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In A.D. 202, Emperor Septimius Severus disallowed conversions to Christianity. In the wake of that act, severe persecution broke out against Christians, particularly in North Africa.

Living in Carthage at the time was a young woman of nobility named Perpetua, age 22. She had been arrested for converting to Christianity and going to be water baptized. When she was arrested and placed into prison, she was still nursing her infant son.

In March of 203 A.D. she was lead into the amphitheater. Upon entrance in the arena she started to sing some of the Psalms. Her and the others were stripped naked and placed in nets. The crowd wanted them clothed, so they were given tunics to place over their bodies. The Egyptians unleashed a mad heifer on her that charged her and up ended her. Later a gladiator was sent to kill her. He struck her on the shoulder she screamed in pain, then she took the gladiators hand and signaled for him to slice her throat. He did.

In the writings about her they tell of a vision she had upon her arrest: "She saw a ladder going toward Heaven. On it before her she saw her pastor ahead of her. (He had been killed by a leopard prior to her killing) She said in the vision he said, 'Perpetua, I am waiting for you. But take care; do not let the dragon bite you.'

"'He will not harm me,' she said, 'in the name of Jesus.' Slowly, as though he were afraid of me, the dragon stuck his head out from underneath the ladder. Then, using it as my first step, I trod on his head and went up."

(Christian History, Issue 27 page 12-14)

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