Martyrdom of St. Perpetua
March 7th is the Feast of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, two Christian martyrs of the early 3rd century. Having been raised Catholic, I grew up well versed in tales of martyrdom. However, when I started my studies in theology, this martyrdom was the first that I considered with a critical mind. It set off my skepticism towards the veneration of saints and led me to the study of mystical phenomenology.
I see Perpetua as the principle protagonist of the narrative. For me, she is both heroic and villainous, tragic and pathetic. She provokes from me a sense of love/hate. She expresses both admirable and detestable qualities of religious devotion.
In the mid-90s, I wrote a short story about martyrdom in an attempt to articulate this ambiguity. It was never published, but I occasionally play with the idea of attempting a rewrite. Hopefully, my advanced age has brought with it advanced wisdom. ;-)
Here is a link to Perpetua's Wikipedia page.
Here's an on-line English early Christian text: The Passion of the Holy Martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas
Here's a video of the Perpetua's Dream of the Golden Ladder, albeit is kid cartoon style: