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E06102: The Martyrdom of *Longinos (centurion at the Crucifixion, S00926), recounts the story of the centurion who attended the crucifixion of Christ. Retiring to Cappadocia, he was martyred and his head sent to Jerusalem where it was miraculously found by a blind widow. His body and the recovered head are buried at the village of Sandralis in Cappadocia. A pseudepigraphal postscript claims that the text is by Hesychius of Jerusalem. Written in Greek, probably in Cappadocia, or perhaps in Palestine, possibly in the 6th or 7th century.

online resource
posted on 08.08.2018, 00:00 by erizos
ps.-Hesychius of Jerusalem, Martyrdom of Longinos (= Hesychius, Homily 19; CPG 6589 = BHG 988)

Summary:

1. Introduction.

2. Longinos was the only man who confessed Christ’s divinity, while the disciples themselves had forsaken Him.

3. After Christ’s resurrection, Longinos refuses to be bribed by the Jews and continues to confess Christ’s miracles.

4. He leaves the army and, accompanied by two of his soldiers, moves to Cappadocia and preaches the faith. He is the founder of the local Church, as other apostles evangelised other regions.

5. Incited by the Jews, Pontius Pilate denounces Longinos as an insurgent against the emperor. Imperial letters are issued against him, and soldiers are sent to arrest him in Cappadocia where Longinos lives as an ascetic on his private estate. The soldiers meet him and, not knowing who he is, ask about Longinos.

6. Notified by God about his imminent martyrdom, Longinos rejoices.

7. He generously entertains the soldiers and they disclose the imperial letters against him and his two companions. Three days later, the martyr invites the soldiers to his field and reveals to them his identity.

8. Astonished, the soldiers offer to spare his life.

9. Longinos beseeches them to allow him to accomplish his martyrdom.

10. His two companions arrive and Longinos announces to them the news of their martyrdom. He requests from the head of his household to be given clean and bright clothes, indicates a hill where his body is to be buried, and proceeds to his martyrdom by beheading.

11. The soldiers take his head to Pilate in Jerusalem. He displays it to the Jews, and has it thrown away outside the gates of the city. The head is buried in dung, but is preserved incorrupt.

12. A blind widow from Cappadocia arrives in Jerusalem with her son, hoping to be cured of her disability. During the visit, the boy falls ill and dies. In her prayers, she complains to God about the excessive harshness of her fate.

13. Longinos appears to her in a dream, and reveals to her his identity and the story of his martyrdom. He instructs her to seek his head in the dung, and promises to heal her blindness and let her see her son.

14. She goes to the place where the dung is dumped and, digging with her hands, she finds the head and is immediately cured. In another vision, Longinos instructs her to bury his head in the same coffin (larnax) as her son. He has been granted the boy by Christ as his companion.

15. The widow returns to Cappadocia and buries her son’s body next to the remains of Longinos, at the village of Sandralis – the martyr’s home. She gives thanks to God.

16. Postscript: Hesychius of Jerusalem found the text in a rudimentary form (ἐν σχεδαρίῳ) in the library of the Anastasis shrine in Jerusalem, and composed both the martyrdom account (ὁμολογία) and the encomium (ἐγκώμιον). No one should doubt that this is indeed the story of Longinos the centurion of Christ’s resurrection. The saint’s help is invoked for both the listeners and readers of the text.

