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