Marie Hause, Katie Grubbs, and guest Ana Kelsey-Powell discuss The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity. Topics include martyrdom in relation to gender, suffering, and motherhood.

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An online version of the The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity can be found here. Quotes in the episode are from the Heffernan translation


  • summary of The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity
  • where we encountered the text and why it’s important


  • Perpetua’s fourth vision, in which she says “I became man”
    • Pomponius conducting her to the arena, through a wilderness; the stripping of her clothes, revealing a male body; detailed description of the hand-to-hand fighting; Perpetua’s triumph
    • What are the implications of this scene?
  • the way the text presents martyrdom
    • What is the purpose of martyrdom? Personal glorification or evangelism
    • Witness as heart of martyrdom
    • Cynical lens
    • Understanding witness accounts as true “seed of the church” – Tertullian
  • family and motherhood in connection to martyrdom
    • Christian community/identity vs. biological family; queer interpretations
    • motherhood vs. martyrdom; devaluing of suffering in motherhood
    • the text’s lactation motif

Passing On


Image: detail from the Menologion of Basil II

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