Friday, March 13, 2015


St. James Theodore Holly was born on October 3, 1829, in Washington, DC, USA. He was one of the first three African-American bishops in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States and the first Episcopal Missionary Bishop of Haiti where he established many churches, hospitals, and schools over the course of 50 years.

He is the author of several books, lectures, and essays including a bound edition of FACTS ABOUT THE CHURCH’S MISSION IN HAITI: A CONCISE STATEMENT. He died at the age of 81 on March 13, 1911, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The Episcopal Church honors him on that date. However, some parishes transfer his feast day to November 8, the date of his consecration as bishop.

His grandfather was a former slave who moved his family from Maryland to Washington, DC, in 1799 to work construction on the new U.S. Capitol building when James’s father was 13 years old.

His father grew up to marry and raise James and his siblings in Washington, DC, as Roman Catholics:

The family attended Holy Trinity Church, Georgetown, as most conveniently situated to our residence, West 26th, Washington. I was baptized, confirmed, and made my first communion in that church.
FACTS, Page 6

James attended private and public school until at age 14 in 1844 he moved with his family to Brooklyn, NY, where he learned the shoemaker’s trade from his father along with his brothers.

In 1851, at age 22, James married Charlotte and withdrew from the Roman Catholic Church because the copy of his bible:

Although full of explanatory notes in the Roman Catholic sense, gradually weaned me away from the unscripted ways of that church.
FACTS, Page 6

He and Charlotte joined the Protestant Episcopal Church before moving to Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on the border with Detroit. James worked at a weekly newspaper called Voice of the Fugitive, and he helped organize the Amherstburg Convention of free blacks.

In 1854, he moved with his family to Buffalo, NY, and began working as the principal of a public school. That same year, James attended the first national Emigration Convention in Cleveland and became a commissioner of the National Emigration Board. Here his interest in Haiti became public action.

Haiti had been in the forefront of the news since 1804, when after a sustained slave revolt due to horrific conditions on sugar plantations; Haiti won its freedom from French rule and became its own nation under the leadership of the head rebel.

This news fascinated African American people at this time, many of whom suffered as slaves in the south or under heavy discrimination in the north. (Anna Julia Cooper wrote her doctoral thesis about French slavery and Haiti’s revolt in 1925. More recently, author Amy Wilentz wrote several books about Haiti’s history and modern condition. See below.)

About twenty years after the revolt, the American Colonization Society began helping thousands of African Americans to emigrate to Haiti where they could be free. However, many returned to the United States due to the difficult living conditions on Haiti.

In 1854 (seven years before the beginning of the American Civil War), James focused less on the harsh conditions and more on the idea of escaping the discrimination he and his social class suffered as free blacks and on building a new life for himself and his fellows. He traveled to Haiti to see if it was a suitable place for blacks to begin a new life, free of discrimination.

Finding it so, he returned and began sending requests for a missionary commission from the Board of Mission of the Episcopal Church, but was denied each time. Meanwhile, he entered seminary and was ordained a deacon on June 17, 1855, in Detroit, MI. He co-established the Union of Black Episcopalians to address discrimination against blacks in the Church. (About 40 years later, Anna Julia Cooper wrote about this situation as well.)

James was ordained a priest on January 2, 1856, in New Haven, CT. He served as rector of St. Luke’s Church in New Haven from 1856-1861. During that time, he made several trips to Haiti and gave and published lectures such as Vindication of the Capacity of the Negro Race for Self-Governance and Civilized Progress.

His many requests for missionary funding from the Episcopal Church and the U.S. Government were denied. Nevertheless, in 1861, he resigned as rector at St. Luke’s and traveled with his family and 110 African Americans (mostly from his former congregation) to Haiti.

He and his people were well received by the leadership of Haiti. James was named a citizen of Haiti after only two weeks.

