs. Their courage was to give hope and strength to other Christians and martyrs so that they too can remain faithful to God and his promise of eternal life.