March 7th is the commemoration of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, two martyrs of the Early Church, who died in Carthage in the year 203. Something that makes their story very special in the memory of the Church is the fact that much of it was written autobiographically by Perpetua herself, making it one of the oldest surviving pieces of writing by a Christian woman. (That is assuming the document is authentic… manuscript history isn’t always easy to nail down precisely, but the authenticity of this account is not widely disputed today.)
Feel free to take the time today to give it a read!
There’s something very appropriate to starting off the season of Lent with a martyrdom story like this. We are endeavoring to grow in love and service to our Lord Jesus through this time, motivated by love and strengthened especially by the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving, so it can be rather sobering to be reminded up front the sheer cost of discipleship and spiritual discipline for many of our forebears. It’s one thing to give up chocolate for 40+ days in the name of Jesus; it’s quite another thing to give up your earthly life in the name of Jesus.