Tragically, rampant disease and poor living condition did terrible damage to the group. Forty-three people died within months from yellow fever, typhoid, or malaria:

During the contagion, five members of my own household had been laid away in the silent tomb. Of my family of eight persons of which, when we sailed from New Haven, CT, on the 1st of May, 1861, I was the head, but the 1st of February, 1862, nine months after our arrival in Haiti, only three remained alive, myself and my two little sons, aged respectively three and five.”
FACTS, Page 9

Historic records show that James lost his wife, his mother, his daughter, and one of his sons. (The fifth family member’s identity is unknown, perhaps an infant, or James’s sister, sister-in-law or aunt.)

About half of the remaining group returned to the United States even though the American Civil War had started and it was a dangerous time and place.

It should also be noted that the United States was not free from epidemics of disease. For example, in 1878, St. Constance and her Companions became martyrs as they fought to care for the ill during a city-destroying outbreak of yellow fever in Memphis, TN.

Although James traveled regularly to the United States to request funding and for speaking engagements, he, his sons, and the other hardy emigrants created lives for themselves in Haiti. They also established churches, schools, and hospitals for their fellow citizens in need.

In 1865, the American Civil War ended and the Episcopal Board of Missions finally began to financially support his mission.

He particular focused on creating schools for pastoral training in order to spread the Word and staff the churches with Haitian clergy.

He served as consul for Haiti and Liberia from 1864-1874.

At some point, he married again. His second wife, Sarah Henley, and he had nine children.

In 1874, James earned a Doctorate of Divinity from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

On November 8 of that same year, he was consecrated Missionary Bishop of Haiti by the American Church Missionary Society, a branch of the Episcopal Church, at Grace Episcopal Church in New York.

Along with his family and dedicated missionaries, James Theodore Holly worked in Haiti (as well as Liberia and the Dominican Republic) caring for the body, mind, and especially spirit of his fellow citizens.

Bishop Holly died on March 13, 1911, and is buried on the grounds of St. Vincent’s School for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince. In 1936, the Haitian Government honored his memory with the National Order of Honor and Merit. Plans made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his death were postponed due to the terrible earthquake of January 12, 2010, the after effects of which continue to spread throughout the whole everything of Haiti.

Most gracious God, in his quest for life and freedom, James Theodore Holly led your people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom you call from every family, language, people, nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect, Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints



In order to understand the level of good created by Bishop James Theodore Holly in Haiti, one must understand Haiti, and to truly understand Haiti one might invest practically a life’s work. So, dear worthy readers, let’s just shoot for a general knowledge of Haiti. Something of which I was certainly lacking.

I found what I was looking for (and more, of course) in a book called, FAREWELL FRED VOODOO: A LETTER FROM HAITI by Amy Wilentz. This book is a work of history, literary non-fiction, and an autobiography all in one. I highly recommend it. It answered all of my questions about why Haiti is the way it is now. I’m embarrassed by my naiveté and my donations to at least one wrong charitable organization after the 2010 earthquake. I greatly appreciated being set straight by the author, and while I don’t necessarily share her deep cynicism after her 20-year relationship with Haiti, its condition, and its people, I totally get it.

First off, she delved into the history of an island whose native population was completely destroyed by invaders who established colonies and sugar plantations which they operated with the “unlimited” supply of fresh slaves from Africa to replace those they worked to death. Then, she describes the revolt of these slaves against France. Next, she discussed the greedy, cruel regimes that cared not so much for the actual people of Haiti. She also explained how all the foreign interference over the years caused many problems and continues to be of not much help, to say the least.

