Longinus is the name given in Christian tradition to a Roman soldier who pierced Jesus on his side while he was on the Cross.
Origins of the legend
Statue of St. Longinus by Bernini
No name for this soldier is given in the Gospels; the name Longinus comes from a version of the apocryphal Acts of Pilate. The spear used is known as the Spear of Destiny, or Lance of Longinus, and figures in the Holy Grail mythos. In some medieval folklore, e.g. the Golden Legend, the touch of Jesus's blood cures his blindness. Longinus is revered as a martyr in the Eastern Orthodoxy, with anecdotal details introduced to reinforce the duplicity of the Jews in the lore that accumulated around these supposed witnesses to the crucifixion. Longinus does not have an entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
A statue of a Saint Longinus is in the Basilica di San Pietro, in the Vatican. It was sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The Longinus legend in popular culture
- Louis de Wohl, well known for his "biographical novels" of saints and other religious characters, devotes an entire novel, "Spear" to Cassius Longinus, the legionnaire who put a spear through Christ's side. The novel tells his life before and after the event, from a pagan son of a member of Roman nobility, through him being sold as a slave, to a converted christian. Though not a groundbreaking literary milestone, it is nonetheless an interesting portrait of the character.
- The Seventh Sign is a 1988 film that incorporates elements of the Longinus legend and the Wandering Jew legend
- Barry Sadler's Casca: Eternal Mercenary series of novels features Casca Rufio Longinius, cursed by Jesus for spearing him to soldier until they meet again. This seems to be an intentional blending of the legends of Longinus and the Wandering Jew.
- In Justice League Unlimited, the spear of Longinus is taken by Grodd, who mentions that Hitler believed that whoever held the spear will achieve ultimate power.
- The Lance of Longinus appears as a collossal artifact of great power in the highly controversial anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. There it is the only projectile that can pierce an AT-Field, however, only the giant biomechanical mechas called Evangelion are capable of wielding it due to its size. Rei Ayanami, the First Child, uses the Lance of Longinus while piloting Eva Unit 00.
- In the original Japanese version of the video game Final Fantasy X, each character could attain an ultimate weapon known as a "Celestial Weapon." The character Kimahri Ronso used pole arms such as spears and lances, and his ultimate weapon was named Longinus. In the English translation of the game released in North America and Europe, the name was changed to Spirit Lance.
- In the short-lived television series Roar starring a young Heath Ledger, a Roman soldier who is also a wizard is revealed to be the Roman who pierced the side of Jesus, and thus cursed to walk the earth, not being able to die by any means until he finds the Spear of Destiny.
- In the role-playing-game Vampire: The Requiem, Longinus is rumored to have been transformed into a vampire after piercing Christ's side and founded one of the vampire covenants, the Lancea Sanctum.
- In two games of the Castlevania series (Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow,) the spear of Longinus is an obtainable weapon, though in Aria, it is mistranslated as Ronginus.
- In the SRPGs Disgaea: Hour of Darkness and Makai Kingdom, Longinus was one of the most powerful lances in the game. In Disgaea, Longinus was the famed spear that King Krichevskoy once wielded before his death. In the game, Longinus stays in the corner of one of the rooms of the castle and gives Laharl info on the six weapon types. The blade at the end of the spear resembles a face with eyes and a moustache. The player can obtain that Longinus by reaching a spear mastery level of 25. Once reached, Longinus will deem the player worthy and will be usable. While it is also possible to steal another Longinus from Item World, the one in the Overlord's Castle is an easy to obtain legendary weapon. The legendary Longinus is the key gaining the Glorious, the strongest spear in the game.
- In yet another RPG game, Riviera: The Promised Land, Longinus is a weapon wielded by the final enemy, and can also be found through special means to be used by Ein, the main character. It is said that Longinus is meant to be in the hands of the gods, and not to be wielded by mere angels, referring to the fact that Ein is an angel.
- In the Hollywood movie Constantine, Keanu Reeves plays a demon hunter who is racing supernatural forces in an attempt to thwart an Apocalyptic plan between the son of Satan, Mammon, and the Archangel Gabriel. The Spear of Destiny, and the blood contained on the end, is the key to allowing Mammon to pass to the mortal realm.
- In the movie Hellboy, Prof. Trevor Bruttenholm shows FBI Special Agent John Myers the Spear of Longinus, which is on display in the underground headquarters of the B.P.R.D.
- In the movie The Librarian, student for life Flynn Carsen gets a job as guardian of the Metropolian Public Library, where, among other items, one third piece of the spear of Longinus is kept.
- The sequel to the infamous hentai anime series Bible Black is called Shin Bible Black Lanze de Longinus.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa, spears used to subdue the dragon form of the homonculus Envy are referred to as "Spears of Longinus". It is also stated that there were many spears of Longinus, and they all needed to be retrieved in order to subdue Envy.