Ark of the Covenant

Ark of the Covenant

Ark of the Covenant

One of the most legendary objects in religious history, has to be the “Ark of the Covenant.”  Housed within a wooden box and overlaid with pure gold, containing the “Ten Commandments,” inscribed upon stone tablets.

  • It is believed the Ark, is responsible for bringing victory during battles.
  • Bestowing blessings upon worthy recipients.
  • Sending plagues down upon enemies.

The Ark of the Covenant, stand’s for God’s communion with Moses, when he led out the Israelites, to their own land.

King David conquered Jerusalem in 993 BC, and his son Solomon, built a temple to his God, between 958-951BC.  Solomon’s temple housed the Ark of the Covenant: A wooden casket covered in gold, holding the Ten Commandments, which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Jerusalem and the history of the Jewish people, play a significant part in their religion.  For it is written in their writings that Abraham would prove himself to God, by sacrificing his own son; Isaac.  God stepped in, and sent a Ram, for Isaac to use, for sacrificial purposes.

Solomon’s Temple was built by Phoenician craftsmen.  The inner walls lined in gold, with marble blocks and fine emeralds adorning the temple.

Rehoboam became King of Israel as successor to his father; King Solomon.  Shishak, the Egyptian king ransacked Solomon’s Temple in the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign.

In 586 BC, the Babylonians completely destroyed Solomon’s Temple.

A second temple was built upon the site, between 535-515 BC.

Over the next 470 years, Persian rule gave way to the Greeks, then the Romans, with Herod the Great as its ruler.  In 20 BC Herod introduced courts and walls to Solomon’s second temple.

In 70 AD, Jews revolted against the Romans, and General Titus (Caesar) besieged the city and burnt the temple to the ground.

In the year 691, a shrine was built upon the site; “Dome of the Rock.”  By 715, the Al-Aqsa mosque was built alongside and destroyed by earthquakes over the next 300 years.  By 1035 a new mosque was constructed, and in 1118 became the headquarters of the Knights Templar (Holy Warriors) in the Holy Land.

The Knights Templar, dug deep tunnels underneath the Temple, as they sought out religious treasures and the fabled prize of all, “Ark of the Covenant,” one of the most important religious artefacts of all time.

Bas-Relief of the Ark

A bas-relief depicting the “Ark” can be found at Chartres Cathedral in France.  One has to ask, does the Ark of the Covenant, still remain within the Cathedral?

Claims were made by Louis Charpentier (20th century French author) that the original nine members of the Knights Templar, possibly discovered the “Ark” early on in the order’s history, whilst digging under Temple Mount.

A pillar, part of Chartres Cathedral, known as the Portal of the Initiates, features a carving of the Ark upon a wheeled cart.

What could this mean, and many historians have put forward their own interpretations:

The Templars discovered the Ark in Jerusalem, and moved it to France, coinciding with the construction of Chartres Cathedral.  When news of the Templar’s impending arrest in the 14th century leaked out, the Ark was moved from France to Scotland.

Louis Charpentier published: Les Mysteres de la Cathedrale de Chartres (The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral) in France of 1966.

Knights Templar: St.George’s Cross

Knights Templar Cross

The red cross on a white background, was associated with the Knights Templar, and by 1188, the English and French troops of Phillip II of France and Henry II of England, proudly displayed it, as part of their tunic.

It became a symbol, worn by many troops, announcing they be warriors fighting crusades in the Holy Land.

So where does the Red Cross on a white background originate from?

One Georgios Gerontios, born of the 3rd century, a tribune in the Roman Army; imprisoned, tortured and finally beheaded on the 23rd April AD303 in Nicomedia, for not turning from his Christian faith.  On the 23rd April, he became known as Saint George.

Stories were written of this martyr; Saint George through the ages.  His reputation grew as warriors returning from the crusades, spoke of Saint George leading them into battle, wearing upon his person the red cross on a white background… it gave the troops confidence in battle.

On the 28th June 1098, crusaders at the siege of Antioch, stated that a great army on white horses, led by Saint George led them into battle.

So it was, the Red Cross on a white background was adopted in the 12th century by Genoa, with Saint George as their patron.

The Red Cross was worn by English troops during the reign of Edward I in the 1270’s.  In 1348 Edward III established a premier order of Knighthood in England, with Saint George as its patronage.

There is no historical proof, that Saint George is linked with the Red Cross on a white background.  Saying that, when warriors talk of being led into battle by Saint George, one believes a connection could have existed.

During the reign of Henry V, many soldiers believed they witnessed Saint George fighting at the “Battle of Agincourt” for the English in 1415, where they achieved victory.

The legend of Saint George, a Knight who died a martyrs death for his Christian faith, a knightly figure who many believe comes to their assistance in battle, wearing the red cross emblazoned across his chest.  As the Knights Templar also wore, when they were first created.

Is there a connection between Saint George, the Red Cross and the Knights Templar.  I will let you make up your own mind…

Image: Wikipedia

The Holy Lance

Holy Lance of Longinus

The Holy Lance of Longinus

The Lance of Longinus:

Death by crucifixion was slow and agonising, taking several days.  By breaking one’s legs, the victim could not push up with their feet, for gasps of air.

Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves crucified with Jesus.

A centurion, who went by the name of Gaius Cassius Longinus, observed that Jesus was already dead.  Thus he thrust this lance into Christ’s side, and blood poured out.

 

Crucifixion - Giotto

Crucifixion by Giotto

Rome’s accounts tell us that Longinus was nearly blind, and after he thrust his lance into the side of Jesus Christ, some of his blood fell into his eyes… and his sight was fully restored.