She explained that Fred Voodoo is a cliché name journalists had for the average Haitian citizen who isn't part of the tiny, but powerful, wealthy class. A few days after the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people, she was watching the news from her kitchen in Los Angeles, CA, shortly before she made the decision to travel back to Haiti herself:

That’s how the camera crews were shooting. You didn’t need to say Fred’s name in order to summon the sentiment, which is a kind of condescension filled with pity. . . Yo, the morgue is just a scene of damnation! Look how bad it is over here! Can you buh-lieve people are living like this? (That was always an aspect of Haiti coverage, but especially after the earthquake.) The objectification of the Haitians’ victimization - that’s one aspect of the Fred Voodoo syndrome. How beautiful the Haitians look in their misery; they always do. You can count on them.
FRED, Page 15

Here’s what she had to say about the collapsed buildings and houses that were assembled in a hodgepodge -- never quite finished, always adding on, with cement roofs being the norm:

Black Rouge doesn’t think about how things might have turned out if his house had been built to some code or standard. This is not because he is irresponsible or unthinking, but because he lives inside Haitian reality.

Since here there is no state as one thinks of it elsewhere, no long arm, no reach into the daily life of people, (except as a vacuum or omission, a negative force, a blank space), the idea of norms, standards, and regulatory control is not part of the common language. When such concepts are introduced, mostly just on theory, they are often batted away as just too expensive or difficult or as unacceptable intrusions or personal freedom.

In this way, Haiti can be seen as a libertarian’s dream. The lack of responsive government has understandable generated a civic tendency toward rejection of regulation. In many ways, Haiti feels like a country still in the throes of self-creation – something like the Wild West in the United States, little more than a century ago. That’s also why the country attracts so many rogues and speculators from the outside.
                                                                  Fred, Page 71

And aid workers -- Large aid organizations and people who are trying to reshape Haiti into their own vision. While acknowledging that much of the aid the country received, especially immediate after the earthquake was vital, the author believes that the massive amount of financial aid (much of it spent in lining the pockets of the already rich) has caused some serious problems with Haitian finances on a national as well as an individual basis.

Amy sees value in micro-aid organizations such as “little Protestant churches” with schools and medical clinics. Also of value are aid workers that are in Haiti for the long haul, people like Bishop James Holly and Dr. Megan Coffee.

Dr. Coffee is a specialist in infectious diseases who traveled to Haiti immediately after the earthquake and stayed because she was needed. She established a tuberculosis ward first out of tents and then in the building the hospital provided for the new department after she had shown that it was necessary. She and a team of nurses took expert care of the patients. Right after the earthquake, she was able to obtain lifesaving supplies through her friends in the United States. She also received funding from her social media fans to whom she tweeted about her challenges and observations in Haiti. She didn't live in the “safety” of the compound or eat in the hotels. She slept in borrowed housing and got herself to work in whatever transportation was the most convenient. She learned how to speak Kreyol (Creole).


I believe that Bishop James Holly would appreciate a traditional Haitian recipe for his feast day, so I’ll share the ones I learned from Dr. Megan Coffee and author, Amy Wilentz.

For many months after the earthquake, the only food the displaced people of Haiti had to eat in the tent camps was spaghetti with a particular kind of sauce they invented themselves.




1 pound uncooked spaghetti
4 tablespoons ketchup
4 tablespoons mayonnaise


 1. Boil spaghetti according to instructions on package.
 2. Divide into four servings.
 3. Add one tablespoon of ketchup and one tablespoon of mayonnaise to each serving.

The sós (sauce) is a necessary part of this recipe providing the same umami (Japanese for "yummy") flavor found in meat, according to the authors of THE COMPLETE VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK.

The other night, I tried it for myself. It was a pretty good snack that filled me up and kept me going while I prepared the next course of our dinner. But what if this was dinner tonight and tomorrow night and the next and the next?

This second recipe is a typical meal prepared by Haitian working-class families about nine months after the earthquake who were still living in the tent camp because of the delays in rubble removal and the rebuilding of their homes and work places.



4 cups cooked rice
1 tablespoon margarine
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can sardines (or one cup cooked beans or diced cooked chicken)


1. Cook rice according to package instructions. (1 cup uncooked rice equals 4 cups cooked rice.)
2. Melt butter in pan, sauté pepper and onion over medium high heat.
3. Add water, tomato paste, mayonnaise, thyme, salt and pepper.
4. Stir until mixed thoroughly.
5. Add sardines (or other protein).
6. Cook until heated through.
7. Serve over rice.

