Saint Cornelius: The Iconography

In Caesarea in Palestine, St. Cornelius the Centurion. Blessed Peter the Apostle baptized him and raised him to the honor of the bishopric of the aforesaid city. – Roman Martyrology for February 2

In Acts 10 Cornelius is the Roman soldier in Caesarea who becomes the first Gentile Christian. When Peter comes to Caesarea, St. Cornelius mistakenly kneels before him, so we see this gesture in narrative representations (example), although Peter immediately tells him to get up because "I myself am also a man." St. Cornelius kneels again in Trevisani's painting of his subsequent baptism by Peter (first picture at right).

Another St. Cornelius is the subject of the Golden Legend's chapter on Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, respectively a pope and a bishop of Carthage who were martyred in the 3rd century after effecting numerous conversions.

Feast Days:

  • Roman Catholic: February 2
  • Orthodox: September 13
  • Episcopalian: February 7

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University, revised 2015-10-20.


Francesco Trevisani, St. Peter Baptiziing the Centurion Cornelius", 1709. (See the description page)

With two other military saints, George and Martin of Tours (See the description page)


  • Life of St. Cornelius in Migne's text of Metaphrastes, CXIV, 1287-1312.