LONGINUS THE CENTURION
The centurion exclaimed: “Truly this is the Son of God”
Longinus was a centurion who served under Pontius Pilate. He was standing with his soldiers as they were gathered beneath the Cross of Christ; Longinus confessed before everyone seeing all that was happening and that he had taken part in it, he cried out: “Truly this is the Son God.” According to some accounts he was the soldier who pierced the side of Christ, and blood and water poured forth. He also witnessed the signs at the Crucifixion, the rending of the rocks, opening of sepulchers, the failure of the sun which caused darkness over all. Longinus became a strong believer and later was baptized by the apostles, then he preached Christ all around and later was martyred being put to death because of his faith in Christ and he is commemorated on October 16.
A widowed woman who lived in Cappadocia was suffering from blindness and had a son, her only child, who gave her assistance leading her about, but he died leaving her in a serious situation.` The helpless woman fell asleep and there she met with Longinus in a dream who told her: “I am Longinus the centurion who had his head severed for the sake of Christ. My head was brought here and cast upon a dung heap outside the city. Go, therefore, to that place and dig deep into the dung, and you shall find my head. Having found my head touch your eyes and you shall recover your sight. The woman got up and called for someone to help her and take her to the biggest dunghill and leave her there. She continued to grieve for her recently deceased son whom she depended on. She began to dig with great hope of finding the head of Longinus.
Having strong faith she enthusiastically dug and eventually felt his head with her fingers and though blind gazed at the head of Longinus in her hands. She saw the head as her sight had returned. Filled with joy and with great thanks to God, she took the head and washed it then placed it in her home as being more valuable than anything else in the world.
Longinus appeared to the widow again, and he was holding her son by the hand, who was shining brightly with light and St. Longinus was clad in brightly shining robes. The centurion said to her: “Look at the glory your son is engulfed in; look and in good comfort, for the Lord has raised him into the heavenly company that are in His kingdom. The woman was filled with joy and her faith greatly increased and she reflected on everything, able now to see with both her physical and spiritual eyes. The widow later built a church temple dedicated to St. Longinus, wherein she deposited Longinus’ sacred head, as a great treasure.
After the Crucifixion and Burial of the Savior, Longinus stood watch with his company at the Sepulcher of the Lord. These soldiers were present at the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ. The Jews bribed them to lie and say 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. They also refused to remain silent about the miracle of the Resurrection and spread the news as they moved about..
Having come to believe in the Christ the Savior, the soldiers received Baptism from the apostles and decided to leave military service and spread the news of the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection. St Longinus left Judea to preach about Jesus Christ the Son of God in his native land (Cappadocia), and his two comrades followed him and they fasted and prayed fervently.
The fiery words of the soldiers under Longinus and others who had actually participated in the great events in Judea swayed the hearts and minds of the Cappadocians; Many believed their words and example causing Christianity to quickly began spreading throughout the city and to many villages. When they learned of this, the Jewish elders persuaded Pilate to send a company of soldiers to Cappadocia to kill Longinus and his comrades. When the soldiers arrived at Longinus’s village, the former centurion himself came out to meet the soldiers and took them into his home. After a meal, the soldiers revealed the purpose of their visit, not knowing that the master of the house was the very man whom they were seeking. Then Longinus and his friends identified themselves and told the startled soldiers to carry out their duty and put them to death.
The soldiers sought to release the saints advising them to flee, but they all refused this, showing their firm intention to willingly suffer and die out of love for Christ. The holy martyrs were then beheaded, and their bodies were buried at the place of their martydom. They rejoiced in their souls with great joy when they beheld the kingdom and Christ whom they so desired.