The document The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity” shows how mighty and fearless the faith of the martyrs was in Rome around 203 A.D., during which our story takes place.
During the rule of Diocletian, Christianity was not the popular religion. Many Romans practiced polytheism. As a result, numerous Christian believers were persecuted for their faith in God. Surprisingly, the Christian martyrs did not care that they were sentenced to death. They believed that by dying for what they believed, it would only bring them closer to God and the Gates of Heaven. The document states, For this cause have we devoted our lives, that we might do no such thing as this; this we agreed with you” (para).
18). To the martyrs, nothing was more important than fulfilling God’s duties. The martyrs in the document take on the role of mediator between God and man, spreading the Word of God to the masses of people and relaying his holy message. In a sense, they take on the role of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Perpetua, one of the martyrs, when confronted about her faith by her father, retorts, I am Christian” (para).
Another martyr, Felicity, confidently defended her faith and proclaimed it openly by stating, Stand fast in the faith, and love one another; and do not be offended because of our passion” (para. 20). This statement portrays the martyrs’ general attitude towards their faith and how they embraced the lifestyle of Christ and his teachings without fear of death.
The way these martyrs died is a crucial element in the rise of Christianity. When Christian martyrs were sentenced to death, they were not executed in a private manner, but rather were tormented and killed publicly, allowing all the citizens of Rome to witness the account. The officials of the Roman government hoped that by making the martyrs’ execution public, it would deter others from joining the religion and moving away from the traditions of Roman life, which secured the wealth and social status of the Roman elite. Despite the cruelty of the gladiator contest, the citizens of Rome wanted to witness the brutal torment of these martyrs in the expectation that they would give up their proclaimed faith, in fear of death. However, regardless of the Roman officials’ and citizens’ intentions, the martyrs, in fact, viewed death as the Gateway to Heaven, thus making the act of dying more appealing to them.
In early Christian perception, the boundary between supernatural and natural was one’s willingness to die for their faith. Throughout the document, the martyrs are regarded as saintly and embodying the Holy Spirit entirely. They would give up their life on earth for the chance to live in heaven. This sacrifice was considered something beyond a person’s natural state and thus supernatural.