We see how Jesus walked the talk by praying for those who crucified him, in Lk 23:33-34:

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

But we see the soldiers going ahead with their cruelty :

The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Lk 23:36-37)

Later, we see them acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God, albeit in a state of shock, in Mtt 27:54:

Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

Some denominations revere the soldier who pierced the heart of Jesus, by the name St Longinus, for whom the Lord's blood is said to have proved the eye-opener: both in physical and spiritual senses. But we are not told of the conversion of the other soldiers though Jesus had pleaded the Father to forgive them. Is it that they ignored the touch of forgiveness and went ahead with their sinful life? My question therefore is: According to Catholic Church, did the soldiers who had crucified Jesus reciprocate the forgiveness granted to them through the Lord's intercession?

1 Answer 1


According to Catholicism, did any of the soldiers who crucified Jesus reciprocate the forgiveness granted to them through the Lord's intersession?

The short answer is possibly!

Traditionally the Church holds that St. Longinus, the soldier that pierced Our Lord’s side did convert and his feast day is March 25, the ancient piously believed day of the actual Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

I have often wondered about this question matter over many years. In fact the legend of St. Longinus posed a few problems for me in my own personal way of thinking.

For one thing, traditional holds that St. Longinus was the centurion at Christ’s crucifixion. Having known that the by military standards the centurion would have been the only soldier seen on a horse and he would have allowed and ordered one of the other soldiers to administer the coup de Grace, but not pierce a crucified himself. Thus, I personally believe that St. Longinus had to have been a foot soldier.

St. Longinus is the centurion who pierced the side of Our Lord while He was hanging on the Cross. St. Longinus, who was nearly blind, was healed when some of the blood and water from Jesus fell into his eyes. It was then he exclaimed "Indeed, this was the Son of God!" [Mark 15:39]. St. Longinus then converted, Left the army, took instruction from the apostles and became a monk in Cappadocia. There he was arrested for his faith, his teeth forced out and tongue cut off. However, St. Longinus miraculously continued to speak clearly and managed to destroy several idols in the presence of the governor. The governor, who was made blind by the demons that came from the idols, had his sight restored when St. Longinus was being beheaded, because his blood came in contact with the governors' eyes. St. Longinus' relics are now in the church of St Augustine, in Rome. His Lance is contained in one of the four pillars over the altar in the Basilica of St Peter's in Rome. St. Longinus (Catholic Encyclopædia)

Interestingly, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich in her revelations actually names Abenadar as the centurion at Jesus’ Crucifixion. He converted and became a saint also.

On the 1st of April 1823, Sister Emmerich said that that day was the Feast of St. Ctesiphon, the centurion who had assisted at the Crucifixion, and that she had seen during the night various particulars concerning his, life. But she had also suffered greatly, which, combined with exterior distractions, had caused her to forget the greatest part of what she had seen. She related what follows:

Abenadar, afterwards called Ctesiphon, was born in a country situated between Babylon and Egypt in Arabia Felix, to the right of the spot where Job dwelt during the latter half of his life. A certain number of square houses, with flat roofs, were built there on a slight ascent. There were many small trees growing on this spot, and incense and balm were gathered there. I have been in Abenadar's house, which was large and spacious, as might be expected of a rich man's house, but it was also very low. All these houses were built in this manner, perhaps on account of the wind, because they were much exposed. Abenadar had joined the garrison of the fortress Antonia, at Jerusalem, as a volunteer. He had entered the Roman service for the purpose of enjoying more facilities in his study of the fine arts, for he was a learned man. His character was firm, his figure short and thick-set, and his complexion dark.

Abenadar was early convinced, by the doctrine which he heard Jesus preach, and by a miracle which he saw him work, that salvation was to be found among the Jews, and he had submitted to the law of Moses. Although not yet a disciple of our Lord, he bore him no ill-will, and held his person in secret veneration. He was naturally grave and composed, and when he came to Golgotha to relieve guard, he kept order on all sides, and forced everybody to behave at least with common decency, down to the moment when truth triumphed over him, and he rendered public testimony to the Divinity of Jesus. Being a rich man, and a volunteer, he had no difficulty in resigning his post at once. He assisted at the descent from the Cross and the burial of our Lord, which put him into familiar connection with the friends of Jesus, and after the day of Pentecost he was one of the first to receive baptism in the Pool of Bethsaida, when he took the name of Ctesiphon. He had a brother living in Arabia, to whom he related the miracles he had beheld, and who was thus called to the path of salvation, came to Jerusalem, was baptised by the name of Caecilius, and was charged, together with Ct?siphon, to assist the deacons in the newly-formed Christian community.

