(Commemorated 16th October)
Saint Longinus was the centurion under the command of Pontius Pilate who was present at the Crucifixion of Christ. According to the Holy Evangelist Matthew, ‘when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!”’ (Matt 27:54). This faith of Longinus was perfected when he became a witness to the Resurrection of our Lord.
When the chief priests bribed the soldiers, Longinus and two of his soldiers refused to keep silent but instead received baptism from the Holy Apostles and began to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Resurrected Lord. He abandoned his high military rank and travelled to Cappadocia, preaching the Gospel. After some time, he withdrew to a village near Caesarea, where he lived a life of prayer and asceticism with his two followers.
The Jews, who despised Longinus, arranged for Pontius Pilate to obtain a decree from Tiberius Caesar which ordered his execution for treachery against his imperial authority. Longinus was enlightened by the Holy Spirit of his approaching martyrdom, and went out with joy to meet the soldiers who were sent to Caesarea to kill him. Not recognizing him, the executioners asked if he knew where Longinus lived. Although he was fully aware of their intentions, he invited them warmly to his house and prepared a banquet for them, telling them that he knew Longinus and would send for him immediately.
Longinus dressed himself in a festive white garment and called his two fellow-ascetics, announcing to them the joyful news of their impending martyrdom. He revealed his identity to the executioners, who were astounded because of the great love with which he had received them. Despite their great reluctance, Saint Longinus convinced them to carry out their orders, saying “There are no means by which you can better thank me for my hospitality than to send me quickly to my Lord, Whom I have long desired to see”. Saint Longinus and his two companions were then beheaded, thus obtaining the glorious crown of martyrdom.
Source: Lychnos October/November 2017