Statue of St Longinus (1629-38) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini The statue of St Longinus is the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). Longinus is the name given (in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus) to the unnamed Roman centurion who pierced the side of Christ with his lance. St. Luke writes that when Christ died the centurion, 'glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man' (Luke 23:47, KJV). Longinus is believed to have later converted to Christianity.
What was believed to be the metal tip of the Holy Lance of Longinus was donated to Pope Innocent VIII (r. 1484-92) in 1492.
Above the statue of St Longinus is a loggia, one of the four Bernini designed to hold the Basilica's sacred relics. Each loggia is adorned with two ancient columns decorated with vine leaves, which were once part of the old basilica. The back walls bear bas-reliefs illustrating each of the relics.