Ctesiphon accompanied the Apostle St. James the Greater into Spain, and also returned with him. After a time, he was again sent into Spain by the Apostles, and carried there the body of St. James, who had been martyred at Jerusalem. He was made a bishop, and resided chiefly in a sort of island or peninsula at no great distance from France, which he also visited, and where he made some disciples. The name of the place where he lived was rather like Vergui, and it was afterwards laid waste by an inundation. I do not remember that Ctesiphon was ever martyred. He wrote several books containing details concerning the Passion of Christ; but there have been some books falsely attributed to him, and others, which were really from his pen, ascribed to different writers. Rome has since rejected these books, the greatest part of which were apocryphal, but which nevertheless did contain some few things really from his pen. One of the guards of our Lord's sepulchre, who would not let himself be bribed by the Jews, was his fellow countryman and friend. His name was something like Sulei or Suleii. After being detained some time in prison, he retired into a cavern of Mount Sinai, where he lived seven years. God bestowed many special graces upon this man, and he wrote some very learned books in the style of Denis the Areopagite, Another writer made use of his works, and in this manner some extracts from them have come down to us. Everything concerning these facts was made known to me, as well as the name of the book, but I have forgotten it. This countryman of Ctesiphon afterwards followed him into Spain. Among the companions of Ctesiphon in that country were his brother Caecilius, and some other men, whose names were Intalecius, Hesicius, and Euphrasius. Another Arab, called Sulima, was converted in the very early days of the Church, and a fellow countryman of Ctesiphon, with a name like Sulensis, became a Christian later, in the time of the deacons.

St. Ctesiphon (Abenadar) in any case is considered a saint. Whatever his true historical circumstances were, he is definitively a first century saint. St. Ctesiphon is one of the Seven Apostolic Men in Spain!

Saint Ctesiphon or Ctesiphon of Vergium is venerated as patron saint of Berja, Andalusia, southern Spain. Tradition makes him a Christian missionary of the 1st century, during the Apostolic Age. He evangelized the town of Bergi, Vergi(s), or Vergium, identified as Berja, and is said to have become its first bishop, but the Diocese of Vergi was probably only founded around 500.

Ctesiphon's relics purportedly lie in the catacombs of Sacromonte Abbey in Granada, along with those of Hesychius of Cazorla and Caecilius of Elvira. - Seven Apostolic Men

According to Catherine Emmerich, Cassius, who, when he became a Christian, was known by the name of Longinus.

As soon as the executioners had crucified the two thieves and divided the garment of Jesus between them, they gathered up their tools, addressed a few more insulting words to our Lord, and went away. The Pharisees, likewise, rode up to Jesus, looked at him scornfully, made use of some opprobrious expression, and then left the place. The Roman soldiers, of whom a hundred had been posted round Calvary, were marched away, and their places filled by fifty others, the command of whom was given to Abenadar, an Arab by birth, who afterwards took the name of Ctesiphon in baptism; and the second in command was Cassius, who, when he became a Christian, was known by the name of Longinus: Pilate frequently made use of him as a messenger. Twelve Pharisees, twelve Sadducees, as many scribes, and a few ancients, accompanied by those Jews who had been endeavouring to persuade Pilate to change the inscription on the Cross of Jesus, then came up: they were furious, as the Roman governor had given them a direct refusal. They rode round the platform, and drove away the Blessed Virgin, whom St. John led to the holy women. When they passed the Cross of Jesus, they shook their heads disdainfully at him, exclaiming at the same time, 'Vah! thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again, save thyself, coming down from the Cross. Let Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the Cross, that we may see and believe.' The soldiers, likewise, made use of deriding language. - First Word of Jesus on the Cross.

There does seem to be some hope the several of Jesus’ executioners May have converted, but facts are lost to history.

