St Felicity of Rome: The Highly Venerated Martyr of Italy
Italy is a highly religious country. It is home to Vatican, the Pope, and the Holy See, making it a sacred place for the Catholic believers from around the world. However, Catholics are not the only ones who consider Italy a sacred land. For many centuries, Orthodox Christians have also sought to come here to worship temples and shrines, many of which occupy an essential place in the religion left to us by Byzantium – the younger sister of Rome. Thus, the Italian capital is known for a significant number of Catholic reliquaries deeply venerated by the faithful. For example, St Felicity of Rome is one of the most known Catholic saints worshipped in Italy. The life of this holy martyr ended in 164 AD. In the Orthodox Church, her memory is commemorated on February 7 (January 25, Julian calendar), while the Catholic Church cherishes Felicity’s life on November 23.
St Felicity of Rome came from a wealthy family. As an adult, she gave birth to seven sons: Januarius, Felix, Philip, Sylvanus, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martialis. During the formation of Christianity, Felicity was accused by pagan priests of spreading the Christian faith. Having distributed all her possessions, the holy martyr openly went out to preach Christianity together with her sons. Unfortunately, Felicity and her sons were put to torment for such a sincere adherence to faith.
Seeing the sufferings of her loved children, St Felicity of Rome asked the Lord that they would withstand this horrible torture and enter the Kingdom of Heaven before her. All the children of the Italian saint died a martyr’s death for being true to their religion. They passed away in front of their mother:
- the first son was brutally beaten and thrown into prison;
- the second was beaten to death with lead bars;
- the third and fourth were killed with sticks;
- the fifth suffered from a fall from a high place;
- the sixth and seventh were beheaded with a sword.
Saint Felicity herself was martyred by the sword. Today, her relics can be found in every reputable religious artifacts store.
As for her icon, St Felicity of Rome is usually depicted together with her sons or carrying their seven heads. The holy martyr is also portrayed with a sword and a palm branch. She is regarded as the patroness of women and mothers.
The remains of the Italian saint, as well as the relics of her sons, are kept in Rome. Besides being one of the most revered Christian relics for sale, they are also considered a shrine kept in different churches in the capital of Italy. The believers can find Saint Felicity reliquaries and those of her children in San Marcello al Corso, the Church of Saint Susanna at the Baths of Diocletian, and some others.