This is the St. Perpetua & St. Felicity Chocolate Pound Cake, which my daughter requested I make for her on her return from France! This cake has brought the story of St. Perpetua & St. Felicity to life in our family, so much so that two of our daughters chose them as the confirmation saints. The early Catholic Church considered this true story so important and inspiring, an account was publically read in the churches of Africa in the fourth century.
St. Perpetua was a young noble woman and new mother to a young son, who had converted to Christianity which at that time was Catholicism. St. Felicity was a slave who was expecting a child and also a Christian. Emperor Severus had started a persecution against Christians and so Perpetua, Felicity and three others were arrested and put in a horrible prison. The overwhelming heat, darkness and rough guards of the prison overwhelmed St. Pertpetua, as she had never been in such a place and worried about her baby son. Two Christian deacons came and paid money for the five to be moved to a better place in the prison. Perpetua’s mother was a Christian, but her father remained a pagan. Perpetua gave her son to her mother and brothers to be raised.
The Romans recognized the rights of the unborn, as they would not kill a woman who was expecting a child until after she delivered the child. Felicity did not want to suffer apart from her friends and God blessed her that her labor started. During her labor the prison guards taunted her by reminding her that if she was suffering this much in labor, how much worse it would be for her when she was tossed to the wild beasts. The jailor said she had not thought of these torments when she refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods. Felicity responded, “What I am suffering now, I suffer by myself. But then Another will be inside me Who will suffer for me, just as I shall be suffering for Him.” Felicity gave birth to a baby girl and one of her Christian friends raised the child as her own little daughter.
The day before the games it was the Roman tradition to give prisoners “the free feast.” This was their last meal and was eaten in public. The martyrs showed great courage, which astonished the people around them, as they talked freely of the joy they found in their own suffering and spoke of the judgment of God. Their courage and love converted many that day. On the day of martyrdom, Perpetua and Felicity were taken into the stadium and attacked by a savage cow. “Perpetua was tossed first and fell on her back, but sat up and gathered her torn tunic round her, pinning up her disheveled hair lest she should seem to be in mourning. Then she went to help Felicity, who had also been tossed, and side by side, they stood, expecting another attack…” The mob indicated that they had seen enough and so Perpetua and Felicity were led through the gates of Sanavivaria, which was the gate that victorious gladiators used when they left the arena. It was here that Perpetua seemed to come out of an ecstasy and she asked when she would fight the cow. She was told that she had already been in the arena, but she could not believe it, until she looked at herself and saw the damage from what she had suffered from the cow. The she called to her fellow martyrs saying, “Stand fast in the Faith and love one another; and do not let our suffering be a stumbling block to you.” Now the mob was calling them to come back into the open. St. Perpetua and St. Felicity gave each other the kiss of peace and then gladiators were sent out to kill them. Perpetua’s executioner was nervous and failed to kill her the first time, so she took his sword and guided it to her own throat. A witness wrote, “Perhaps so great a woman…could not else been slain except she willed it.”
This chocolate pound cake has been named in honor of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity because though faced with bitter persecution and darkness, their faith was sweet and they stood firm for Jesus Christ. The cake is shaped in a circle, like the place they received their martyr’s crowns of glory!
St. Perpetua & St. Felicity Chocolate Pound Cake
This is wonderful! Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Everyone loves this!
325 Degree Oven Buttered Bundt Pan
1 ½ c. Butter (3 sticks)
3 c. Pure Cane Sugar
5 large Eggs
3 c. Non GMO Flour
½ t. Aluminum Free Baking Powder
1 t. Sea Salt
4 T. Cocoa Powder
1 c. Vitamin D Milk
1 ½ t. Pure Vanilla
¼ c. Butter
3 T. Cocoa Powder
3 ½ c. Organic Powdered Cane Sugar, sifted
1 t. Pure Vanilla
3 T. Vitamin D Milk
Cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the egg, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Sift the flour, baking powder, sea salt and cocoa. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and vanilla. Pour batter into a buttered tube or Bundt pan. Bake for 80 minutes (mine usually takes 85-86 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. (Make your icing now!) Carefully loosen cake and turn out onto a cake plate or cake stand. Ice cake while warm.
To make the icing, in a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the cocoa, whisking to combine. Add the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla. Add enough milk to make a creamy, but thick icing, as the heat of the cake will melt it further. Add the vanilla. Spoon and smooth hot icing over the hot cake.
Copyright Building the Family Cookbook, 2003, Suzanne Fowler.