Lance of Longinus

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Jesus' side is pierced with a spear, Fra Angelico (c. 1440), Dominican monastery of San Marco, Florence.
According to legend, the Holy Lance (also known as the Spear of Destiny, Holy Spear, Lance of Longinus, Spear of Longinus or Spear of Christ) is the lance that pierced Jesus while he was on the cross. The Biblical account itself does not give a name to the spear, nor does it otherwise support the legends surrounding this artifact.

Biblical references

The lance is mentioned only in the Gospel of John (19:31–37) and not in any of the Synoptic Gospels. The gospel states that the Romans planned to break Jesus' legs, a practice known as crurifragium, which was a method of hastening the death during a crucifixion. Just before they did so, they realized he was already dead and that there was no reason to break his legs. To make sure he was dead, Longinus, a Roman soldier, stabbed him. This act fulfilled another biblical prophesy concerning "messiah" (Psalms 34:20).
... but one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water. John 19:34
The phenomenon of blood and water was considered a miracle by Origen (although the water may be explained biologically by the piercing of the pericardial sinus secondary to cardiac tamponade.) Catholics generally see in it a deeper meaning: it represents the Church (and more specifically, the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist) issuing from the side of Christ, just as Eve was taken from the side of Adam.

Longinus

The name of the soldier who pierced Christ's side is not given in the Bible but in the oldest known references to the legend, the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (of uncertain date, likely 4th century), the soldier is identified with a centurion and called Longinus (making the spear's "correct" Latin name Lancea Longini).

A form of the name Longinus also occurs on a miniature in the Rabula Gospels (currently at the Laurentian Library, Florence), which was illuminated by one Rabulas in the year 586. In the picture, the name LOGINOS is written in Greek characters above the head of the soldier who is thrusting his lance into Christ's side. This is one of the earliest records of the name, if the inscription is not a later addition.

Later Christian tradition, harking back to the novel The Spear by Louis de Wohl (1955), further identifies him as Gaius Cassius Longinus.[1]

Various relics claimed to be the Holy Lance

There have been many relics that are claimed to be the Holy Lance, or parts of it.

Vatican lance



No actual lance is known until the pilgrim St. Antoninus of Piacenza (AD 570), describing the holy places of Jerusalem, says that he saw in the Basilica of Mount Zion "the crown of thorns with which Our Lord was crowned and the lance with which He was struck in the side". A mention of the lance also occurs in the so-called Breviarius at the church of the Holy Sepulchre. The presence in Jerusalem of this important relic is attested by Cassiodorus (c. 485 - c. 585)[2] as well as by Gregory of Tours (c. 538 – 594), who had not actually been to Jerusalem.

In 615 Jerusalem and its relics were captured by the Persian forces of King Khosrau II (Chosroes II). According to the Chronicon Paschale, the point of the lance, which had been broken off, was given in the same year to Nicetas, who took it to Constantinople and deposited it in the church of Hagia Sophia. This point of the lance, which was now set in an "ycona", or icon in 1244 was sold by Baldwin II of Constantinople to Louis IX of France, and it was enshrined with the Crown of Thorns in the Sainte Chapelle in Paris. During the French Revolution these relics were removed to the Bibliotheque Nationale but subsequently disappeared. (The present "Crown of Thorns" is a wreath of rushes.)

As for the larger portion of the lance, Arculpus claimed he saw it at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre around 670 in Jerusalem, but there is otherwise no mention of it after the sack in 615. Some claim that the larger relic had been conveyed to Constantinople sometime during the 8th century, possibly at the same time as the Crown of Thorns. At any rate, its presence at Constantinople seems to be clearly attested by various pilgrims, particularly Russians, and, though it was deposited in various churches in succession, it seems possible to trace it and distinguish it from the relic of the point. Sir John Mandeville declared in 1357 that he had seen the blade of the Holy Lance both at Paris and at Constantinople, and that the latter was a much larger relic than the former.

Whatever the Constantinople relic was, it fell into the hands of the Turks, and in 1492, under circumstances minutely described in Pastor's History of the Popes, the Sultan Bajazet sent it to Innocent VIII to encourage the pope to continue to keep his brother Zizim (Cem) prisoner. At this time great doubts as to its authenticity were felt at Rome, as Johann Burchard records,[3] because of the presence of other rival lances in Paris (the point that had been separated from the lance), Nuremberg (see "Vienna lance" below), and Armenia (see "Etschmiadzin lance" below). In the mid 1700s Benedict XIV states that he obtained from Paris an exact drawing of the point of the lance, and that in comparing it with the larger relic in St. Peter's he was satisfied that the two had originally formed one blade.[4] This relic has never since left Rome, where it is preserved under the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica, although the Roman Catholic Church makes no claim as to its authenticity.

