And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
– Revelation 6:9-11
Excerpted from the book, Martyrs’ Mirror, by Theileman J. van Braught
COMPILED FROM VARIOUS AUTHENTIC CHRONICLES, MEMORIALS, AND TESTIMONIES
Translated from the original Dutch or Holland Language from the Edition of 1660 BY JOSEPH F. SOHM
[The year was] 164 A. D.
Felicitas was a Christian widow at Rome, and had seven sons, whose names were Januarius, Felix, Philippus, Sylvanus, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martialis. These lived together with their mother in one house, as an entire Christian church. Of the mother it is stated, that by her Christian communion, (conversation) which she had with the Roman women, she converted many to Christ. The sons, on their part, also acquitted themselves well by winning many men to Christ.
Now, when the heathen priests complained of this to Antonius, the Emperor – who had resumed the persecution which had begun with Trajan, but had subsided – saying, that there were not only men, but also women, who blasphemed the gods, despised their images, trampled under foot the Emperor’s worship of the gods, yea, turned away many from the old religion of the Romans; that this was principally done by a certain widow, named Felicitas, and her seven sons, and that, therefore, in order to prevent this, they must be compelled to give up Christ, and sacrifice to the gods, or, in case they should refuse to do so, be put to death, the Emperor, prompted or instigated hereby, gave to Publius, the provost, or chief magistrate of Rome, full authority over them.