Chapel of Saint Longinus: In truth this man was son of God. (Matthew 27:54)
Hours: April-September, 5am to 8pm
October-March, 5am to 7pm
Within the labyrinthine basement of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, otherwise known as Church of the Resurrection, there are many smaller chapels. One of these chapels is the Chapel of Saint Longinus. Located at the intersection of Suq Khan e-Zeit and Christian Quarter Road, this Church and its many chapels bring together many varying Christian denominations in peace and unity. At the end of the north aisle of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, there lays a chapel dedicated to the prison Christ was held in awaiting crucifixion.
If visitors take a right at the Prison of Christ, they will step into the ambulatory of the original Crusader church. Herein lies even more small chapels. As with most of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the chapels are each owned by a different denomination of Middle Eastern Christian. The Chapel of Saint Longinus is run by the Greek Orthodox Church. It is located in the northeast corner of the apse.
The Chapel of Saint Longinus is a simple enclave set into the stone. There is a rectangular altar, ornately painted with the legendary story of Saint Longinus. There is also a three paned mosaic hanging on the hewn wall.
At the crucifixion there was a Roman soldier who thrust a spear in the side of Christ to see if he was dead. When blood and water spilled out, Christ was then removed from the cross. Over the years, this soldier was thought to have been named Longinus. In certain variations of the tradition, Longinus is also thought to have been the Roman centurion who said, “Truly this man was the Son of God,” at Golgotha, when referring to Christ. He is venerated as a saint in many Christian denominations and was believed to have converted to Christianity after the crucifixion.
Chapel of Saint Longinus History
The Gospel of Nicodemus (a pseudepigraphical work) is the only mention of the name Longinus. It wasn’t known to the Greeks until Germanus in 715. This Gospel of Nicodemus was the sole source of the Roman soldier’s identification.
The actual namesake for the Chapel of Saint Longinus is thought to have come from the Latinized version of the Greek word “longche” or spear. Longinus’ body was twice found and lost, then finally found again in 1304 by Mantua. The body is now at the Church of Saint Agostino in the Vatican, Rome .
Saint Longinus is regarded as a martyr by the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox Churches. The Armenian Church even celebrates his supposed sacrifice with a feast on October 22. The Roman Catholics list him in its Roman Martyrology but gives no indication of cause of death.