October 16 is the feast of a saint and martyr who is well known, but only for a fraction of the story of his life as a follower of Christ! Longinus was the centurion who pierced our Lord with the lance, opening His Sacred Heart and spilling what was left of His precious blood, and the water of redemption. Did you know that before this, our friend was nearly blind? Legend says that the other soldiers often teased him because he squinted due to his poor eyesight. When the blood of Christ was spilled (by HIM, mind you!) some of it landed in his afflicted eyes and Longinus was able to see quite clearly what he had just done. This affected him deeply. Later, he was assigned to be one of the soldiers who would guard the tomb. When it was found that Christ had risen from the dead, money was offered to the soldiers to keep the affair quiet, but Longinus, now knowing exactly what had happened to the body of Jesus, would not be bought. He refused the money and had to flee into seclusion to escape being killed. He defected from the army, consulted with the apostles who gave him the sacrament of baptism, and returned to his homeland of Cappodocia where he found he was free to preach about the Lord and what He had done for him. After some time, soldiers arrived to escort the escaped saint to martyrdom. He went willingly, although his captors nearly begged their former comrade to run away. He and his companions were beheaded at the order of Pontius Pilate, who received the head of the saint, and ordered it to be flung out into the city dump. There was a certain blind woman who traveled with her son to Jerusalem to pray that her sight be restored. On the way, her son died, leaving her alone and very much in distress. Soon thereafter, Longinus appeared to her in a dream promising her healing, and assuring her that her son was with God. He asked the woman to search the landfill. When she did, digging through the refuse with her hands, she eventually ouched the head of the martyr and her eyesight was restored. Longinus again appeared to her in a dream that very night, this time with the woman’s own son surrounded by heavenly glory. He asked the that his head be buried with the body of the woman's son in their homeland of Cappodocia. Many other miracles of sight have been attributed to the saint.
Here is a side-dish recipe that has become a favorite way for our family to remember St. Longinus. Spears to remember what Longinus did, and carrots to protect your own eyesight! Enjoy!
St. Longinus’s Spears
Wash and trim one bunch of asparagus spears. Cut some carrot sticks to about the same size and combine in a bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, about 2-3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional) or 2-3 Tbsp chopped dill ( also optional), the juice and zest of one lemon ( once when I was out of lemons, I used a tangerine...yum!). and salt and pepper to taste. Toss this well and place mixture onto a cookie sheet and roast at 350 for about 20 minutes till the vegetables look well roasted, but not too brown.