( Kornelios )
A centurion of the Italic cohort, whose conversion at Cæsarea with his household is related in Acts 10 . The Roman name Cornelius would indicate that he was either a member of the distinguished gens Cornelia , or a descendant of one of its freedmen — most likely the latter. The cohort in which he was centurion was probably the Cohors II Italica civium Romanorum , which a recently discovered inscription proves to have been stationed in Syria before A.D. 69.
The description of Cornelius as "a religious man, and fearing God. . . ., giving much alms to the people" [i.e. the Jews (cf. 10:22 )], shows that he was one of those gentiles commonly, though incorrectly, called proselytes of the gate, who worshiped the one true God and observed some of the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law, but who were not affiliated to the Jewish community by circumcision. He was certainly not a full proselyte ( Acts 10:28, 34 sq., 45 ; 11:3 ).
The baptism of Cornelius is an important event in the history of the Early Church. The gates of the Church, within which thus far only those who were circumcised and observed the Law of Moses had been admitted, were now thrown open to the uncircumcised Gentiles without the obligation of submitting to the Jewish ceremonial laws. The innovation was disapproved by the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem ( Acts 11:2-3 ); but when Peter had related his own and Cornelius's vision and how the Holy Ghost had come down upon the new converts, opposition ceased ( Acts 11:4-18 ) except on the part of a few extremists. The matter was finally settled at the Council of Jerusalem ( Acts 15 ).
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online