16 / 29 October
The centurion who stood at the Cross of Our Lord - The divine Matthew the Evangelist, describing the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: 'Now when the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that were done, they feared greatly, saying: "Truly this was the Son of God" ' (Matt. 27:54). That centurion was this blessed Longinus, who, with two other of his soldiers, came to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. He was the officer in command both at the Lord's crucifixion on Golgotha and in the watch that guarded the tomb. When the Jewish elders learned of Christ's Resurrection, they bribed the soldiers to spread the falsehood that Christ had not risen, but that His disciples had stolen His body. The Jews tried to bribe Longinus also, but without success. Then the Jews resorted to their usual practice: they conspired to kill Longinus. Discovering this, Longinus took off his army belt, received baptism from the apostles together with his two friends, and with them secretly left Jerusalem and went to Cappadocia. There he gave himself to fasting and prayer and, as a living witness of the Resurrection of Christ, turned many pagans to the true Faith by his testimony. He then went off to a village where his father had property, but the wicked Jews would not even there leave him in peace. In response to slander on their part, Pilate sent soldiers to behead Longinus. Holy Longinus foresaw in his spirit the approach of his executioners and, going out to meet them, took them to his home without telling them who he was. The soldiers lay down to sleep, and St Longinus spent the whole night preparing for death. In the morning, he went and brought his two friends, dressed himself in white grave-clothes, told the others in the house what was happening and showed them a place on a hillock to bury him. He then revealed himself to the soldiers as the Longinus whom they were seeking. The soldiers were embarrassed and ashamed, and would not think of beheading Longinus, but he laid it on them to carry out their superior's command, and he and his two friends were beheaded. Longinus's head was taken by the soldiers to Pilate; Pilate gave it to the Jews and they flung it onto a dung-heap outside the city. Our Holy Father Longinus the Lover of Labour; St. Gall, Irish monk and enlightener of Switzerland (c.630).