St. Longinus

S. Longino
This is a saint who has been extensively talked and written about in all the Eastern synaxaria, the Gospels, the Epistles of the Holy Fathers, the Apocrypha and both eastern and western martyrologies. This mass of mentions has brought about the combination of three different figures in which he is identified. In the first case, he was a soldier who pierced the side of Christ on the cross with a lance, hence his name. In the second, he was the centurion who was present at the death of Jesus and who, moved by what he was witnessing, asserted His divinity, the only favorable voice amongst a chorus of insults and derision. In the third case, Longinus would be the centurion who headed the picket of soldiers guarding the tomb of the Crucified who, in any case, according to some writings, were the same as those who were present at the crucifixion. Eastern tradition celebrates Longinus as the centurion who recognized the divinity of Jesus and guarded his tomb. Western tradition honors him as both the soldier who pierced Jesus with the lance and as the centurion who affirmed His divinity under the cross. Both traditions say that Longinus abandoned the army, was educated in the faith by the Apostles and went to Caesarea of Cappadocia where he lived a saintly life, doing everything he could to convert the Gentiles and, in the end, suffered martyrdom by decapitation. However, the passion of the martyr develops into yet another version, which combines the two. In the Latin one, he was an Isaurian soldier who was arrested and brought before the prefect of Caesarea of Cappadocia, Octavius, who in turn converted as did his secretary Aphrodisius, who also suffered martyrdom. In Greek tradition, he was a native of Caesarea where he in fact retired to one of his father’s properties then, instigated by the Judeans, Pontius Pilate accused him to the emperor of being a deserter and had him killed by two hired assassins. The martyr's head was said to have been brought to Jerusalem, shown to Pilate only to be thrown among the rubbish and later recovered by a widow, who had been miraculously cured of blindness. An ancient literary text, the first that mentions Longinus, i.e. Ep. 17, 15 of St. Gregory of Nyssa (died ca. 394) reports among other things that, already in the 4th century, Longinus was considered the evangelizer of Cappadocia, as were the other Apostles who were in other regions. The number of dates, martyrologies, synaxaria, eastern calendars, codices, etc. in which he is remembered is incredible. He is remembered on various days of the months of March, October, November and others. The Roman Martyrology, similarly to the Hieronymian Martyrology, celebrates him on March 15th, while in Eastern cultures, divided also by this, mostly celebrate him on October 16th. The artists of every era have been attracted by the uniqueness of this figure and, by placing him in the scene of the crucifixion, whether with or without the lance, have immortalized him in their works. It is important to remember that in the great Basilica of St. Peter, at the base of one of the enormous columns that hold up the cupola and that surround the space of the altar that features Bernini's Baldachin, there is the large statue of St. Longinus, also by Bernini, the centurion who was the first to acknowledge the divinity of Christ.