January 16, 2017

Holy Martyrs Peusippos, Elasippos, Mesippos and their Grandmother Neonilla

Sts. Peusippos, Elasippos, Mesippos, Neonilla (Feast Day - January 16)


To Peusippos, Elasippos, Mesippos
Like horses given a call signal,
The three triplets hastened with their feet to the fire.

To Neonilla
Elderly Neonilla, before the lit fire,
At the prime of her life was steadfast like a youngster.

These three brothers were from Cappadocia and they were triplets. They were skilled in horsemanship and in taming small wild horses and running with them on level country. One day when the feast of Nemesian Zeus was being celebrated in their district, they invited their grandmother Neonilla to join them in the celebration. The elderly lady, having been taught the Christian faith, spoke to her grandsons concerning the economy of God the Word, and she mocked the idols. This instruction brought to the remembrance of these three youths a dream they each had, and this was the cause for which they accepted the faith and salvation of Christ. With this, the three brothers smashed the idols to pieces and boldly confessed Christ.

After being denounced to the authorities, the judge had them thrown into prison and summoned Neonilla, and directed that she, too, go to the prison and counsel her grandsons to deny Christ and to worship the idols. Without a word, Neonilla went to the prison, but instead of counseling her grandsons to deny their faith, she began to encourage them not to waver but to endure all torments to the end and to die for Christ. When the judge, again, questioned them and realized their even stronger steadfastness in the faith, he condemned them to death. At first, all three of them were hanged on a tree and they were flogged, and finally burned to death in fire. Neonilla also was charged and taken to another city, where she was beheaded. A certain woman, Junilla,** enthusiastic at the courage of these Martyrs, let go of the infant in her arms, and cried out: "I am a Christian also!" They immediately apprehended her who, together with the elderly Neonilla, was beheaded.*** Thus the blessed ones received the crown of martyrdom.


* In English they are usually called Speusippus, Eleusippus, Meleusippus and Leonilla.

** Junilla, or Jovilla, is absent from the Synaxaria, and is mentioned only in a Grotta Ferrata manuscript under 17 January.

*** Some manuscripts under 17 January also mention the notary Turbonus who, at the time when the brothers were being interrogated, found faith in Christ and destroyed the idols. He was beheaded.


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Neonilla, grandmother aged,
By the spirit, powerful as a lioness,
When her grandsons for God, she prepared,
Herself, a martyr became.
To Neonilla, the tribune screamed,
And from bitter anger, hissing:
Proceed, grandmother, to the dungeon,
And your grandsons, to counsel.
Counsel your grandsons to deny
The so-called Christ the Lord,
Either Christ to renounce
Or their young lives.
Neonilla, in the dungeon
To her grandsons, speaks:
Of worldly powers, do not be afraid,
Even though they burn you alive.
Adhere to the glorious Christ
And His Good News,
For you, He prepared
Eternity of radiance and joy.
Of bitter wounds, do not be afraid,
Neither of death, for they are transitory:
The faithful to Christ, death cannot
Either conceal or crush.
Three grandsons, in the midst of fire
To God offered praise,
While the evil one their dear grandmother
Neonilla beheaded.