16th of October – The holy Feast-day of the holy Martyr LONGINOS the Centurion

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,


On the 16th of October, the Holy Orthodox Church Commemorates
the Holy Martyr LONGINOS, the Centurion.

Apolytikion Hymn (Dimissal Hymn). Fourth Tone

THY Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received as
the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our
immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down
the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless
presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since
Thou art merciful.

Kontakion Hymn. Fourth Tone

WITH great joy the Church of Christ today rejoiceth on teh festive
memory of blest Longinos, the all-famed and godly prizewinner.
And she doth cry out: O Christ, my foundation and might art Thou.

Longinos, the Holy Martyr, was a Cappadocian Jew by descent. He lived in the days of the dispensation of the oeconomy of the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He was a centurion in the service of Pilate. On the day that Our Lord Jesus Christ, through His boundless compassion, was crucified in the flesh that He MIGHT REDEEM US FROM THE ANCESTRAL TRANSGRESSION, Longinos received orders from Pilate that he and his men were to guard the body of Jesus. As the soldiers led Christ out to be crucified, they impressed into service Simon, a Cyrenian, in order that he might take up Jesus’ Cross [Matthew 15:21]. After having come to Golgotha, they crucified Jesus. Then they parted His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Since the tunic was seamless, woven from the top throughout, they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but let us obtain it by lot for whom it shall be." Thus did the soldiers. Then they sat down and were watching Him. They put over his head His ACCUSATION WHEREUPON IT HAD BEEN WRITTEN: "THIS IS JESUS KING OF THE JEWS." They also crucified two robbers with Jesus, one on the right and one on the left [Matthew 27:35-38; John 19:23-24].

While most of the Disciples and Apostles of the Lord had fled for fear of the Jews, Longinos was on duty at the Place of a Skull, as he remained by the side of the Crucified One. He firsthand saw the signs and unprecedented wonders at the saving Crucifixion: THE EARTHQUAKE, THE FAILING OF THE SUN, AND DARKNESS OVER ALL, THE RENDING OF ROCKS, THE OPENING OF SEPULCHERS, AND MANY BODIES OF THE SAINTS WHO WERE ASLEEP RISING AND ENTERING IN THE Holy City.

After the centurion and those with him, who were watching over Jesus, saw all the things which took place, they were exceedingly afraid. When the centurion who stood opposite Him saw that He thus cried out and gave up the spirit, he said, "TRULY THIS MAN WAS GOD’S SON" [Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39]. Having come to know the truth, he later confessed it openly and fearlessly in the synagogue of the Jews. He freely spoke, saying, "TRULY JESUS WAS GOD’S SON."

Now the Jews, not wishing that the bodies should remain on the cross, asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and they might be taken away. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the thieves, but when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, AND STRAIGHTWAY BLOOD AND WATER CAME OUT [John 19:31-34]. Some traditions claim that Longinos was that soldier who thrust the spear into Jesus’ side, though neither The Great Synaxaristes nor his holy service in the Menaion makes this claim. Longinos was then healed by that blood and water of an eye ailment.

The councilor, Joseph of Arimathea, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate wondered if Jesus were already dead, so he summoned the centurion. He questioned him if He died not long ago. After Pilate had come to know it from the centurion [Matthew 15:44], Joseph then received permission and laid the body of Jesus, with the help of Nikodemos, in his new sepulcher, hew out of rock. Joseph then rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher.

Pilate dispatched Longinos and his guards to secure the tomb. Although he came to a good and right judgment regarding the Christ and believed that He was the Son of God and confessed as much with his mouth, he obeyed the order.

After the Resurrection of Christ, Longinos went with other soldiers of the guard to the synagogue of the Jews. They were speaking of their experience of the events just having taken place, that is, the recent earthquake and the lightning-flash appearance of the Angel who rolled away the huge stone from the sepulchre of Jesus. They announced that Christ WAS TRULY RISEN, AND THAT TOMB WAS EMPTY. The chief priests took counsel and they gave a considerable amoutn of money to the soldiers telling they to, "Say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him while we were sleeping.’

