This study traces the genealogy of Saint Perpetua's story with a straightforward yet previously overlooked question at its center: How was Perpetua remembered and to what uses was that memory put? One of the most popular and venerated saints from 200 CE to the thirteenth century, the story of Saint Perpetua was retold in dramatically different forms across the European Middle Ages. Her story begins in the arena at Carthage: a 22-year-old nursing mother named Vibia Perpetua was executed for being a Christian, leaving behind a self-authored account of her time in prison leading up to her martyrdom. By turns loving mother, militant gladiator, empathic young woman, or unattainable ideal, Saint Perpetua's story ultimately helps to trace the circulation of texts and the transformations of ideals of Christian womanhood between the third and thirteenth centuries.
Margaret Cotter-Lynch is Professor of English, Humanities, and Languages at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, USA. Her previous work includes Reading Memory and Identity in the Texts of Medieval European Holy Women, co-edited with Brad Herzog.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Remembering Perpetua
Chapter 1: The Passio Perpetuae
Chapter 2: The Acta Perpetuae
Chapter 3: Saint Augustine's Sermons on Perpetua
Chapter 4: Perpetua in the Early Middle Ages
Chapter 5: Perpetua in Medieval England
Chapter 6: Perpetua in Dominican Legendaries and the Legenda Aurea
Conclusion: Perpetua Remembered