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THE JEWISH WAR
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ANTIQUITIES
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Ant. Jud., Bk 7
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The Acts of Paul and Perpetua


As Paul was being led away to be beheaded at a place about three miles from the city, he was in irons. And there were three soldiers guarding him who were of a great family. And when they had gone out of the gate about the length of a bow-shot, there met them a God-fearing woman; and she, seeing Paul dragged along in irons, had compassion on him, and wept bitter tears. The woman was called Perpetua; and she was one-eyed.

Paul, seeing her crying, said to her: Give me your handkerchief, and when I turn back I shall give it to you. And she, having taken the handkerchief, gave it to him willingly. And the soldiers laughed, and said to the woman: Why do you wish, woman, to lose your handkerchief? Do you not know that he is going away to be beheaded? And Perpetua said to them: By the health of Caesar I beg you to bind his eyes with this handkerchief when you cut off his head. And this was done, when they beheaded him at the place called Aquae Salviae, near the pine tree. And as God had willed, before the soldiers came back, the handkerchief, having on it drops of his blood, was returned to the woman. And as she was carrying it, immediately her eye was opened.

The three soldiers who had cut off the head of Saint Paul, when after three hours they came on the same day with the bulla, bringing it to Nero, having met Perpetua, they said to her: What is it, woman? Behold, by your confidence you have lost your handkerchief. But she said to them: I have both got my handkerchief, and my eye has recovered its sight. And as the Lord, the God of Paul, lives, I also have entreated him that I may be deemed worthy to become the slave of his Lord. Then the soldiers who had the Bulla, recognising the handkerchief, and seeing that her eye had been restored, shouted loudly, as if from one mouth: We too are the servants of Paul's master. Perpetua therefore having gone away, reported in the palace of the emperor Nero that the soldiers who had beheaded Paul said: We shall no longer go into the city, for we believe in Christ whom Paul preached, and we are Christians.

Then Nero, filled with rage, ordered Perpetua, who had informed him about the soldiers, to be fastened in irons; he ordered that one of the soldiers be beheaded outside of the gate about one mile from the city, another to be cut in two, and the third to be stoned. In the prison where Perpetua was held, a noble maiden named Potentiana was also held, because she had said: I forsake my parents and all the wealth of my father, and I wish to become a Christian. She therefore joined herself to Perpetua, and ascertained from her everything about Paul, and was in much anxiety about the faith in Christ. And Potentiana's sister was the wife of Nero; and she secretly told her about Christ, that those who believe in him see everlasting joy, and that everything here is temporary, but there eternal; with the result that she fled from the palace, and some of the senators' wives with her.

Then Nero, having inflicted many tortures on Perpetua, at last tied a great stone to her neck, and had her thrown over a precipice. And her remains lie at the Nomentana gate. And Potentiana also underwent many torments until at last, having made a furnace, they burned her.