Commemorated on October 16
The Holy Martyr
Longinus the Centurion, a Roman soldier, saw service in Judea under the
command of the procurator, Pontius Pilate. During the time of the execution of
the Saviour it was the detachment of soldiers under the command of Longinus,
which stood watch around Golgotha, at the very foot of the holy Cross. Longinus
and his soldiers were eye-witnesses of the final moments of the earthly life of
the Lord, and of the great and awesome portents that appeared at His death.
These events jolted the soul of the soldier. Longinus believed then in Christ
and before everyone confessed that, "in truth – this was the Son of
God" (Mt. 27: 54). (according to Church tradition, Longinus was that
soldier, who with a spear pierced the side of the Crucified Saviour, and from
the outflowing of blood and water received healing from an eye affliction).
After the Crucifixion
and Burial of the Saviour, Longinus with his company stood watch at the
Sepulchre of the Lord. Here the soldiers were given to behold the All-Radiant
Resurrection of Christ. The Jews persuaded them with a bribe to bear false
witness that His disciples had stolen away the Body of Christ, but Longinus and
two of his comrades refused to be seduced by the Jewish gold. Having believed
in the Saviour, the soldiers accepted Baptism from the apostles and decided to
forsake military service. Longinus quit Judea and set out preaching about
Christ Jesus the Son of God in his native land, in Cappadocia. His two comrades
also followed after him. The fiery words of actual participants of the great
occurrences in Judea swayed the hearts and minds of the Cappadocians; Christianity
began quickly to spread about in the city and the surrounding villages. Having
learned of this, the Jewish elders persuaded Pilate to dispatch a company of
soldiers to Cappadocia, to kill Longinus and his comrades. The dispatched
company of soldiers arrived in the native village of Longinus; the former
centurion himself came out to meet the soldiers and took them to his home.
After a meal, the soldiers told about the purpose of their arrival, not knowing
– that the master of the house – was that very selfsame man, whom they were
seeking. Then Longinus and his fellows identified themselves and asked the
surprised soldiers, unperturbedly, to do their duty of military service. The
soldiers wanted to set free the saints and advised them to flee, but the saints
refused to do this, shewing firmness of will to accept suffering for Christ.
The holy martyrs were beheaded, and their bodies were buried there where the
saints made their final witness, and the cut-off heads were sent on to Pilate.
Pilate gave orders to cast the martyrs on the trash-heap outside the city
walls. After a certain while a certain blind woman arrived in Jerusalem to pray
at the holy places. Saint Longinus appeared to her in a dream and said, that
she should find his head and bury it. They led the blind woman to the rubbish
heap. Having touched the head of the martyr, the woman was granted sight to her
eyes. She reverently conveyed the venerable head to Cappadocia and there gave
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.