The Centurion’s Conversion at the Cross

Jesus was almost fainting; His tongue was parched, and He said: “I thirst!” The disciples who were standing round the Cross looked at Him with the deepest expression of sorrow, and He added, “Could you not have given me a little water?” 

By these words He gave them to understand that no one would have prevented them from doing so during the darkness. John was filled with remorse, and replied: “We did not think of doing so, O Lord.” 

Jesus pronounced a few more words, the import of which was: “My friends and My neighbors were also to forget Me, and not give Me to drink, that so what was written concerning Me might be fulfilled.” This omission had afflicted Him very much. 

The disciples then offered money to the soldiers to obtain permission to give Him a little water: they refused to give it, but dipped a sponge in vinegar and gall, and were about to offer it to Jesus, when the centurion Abenadar, whose heart was touched with compassion, took it from them, squeezed out the gall, poured some fresh vinegar upon it, and fastening it to a reed, put the reed at the end of a lance, and presented it for Jesus to drink. 

I heard Our Lord say several other things, but I only remember these words: “When my voice shall be silent, the mouths of the dead shall be opened.” Some of the bystanders cried out: “He blasphemeth again.” But Abenadar compelled them to be silent. 

The hour of Our Lord was at last come; His death struggle had commenced; a cold sweat overspread every limb. John stood at the foot of the Cross, and wiped the feet of Jesus with his scapular. Magdalen was crouched to the ground in a perfect frenzy of grief behind the Cross. The Blessed Virgin stood between Jesus and the good thief, supported by Salome and Mary of Cleophas, with her eyes riveted on the countenance of her dying Son. 

Jesus then said: “It is consummated”; and, raising His head, cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” 

These words, which He uttered in a clear and thrilling tone, resounded through Heaven and earth; and a moment after, He bowed down His head and gave up the ghost. I saw His soul, under the appearance of a bright meteor, penetrate the earth at the foot of the Cross. 

John and the holy women fell prostrate on the ground. The centurion Abenadar had kept his eyes steadfastly fixed on the disfigured countenance of Our Lord, and was perfectly overwhelmed by all that had taken place. 

When Our Lord pronounced His last words, before expiring, in a loud tone, the earth trembled, and the rock of Calvary burst asunder, forming a deep chasm between the Cross of Our Lord and that of Gesmas. The voice of God—that solemn and terrible voice—had re-echoed through the whole universe; it had broken the solemn silence which then pervaded all nature. 

All was accomplished. The soul of Our Lord had left His body: His last cry had filled every breast with terror. The convulsed earth had paid homage to its Creator: the sword of grief had pierced the hearts of those who loved Him. 

This moment was the moment of grace for Abenadar; his horse trembled under him; his heart was touched; it was rent like the hard rock; he threw his lance to a distance, struck his breast, and cried out: “Blessed be the Most High God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; indeed this man was the Son of God!” His words convinced many among the soldiers, who followed his example, and were likewise converted.

This article is taken from a chapter in The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, which is available from TAN Books.



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