Marie-Louise von Franz: Niklaus Von Flüe And Saint Perpetua: A Psychological Interpretation of Their Visions


The Text

178 The text of the “Passio Perpetuae et Felicitas;’ which describes the last days of the African martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas and their fellow sufferers, was discovered about the middle of the 17th century by Lukas Holsten among manuscripts coming from Monte Cassino.

It was edited by P. Poussines and soon afterward-in the year 1668-was included in the Acta Sanctorum.

A Greek version was found in Jerusalem in 1889 and published the following year.

179 Opinion is still divided as to which is the original text, but most scholars are inclined to look upon the Greek version either as an independent text or as a translation.1

180 A great number of noted theologians attribute the account to the Father of the Church, Tertullian.

(The visions, on the other hand, are recorded by the martyrs themselves.)

The proofs given by J.A. Robinson in his stylistic examination of the text are, to my mind, convincing evidence in favor of Tertullian’s authorship.

181 Actually, Tertullian’s claim is disputed mainly because, when making mention of the visions in his later writings, he says that Perpetua met only martyrs in the next world.

This led to the conclusion that he had confused her visions with the vision of

Saturus ( a fellow martyr whose mandala vision is also recorded in the “Passio Perpetuae”).2

In my opinion, however, this refers-as Robinson points out-to the many people clad in white whom Perpetua, in her first vision, meets in the World Beyond.

In any case, Tertullian was in close connection with the martyrs whose sufferings are described in the text. Perpetua, Felicitas, and their fellow martyrs (Satuminus, Secundulus, Renovatus, and Saturus) were all put to death in Carthage in A.D. 203, during the time that Tertullian was its bishop. ~Marie-Louise von Franz, Niklaus von Flue and St. Perpeua A Psychological Interpretation of Their Visions, Page 133-134