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The Holy Martyr Longinus the Centurion, a Roman soldier, saw service in Judea under the command of the procurator, Pontius Pilate. During the time of the execution of the Saviour it was the detachment of soldiers under the command of Longinus, which stood watch around Golgotha, at the very foot of the holy Cross. Longinus and his soldiers were eye-witnesses of the final moments of the earthly life of the Lord, and of the great and awesome portents that appeared at His death. These events jolted the soul of the soldier. Longinus believed then in Christ and before everyone confessed that, “in truth – this was the Son of God” (Mt. 27: 54). (according to Church tradition, Longinus was that soldier, who with a spear pierced the side of the Crucified Saviour, and from the outflowing of blood and water received healing from an eye affliction).

After the Crucifixion and Burial of the Saviour, Longinus with his company stood watch at the Sepulchre of the Lord. Here the soldiers were given to behold the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ. The Jews persuaded them with a bribe to bear false witness that His disciples had stolen away the Body of Christ, but Longinus and two of his comrades refused to be seduced by the Jewish gold.

Having believed in the Saviour, the soldiers accepted Baptism from the apostles and decided to forsake military service. Longinus quit Judea and set out preaching about Christ Jesus the Son of God in his native land, in Cappadocia. His two comrades also followed after him. The fiery words of actual participants of the great occurrences in Judea swayed the hearts and minds of the Cappadocians; Christianity began quickly to spread about in the city and the surrounding villages.

Having learned of this, the Jewish elders persuaded Pilate to dispatch a company of soldiers to Cappadocia, to kill Longinus and his comrades. The dispatched company of soldiers arrived in the native village of Longinus; the former centurion himself came out to meet the soldiers and took them to his home. After a meal, the soldiers told about the purpose of their arrival, not knowing – that the master of the house – was that very selfsame man, whom they were seeking. Then Longinus and his fellows identified themselves and asked the surprised soldiers, unperturbedly, to do their duty of military service. The soldiers wanted to set free the saints and advised them to flee, but the saints refused to do this, shewing firmness of will to accept suffering for Christ. The holy martyrs were beheaded, and their bodies were buried there where the saints made their final witness, and the cut-off heads were sent on to Pilate. Pilate gave orders to cast the martyrs on the trash-heap outside the city walls. After a certain while a certain blind woman arrived in Jerusalem to pray at the holy places. Saint Longinus appeared to her in a dream and said, that she should find his head and bury it. They led the blind woman to the rubbish heap. Having touched the head of the martyr, the woman was granted sight to her eyes. She reverently conveyed the venerable head to Cappadocia and there gave it burial.

From “Orthodox Liturgical Calendar of The St. John of Kronstadt Press,”

 

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The Feast in Honour of the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord and the Life-Giving Pillar is the temple feast of the Mtskheta patriarchal cathedral in honour of the Twelve Holy Apostles, named the Svetitskhoveli ((სვეტიცხოვლის, which in translation means “Life-Giving Pillar”). According to the tradition of the Georgian Church, the Chiton (Greek word, in Latin “Tunic”) of the Lord – the seamless garment of the Saviour (Jn. 19: 23) – came to the ancient capital city of Georgia, Mtskheta, in the following manner.


Elioz of Mtskheta acquiring the Robe of the Lord

Eleazar (or Elioz), rabbi of the Mtskheta community of Jews, had resettled to Georgia from Jerusalem already by the year 70 A.D. Having received news from the Jerusalem high-priest Annas about the impending execution of Christ, he hastened to Jerusalem in the company of Longinus Carsnitus [or “carsnifex”, the Latin meaning “executioner”]. They became eye-witnesses to the Passion of the Lord and the casting of lots for His garment (Jn. 19: 23-24; Ps. 21 [22]: 18).

At the moment when the All-Pure Body of the Lord was nailed to the Cross, the mother of Elioz, situated in Mtskheta, sensed the blows of the hammer in her heart and shuddered out of great fright. Having related to her daughter Sidonia about the crucifixion sufferings of the Saviour, guiltlessly given over unto death, the mother of Elioz then died. Elioz then acquired the Chiton from the soldier who by lots had won it, and he took it with him to Mtskheta.

Sidonia, meeting her brother Elioz in tears, told him about the death of their mother and her words just before her death. Elioz confirmed the words of their mother and he showed his sister the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord. Taking hold the Chiton, Righteous Sidonia kissed it all over, pressed it to her bosom and herewith fell down lifeless. No one, not even the emperor Aderk (2 B.C.-55 A.D.) was able to open the grasp of Sidonia nor take from her the Chiton. Righteous Sidonia (Comm. 1 October) was secretly consigned to earth by her brother Elioz in the imperial garden at Mtskheta.


