St. Perpetua and Felicity– 7th March. Perpetua and Felicity were Christian Martyrs of the third century. Vibia Perpetua was a well educated married noble woman said to have been 22 years of age when she was martyred for her beliefs. She was imprisoned during the reign of the Emperor Septimus Severus for refusing to denounce her Christian faith, at the time of her incarceration she was nursing a small infant. Perpetua was imprisoned with several other Christians including Felicity a slave who was with child. Both Perpetua and Felicity were believed to be Catechumens at the time of their imprisonment but were baptized before there execution. They were martyred at the military games in celebration of the Emperors birthday and thrown in to the arena with wild beasts. However the crowd pitied these two women so eventually they were taken out of the ring and killed by the power of the sword .Perpetua while in prison began to receive messages from God and was gifted with the “Lords Speech “. Her Father desperately urged her to give up her faith for the sake of her life, she replied that she could not call herself any other name but a Christian. Her lasts words were “Stand fast in the faith and love one another”. Both these women are patron saints of mothers and expectant mothers.
St John of God– 8th March. St John was born Joao Duarte Cidade in a small district of Evora in Portugal to a devout religious family in 1495. When he was 8 years old he felt a calling from God and ran away. Finding himself orphaned in the streets of Oropesa in Toledo he was kindly taken in by an affluent landowner . John spent his time tending the farmers sheep but eventually joined a company of foot soldiers fighting for the roman emperor Charles V .He then went back to his pastoral life in Oropesa for 4 years but was compelled to join the army again where he served in different parts of Europe for 18 years .Cidade felt a deep desire to see Africa and set out for the Portuguese territory of Ceuta, feeling a deep desire to reconnect with his faith he entered a Franciscan friary where he was encouraged to return to Spain. Back in Andulucia he experienced a vision of the infant Jesus who bestowed on him the name “john of God ” directing him to go to Granada. Here in Granada, after hearing St John of Avila Preach he had a nervous breakdown and began repenting fervently for his former life, St John encouraged him to serve God by caring for the poor and sick and became his religious adviser. Eventually he set up a house to care for the poor and ill and established the religious foundation known as “The Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God ” that quickly became established throughout Europe. John Died in Granada in 1550 and was canonized by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690. He is the patron saint of hospitals, booksellers and the mentally ill.
The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste– 10th March. The Holy Forty were a group of Christian Roman soldiers that were martyred for their faith near the city of Sebaste (present day Sivas in Turkey) They were victims of the persecutions of the Emperor Licinius who after 316 began persecuting Christians in the east. The earliest account of their existence and martyrdom was given by Bishop Basil of Caesarea in a homily delivered on the feast of the 40 Martyrs. The 40 soldiers who had openly confessed their faith were sentenced by the prefect of the time to be exposed naked on a frozen pond on a bitterly cold night. Among the group one of the soldiers yielded and headed for the warm baths that had been prepared for those who cracked under the pressure. However one of the guards keeping watch over the 40 saw a brilliant light descend over them, immediately he converted to the faith taking off his clothes and joining them in their suffering for Christ. Thus the number 40 remained complete. At day break the rigid bodies some of them still showing signs of life were burned and their ashes thrown in to the river. The Christians collected their precious remains and the relics of the 40 were distributed through many cities. Numerous Churches were erected in their honour including a church at Caesarea in Cappadocia where Bishop Basil gave his sermon.