© 2016

Saint Perpetua across the Middle Ages

Mother, Gladiator, Saint


Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Margaret Cotter-Lynch
    Pages 1-13
  3. Margaret Cotter-Lynch
    Pages 15-42
  4. Margaret Cotter-Lynch
    Pages 43-61
  5. Margaret Cotter-Lynch
    Pages 63-86
  6. Margaret Cotter-Lynch
    Pages 87-111
  7. Margaret Cotter-Lynch
    Pages 113-135
  8. Margaret Cotter-Lynch
    Pages 137-153
  9. Margaret Cotter-Lynch
    Pages 155-156
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 163-176

About this book


This study traces the genealogy of Saint Perpetua’s story with a straightforward yet previously overlooked question at its center: How was Perpetua remembered and to what uses was that memory put? One of the most popular and venerated saints from 200 CE to the thirteenth century, the story of Saint Perpetua was retold in dramatically different forms across the European Middle Ages. Her story begins in the arena at Carthage: a 22-year-old nursing mother named Vibia Perpetua was executed for being a Christian, leaving behind a self-authored account of her time in prison leading up to her martyrdom. By turns loving mother, militant gladiator, empathic young woman, or unattainable ideal, Saint Perpetua’s story ultimately helps to trace the circulation of texts and the transformations of ideals of Christian womanhood between the third and thirteenth centuries.


Medieval gender Women’s hagiography St. Perpetua Feminist theology St. Felicity antiquity cultural theory culture Europe gender history history of literature literary theory literature Middle Ages social science sociology World Literature

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English, Humanities, and LanguagesSoutheastern Oklahoma State UniversityDurantUSA

About the authors

Margaret Cotter-Lynch is Professor of English, Humanities, and Languages at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, USA. Her previous work includes Reading Memory and Identity in the Texts of Medieval European Holy Women, co-edited with Brad Herzog.

Bibliographic information