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Cornelius

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( 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 ).

To all our readers, Please don't scroll past this.

Deacon Keith Fournier Today, we humbly ask you to defend Catholic Online's independence. 98% of our readers don't give; they simply look the other way. If you donate just $5.00, or whatever you can, Catholic Online could keep thriving for years. Most people donate because Catholic Online is useful. If Catholic Online has given you $5.00 worth of knowledge this year, take a minute to donate. Show the volunteers who bring you reliable, Catholic information that their work matters. If you are one of our rare donors, you have our gratitude and we warmly thank you. Help us do more >

According to one tradition Cornelius became Bishop of Cæsarea; according to another, Bishop of Scepsis in Mysia.

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