Saint Longinus (Login) is a Roman soldier who was present during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and believed in Him. “So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, ‘Certainly this was a righteous Man!’”(Luke 23:47). No name for the soldier is given in the Gospels. The non-canonical Gospel of Nicodemus states that the soldier’s name was Longin and that he recognized the crucified Jesus Christ as the Son of the Lord and told Pontius Pilate about it. The Great Menaion Reader (Velikiye Chetyi-Minei) compiled by the Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow contains a collection of accounts about St. Longinus. According to legend, the hagiography of the saint was written by the Presbyter Hesychius of Jerusalem. According to this account, St. Longin was a native of Cappadocia. On the order of Pontius Pilate, Longinus was present during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and later, together with other soldiers, guarded his grave. St. Longinus witnessed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men” (Matthew 28: 2-4). Shocked by what he has seen, Longinus believed in the Savior and retired from the army. He headed for Cappadocia to preach Christ. For this preaching he was beheaded, his head was sent to Jerusalem. After a while, St. Longinus appeared in a dream to a blind woman, following which she discovered the saint’s head and was healed. The woman brought the head back to Cappadocia for reburial..
On the icons St. Longinus is portrayed as a saint warrior. He is usually depicted wearing a short armor suit, a cloak and boots, with a cross in his hands. One such example is a St. Longinus icon from the sovereign row of the iconostasis of the Verkhospassky Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, painted by Theodor Zubov ca. 1680. St. Longinus is also depicted in the Crucifixion scenes, right to Jesus Christ, beside the Apostle John the Theologian.
The feast day of St. Longinus is celebrated on October 29 (October 16 in the old style).
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.
1. Покровский Н.В. Евангелие в памятниках иконографии преимущественно византийских и русских. — М., 2001.
2. Саенкова Е. М., Герасименко Н. В. Иконы святых воинов. — М.: Интербук-бизнес, 2008.