The Catholic Defender: Holy Week Remembers St. Longinus
Saint Longinus Feast day: March 15 (Patron of: the blind and people with poor eyesight, of labor, of power, and of good discernment)
Parts of the following article was provided by Ed McCoy on 2012-03-05 for the Archdiocese of Altanta Saint Matthew the Evangelist, in describing the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: “The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:54).
According to Church Tradition, St. Longinus was the soldier who pierced the side of the Crucified Savior with a spear. Longinus was chief of the soldiers who were present at the Crucifixion of the Lord on Golgotha.
The legend of St. Longinus states that having been wounded in a past battle, he was blind in one eye.
He was healed when he pierced the side of Jesus with his spear and some of the blood and water from Jesus fell into his eyes.
Longinus was also the chief of the watch that guarded the tomb. When the Romans and the elders in Jerusalem learned of the Resurrection of Christ, they bribed the soldiers to spread the false news that Christ did not resurrect, but rather that His disciples stole His body.
They also tried to bribe Longinus, but he did not allow himself to be bribed.
Having come to believe in the Savior, Longinus received Baptism from the apostles, and decided to leave military service.
St Longinus secretly left Judea to preach about Jesus Christ the Son of God in his native land (Cappadocia), and two of his comrades followed him.
The fiery words of those who had actually participated in the great events in Judea swayed the hearts and minds of the Cappadocians; Christianity began quickly to spread throughout the city and the surrounding villages.
After that, he withdrew to a nearby village on the estate of his father. Even there, however, he was not left in peace.
Hearing that he was in Cappadocia, Pilate dispatched a company of soldiers to Cappadocia to kill Longinus and his comrades.
St. Longinus foresaw the approach of his executioners and went out to meet them. He brought them to his home, not telling them who he was.
He was a good host to the soldiers, and soon they lay down to sleep. But St. Longinus stood up to pray, and prayed all night long, preparing himself for death.
In the morning, he called his two companions to him, clothed themselves in white burial clothes, and instructed the other members of his household to bury him and his companions on a particular small hill.
He then went to the soldiers and told them that he was that Longinus whom they were seeking.
The soldiers were perplexed and ashamed, and could not even contemplate beheading Longinus, but he insisted that they fulfill the order of their superior.
Thus, Longinus and his two companions were beheaded.
The soldiers took Longinus’s head to Pilate, and Pilate gave orders to throw the martyr’s head on a trash-heap outside the city walls.
At that time, a certain blind widow from Cappadocia arrived in Jerusalem with her son to pray at the holy places, and to ask that her sight be restored.
After becoming blind, she had sought the help of physicians to cure her, but all their efforts were in vain.
The woman’s son became ill shortly after reaching Jerusalem, and he died a few days later.
The widow grieved for the loss of her son, who had served as her sighted guide.
St. longinus was clearly exposed to the teaching of St. Paul. 2 Timothy 1:16-19 states, “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me–may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day–and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.”
St Longinus appeared to her in a dream and comforted her.
He told her that she would see her son in heavenly glory, and also receive her sight.
He told her to go outside the city walls and there she would find his head in a great pile of refuse.
Guides led the blind woman to the rubbish heap, and she began to dig with her hands. As soon as she touched the martyr’s head, the woman received her sight, and she glorified God and St. Longinus.
Taking up the head, she brought it to the place she was staying and washed it.
The next night, St Longinus appeared to her again, this time with her son.
They were surrounded by a bright light, and St Longinus said, Woman, behold the son for whom you grieve.
See what glory and honor are his now, and be consoled. God has numbered him with those in His heavenly Kingdom.
Now take my head and your son’s body, and bury them in the same casket. Do not weep for your son, for he will rejoice forever in great glory and happiness.
The woman carried out the saint’s instructions and returned to her home in Cappadocia. There she buried her son and the head of St Longinus.
Once, she had been overcome by grief for her son, but her weeping was transformed into joy when she saw him with St. Longinus.
She had sought healing for her eyes, and also received healing of her soul.
St. Longinus’ relics are now in the beautiful church of St. Augustine, in Rome, not far from the body of Saint Monica.
His Lance is contained in one of the four pillars over the altar in the Basilica of St Peters in Rome.
Bernini also created huge niches in the four piers of the crossing at St. Peters.
Each niche holds a colossal statue, over 30 feet high. In the first pier on the right is the statue of St. Longinus, who pierced the side of Jesus, from which blood and water flowed. Saint’s Prayer
Consider when St. Longinus converted, he Left the army, took instruction from the apostles and became a monk in Cappadocia.
There he was arrested for his faith, his teeth forced out and tongue cut off. However, St. Longinus miraculously continued to speak clearly and managed to destroy several idols in the presence of the governor.
The governor, who was made blind by the demons that came from the idols, had his sight restored when St. Longinus was being beheaded, because his blood came in contact with the governors’ eyes.
St. Longinus has been depicted in movies by other names such as in the movie called "The Robe" and most recently "Risen". He will forever be living having been graced to have received Christ from the cross:
Saint Matthew the Evangelist, in describing the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: “The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:54).
Yes, Jesus truly is the Son of God!
O Saint Longinus, you were chosen as the venerable gate keeper and was granted the gift of discernment by the Lord; an eyewitness of God’s miracle who glorified the resurrected Christ. To your death, you remained Christ’s soldier and for Christ you gave your head.
Pray for us, therefore, O St. Longinus so that being inspired by your example and assisted by your prayers, we may live a holy life, die a happy death, and reach eternal life to praise and thank God in heaven with you. I ask you to pray to God this special request if it be His holy will. Amen