Etschmiadzin lance

The lance currently in Etschmiadzin, Armenia, was discovered during the First Crusade. In 1098 the crusader Peter Bartholomew reported that he had a vision in which St. Andrew told him that the Holy Lance was buried in St. Peter's Cathedral in Antioch. After much digging in the cathedral, a lance was discovered. This was considered a miracle by the crusaders who were able to rout the Muslim army besieging the city and decisively capture Antioch. Some Medieval scholars (e.g. Raynaldi and the Bollandists) believed that this lance afterwards fell into the hands of the Turks and was in fact the lance that Bajazet sent to Pope Innocent and is now in the Vatican.

Vienna lance (Hofburg spear)

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The Holy Lance in the Schatzkammer of Vienna
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The inscription on the Holy Lance
The Holy Roman Emperors had a lance of their own, attested from the time of Otto I (912-973). In 1000 Otto III gave Boleslaw I of Poland a replica of the Lance at the Congress of Gniezno. In 1084 Henry IV had a silver band with the inscription "Nail of Our Lord" added to it. This was based on the belief that this was the lance of Constantine the Great which enshrined a nail used for the Crucifixion. In 1273 it was first used in the coronation ceremony. Around 1350 Charles IV had a golden sleeve put over the silver one, inscribed "Lancea et clavus Domini" (Lance and nail of the Lord). In 1424 Sigismund had a collection of relics, including the lance, moved from his capital in Prague to his birth place, Nuremberg, and decreed them to be kept there forever. This collection was called the Reichskleinodien or Imperial Regalia.

When the army of Napoleon approached Nuremberg in the spring of 1796 the city councilors decided to remove the Reichskleinodien to Vienna, Austria, for safe keeping. The collection was entrusted to one "Baron von Hügel", who promised to return the objects as soon as peace had been restored and the safety of the collection assured. However, the Holy Roman Empire was officially dissolved in 1806 and von Hügel took advantage of the confusion over who was the rightful owner and sold the entire collection, including the lance, to the Habsburgs. When the city councilors discovered this they asked for the Reichskleinodien back but were refused. As part of the imperial regalia it was kept in the Schatzkammer (Imperial treasury) in Vienna and was known as the lance of Saint Maurice.

During the Anschluss, when Austria was annexed to Germany, Adolf Hitler took the lance. It was returned to Austria by American General George S. Patton after World War II and was temporarily stored in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Currently the Spear is held in the Schatzkammer (Imperial treasury).

Dr. Robert Feather, an English metallurgist and technical engineering writer, tested the lance in January of 2003.[5] He was given unprecedented permission not only to examine the lance in a laboratory environment, but was also allowed to remove the delicate bands of gold and silver that hold it together. In the opinion of Feather and other academic experts, the likeliest date of the spearhead is the 7th century - only slightly earlier than the Museum's own estimate.

Other lances

Another lance has been preserved at Krakow, Poland, since at least the 1200s. However, German records indicate that it was a copy of the Vienna lance. Emperor Henry II had it made with a small sliver of the original lance. Another copy was given to the Hungarian king at the same time.

The story told by William of Malmesbury of the giving of the Holy Lance to King Athelstan of England by Hugh Capet seems to be due to a misconception.

Modern legends about the lance

The "Spear of Destiny" is a name given to the Holy Lance in various stories that attribute mystical powers to it. Many of these have originated in recent times and several popular new age and conspiracy theory books have popularized the legend of the spear.

Trevor Ravenscroft

Trevor Ravenscroft’s 1973 bestseller The Spear of Destiny[6] (as well as a later book The Mark of the Beast[7]) has fixed his version of the legend in the minds of many today. He claims that Hitler started World War II in order to capture the spear, with which he was obsessed. At the end of the war the spear came into the hands of US General George Patton.[8] According to legend, losing the spear would result in death, and that was fulfilled when Hitler committed suicide.

Ravenscroft repeatedly attempted to define the mysterious “powers” that the legend says the spear serves. He found it to be a hostile and evil spirit, which he sometimes referred to as the Antichrist, though that is open to interpretation. He never actually refers to the spear itself as spiritually controlled, but rather intertwined with all of mankind's ambitions.

