Felicitas and Her Seven Sons

Posted: March 3, 2012 by revivalbiblestudy315 in Persecuted Church

When Emperor Antoninus Pius resumed the persecution of Christians in Rome, many pagans complained to him of a prominent Christian widow named Felicitas. She and her seven sons, Januarius, Felix, Philippus, Sylvanius, Alexander, Vitalis and Martialis, had brought many to Christ. The emperor turned the case of Felicitas and her sons over to Publius, the chief magistrate of Rome.

Publius knew that Felicitas was a highly respected woman, and he wanted to spare her life. He called the family to a private meeting at his house and offered them compliments and promises, hoping they would recant their faith. Finally, after failing to get the desired results, Publius threatened them. Felicitas responded by saying, “I am neither moved by thy flatteries and entreaties, nor am I intimidated by thy threats; for I experience in my heart the working of the Holy Ghost, which gives me a living power, and prepares me for the conflict of suffering, to endure all that thou mayest lay upon me, for the confession of my faith.” She then turned to her sons and encouraged them to remain steadfast in the Lord.

Filled with rage, Publius ordered Felicitas beaten. He met with each of the sons individually, hoping to persuade them to recant. Januarius, the oldest son, was the first to meet with the magistrate. He told him, “You advise me to do a thing that is very foolish, and contrary to all reason; but I confide in my Lord Jesus Christ, that he will preserve me from such impiety.” The younger brothers responded similarly. Publius reported to the emperor that the entire family refused to sacrifice to Roman gods and refused to deny Christ. Emperor Antoninus condemned all eight of them to death, ordering that Felicitas die last so she would be forced to witness her sons’ deaths.

Januarius was beaten to death with cords and ropes that had balls of lead attached. Felix and Philippus were beaten to death with rods. Sylvanius was thrown headfirst off a precipice. Alexander, Vitalis and Martialis were beheaded. Felicitas, who never recanted her faith, was executed four months later.

Reprinted from Voice of the Martyrs. Sources: The Martyrs Mirror, The New Encyclopedia of Christian Martyrs


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