Holy Martyr Longinos the Centurion, a Roman soldier, served in Judea under the command of the Governor, Pontius Pilate. When our Saviour Jesus Christ was crucified, it was the detachment of soldiers under the command of Longinos which stood watch on Golgotha, at the very foot of the holy Cross. Longinos and his soldiers were eyewitnesses of the final moments of the earthly life of the Lord, and of the great and awesome portents that appeared at His death. These events jolted the soul of the soldier to believed in Christ and confessed before everyone that, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). Furthermore, according to Church Tradition, Longinos was the soldier who pierced the side of Christ with a spear, and from the outflowing of blood and water received healing from an eye affliction.
After the Crucifixion and Burial of the Saviour, Longinos with his company stood watch at the Sepulchre of the Lord. The soldiers were present at the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ. The Jews bribed them to bear false witness and say that His disciples had stolen away the Body of Christ, but Longinos and two of his comrades refused to be seduced by the Jewish gold. Having believed in the Saviour, the soldiers accepted Baptism from the apostles and decided to forsake military service. Longinos left Judea and set out preaching about Christ Jesus the Son of God in his native land, in Cappadocia. Two of his comrades also followed after him.
The fiery words of actual participants of the great occurrences in Judea swayed the hearts and minds of the Cappadocians; Christianity began quickly to spread about in the city and the surrounding villages. Having learned of this, the Jewish elders persuaded Pilate to send a company of soldiers to Cappadocia to kill Longinos and his comrades. When the soldiers arrived at the village of Longinos, the former centurion himself came out to meet the soldiers and took them to his home. After a meal, the soldiers revealed the purpose of their arrival, not knowing that the master of the house was the very man whom they were seeking. Then Longinos and his fellows identified themselves and told the surprised soldiers to carry out their duty.
The soldiers wanted to set the saints free and advised them to flee, but the saints refused to do this, showing firmness of will to accept suffering for Christ. The holy martyrs were beheaded, and their bodies were buried there where the saints were martyred. Their heads were sent to Pilate. Pilate gave orders to cast the martyrs on the trash-heap outside the city walls. After a while, a certain blind woman arrived in Jerusalem to pray at the holy places. St. Longinos appeared to her in a dream and said that she should find his head and bury it. They led the blind woman to the rubbish heap. Having touched the head of the martyr, the woman received her sight. She reverently brought the venerable head to Cappadocia and buried it.
Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)
Your Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for You received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since he possessed Your strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ powerless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.
Kontakion (Fourth Tone)
With great joy the Church of Christ today rejoices on the festive memory of blest Longinos, the all-famed and godly prizewinner. And she cries out: O Christ, my foundation and might are You.