St. Felicity and her seven sons
Felicity was a noble Christian woman of Rome. She lived during the second century. After her husband's death, she served God by prayer and works of charity. Her good example led others to become Christians, too. This angered the pagan priests, who complained to Antoninus Pius, the emperor. They said Felicity was an enemy of the state because she was making the gods angry. So the emperor ordered Felicity arrested. Seven young men were arrested with her. It is believed that they were her sons. Like the mother of the Maccabees in the Old Testament, Felicity remained calm. The governor tried in vain to make her sacrifice to the gods. He ended with the words, "Unhappy woman, if you wish to die, die! But do not destroy your sons."
"My sons will live forever if, like me, they scorn the idols and die for their God," Felicity answered. This brave woman was forced to watch her sons being put to death. One was whipped, two were beaten with clubs, three beheaded and another drowned. Four months later, Felicity, too, was beheaded. Her strength came from her great hope that she would be with God and her sons in heaven.
St. Felicity, it could be said, was martyred eight different times. This is because she had to watch each of her sons die. Then she too gave up her life for Jesus.
Today we pray for people who watch their loved-ones suffer physically or emotionally. May they feel the Risen Christ in their suffering.