Ravenscroft sued James Herbert, claiming Herbert's 1978 novel The Spear infringed on Ravenscroft's copyright. [9]

Howard Buechner

Dr. Howard A. Buechner, M.D., professor of medicine at Tulane and then LSU, added a strange chapter to the tale in his two books on the Spear.[10] Buechner was a retired Colonel with the U.S. Army who served in World War II, and had written a book about the Dachau massacre, which he had witnessed. He claims he was contacted by a former U-boat submariner, the pseudonymous “Capt. Wilhelm Bernhart”, who claimed the spear currently on display in Vienna is a fake. The real Spear was sent by Hitler to Antarctica along with other Nazi treasures, under the command of Col. Maximilian Hartmann. However it was recovered in 1979 by Hartmann. Bernhart presented Buechner with the log from this expedition as well as pictures of the objects recovered and claimed that after the Spear of Destiny was recovered from the ice in 1979 it was hidden somewhere in Europe by a Nazi secret society. After contacting most of the members of the alleged expedition and others involved, including senior Nazi officials and close associates of Adolf Hitler, like Hitler Youth Leader Artur Axmann, Buechner became convinced the claims were true. He was either the victim of an elaborate hoax or the Vienna spear, or a facsimile of it, really did reside for a while in Antarctica and is possibly now in Europe.

Fictional uses of the lance

In the late 1970s, writer Steve Englehart introduced the concept of the Spear of Destiny to the pages of DC Comics, and it has been used as a plot device by several other writers since. Perhaps its most important usage was by Roy Thomas, who cited the lance as the mystic artifact in the hands of Adolf Hitler which created a magical barrier around all territory held by the Axis Powers in World War II, repelling Allied beings who were either magical in nature, or who were otherwise highly susceptible to magic; this was the official DC explanation as to why the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman did not go right to Berlin and Tokyo to end the war within days of Pearl Harbor.

The Spear of Destiny also made an appearance in one of id Software's Wolfenstein computer games. In the game, aptly named Spear of Destiny, you play as special agent B.J. Blazkowicz, who has been assigned to infiltrate a secret Nazi castle and steal the Spear of Destiny, which Hitler had placed there. The Spear is the reason for Hitler's early WWII victories, and taking it from him would be a turning point in the war. Further exploring Hitler's link to the occult, when you find the Spear in the castle's top floor, you are transported to Hell to fight an angel of Hell, with whom Hitler had made a contract. The fallen angel guards the Spear for Hitler, but it is not revealed what Hitler gave to Hell in return.

It was also used in the popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, where the spear is pierced into the first Angel Adam. Later, the second Angel Lilith is suspended on a cross by the lance, however it is removed in order to obliterate the orbiting fifteenth Angel Arael, after which the lance exits the Earth's atmosphere due to reaching escape velocity, and prongs itself into the Moon's surface. Later, in The End of Evangelion, it was pulled back from the moon and was used to initiate the Human Instrumentality Project.

In the 'Spears of Longinus' are mentioned when the Thule Society attack Envy in his dragon form. Hess says that the Spears of Longinus were scattered throughout the world.

In the movie Constantine it is prominent. In one scene Gabriel tries to use it to unleash Mammon.

References

1. ^ There is a historical figure named Gaius Cassius Longinus, one of the conspirators responsible for the death of Gaius Julius Caesar (died March 15, 44 BC). Another "Longinus" is credited with the authorship of the treatise On the Sublime. Roman names held little variety, especially among members of the same family.
2. ^ Ps. lxxxvi, P.L., LXX, 621
3. ^ "Diary" I, 473-486, ed. Thusasne
4. ^ De Beat. et Canon., IV, ii, 31
5. ^ This effort was documented in a TV special for BBC/Discovery Channel called Spear Of Christ, narrated by Cherie Lunghi, written and directed by Shaun Trevisick. Atlantic Productions, aired 31 March 2002.[1].
6. ^
7. ^
8. ^ Patton, in his poem Through a Glass Darkly, curiously posits himself as Longinus in a previous life.[2]
9. ^ Ravenscroft v Herbert [1980 RPC 193]
10. ^ Buechner, Howard A; Bernhart, Wilhelm (1988). Adolf Hitler And The Secrets Of The Holy Lance. Thunderbird Press. , Buechner, Howard A; Bernhart, Wilhelm (1989). Hitler's Ashes - Seeds Of A New Reich. Thunderbird Press. 