My family and I enjoyed this second course immensely. It was flavorful, varied, and nutritious. But what if the four of us had to share this meal on one plate with one spoon, and what if it was our only meal of the day?

This next recipe meal is really the main course of a dinner in the hotels where most of the foreign aid workers, wealthy class, and other foreigners eat at the end of the day. The dish would be served with bread, rice, salad, fruit, wine and dessert. It’s also served regularly in the homes of the wealthy class.



 1 beef bouillon cube
 2 tablespoons water
 3 cloves garlic, minced
 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
 1 teaspoon black pepper
 1 ½ pounds beef sirloin, cut into ½ inch cubes
10 wooden skewers, soaked in water for one hour
 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


 1. Crush and dissolve bouillon cube in water. (Heat water a little in microwave to make this easier.)
 2. Pour into bowl.
 3. Add garlic, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.
 4. Toss meat in marinade, cover.
 5. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours to marinate.
 6. Place about seven pieces of beef cubes on skewers.
 7. Coat each kebob with vegetable oil, either with a brush or by rolling each one in oil poured onto a plate.
 8. Preheat grill to high heat.
 9. Grill kebobs, turning frequently for about 12 to 15 minutes until cooked to taste.

Beef is much desired by the poor of Haiti who simply can’t afford it. But sometimes, they can afford to buy the street-vendors sausages made with some sort of meat or meat-by-products. Definitely not grilled beef, but pretty good with ketchup.

By the time my son finished grilling our beef kebobs for our third course, I was no longer hungry. But my family enjoyed it, so I'll probably make it again at some point.

But what if we ate less beef and redirected some of our grocery or dining out budget to a quality charity group working in Haiti?

What if?


Bonus Material:

TiKay Haiti - Tikay means "little house" in Haitian Kreyol and is the medical non-profit organization started by Dr. Megan Coffee and Haitian health care workers. Follow her on Twitter @doktecoffee.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


St. Perpetua was born some time around 181 A.D. in Carthage (modern-day Tunisia) in the Roman Province of Africa. A married Roman noblewoman with an infant son, she was martyred at the age of 22 with five companions around the year 203 on an unknown date. They are honored on March 7, in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal, and Lutheran Churches and on February 1 in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

St. Perpetua wrote of their experiences in prison, and then a close witness wrote of their deaths in the arena. These writings were edited and published in a work called, The Passion of St. Perpetua, St. Felicitas, and their Companions. Ancient manuscripts in both Latin and Greek survived the ages, as well many later copies and translations. St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) referred to this passion often in his own written works but also warned readers not to treasure this story more than the Passion of Jesus Christ in the Gospels.

St. Perpetua’s experiences are compelling and actually somewhat similar to Jesus’ experiences, especially the inconsistency of Roman bureaucracy and the furor of the crowd. The main difference is that these people died for Jesus whereas Jesus died for all people.

For a long period in history, the Roman Empire was strong and somewhat helpful to their citizens. But they often bumbled their dealings with Christians. Their policy changed depending on who was emperor and whether or not he was distracted by the battle with his successor. Each emperor had a different personal god. And whenever a new emperor defeated the last one, he’d demand that his subjects worship and make sacrifices to this new god. Most people did so with a shrug and a here-we-go-again attitude.

But Christians were like, no. That is against God’s law.

And each succeeding emperor handled Christians differently. Some let them do their thing because they worked hard, paid their taxes, and were obedient to the civil laws. Others regularly rounded them up and sold them into slavery. Others killed them outright. But they could not contain Christianity. (It wasn’t until during the life time of St. Nicholas of Myra in the year 324, that Emperor Constantine decreed an end to the persecution of Christians.)

