TRYPHO and RESPICIUS were natives of Bithynia, at or near Apamea, and upon the opening of Decius’s persecution, in 250, were seized, loaded with chains, and conducted to Nice, where Aquilinus, governor of Bithynia, and prefect of the East, then resided. After some days’ confinement they were brought to their trial before him, and upon their confession of their faith, an officer that stood by them told them, that all who refused to offer sacrifice were to be burnt alive, and exhorted them to have compassion on themselves. Respicius answered: “We cannot better have compassion on ourselves than by confessing Jesus Christ, the true judge, who will come to call every one to an account for all their actions.” Aquilinus told them they were old enough to know what they ought to do. “Yes,” said Trypho, “and therefore we desire to attain to the perfection of true wisdom by following Jesus Christ.” The judge ordered them to be put on the rack. The martyrs, to express their readiness to suffer, forthwith stripped themselves, and stepped forward with surprising alacrity. They bore the torture near three hours with admirable patience and tranquillity; and only opened their mouths to invoke God, and extol his mercy and power; and to give the judge to understand to what dangers he exposed himself by his blindness. When they were taken down from the rack, Aquilinus, who was going out on a party of hunting, ordered them to be tied to the tails of horses, and led out into the fields, naked and torn and bruised all over as they were, that they might be exposed in that condition to the cold air; for it was winter, and the severity of the frost was so great that they were disabled from walking or standing without exquisite pain, for their feet were cloven by it. After this torment the governor asked them if they did not yet relent; and finding their constancy invincible, ordered them again to prison, threatening them that they should be treated with the utmost rigour. Soon after this, Aquilinus set out to make the tour of some other cities that were under his jurisdiction, and at his return to Nice called for the two prisoners, and promising them great riches and honours if they complied, conjured them to consider their own good before it was too late. The martyrs, who had only God before their eyes, replied: “We cannot better follow your advice, and consider our own good, than by persevering firm in the confession of the name of Jesus Christ.” Aquilinus finding himself defeated in all his attacks, in a fit of impotent rage commanded their feet to be pierced with large nails, and the martyrs to be dragged in that condition in the cold weather through the streets. He who is the strength of martyrs, gave them a courage superior to the malice of the enemy. The governor, surprised and confounded at their meek patience, ordered them to be whipped; which was done until the executioners were wearied. This enraged the judge still more, and he commanded their flesh to be torn with hooks, and afterwards lighted torches to be applied to their sides, the saints remaining the same in the midst of these torments, the governor cried out to the tormentors, bidding them exert their skill in torturing the obstinate wretches in the most exquisite manner. But the saints were invincible and prayed thus: “Lord Jesus Christ, for whom we fight, suffer not the devil to vanquish us: strengthen and enable us to finish our course. The combat is yours: may the victory be yours.” The next day they were examined a third time, and being as constant as before, were beaten with plummets of lead, and afterwards beheaded in the year 250. See their authentic, though not original acts in Ruinart, Tillemont, t. 3, &c. Those in Metaphrastes are counterfeit. 1
With these two martyrs, the Roman Martyrology joins ST. NYMPHA, because her body reposes with theirs at Rome. She was a virgin of Palermo in Sicily, and, in the invasion of the Goths, in the fifth century, fled into Italy, where she served God in great sanctity, and died in peace at Suana in Tuscany. The Greeks honour St. Trypho on the 1st of February, and there stood formerly a church in Constantinople, near that of Sancta Sophia, which bore his name. 1 The ancient church of St. Trypho in Rome, being fallen to decay in 1604, it was united to the church of St. Austin, which is now possessed of part of the relics of these three saints. But the principal parts of those of SS. Trypho, Respicius, and Nympha, repose under the high altar in the church of the Holy Ghost in Saxia, belonging to a great hospital in Rome. This street lying between St. Peter’s church and the Tiber, is called Saxia, from a colony of Saxons whom Charlemagne, after he had defeated them in Germany, placed there, 2 that they might be instructed in the faith. 2
Note 1. Assemani Calend. Univ. in 1 Febr. t. 6, p. 112.
Note 2. See Roma Modern. p. 62. Baron. Not. in Martyrol. Rom.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. November 10