Thursday, May 05, 2005

Spear of Destiny - The spear that pierced Christ's side

The Spear of Destiny, sometimes known as the Lance, Spear Luin or Spear of Longinus, is claimed to be the spear that pierced the side of Jesus when he was on the cross. It is described in John 19:31-37 as being used by a Roman soldier. Later Christian tradition would give the soldier's name as Gaius Cassius, and he is later called Longinus.

It is superstitiously believed that whosoever might hold the spear would have the power to conquer the world but losing it would mean instant death. The legend states that since the Spear had pierced the body of God, that would be Jesus Christ, it became imbued with some kind of magical power and therefore was a weapon capable of defeating any opponent. It is rumoured that the spear even has the power to kill an angel.

According to its legend, it has passed through the hands of influential world leaders throughout the ages including Constantine, Justinian, Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, the Habsburg Emperors, and Adolf Hitler.

The earliest reports of the Spear were circa A.D. 570, described as having been on display in the basilica of Mount Zion in Jerusalem adjacent to the Crown of Thorns, which was wore by Jesus Christ on the day he was cruxified on the cross. The point of the spearhead was alleged to have been snapped following the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in A.D. 615. The point was set into an icon, and found its way to the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. It was later transported to France, where it remained in the Sainte Chapelle until the 18th century. The icon was briefly moved to the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris during the French Revolution, but it subsequently disappeared. The lower section of the spearhead was allegedly conveyed from Jerusalem to Constantinople sometime in the 8th century. It was sent by Sultan Beyazid II as a gift to Pope Innocent VIII in 1492; Innocent had the relic placed in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It still resides there. The Catholic Church makes no claim as to its authenticity.

The holy spear that was used by the Holy Roman Emperors (cited from Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor on, the spear described above) as a part of their imperial insignia found its way to Vienna, Austria, where they are kept in a museum.

Hitler's interest in the relic probably originated with his interest in the 1882 opera named “Parsifal”, which was in turn written by Hitler’s favorite composer, Richard Wagner. The opera’s plot revolves around a group of knights and their guardianship of the Holy Grail, as well as the recovery of the Spear.

On March 12, 1938, the day Hitler annexed Austria, he arrived in Vienna a conquering hero. He made his way to the Schatzkammer in the Hofmuseum where he took possession of the Spear which he immediately sent to St. Katherine’s Church in Nuremberg, the spiritual capital of Nazi Germany.

One legend maintains that the spear came into the possession of the United States of America on April 30, 1945; specifically, under the control of the 3rd Army led by General George Patton. Later that day, supposedly in fulfilment of the legend, Hitler committed suicide. Patton became fascinated by the ancient weapon and had its authenticity verified. Patton did not go on to use the spear, as orders came down from General Dwight Eisenhower that the complete Habsburg regalia including the Spear of Longinus were to be returned to the Hofburg Palace , where it remains today. This legend has recently been shown to be quite false. The spear was not recovered until roughly six months after Hitler's suicide, and Patton never had possession of it.

N.B. It should be noted that there is a historical figure named Gaius Cassius Longinus, one of the conspirators responsible for the murder of Gaius Julius Caesar which occurred on the Ides of March, being March 15, in 44 BC.

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