September 27th, 2009
India Ink, pencil, watercolor pencils
Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity's Feast day is on March 7th
Here is my Saint Perpetua for ~Not-a-Great-Artist
. Sorry this took so long. It has been sitting on my desk mostly sketched for a while now. Last night I finally decided, hey, might as well finish this one.
It was interesting to draw Saint Perpetua by herself, because often she is mentioned in the same breath with Saint Felicity. So, some of the symbolism and then her background. The palm branch in her hand is the common symbol of victory, in this case, the martyr's victory. She also holds in her arms a gladius and a whip. The whip because in the ampitheatre where they were martyred they were first scourged and then wild beasts were let out upon them. Saint Perpetua was finally killed when a nervous gladiator thrust his sword into her neck after she had been gored and tossed by a wild cow. Her crown of red roses symbolizes the martyr's crown. The backgrund comes from a vision Saint Perpetua had while she was in prison: I saw a golden ladder of wonderful length reaching up to heaven, but so narrow that only one at a a time could go up; and on the sides of the ladder were fastened all kinds or iron weapons. And at the foot of the ladder was a huge dragon or 'serpent' which lay in wait for those going up and sought to frighten them from making the ascent. Now the first to go up was Saturus, who had given himself up of his own accord for our sakes, because our faith was of his own building and he had not been present when we were arrested. He reached the top of the ladder, and turning, said to me, 'erpetua, I wait for you, but take care lest the dragon bite you,' and I said, 'In the name of Jesus Christ, he will not hurt me.' And the dragon put out his head gently, as if afraid of me, just at the foot of the ladder; and as though I were treading on the first step, I trod on his head. And I went up and saw a large garden, and sitting in the midst a tall man with white hair in the dress of a shepherd, milking sheep; and round about were many thousands clad in white. And he raised his head and looked upon me and said, 'Welcome, child.' And he called me and gave me some curds of the milk he was milking, and I received it in my joined hands and ate; and all that were round about said Amen. At the sound of the word I awoke, still eating something sweet...
Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity were recent converts to Christianity in Carthage, and were arrested. They were martyred on March 7th, 203 A.D.
You can read all about their sufferings in her account of her martyrdom, "The Passion of Saint Perpetua and Companions" [link]