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E01757: Augustine, in his treatise On the Soul and its Origin, refers to the Martyrdom of *Perpetua (martyr of Carthage, S00009), emphasising that it is not a canonical text. Written in Latin in Hippo Regius (North Africa), c. 421.

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posted on 2016-07-22, 00:00 authored by robert
Augustine, of Hippo, On the Soul and its Origin 1.10/12

De fratre autem sanctae Perpetuae Dinocrate nec scriptura ipsa canonica est nec illa sic scripsit uel quicumque illud scripsit, ut illum puerum, qui septennis mortuus fuit, sine baptismo diceret fuisse defunctum, pro quo illa imminente martyrio creditur exaudita, ut a poenis transferretur ad requiem.

'Concerning Dinocrates, however, the brother of St Perpetua, neither is that writing [which talks of him] canonical ; nor does the saint herself, or whoever it was that wrote the account, say that the boy, who had died at the age of seven years, died without baptism; on his behalf she is believed to have had, when her martyrdom was imminent, her prayers heard that he should be removed from suffering to a place of rest.'

Text: Vrba and Zycha 1913, 312. Translation: Holmes et al. 1887.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Perpetua, Felicitas and their companions, martyrs in Carthage, ob. 203 : S00009

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Latin North Africa

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Hippo Regius

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Hippo Regius Carthage Carthago Karthago قرطاج‎ Qarṭāj Mçidfa Carthage

Major author/Major anonymous work

Augustine of Hippo

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The treatise On the Soul and its Origin (De natura et origine animae) was written c. 421, during the Pelagian controversy.


Augustine refers to this passage even though it complicates his argument, which is why he emphasises that the Martyrdom of Perpetua does not belong to the scriptural canon. The fact that Augustine feels obliged to deal with this passage at all suggests that the Martyrdom of Perpetua was widely known and that his readers could have remembered this fragment. Augustine mentions Perpetua also in two other passages of this treatise: 2.10.14 and 3.9.12.


Edition: Vrba, C.F., and Zycha, J., De natura et origine animae (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 60; Vienna: Tempsky, 1913), 303-419. Translation: Holmes, P., Wallis, R.E. & Warfield, B.B., On the Soul and its Origin (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 5, Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887), revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. .

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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