The miracle of the Life-giving Pillar

The holy Saint Nino, Equal-to-the-Apostle, stold about this to the Kartalin Hebrew highpriest Aviathar – a descendent of rabbi Elioz. He came to believe in Christ, having listened to the explanation by Saint Nino of the ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah, and how these prophecies were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Georgian king Mirian (265-342) was also converted by holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Saint Nino, and he decided to build a Christian church on the spot whereupon the Chiton of the Lord was situated. A massive cedar tree had grown on the grave of Sidonia, which they sawed, and wanted to use its truck as a foundation pillar for supporting the main cupola of the church, but they were not able to raise it upright. Saint Nino prayed all night for Divine help. and visions were manifest to her, in which were revealed the historical courses of destiny of Georgia.

At dawn an Angel of the Lord approached the pillar and raised it in the air. The pillar, shining with a wondrous light, was elevated and then lowered in the air, until it was set over its base. From the stump of the cedar issued a fragrant myrh. Thus the Angel of the Lord indicated the place, where the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord was concealed in the ground. This event, witnessed to by many of the inhabitants of Mtskheta, is depicted on the icon, “Glorification of the Georgian Church”. Afterwards at the place of the wooden church was erected the majestic stone cathedral of Svetitskhoveli. The Life-Giving Pillar, from which occurred many healings, has at present a stone four-cornered covering and is crowned by a light-loft, not touching the arch of the cathedral. The Pillar is positioned in the Sveti-Tskhoveli cathedral with a model alongside of the Church of the Sepulchre of the Lord at Jerusalem.

From “Lives of the Saints”, Saint John of Kronstadt Press

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A neat summary of the Church’s position on new claims of Christ’s supposed “marriage”. We went through all this a few years ago in the wake of “The Da Vinci Code” but here we go again….Academics’ scepticism of documentary authenticity reported here

Sep 20, 2012

Christ the Lifegiver An announcement about an ancient text in which Jesus is reported to have spoken about “my wife” has received extensive attention in the media.  The text comes from a small papyrus fragment about 1×3 inches in size, judged to be of the fourth century AD, which apparently had broken off from a larger page of a document presumed lost.  The text is still in the process of linguistic and chemical analysis to determine if it is actually a fragment from a fourth-century manuscript.  When the papyrus fragment was discovered, and under what circumstances it has passed from hand to hand until the public announcement, are presently unknown.

Written in ancient Sahidic Coptic script, the text is perhaps a translation of an earlier Greek document.  Because the lines on all four sides of the fragment are broken and incomplete, transcription of meaningful sentences is impossible.  But the names of Jesus and also Mary, presumably, Mary Magdalene, are reported to occur, and also certain phrases, including Jesus using the expression “my wife.”  Mary Magdalene has been portrayed as an intimate disciple of Jesus, but not a wife, in other ancient writings already known to the Fathers of the Church and designated as apocrypha and fraudulent.  These works were composed by small circles of heretical teachers concerned to disseminate their own and often bizarre teachings.  For example, a few years ago the discovery of “The Gospel of Judas” caused a stir in the media.  This document was known to St. Irenaeus in the late second century AD.  Among its strange teachings is that Judas was the only disciple who truly understood Jesus and that his treachery was a good thing in itself because it helped Jesus to be crucified; except that by that time the real Christ had (weirdly) departed from Jesus and that only Jesus the man was crucified!

Professor Karen King of Harvard Divinity School who made the announcement about the new text cautioned that its reference to Jesus’ wife is no historical proof that Jesus was actually married but only an indication that Christians in the fourth century debated the issues of marriage and celibacy.  The Gospels and most of the other books of the New Testament are extensive documents of the first century AD and provide no hint that Jesus was ever married.  There would be no reason to hide such a fact because marriage was viewed as a sacred covenant in Judaism and Christianity.  It should be noted that St. Peter the Apostle, as well as other apostles were married (Mark 1:30; 1 Cor 9:5).  The Bible and the Orthodox theology confirm that marriage is instituted by God, it is honorable and holy, one of the sacraments of the Church.  Just as the Church honors a celibate life dedicated to God, so also it celebrates marriage as a workshop of God’s kingdom–a journey to God.

 

From the Greek Orthodox Archiocese of America

 

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