Saint Dismas is the traditional name given to the "good thief" (criminal) who was crucified at the side of Jesus Christ. According to tradition, he was crucified on the right side of Jesus. Dismas stood up for Jesus when He was insulted by the other criminal (traditionally known as Gestas) and asked Jesus to remember him when he went into His kingdom. Christ promised Dismas passage to paradise based on his faith. Some Christian believers see Dismas as an opportunist since his repentance took place in his last hours and only on seeing that Jesus was not going to save him of his sufferings on the cross. He was going to die without remission and he was living his last moments. However, this man could also see that Jesus was not a malefactor like him and that Jesus was his single hope not to be condemned after his death. Certainly, Dismas had nails through both hands, so that he could not help himself; and a nail through each foot, so that he could not walk away; he could not lift a hand or a foot toward his salvation, and yet Jesus offered him salvation. Jesus' words had to make Dismas last few hours of agonizing temporal pain, much lighter.
The experience of Dismas shows the unlimited power of forgiveness by God for those who request it. It is a reminder of the saving grace of God for those who have faith and repent. Perhaps Dismas' sufferings on the cross were enough to expiate his sins or perhaps Christ was trying to show us how merciful He is to those who accept Him as Lord and Saviour.Dismas' crucifixion was in fact a great grace for him, because due to his pain he began to think and believe things that never before occurred to him, and thus he became a Saint. Pain and suffering in our lives are also great graces which bring us close to Christ.
Catholic traditionIn Catholic tradition Dismas is believed to have had a previous meeting with our Lord on the Holy Family's flight to Egypt. It is said that Dismas was very sick and the Blessed Virgin bathed him in the same water as the Holy Child and Dismas was healed. This story may be a foreshadowing of how Jesus would heal Dismas' soul before his death so that he could enjoy eternal life. Dismas is the patron saint for those condemned to death, captives and repentant malefactors. His feast day is March 25, though it gains him no particular recognition as the important feast of the Annunciation falls upon the same day. Religious paintings show us Dismas crucified with ropes or nails, his face turned peacefully towards Jesus.
Dismas is one of the Penitent Saints.