Or rather, two, indeed, three. My admiration for SS Perpetua and Felicitas whose memoria we keep today can be traced through this blog and its predecessor, e.g. here, but I have a very personal reason for keeping these two great martyr saints in mind. Eleven years ago to the day, a wet and windy Ash Friday 2003, three companions and I set out from Stanbrook Abbey, Worcester, not knowing where the Lord would take us but determined to follow wherever he would lead. The oldest among us was D. Teresa Rodrigues who had spent more than fifty years as a nun of Stanbrook but who retained to the end great determination and fidelity to her vocation. She is the third valiant woman I recall today.
For SS Perpetua and Felicitas there was the red martyrdom of blood — and what a martyrdom it was! Their Passio is among the most thrilling and complex works to have survived from early Christianity. For D. Teresa there was the slower, ‘white martyrdom’ of monastic life, lived out in daily fidelity to Rule and observance, and in the little things that mark our lives. The names of the Carthaginians echo down the ages; D. Teresa’s will probably be forgotten; but all three are great encouragements to us as make our Lenten journey. They are the type of the valiant woman; and valour is not something strange or alien, it is a necessary part of the Christian life. We need courage; we need constancy; above all, we need to keep our eyes fixed, as they did, on our goal, the Easter of the Lord.
Today is also the Women’s World Day of Prayer.