Now here was a Christian to be reckoned with ! ! ! ! and a woman to boot !
St. Felicity and her seven sons
Feast Day: July 10
Born/Died: Second century
Felicity was a noble Christian woman of Rome. After her husband's death, she served God by prayer and works of charity. Her good example led others to become Christians, too.
This angered the pagan priests (they worshipped false gods), who complained to Antoninus Pius, the emperor. They said Felicity was an enemy of the state because she was making the gods angry.
So the emperor had Felicity arrested. Her seven young sons were arrested with her. Like the mother of the Maccabees in the Old Testament, Felicity remained calm. The governor tried to make her sacrifice to the false gods but she absolutely refused.
They finally threatened to kill her sons one by one if she did not do as she was told. The governor said to her, "Unhappy woman, if you wish to die, die! But do not destroy your sons." And Felicity answered "My sons will live forever if, like me, they scorn the idols and die for their God."
This brave woman was forced to watch her sons being put to death. One was whipped, two were beaten with clubs, three beheaded and another drowned. Four months later, Felicity, too, was beheaded. Her strength came from her great hope that she would be with God and her sons in heaven.
St. Felicity, it could be said, was martyred eight different times as she had to watch each of her sons die. Then she too gave up her life for Jesus.
Reflection: Today we pray for people who watch their loved-ones suffer physically or emotionally. May they feel the strength and glory of the Risen Christ in their suffering.