BERNINI, Gian Lorenzo
(b. 1598, Napoli, d. 1680, Roma)

Saint Longinus

Marble, height 450 cm
Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican

This is the first in the series of representation of ecstatic saints by Bernini.

Bernini was charged with reorganizing the crossing piers of St Peter's with colossal statues of the four saints whose relics were to be contained in niches above. The original models were planned by Bernini as early as 1628, although their execution required the participation of three other sculptors, Andrea Bolgi, Francesco Mochi and François Duquesnoy.

For St Longinus Bernini decided to exploit the dramatic moment when Longinus, the Roman centurion present at the Crucifixion, acknowledged Christ to be the son of God. Bernini conveyed this by the expansively spread arms (a pose unprecedented for statuary), by the cascades of drapery and the dishevelled locks of hair.

Due to its immense size, Saint Longinus was made from four pieces of marble.