Further reading

  • Brown, Arthur Charles Lewis. Bleeding Lance. Modern Language Association of America, 1910
  • Childress, David Hatcher. Pirates and the Lost Templar Fleet: The Secret Naval War Between the Knights Templar and the Vatican. Adventures Unlimited Press, 2003.
  • Crowley, Cornelius Joseph. The Legend Of The Wanderings Of The Spear Of Longinus. Heartland Book, 1972.
  • Hone, William. The Lost Books of the Bible. Bell Publishing Co., 1979.
  • Rutman, Leo. Spear Of Destiny A Novel. Pinnacle Books, 1989.
  • Sheffy, Lester Fields. Use Of The Holy Lance In The First Crusade. L.F. Sheffy, 1915.

External links

  • History of The Spear of Destiny A page from a site "Hitler the occult Messiah"
  • Hitler and The Spear of Destiny is a page from a site devoted to the authentication of a previously unknown work by Picasso. This page has an article by Mark Harris on Dr. Stein's revelations about Hitler and the Spear.
  • Piercing An Ancient Tale Solving the mystery of a Christian relic by Maryann Bird is an article in the European Edition of TIME Magazine on British metallurgist Robert Feather’s scientific examination of the Spear in Vienna.
  • The Holy Lance has a detailed history of the Spear's legend taken from Ravenscroft. Begins with a quote from Raiders of the Lost Ark and includes the statement made by Hitler to newspaper reporters of his first viewing of the Holy Lance and how he felt he'd possessed it before in a previous life. Good image of Hitler before the Eiffel Tower and a painting of the Crucifixion showing a centurion and the spear in the foreground.
  • Secrets of the Holy Lance is a website devoted to the book Secrets of the Holy Lance: The Spear Of Destiny In History & Legend by Jerry E. Smith and George Piccard. Includes extensive excerpts from the book and a gallery of Spear related images.
  • The Spear that Pierced the Side of Christ by J. R. Church. Very detailed history of the Spear, with interesting material on Mauritius (St. Maurice), the Merovingians, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Archduke Ferdinand, and Hitler.
  • The Spear Of Longinus has a good article on the several different Spears and the many differing legends around Longinus.
  • The Holy Lance is a page from the online Catholic Encyclopedia and was the basis for the other Wikipedia page on this subject.
  • Search for the real Holy Lance has a long and scholarly treatise on all the reputed Spears of Destiny and their various legends, with several good illustrations including: the Crucifixion, the Holy Lance on display at St Peters in Antioch, and El Greco's painting The Martyrdom of Maurice and the Theban Legion.
  • The Spear of Destiny a.k.a. The Holy Lance a short but concise article by Randy Van Dyke stating the main elements of Ravencroft's version of the legend.
The Spear of Destiny is another name for the Christian relic known as the Holy Lance.

Spear of Destiny or Spear of Longinus may also refer to
  • Spear of Destiny, the title of a computer game that is a prequel to Wolfenstein 3D

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The term lance has become a catchall for a variety of different pole weapons based on the spear. The name is derived from lancea, Roman auxiliaries' javelin, although according to the OED, the word may be of Iberian origin.
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Jesus (8–2 BC/BCE to 29–36 AD/CE),[2] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity, and is also an important figure in several other religions.
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Johannine literature
Gospel of John
First Epistle of John
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John the Apostle
Disciple whom Jesus loved
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Longinus is the name given in Christian tradition to a Roman soldier who pierced Jesus on his side while he was on the Cross.

Origins of the legend

No name for this soldier is given in the Gospels; the name Longinus comes from a version of the pseudepigraphal
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Tanakh
Torah | Nevi'im | Ketuvim
Books of Ketuvim
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Five Megillot
4. Song of Songs
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Origen (Greek: Ὠριγένης Ōrigénēs, or Origen Adamantius, ca. 185–ca.
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There are two Pericardial sinuses: transverse and oblique.
  • The cul-de-sac enclosed between the limbs of the inverted U of the venous mesocardium lies behind the left atrium and is known as the oblique sinus.

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Cardiac tamponade
Classification & external resources

ICD-10 I 31.9
ICD-9 423.9

Cardiac tamponade, also known as pericardial tamponade
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Christianity

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The Acts of Pilate (Latin Acta Pilati Greek Πράξεις Πιλάτου) is a book of the New Testament Pseudepigrapha. Its date is uncertain.
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Longinus is the name given in Christian tradition to a Roman soldier who pierced Jesus on his side while he was on the Cross.

Origins of the legend

No name for this soldier is given in the Gospels; the name Longinus comes from a version of the pseudepigraphal
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Rabula Gospels (Florence, Biblioteca Mediceo Laurenziana, cod. Plut. I, 56) is a 6th century illuminated Syriac Gospel Book. One of the finest Byzantine works produced in Asia, it is distinguished by the miniaturist's predilection for bright colours, movement, drama, and
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