Text: Aubineau 1980.
Summary: E. Rizos.
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E06102

Saint Name

Longinos, the Centurion, ob. 1st c. : S00926

Saint Name in Source

Λογγῖνος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

450

Evidence not after

700

Activity not before

450

Activity not after

700

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tyana

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Tyana Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Hesychius of Jerusalem

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - sarcophagus/coffin

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Saint aiding or preventing the translation of relics Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Jews Pagans Soldiers Peasants

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - head Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Privately owned relics

Source

The text is preserved in 12 manuscripts, on which see Aubineau 1980, 805-809, and: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/9280/

Discussion

This text is one of the two pre-metaphrastic versions of the extant Greek hagiography of Longinos, alongside BHG 990 (see E06103). Its attribution to the early 5th century ecclesiastical author Hesychius of Jerusalem in the postscript is clearly inaccurate. Both texts are pieces of ‘epic’ hagiography, probably from the 6th or 7th centuries, and probably originating from Anatolia rather than Jerusalem. The tradition that the centurion of the Crucifixion became a martyr was known to John Chrysostom (Homily on Matthew 88.2; PG 58, 777), while the legend that he was the Apostle of Cappadocia, as stated in our text, was known to Gregory of Nyssa (Letter 18.15). Neither of these two authors, however, names him as Longinos. The name is first mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Pilate. Recension A of this text, dating from AD 425, gives this name to the soldier who pierced Jesus with the lance (xvi, 7), while the later Recension B names him as the centurion who confessed Jesus as the Son of God (xi. 1). The cult of a martyr Longinos is attested quite early in Cappadocia, but it is unknown whether he was identified as the centurion of the Crucifixion from the beginning. The Martyrologium Hieronymianum records three feasts of Longinos in Cappadocia (E04717, E04995, E###), one of which is associated with Caesarea – on 23 October. There appears to have existed a Caesarean hagiography of Longinos, the Greek version of which has not survived, but its legend is reflected in the Latin and Armenian martyrdom accounts of the saint (BHL 4965; BHO 565). Besides Caesarea, however, it seems that Longinos’ cult centre was also claimed by Tyana. Our text represents the legend coined by Tyana, which eventually prevailed in the Byzantine ecclesiastical tradition. The author refers to the shrine of the village of Sandralis, providing no information about its location, besides that it was in Cappadocia, but the more extensive and possibly later BHG 990 tells us that it lay within the territory of Tyana (E06103). Given the fact that Longinos was the reputed founding father of the Cappadocian Church, a competition between Caesarea and Tyana over the possession of the saint’s tomb may be reflecting a jurisdictional dispute between the two churches, stemming from Tyana’s elevation to capital of Cappadocia Secunda in the 370s. Our text has strong links with the Anatolian hagiographic tradition. The core narrative of the arrest and martyrdom of Longinos on his estate reproduces the story of *Phokas the Gardener of Sinope (S00052; E01961). The pseudepigraphal postscript, which mentions a fragmentary early source text in Jerusalem and the name of an august ecclesiastical author, is also attested in Anatolian hagiography, e.g. in the martyrdom accounts of *Polycarp of Smyrna (E00054) and *Athenogenes of Pedachthoe (E02993). Finally, the widespread topos of the woman who finds the relic and establishes the shrine has similarities with a story known from the martyrdom of *Ioulianos of Cilicia (E02549) (a widow who buries her son with the martyr). Although the centre of the saint's cult, which probably produced this text, is Anatolian, it cannot be excluded that it had connections with the Holy Land as well. Anatolian monastic communities were strongly present in Palestine, and Anatolian monasteries had close relations with their counterparts in Jerusalem and the Judaean desert especially during the 6th and early 7th centuries. Longinos’ cult was present and popular in Palestine, as suggested by inscriptions (E01834, E02617) and entries in Palestinian calendars. The Armenian Lectionary of Jerusalem records a feast for the deposition of the martyr’s relics in Bethany (E03277), while the Georgian calendar of Ioane Zosime records three celebrations for Longinos, perhaps associated with shrines which possessed his relics (E03641, E03803, E03896). Interestingly, in one case, the Calendar of Ioane Zosime records a celebration of Longinos together with another Anatolian martyr, Athenogenes (E03803).

Bibliography

Text, French translation, and commentary: Aubineau, M., Les homélies festales d’Hésychius de Jérusalem II: les homélies XVI-XXI (Subsidia Hagiographica 59; Brussels, 1980), 668-705.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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