The emperor of Perpetua's time, Septimus Severus, was wishy-washy. At first he did nothing to Christians. But then, in the year 202, he decreed that it was forbidden for anyone else to convert to Christianity. And that’s where Perpetua and her fellow catechumens come in.

Perpetua; two other citizens; Saturninus and Secundulus, and two slaves; Revocatus and Felicitas were arrested for preparing to be baptized as Christians. Their teacher, Saturus, turned himself in to the authorities so that he could stand together with his students.

At first they were held in a comfortable place, in which people tried to convince them to give up on Christ and just make the sacrifice to the emperor’s god already. Perpetua’s father was vehement in his argument, but to no avail. There is no mention of Perpetua’s husband. Some historians believe he was a silent member of their group, others believe that he distanced himself from Perpetua’s public shame.

Because the law stated that if you were already a Christian, you could practice Christianity, there was a priest available to baptize the group in water. And he was allowed to do so.

The ridiculous inconsistency was that the group was then punished for converting because of the emperor's decree that they were no longer allowed to do so. They were to be an example unto death in an effort to stop the spread of Christianity, unless, of course, they conveniently recanted.

When they were transferred to the dungeon, Perpetua wasn’t allowed to bring her baby.

Deacons, who ministered to and cared for them as best they could throughout their imprisonment, bribed the guards so that the group could spend some time outside the dungeon in a more open part of the prison and receive visitors:

Then going out of the dungeon, all attended to their own wants. I suckled my child, which was now enfeebled with hunger. In my anxiety for him, I addressed my mother and comforted my brother, and commended to their care my son. I was languishing because I had seen them languishing on my account. Such solicitude I suffered for many days, and I obtained for my infant to remain in the dungeon with me; and forthwith I grew stronger and was relieved from distress and anxiety about my infant; and the dungeon became to me as it were a palace, so that I preferred being there to being elsewhere.
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 1

One night, Perpetua had a vision in which she saw herself climbing a golden ladder with dangers on either side plus a dragon underneath. Her teacher, Saturus climbed ahead of her and told her to be careful as she climbed:

And I went up, and I saw an immense extent of garden, and in the midst of the garden a white-haired man sitting in the dress of a shepherd, of a large stature, milking sheep: and standing around were many white-robbed ones. And he raised his head, and looked upon me, and said to me, “Thou are welcome, daughter.” And he called me, and from the cheese as he was milking, he gave me as it were a little cake, and I received it with folded hands; and I ate it, and all who stood around said, “Amen.” And at the sound of their voices I was awakened, still tasting a sweetness which I cannot describe.
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 1

She realized that their imprisonment would end in a passion and death, and also that Saturus would die before her and lead the way to Heaven.

A few days later, her father visited again and appealed to her to renounce Christ and make the offering to the emperor’s god saying among other things:

“Have pity on your father; if I am worthy to be called a father by you . . . do not delivery me up to the scorn of men. Have regard to your brothers, have regard to your mother and aunt, have regard to your son, who will not be able to live after you. Lay aside your courage, and do not bring us all to destruction, for none of us will speak in freedom if you should suffer anything.”

And I grieved over the grey hairs of my father, that he alone of all my family would not rejoice over my passion, and I comforted him saying ‘On that scaffold, whatever God wills shall happen. For know that we are not placed in our power, but in that of God!
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 2

A few days later the local administrator had the prisoners taken to the town hall where a large group gathered to watch the proceedings. Perpetua’s father tried again to convince her to give up and just make the offering to the Emperor’s god.

She refused. And when asked by the judge if she was a Christian, she replied, “I am a Christian.”

Her father was publicly beaten. When he left, he took her baby with him. Perpetua and the rest of the group were condemned to death by wild beast in the arena and returned to the dungeon.

Perpetua asked her deacon, Pomponius, to ask her father to bring her baby to her. Her father refused. However, before she could fret, it came to her that:

God willed it that the child no longer desired the breast, nor did my breast cause me uneasiness, lest I should be tormented by care for my babe and the pain of my breasts at once.
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 2

She relaxed in knowing that her child would survive, safe and cared for by her mother and brother.

