Also known as the Spear of Destiny, the Heilige Lance, the Spear of Mauritius, the Spear of Hofsburg, and the Spear of the Holy Grail.
The story of the origin of the Lance of Longinus
Longinus, also known as Gaius Cassuis, was a blind centurion who plunged his lance into the side of the crucified Christ. Some drops of blood from Christ's wound found their way into Longius' eyes, whereupon he was miraculously cured of his blindness.
Myths and legends surrounding the Lance
Unsurprisingly, the Lance became the subject of many myths and legends, and has been attributed with great power. Specifically, it is said that whoever possesses the Lance will rule the world, but losing the Lance will result in instant death. Suggested former owners of the Lance include Constantine, Justinian, the Merovingian kings, Charlemagne, various Saxon kings, and the enigmatic Habsburgs of Austria.
Modern history of the Lance
Whatever the truth of the above, it is a fact that the Habsburg's treasury at the Hofmuseum in Vienna, Austria, housed a relic known as the Lance of Longinus, and in 1909 a young Adolf Hitler went to view it. He was later to confide to an aquaintance that the first time he saw the Lance, he witnessed "extraordinary visions" of his own destiny unfolding before him.
In 1938, Hitler finally obtained the Lance from the Hofmuseum. It has been said that it was his most prized possession.
On April 30 1945, advancing American troops discovered numerous relics and occult objects in a tunnel beneath Nuremberg. Among them was the Lance. At almost exactly the same time, Hitler committed suicide.
Under the Direct orders of General Eisenhower, the Lance, along with the rest of the Habsburg regalia, was returned to the Hofmuseum, where it resides to this day.
All that remains of the Lance is the damaged metal head: the only picture I could find of it shows it broken into three pieces. It was formerly held together with gold, silver and bronze threads. Bound to the head is a nail, allegedly one of those used in the crucifiction of Christ.
The photo of the Lance of Longinus is at http://www.chasque.apc.org/lvx/spear.jpg
UPDATE July 16, 2002
The URL above, which I believe was in some way associated with the Hofmuseum, is not currently available. The only version of the photo that I've been able to find is at http://camelot.celtic-twilight.com/infopedia/l/lance_of_longinus.htm, a site which features a rather dubious (IMO) analysis of Arthurian Legend. At least it's still available online though.
The story of the Lance of Longinus has been popularized in two books by Trevor Ravenscroft:
- The Spear of Destiny (1987) and
- The Mark of the Beast (1997)
Unfortunately, almost all sources on the internet draw their 'facts' either directly from these books, or from entirely uncredited sources. The only truly analytical and critical material that I have been able to find is itself inconclusive:
- "Hitler After Initiation: Notes on Trevor Ravenscroft's Spear of Destiny" by J.G.W. RUSSELL, 1998
If anyone can direct me to any further information or subsequently contributes a writeup of their own, I would greatly appreciate a /msg. Thanks.
Additional thanks are due to Mortice for helpful comments regarding this writeup.