St. Leonilla and St. Jonilla at Cappadocia


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Commemorated on January 16

Saint Leonilla was the grandmother of Sts. Speusippus, Eleusippus, and Meleusippus. They all suffered martyrdom with Neon, Turbo and Jonilla in Cappadocia in the second century during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius.

Leonilla received Baptism in her old age from one of the disciples of St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, and she afterwards converted her three grandsons (who were triplets) to Christ. The brothers, in their zeal for the Lord, pulled down idols and reproached the pagans for their folly. The judge ordered Leonilla to go to the prison and tell her grandchildren to renounce Christ and worship the idols. Instead, she praised them for their bravery and their firm confession of faith. All three were hanged on a tree, then flogged. Finally, the martyrs were thrown into a fire, but their bodies were undamaged by the flames.

After the torture and death of her grandchildren, St. Leonilla was beheaded with a sword. St. Jonilla saw the steadfast faith of the holy martyrs and said that she too was a Christian. The torturers hung her up by the hair, lacerated her body, then beheaded her. She left behind her husband and young son.

St. Neon witnessed the exploits of the holy brothers, and wrote an account of their sufferings. He gave his manuscript to Turbo, and openly confessed himself a Christian, for which he was fiercely beaten and died from his wounds.

These martyrs are particularly revered in Spain, where many churches are dedicated to them. The relics of the holy martyrs were given by Byzantine Emperor Zeno to a French nobleman from the city of Langres, where they now rest.

Troparion (Tone 4) –

Your holy martyr Leonilla, O Lord,

Through her sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.

For having Your strength, she laid low her adversaries,

And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.

Through her intercessions, save our souls!

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)