A few days later, she had another vision, in which she saw her brother who had died at age seven due to cancer on his face. She saw him disfigured and as ill as he was before he died. And she saw that he was thirsty but too short to reach over a high ledge to a pool of clear water no matter how hard he tried.

Perpetua took this as a sign to pray for her brother’s soul and she did so for several days.

Then, another vision showed her brother, cleansed and healthy with only a scar on his face. The pool was lower so he was able to dip a goblet into the water and drink as much as he wanted. Afterwards, she saw him run off to play like a typical child.

This is believed to be one of the earliest written witnesses showing that it's good and helpful to pray for the souls of the dead, especially those who died in torment.

That same day Perpetua and the rest of the group were shackled and transferred to the soldiers’ camp in preparation for the games in the arena in celebration of the emperor’s birthday.

In the camp prison, she wrote about another vision in which her teacher brought her to the arena to fight, not wild beasts, but a large soldier. She was helped by many people who dressed her for battle. As they did so, she transformed into a strong, male soldier. A certain man in purple robes, who looked like a gladiator trainer, came to the center and announced that if she won the fight, she would receive the branch that he held. She fought the soldier and smashed his face into the ground.

And the people began to shout, and my backers to exult. And I drew near to the trainer and took the branch; and he kissed me, and said to me, Daughter, peace be with you! And I began to go gloriously to the Sanavivarian gate (of the arena).

Then I awoke, and perceived that I was not to fight with beasts, but against the devil. Still, I knew that victory was awaiting me.

This so far, I have completed several days before the exhibition, but what passes at the exhibition itself let who will write.
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 3

Not only did this vision show her again that she was going to her death, it also showed her how important her death would be in the battle with evil.

The rest of the manuscript was completed by a witness who reported that Saturus also had a vision that shows them entering Heaven as a group in glory and vast welcome. (Some historians believe that it was actually Felicitas who spoke to the witness of this vision, but the editor changed it so that a man from the group would have some special attention.)

Secundulus died in prison before they were sent to the arena. He’s remembered as one of Perpetua’s companions and a martyr, nonetheless.

Felicitas suffered great distress because she was in her eighth month of pregnancy and believed that she would be separated from her fellows because it was against the law to publicly punish pregnant women. The others grieved also at the thought that they wouldn’t all go to God together. So they prayed until Felicitas went into labor, three days before the games.

It was a difficult birth and she cried out. An attendant told her that her childbirth pain was nothing compared to what would happen to her if she didn’t sacrifice to the emperor’s god. Felicitas replied:

Now it is I that suffer what I suffer; but then there will be another in me, who will suffer for me, because I also am about to suffer for Him.
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 5

She then gave birth to a healthy daughter, whom she placed in the gentle care of a Christian couple to raise as their own.

Although the prison guards were worried that the group would escape with the help of some “magic,” they treated the Christians humanely because they were not criminals and on some level or another they sensed their goodness. They even allowed them a last meal with their family and friends from the outside.

The scene was so jovial that many of the large party in attendance forgot that the group would die the next day. Saturus, set them straight:

Tomorrow is not enough for you, for you to behold with pleasure that which you hate. Friends today, enemies tomorrow. Yet note our faces diligently, that you may recognize them on that day of judgment.
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 5

The next day, Perpetua entered the arena with her eyes cast down so none could see how radiant they were. Felicitas entered with joy that she had safely delivered her daughter and was able to share in the battle. Revocatus, Saturninus, and Saturus called out to the crowd that they would be punished some day for taking part in this martyrdom.

Then the group turned to the judge and said, “Thou judgest us, but God will judge thee.”
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 6

The crowd demanded that the games begin.

Saturninus and Revocatus fought a bear and a leopard. The wild boar that was released to attack Saturus instead turned on his handler. The three men made it to the other side of the arena.