Longinus left the army, having been converted and ultimately became a monk.  At Caesarea, Longinus ran afoul of the law, and was tortured by the authorities.  At some point he grabbed an axe, and destroyed several idols, as they broke, demons from within deprived the governor of his sight.

Longinus, the centurion turned monk, informed the governor, when he was dead his sight would be restored.  Longinus was executed by order of the governor, and as he was beheaded blood splashed into the governor’s eyes, and his sight was restored, and he became a believer of the Christian faith.

The lance became known as a religious relic, and according to history it was later buried at Antioch to prevent it falling into the hands of the Saracens.  In the latter part of the 6th century was moved to Jerusalem.

In 615 Jerusalem was captured and sacred relics fell into pagan hands, and the point of the lance, found its way by way of Nicetas to the Church of St.Sophia in Constantinople.  A second portion was seen in Jerusalem in 670 by Arculpus, and believed to have made its way to Constantinople before the 10th century.

Sir John Mandeville declared that he had physically seen both parts of the Holy Lance at Paris and Constantinople in 1357.  The relic at Constantinople fell into the hands of the Turks and in 1492, the Sultan Bajazet gave it to Pope Innocent III, hoping to gain the Pope’s favour as his brother Zizim was the Pope’s prisoner.

Since that day, this segment has never left the confines of Rome and is preserved under the Dome of St.Peter’s.

One Benedict XIV, matched the drawing of the one held in Paris with the one in Rome, and confirmed that the two parts had formed one blade; The Holy Lance of Longinus

The Lance of Antioch:

Lance of Antioch

The Lance of Antioch

Before the Knights Templar were disbanded in 1314, they had established the largest banking system across Europe, owning thousands of castles and areas of land.  They are said to have amassed much spiritual wealth and religious artifacts associated with the life and death of Jesus Christ.

So which is the genuine Holy Lance which was thrust into the body of Jesus Christ, as he hung on the cross?

On the 10th June 1098, during the First Crusade to the Holy Land, Peter Bartholomew a monk and servant of Count Raymond’s army presented himself before Raymond and Bishop Adhemar.  He described visions he had received, over the last few months, relating to the holy lance.  Saint Andrew had told him, it be buried in St.Peter’s Cathedral at Antioch.  Count Raymond believed the monk’s story, as it was uttered by a man of God, but Bishop Adhemar wasn’t so sure.

News of the vision spread like wildfire, and then a priest proclaimed he had a similar vision, it was enough to put any doubts that Bishop Adhemar had about the story, out of his mind.

On the 14th June, a meteor fell into the Turks encampment, and it was seen as a good omen.

On the 15th June Raymond of Toulouse, Raymond of Aguilers, Peter Bartholomew were part of a group that went to the Cathedral at Antioch.  Peter Bartholomew cried out with excitement when his hands fell upon the lance, embedded in the ground.

Bishop Adhemar had doubts about its authenticity, but kept quiet, not wanting to put a dampener on things, as the city rejoiced at its discovery.

The Crusaders by now, suffered from lack of food in Antioch, and desperately needed to leave, but beyond its walls lay the Turks, in waiting.

On the 28th June, the Crusader army marched out of the city in formation, with the Holy Lance affixed to a standard leading the army.

When Kerbogha observed the Crusaders, he offered a truce, but these crusaders marched forward.  The Turks unable to break their formation began deserting, and when Dukah of Damascus took his forces away, the Turk army collapsed, for they offered no opposition to these Crusaders.

They marched south, as towns fell to these Crusaders, and Peter Bartholomew received regular visions from an angel, but when he offered military tactics, these skeptics questioned these visions.

Peter was challenged to undergo an ordeal by fire, to prove he was divinely guided.  Peter walked a path between flames, and expected to be protected by God’s angel.  This did not go as expected, for he was badly burnt, and died twelve days later.

(Image) Holy Lances: Wikipedia
(Image) Crucifixion: Giotto

The Turin Shroud

The Shroud of Turin

What is the Turin Shroud?

The Turin Shroud is a linen cloth, measuring 4.37 metres in length and 1.13 metres wide.  It is the cloth, which was used to wrap the naked body of Jesus Christ, when taken down from the cross and placed in his tomb, by Joseph of Arimathae.

Upon the cloth, one can observe a faint image of a naked man, purported to be displaying a beard.  Marks would indicate where they crucified him upon the cross, nailing him through his hands and feet.  One can observe the mark, where he bled, when a Roman soldier, thrust his spear into his side.

In 1204, Knights Templar obtained what is known as the Turin Shroud, as Constantinople fell to the crusaders, in the Fourth Crusade.

Knight Templar, Geoffrey de Charney had been burnt alongside Jaques de Molay at the stake, on charges of heresy on the 18th March 1314, in the shadow of the Notre Dame in Paris.

Madame de Charney, the widow of Geoffrey de Charney’s bephew, produced the cloth, the “Shroud of Turin” in 1357.  It was put up on display in a church in Troyes, France.  The Cluny Museum of Paris displays the arms of De Charney, along with a pilgrim medallion showing the Shroud.

In 1453, Margaret de Charney, bequeathed the Shroud to the House of Savoy.

In 1532, the Shroud suffered from fire damage, where it was being be stored; the Chambery Chapel in the Savoy region.  Poor Clare Nuns repaired the damage using patches to the rear.

In 1578, the Shroud was transferred to Turin.

Repairs to the Shroud were undertaken in 1694 by Sebastian Valfre, in 1868 by Clotilde of Savoy.  Then in 1983 the Shroud was given to the Holy See.

In 1997, fire threatened the Shroud, and in 2002, the cloth was restored.

(Image) Turin Shroud: ancient-origins