Carthage, the year 205. As a young woman of 22 years old, Perpetua was imprisoned for being a Christian. This was a crime punishable by death under the Emperor Septimius Severus. The only thing more untamed than Severus's thick curly hair was his hatred for Christians. Perpetua was imprisoned along with her fellow followers of Christ, Felicity, Revocatus, Saturus and Saturninus. While they were on death row, they held prayer vigils together.

One day while they were praying, Perpetua abruptly called out, "DINOCRATES", the name of her dead brother, and this unnerved her companions. Perpetua explained that while praying, she had been given a vision of Dinocrates in Purgatory. He had died at 7 years old, ravaged by cancer of the face, which had terrified all who saw him. In this vision, she saw that his face was still ulcerated. She felt the Lord calling her to pray for the little boy and she did so immediately.

During the night she had a second vision of the little chap - he was not undergoing purification by flame or ice - but he was in a dry, arid desert and he was tortured by thirst. He was teased by a water fountain that was before him, and he tried his hardest to get a drink from the cascades of water that collected in a basin around the fountain. The brim of the basin was too high for him to reach and he was exhausted from straining. Dinocrates was surrounded by so many other thirsty people, who like him, had a wound on their faces. Perpetua looked at her brother, and felt an unbridgeable distance between him, while at the same time he was right in front of her.

She gave herself to praying for him, and in 3 days time, she was given a new vista, she saw her very own Dinocrates in a blossoming garden. His face was completely healed and was beautiful, and he looked angelic. He was in a radiant robe and in his hand was a gold chalice. The brim of the basin was beneath him, and he was able to dip his chalice in, fill it, and drink of the everlasting waters of Paradise.

Before her death, Perpetua set forth an account of her visions of Dinocrates in her diary. She was a mystic before she was a martyr, and her visions show that the earliest Christians were awarded privileged views of Purgatory and were induced to pray for their loved ones, and then shown that their prayers were heard.

Dinocrates's pain was that of the separation from God. His dryness of soul may be shared by a person who is still alive and has grown in holiness, and enjoyed closeness to God whereby they have been given plentiful sweetness and refreshment in their spiritual life, until they are subject to Dark Night of the Soul where their soul knows darkness and dryness when Our Lord deliberately hides Himself from the soul as a means of cleansing it, so the soul may be found worthy of the Unitive Stage.


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