Abenadar the Centurion, an Arab by birth, and a disciple baptized later on at Ctesiphon, had, since the moment in which he had given Jesus the vinegar to drink, remained seated on his horse close to the emi­nence upon which the cross was raised, the forefeet the animal planted near it and, consequently, higher than the hind feet. Deeply affected, he gazed long, earnestly and fixedly into the thorn-crowned counte­nance of Jesus. The horse hung his head as if in fear, and Abenadar, whose pride was humbled, let the reins hang loose. When the Lord in a clear, strong voice uttered those last words, when He died with that loud cry that rang through Heaven, earth, and Hell, the earth quaked and the rock between Him and the thief on His left was rent asunder with a crashing sound. That loud cry, that witness of God, resounded like a warning, arousing terror and shuddering in mourning nature. It was consummated! The soul of Our Lord had left the body! The death cry of the dying Redeemer had roused all that heard it; even the earth, by its undulations, seemed to recognize the Saviour, and a sharp sword of sorrow pierced the hearts of those that loved Him. Then it was that grace penetrated the soul of Abenadar. The horse trembled under his rider, who was reeling with emotion; then it was that grace conquered that proud mind, hard as the rock of Calvary. He threw his lance to the ground and, with his great clenched fist, struck his breast vigorous blows, crying aloud in the voice of a changed man: "Blessed be God the Almighty, the God of Abraham and Jacob! This was a just Man! Truly, He is the Son of God!" And many of the soldiers, deeply affected by his words, followed his example.

Abenadar, who was now a changed being, a man redeemed, after his public homage to the Son of God would no longer remain in the service of His ene­mies, He turned his horse toward Cassius, the sub­altern officer, known under the name of Longinus, dismounted, picked up his lance, presented it to him and addressed a few words both to him and the sol­diers. Cassius mounted the horse and assumed the command. Abenadar next hurried down Mount Cal­vary and through the Valley of Gihon to the caves in the Valley of Hinnom, where he announced to the disciples hidden therein the death of the Lord, after which he hastened into the city and went straight to Pilate.

Abenadar rendered public testimony to his belief in Jesus, and his example was followed by many of the soldiers. Numbers of those present, and some of the Pharisees last come to the scene, were con­verted. Many struck their breast, wept, and returned home, while others rent their garments and sprin­kled their head with dust. All were filled with fear and dread. - The Death of Jesus. Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Words on the Cross

As one would expect, not all were believed to have converted!

Stephaton is the name given in medieval Christian traditions to the Roman soldier or bystander, unnamed in the Bible, who offered Jesus a sponge soaked in vinegar wine at the Crucifixion. In later depictions of the Crucifixion, Stephaton is frequently portrayed with Longinus, the name given to the soldier who pierced Jesus' side with a spear.

The significance of the act is unclear, though it is usually interpreted as an act of mercy on the part of the soldiers (William Chester Jordan suggests that the word used for vinegar may have been slang for wine).3 The episode may also allude to Psalm 69:21: "In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Many medieval Christian writers saw the offering of vinegar wine as an act of torture rather than mercy. A tradition, supported by St. Augustine and other Church Fathers, developed that the sponge-bearer was a Jew.

In art

The soldier who offered Jesus the sponge is often paired with Longinus, the name later given to the unnamed soldier who pierced Christ's side with a spear during the Crucifixion. It is not known when or how the name "Stephaton" originated for this character, though it had become common well before the end of the first millennium.

In an iconographic tradition originating in Byzantine art, and continuing in Carolingian and Ottonian art, in depictions of the Crucifixion, he was regularly shown alongside Longinus, with their actions shown simultaneously, though in the Biblical narrative, these took place at different times (Stephaton's occurs before Jesus' death, Longinus' occurred after.) This is also seen in Irish art Colum Hourihane and others suggest the images should not be read as a simple narrative, but rather a mix of symbolism and representation typical of medieval art.

Medieval Christian artists indicated that the sponge-bearer was irredeemably wicked (unlike Longinus), through conventions like showing him on Jesus' left-hand side, without a halo, and/or with some kind of physical deformity.

  • Why should we care about what Anne Emmerich is alleged to have written? According to the Catholic Church, it's almost all fraudulent. "German priest Winfried Hümpfner, who had compared Brentano's original notes to the published books, wrote that Brentano had fabricated much of the material he had attributed to Emmerich" "According to Gumpel, the writings attributed to Emmerich were "absolutely discarded" by the Vatican as part of her beatification process." On her Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Catherine_Emmerich
    – nick012000
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 7:19
  • @nick012000 It is true that private revelations are not obliged to be believed in Catholicism. However Blessed Catherine Emmerich’s revelations have a great track record as being proven authentic. It is because of her Revelations that Mary’s house was discovered in Ephesus and which eventually led later popes to take away the indulgences of her presumed dwelling in Jerusalem and place the indulgences on the House of Mary in present day Turkey!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 16:00

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