The Martyrdom of Perpetua: read the earliest Christian writing by a female

Perpetua-21In my last post in our series on Women and the Church, I mentioned a young girl named Perpetua, who was martyred in Carthage in about 202 or 203 CE. Her prison diary, written in the days leading to her public and violent death, is still the earliest known piece of Christian writing we have by a female. She was 22-years old when she died.

And so, as we head into Palm Sunday weekend, I thought I’d share this work of hers with you. It is a stunning, beautiful, and passionate work.

The bulk of her diary consists of her father trying to convince her to abandon Christianity, as well as her visions and dreams she has to encourage the other prisoners around her. As she is sent off to die, she entrusts the diary to an unnamed individual who picks up the story from there and describes her dramatic death. This individual also added a brief introductory paragraph.

I hope and pray that the example and visions of Perpetua will speak deeply to us, in the midst of our own pain, weakness, and sorrow.

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