I was raised a Catholic, which probably explains a lot…
But seriously… Until I was about ten years old, the Mass was said in Latin, and the priest spent most of his time with his back to us. We could neither see nor hear what was going on, which was probably just as well. The changes instituted by the Second Vatican Council had the priest facing the people and saying a big portion of the Mass in English, where we could now understand what was being said. So, one mystery solved.
And lots more mysteries ensued. We could now understand the Eucharistic Prayer, the boilerplate that surrounded the mystery of transubstantiation, the changing of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, while maintaining its form as bread and wine. In the Eucharistic Prayer, there are two places where the priest would recite a litany of saints’ names, one before the Consecration, and one after. Here’s the litany before the Consecration:
In communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, and blessed Joseph, her Spouse, your blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude; Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian and all your Saints; we ask that through their merits and prayers, in all things we may be defended by your protecting help.
And here’s the one after:
To us, also, your servants, who, though sinners, hope in your abundant mercies, graciously grant some share and fellowship with your holy Apostles and Martyrs: with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia and all your Saints; admit us, we beseech you, into their company, not weighing our merits, but granting us your pardon, through Christ our Lord.
Most of us in the fourth grade had no idea who any of these people were. We knew Mary and Joseph, and the apostles, but who were the others? Naturally, we weren’t open to asking the nuns about it, because we’d end up having to write a report on one of the saints, so we kept our mouths shut. We figured, they know who they are, and that was good enough for us.
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity (Source: Catholic Online)
So, off to New Advent I went and learned St. Felicity was a slave girl from Carthage who was martyred, along with St. Perpetua and three other slaves, in the year 203 for defying the Roman Emperor Severus and converting to Christianity. A detailed account of their passion and death, some of which was written by Perpetua herself, was well-known to people in the early church; thanks to Fordham University, it can be found here. Their feast day is March 7, the day they were martyred.
Another mystery solved. You’re welcome…