Perpetua and Felicitas were attacked by a savage cow in order to mock their motherhood. They were both tossed by the horns and landed hard on the ground. Perpetua sat up and retied her tunic for modesty’s sake and:

bound up her disheveled hair; for it was not becoming for a martyr to suffer disheveled hair, least she should appear to be mourning her glory. So she rose up; and when she saw Felicitas crushed, she gave her her hand, and lifted her up.
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 6

They regrouped on the other side of the arena where Perpetua seemed to come out of a trance having no memory of what just occurred. Her brother and another catechumen were seated nearby and told her. She looked down at her wounds and then said to them, 

“Stand fast in the faith, and love one another, all of you, and be not offended at my sufferings.”
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 6

The crowd who initially believed that the women had suffered enough, riled back up and shouted for the games to continue.

Saturus was then thrown to the leopard and was killed with one bite. The rest were called out to the middle of the arena by the crowd so that they could better see their deaths upon the sword:

“ . . . but first they kissed one another, that they might consummate their martyrdom with a kiss of peace. The rest, indeed, immoveable and in silence, received the sword-thrust; much more Saturus, who also had first ascended the ladder, and first gave up his spirit, for he also was waiting for Perpetua.

But Perpetua, that she might taste some pain, being pierced between the ribs, cried out loudly, and she herself placed the wavering right hand of the youthful gladiator to her throat. 

Possibly such a woman could not have been slain unless she herself had willed it, because she was feared by the impure spirit.
Passion of Perpetua, Chapter 6

O God the King of saints, you strengthened your servants Perpetua and Felicitas and their companions to make a good confession, staunchly resisting, for the cause of Christ, the claims of human affection, and encouraging one another in their time of trial: Grant that we who cherish their blessed memory may share their pure and steadfast faith, and win with them the palm of victory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.








St. Perpetua is now one of my favorite saints, with whom I recently had a helpful "conversation" in prayer. But I cannot really relate any of my life experiences to hers as my faith has never been so tested.

And even in motherhood, my son was not wrenched from my bosom as a nursing infant, he left for college as a young adult. 

So I offer instead these words on flavoring and sprinkles in the following recipe:  

Lemon has always been my go-to baking flavor because it’s a family tradition and is yummy. Lemon is also clean, invigorating and perfect for spring. But, we’re not quite there yet.

In its abundance and joyfulness, orange is the cheer we need right now. Orange reminds us of the celebration of Christmas embedded with the promise of Easter. 

Also, as shown in The Stigmata and Death of St. Francis of Assisi and Bereavement Elixir, orange helps replete during and after periods of grief and depression. Or winter.

The vibrancy of orange reminds us that when the sunshine of spring finally beams upon us, it’ll be warm, like a hug from your father.

But, if it’s spring already where you live, or if you just like lemon better, swap it out.

My grocery didn't have orange sugar sprinkles, but they did have orange Tiggers.


In honor of St. Perpetua (and her Companions), I offer this version of the tiny, sweetness-filled, cheese cake she received from the Shepherd in her vision.




½ cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
8 oz fresh ricotta
2 eggs

2 ¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder


2 cups powered sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice
½ teaspoon orange extract



 1. In a mixing bowl, blend butter and sugar.
 2. Add orange juice, vanilla, ricotta, and eggs. Mix together.
 3. In another bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir with fork.
 4. Slowly add the dry mix to the liquid mixture to form a sticky dough.
 5. Place in refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.


 6. Combine powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange extract.
 7. Beat. Set aside.
 8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
 9. Drop small spoonfuls of dough onto parchment paper placed on cookie sheets.
10. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until bottoms brown, or edges slightly brown.
11. Remove tray from oven. Quickly spread icing on each cookie while cookies are hot so that the icing melts down each one.

12. Shake sprinkles (or arrange your trinity of Tiggers) quickly and carefully onto the melting icing before it hardens.

13. Remove cookies from tray when cool.

Makes about 50 cookies.