Centurions

St. Maurice and Companions

9_22_mauriceSt. Maurice was an officer in the Theban Legion, a unit in the army of the Emperor Maximian Herculius. This Legion, from Upper Egypt, was entirely Christian, and when Maximian ordered his soldiers at Octodurum (now called Martigny, Switzerland) to sacrifice to the gods as a way of ensuring victory in battle, Maurice and two other officers led the Theban Legion in refusing, and the Legion with drew to Agaunum (now St.-Maurice, in the Swiss Canton of Valais). With Maurice encouraging the legionnaires to remain constant, even after the Emperor had the legion decimated (every tenth man killed), the legionnaires answered, “We have arms in our hands, but we do not resist because we would rather die innocent than live by any sin.” Maximian ordered the rest of his army to kill the Christian legionnaires. The Theban legion numbered about 6,600 men, but the actual number killed remains unclear. Others were martyred for refusing to share in the spoils of the legionnaires. St. Eucherius, a fifth-century bishop of Lyons, noted that many miracles took place at the shrine of these martyrs. They are buried under the Basilica of St.-Maurice-en-Valais in Switzerland. (Excerpted from 2020 Saints Calendar & Daily Planner, Tan Books).

Symbols: Armour; banner with lion rampant; sword; seven stars; eagle on a shield; red cross; Often Portrayed As: soldier; soldier being executed with other soldiers; knight (sometimes a Moor) in full armour, bearing a standard and a palm; knight in armour with a red cross on his breast, which is the badge of the Sardinian Order of Saint Maurice. (Source)

Cornelius, The Centurion

All that we know of Cornelius is contained in the Book of Acts (chapters 10 and 11). A centurion was a Roman army officer, theoretically in charge of a hundred men. Several centurions are mentioned in the New Testament (M 8:5 = L 7:2; M 27:54 = L 23:47; a 10:1; 22:25; 23:17,23; 22:23; 27:1), and they are consistently portrayed favorably.

Cornelius is called a God-fearer–that is to say, he was a monotheist, a Gentile who worshipped the One God. The Jews traditionally recognized that such Gentiles had a place in the Family of God, and they are mentioned along with the priests (House of Aaron), the Levites (House of Levi), and the Jews or Israelites (House of Israel) in Ps 115:9-13, Ps 118:2-4, and Ps 135:19-20. In New Testament times, an estimated ten per cent of the population of the Roman Empire consisted of God-fearers, Gentiles who recognized that the pagan belief in many gods and goddesses, who according to the myths about them were given to adultery, treachery, intrigue, and the like, was not a religion for a thoughtful and moral worshipper, and who had accordingly embraced an ethical monotheism–belief in One God, who had created the world, and who was the upholder of the Moral Law. Although only a few of them took the step of formal conversion to Judaism, undergoing circumcision and accepting the obligations of keeping the food laws and ritual laws of Moses and his rabbinical interpreters, most of them attended synagogue services regularly.

Cornelius, then, was a Roman centurion, and a God-fearing man. One day, as he was praying, an angel appeared to him and told him to send a messenger to Joppa and ask Peter to come and preach to him. Peter, meanwhile, was given a vision that disposed him to go with the messenger. When Peter had preached to Cornelius and his family and friends, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on the first Christians at Pentecost (A 2), and they began to speak in other tongues. Thus, there was ample evidence to convince Jewish Christians who hesitated to believe that it was the will of God that Gentiles should be brought into the Church.

Cornelius was the first Gentile converted to Christianity, along with his household, and Luke, recording this event, clearly regards it as an event of the utmost importance in the history of the early Church, the beginning of the Church’s decision to admit Gentiles to full and equal fellowship with Jewish Christians. Cornelius lived in Caesarea, the political capital of Judea under Herod and the Romans. (Given that Jerusalem was a holy city to the Jews, it would have been needlessly provocative for the Romans to establish their headquarters there.) Although he is not mentioned again, he and his household presumably formed the nucleus of the Christian community that we find mentioned later (A 8:40; 21:18) in this important city.

PRAYER (traditional language) O God, who by thy Spirit didst call Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles: Grant to thy Church in every nation a ready mind and will to proclaim thy love to all who turn  to thee with unfeigned hope and faith; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  (Source)

Longinus, The Centurion

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.

PRAYER TO ST. LONGINUS O Saint Longinus, you were chosen as the venerable gate keeper and was granted the gift of discernment by the Lord. An eyewitness of God’s miracle who glorified the resurrected Christ. To your death, you remained Christ’s soldier and for Christ you gave your head. Pray for us, therefore, O St. Longinus so that being inspired by your example and assisted by your prayers, we may live a holy life, die a happy death, and reach eternal life to praise and thank God in heaven with you.  I ask you to pray to God this special request if it be His holy will. ( Mention your requests ) Our Father.  Hail Mary.  Glory Be.

Almighty, Eternal God, You were pleased to make Your Church illustrious through the varied splendor of St. Longinus. As we venerate his memory, may we also follow such shining examples of virtue on earth and thus obtain merited crowns in Heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. St. Longinus Patron Saint of the blind and people with poor eyesight, Pray for us. St. Longinus Patron Saint of Labor and Power, Pray for us.  St. Longinus Patron Saint of Good Discernment, Pray for Us. (Source)

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