In my opinion it was that Perpetua and Felicity were being punished for adhering to the Christian faith. In third century Carthage, a Roman province in North Africa, Emperor Septimus Severus forbids all citizens from adhering to the Christian or Jewish faith. Perpetua was a twenty two year old married noble and a mother of a young baby. Perpetua along with her slave Felicity and others were arrested for their Christian faith.
It is also easily arguable that Perpetua was also punished for subverting the cultural norms of Roman society. It was a time where women were expected to follow the rules put in place by men. Perpetua’s father tried to persuade her to renounce her faith in order to save herself and her child. Perpetua and Felicity were given a choice to disown Jesus in order to be freed. They refused. Perpetua disobeyed the law put in place by the emperor, and also disobeyed her father when he asked her to renounce her faith.
For the fact that they were disobeying orders it was believed by the rulers that they should be put to death. During this time period the people were expected to do what is told, think what they are told to think, and act like they are told to. Practicing Christianity was forbidden by the emperor and punished by execution.
The passion of Saint Perpetua and Felicity reveals that the Christian community of third- century Carthage was of strong faith. Faith that certainly was strong enough to face death by matters of execution. The catechumen that endured great pain during their imprisonment. It was their faith that kept them going.
Perpetua was said to be a woman of good family and upbringing. Since she is thought to be from a wealthy family she was then most likely well educated. An educated women that had good upbringing would be expected to follow traditional Roman forms of community.
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