The faithful Longinos, however, did not take one piece of mony. Instead, he spoke boldly and censured thte lie of the Jews, proclaiming the truth that "CHRIST INDEED IS TRUE GOD AND IS RIEN FROM THE DEAD." Pilate and the rulers of the Jews then turned toward Longinos their hatred which they formerly had toward Christ. The rogues were running around in circles to find suitable moment to slay him. Longinos was informed of the plot and gave place to wrath. He threw off his military belt and short mantle. He disdained his rank, and he shunned kinfolk and comrades. He then, with two other soldiers, who also came to believe in the Christ, received Holy Baptism from the Apostles. Afterward, the three men went into Cappadocia. Together with his two companions, he heralded, as another Apostle, the awesome Wonders (Miracles) of the Christ.

The fame of Longinos spread all over the world; for he was preaching the crucified Jesus as True God. When the God-slaying Jews learned of his activities, they gathered together and persuaded Pilate to sent a written accusation regarding Longinos to Tiberius Caesar, stating how he had contempt for his rank and the religion of the idol worshippers. Together with letters, the Jews sent money to persuade the Emperor to sentence Longinos to death. Therefore, Caesar issued a death warrant. Pilate dispatched soldiers to Cappadocia. Their orders were to behead Longinos and return to Jerusalem with his head, as verification for the Sanhedrin of the Jews of his death. The Jews also requested that Longinos’ two comrades be apprehended and executed, since they too were collaborators in the preaching.

Longinos turned to Pilate’s soldiers, saying, "Here you see standing before you Longinos and his two comrades-in-arms. Together we served, and together we came to believe Christ is Risen. Do, therefore, what you were ordered!" Having introduced his friends, Longinos then took up his garments for burial. He was clad as though he wre invited to an opulent wedding. He then pointed to a certain hlll saying, "I should like to beburied there." Longinos and his comrades gave one another a final kiss, and then they all kneeled down together. Pilate’s mene then swiftly struck off their honorable heads on the 16th of October.

An ancient tradition identifies Saint Longinos’ two comrades as Saints Isavros and Aphrodisios. Their blessed souls thust took flight into the heavens. Their holy relics were buried at the chosen site of Saint Longinos, except for his head. Pilate’s men took the head of Saint Longinos and brought it to Pilate as proof of his execution. Pilot, commanded that the head be cast outside of the city. The Lord invisible preserved and guarded it, divinely covering it, lest it suffer even the least injury from the filth and dung.

A certain widow, who was blind, had only one child, who afforded her some small consolation in her need and loss of sight. This woman possessed great faith and piety. However, she suffered a great misfortune. Her beloved son became sick and died, leaving her without a guide and human help. The sorrowuful woman, from her pain and crying, fell asleep. She beheld Saint Longinos, who said, "I am Longinos the centurion who had his head severed for the sake of Christ. My head was brought here and cast upon the dung heap outside the city. Go, therefore, to that plae, and dig deep in the dung, and thou shalt find my head. Have my head touch thine eyes, and thuou shalt recover thy sight. And I shall show thee then thy son and in how much glory he finds himself, so that thou mightiest find consolation in they suffering." Such things did the blind woman see in her sleep. She found her way, though with much trouble finding someone to guide her to the aforementioned place. With great diligence she set about to find the holy relic, the honorable head of the Saint. She discovered the priceless treasure,the honorable head . Straightway, she recovered her sight and saw the head as a most radiant star. She embraced it and kissed it most ardently with tears steaming from her eyes. Afterward, she meticulously cleaned the relic and anointed it with myrrh. She kept in her home as a most precious pearl. During the following night, the Saint again appeared to her in her sleep. Saint Longinos was holding her son in his arms and said to her, "Behold, thy son for whom thou lamentest, and how much thou findest him rejoicing. Cease grieving then, but be joyful. Take, therefore, my head and thy son’s relics and bury them in a tomb together, offering thanks to the Lord Who has given him rest in so much glory and everlasting delight."

The woman listened to the Saint and laid the head of the Martyr in the coffin holding her son’s relics. She transferred the holy relics to her homeland of Cappadocia, to a village called Sandelen.

Saint Longinos suffered lawfully, with manly character of soul, and was lawfully crowned. Blessed art thou, O Longinos! Thy memory shall be from generation to generation. Amen.

On the 16th of October, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates the TWO SOLDIERS who were beheaded with Saint Longinos. [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]


"Glory Be To GOD
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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