Perpetua was a young widow, mother of an infant and owner of several slaves, including Felicity. Together they were catechumens preparing for baptism.
In 202 AD, Emperor Septimius Severus decreed that all persons should sacrifice to the divinity of the emperor. There was no way that a Christian, confessing faith in one Lord Jesus Christ, could do this. Perpetua and Felicity were arrested and held in prison. At the public hearing before the proconsul, Perpetua refused even the pleas of her father, saying “I am a Christian.” They were sent to the arena in Carthage and given to the wild beasts.
Before she died, Perpetua cried out to the other Christians “Stand fast in the faith and love one another, and do not let what we suffer be a stumbling block to you.”
Thus we have the account of the first women martyrs on our calendar of saints.