Wednesday, March 7, 2007

St. Perpetua and her companions

Today is the feast-day of St. Perpetua and her companions, martyrs at Carthage, 203.
I have always been fascinated by the beast that was chosen as the instrument of the women's martyrdom. The Latin is ferocissima vacca: "a very fierce cow" or as other translations have it, "a mad heifer" or "a most savage cow."

You might say she was another victim of Mad Cow Disease...

To anyone who thinks that this bovine baddie is pretty small beer, I recall a most fiercesome cow I encountered as my companions and I hiked the Dingle Trail some years ago. We had gotten off course and decided to make our way across a field. Two placid cows stood, quietly chewing their cud, as we trudged through the gate. Midway across the field, we watched with horror as one of the cows suddenly charged towards us. We slogged as fast as we could through the soggy, pie-laden pasture, narrowly making through the opposite gate before the cow caught up. . .a narrow escape from that hellacious heifer.


Padre Mickey said...

I believe that Perpetua and Felicitas were tossed about by a wild steer, or at least that's what I claim in my version of the story.

Now, I've always wondered about those "killer seals" which threatened Thecla. What were they going to do, balance her on their noses?

Aghaveagh said...

Here's what the Passion of St. Perpetua, section 20 says:

"But for the women the devil had made ready a most savage cow, prepared for this purpose against all custom; for even in this beast he would mock their sex."


Now about those killer seals...