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Spear of Destiny - Geghard

Geghard - The Spear of Destiny, also known as the Holy Lance or the Spear of Longinus, is a legendary relic with a history shrouded in myth and mystery. According to Christian tradition, the spear is said to be the weapon that allegedly pierced the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross during his crucifixion. In the 20th century, Adolf Hitler became captivated by the Spear of Destiny and its supposed mystical powers. In 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria, and Hitler visited the Hofburg Palace in Vienna to claim the spear, which he believed would secure his rule. Whether the spear actually holds supernatural powers or not, its location and authenticity are topics we will explore in this article.

The crucifixion of Jesus is narrated in all four canonical gospels. After facing trials, Jesus carries his cross to Calvary, with the path traditionally referred to as the Via Dolorosa. At Calvary, a sponge soaked in a painkiller mixture is offered to Jesus, and according to Matthew and Mark, he declines it.

The soldiers proceed to crucify Jesus and cast lots for his clothes. Pilate's inscription, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews," is placed above Jesus' head on the cross, leading to mockery from soldiers and onlookers. Two convicted thieves are also crucified alongside Jesus. In Matthew and Mark, both thieves mock Jesus. In Luke, one of them rebukes Jesus, while the other defends him. Jesus responds to the latter, saying, "today you will be with me in Paradise."

In John 19:33–34, Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves to hasten their death, but they didn't do the same to Jesus, who was already dead. Instead, one soldier pierced Jesus' side with a lance, and blood and water flowed out.

Fresco by Fra Angelico, located in the Dominican monastery at San Marco, Florence, depicting the scene when a Roman soldier pierces Jesus' side with a lance on the cross.

Longinus is the name given to the unnamed Roman soldier who pierced Jesus' side with a lance, described in medieval and some modern Christian traditions as a convert to Christianity. His name first appeared in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus. The lance is called the "Holy Lance" (lancea) in Christianity, and the story is related in the Gospel of John during the Crucifixion. This act is said to have created the last of the Five Holy Wounds of Christ.

According to the tradition of the Armenian Church, the Holy Lance or Geghard was brought to Armenia by the apostle Thaddeus in the year 33, and it was kept in Christian communities for a long time. In 301, when Christianity was declared the state religion in Armenia, Geghard became the property of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Now it is displayed in the Echmiadzin treasury.

Since that day, the weapon of death (Armenian: Գեղարդ - Geghard) has become a sacred relic for Christians. The spear's journey through history is both fascinating and enigmatic. Legends suggest that whoever possesses the Spear of Destiny holds a source of great power. In medieval times, the spear became a sought-after relic and was believed to grant its owner invincibility. Rulers like Charlemagne, Frederick I of the Holy Roman Empire, and others were said to have possessed or sought the spear. Its association with divine powers led to its use as a symbol of legitimacy and authority.

During the Crusades, the Spear of Destiny gained further prominence, with many believing that its possession could influence the outcome of battles. The fascination with the spear continued through the ages, and it became the subject of various myths, legends, and conspiracy theories.

On the door of Geghard Monastery is carved the representation of the Spear of Destiny, which for centuries was kept here!

At least four major relics are claimed to be the Holy Lance or parts of it, located in Rome, Vienna, Armenia, and Antioch.

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote that the Imperial Insignia "were still preserved in Vienna and appeared to act as magical relics rather than as the visible guarantee of an everlasting bond of union. In 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria, and Hitler visited the Hofburg Palace. Thirty years earlier, Hitler’s indelible conviction that he would one day claim the Spear of Destiny materialized from the moment he was free to remove the ancient weapon in the museum of the Hofburg Palace. One can imagine he held the talisman of power in his hands. Walter Stein comments that Hitler stood at the moment like a man in a trance, as if had cast some dreadful magic spell: “he was suffering almost a total eclipse of self-consciousness. He felt somehow renewed as a complete human being, a deep longing arose in his heart to discover the meaning of his individual destiny. It was a chastening experience.”

As mentioned earlier one of the supposed Holy Lances is conserved in Armenia, in ancient city of Echmiadzin, the religious capital of Armenia. It was previously held in the monastery of Geghard. The first source that mentions it is a text called "Holy Relics of Our Lord Jesus Christ," in a thirteenth-century Armenian manuscript. According to this text, the spear that pierced Jesus was brought to Armenia by the Apostle Thaddeus.

In 1655, the French traveler Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was the first Westerner to see this relic in Armenia. Every year during the commemoration of the apostles St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew, the relic is brought out for worship.

The true nature and origin of the Spear of Destiny remain elusive, blending historical events with religious symbolism and legendary tales. While its mystical powers are a matter of belief, the spear's historical journey and its impact on the course of history make it a captivating relic that continues to capture the imagination of historians, archaeologists, and enthusiasts alike.


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