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The Lance of Longinis

Of the relics said to hold divine power in the Catholic tradition, none stand out more than the Holy Grail.  But there is one other artifact, known as the Lance of Longinis (or by its latin name Lancea Longini) belonging to the man who pierced Christ on the side to ensure he had died.  Despite this act, however, Longinis would later be canonized and eventually himself become a saint.

The spear has been coveted four thousands of years throughout its four incarnations, each proclaimed to be the true spear that had wounded Christ.  As the story goes, the Romans were originally going to break Christ’s legs as he lay upon the cross to ensure a quicker death to spare him of the suffering of asphyxiation, but upon investigating discovered that he had already died.  A roman centurion, investigating whether or not the man crucified was truly dead, pierced his side with a spear and witnessed as not only blood but water came from the wound.

The water and blood mixture spouting from the wound is considered by some a miracle, but by others an apocryphal symbol into the mixture of divinity and humanity Christ had within him.  In essence he was not only purely godlike, but purely human as well.  This passage would later become part of the ceremony of mixing water with wine at communion.

The lance would itself be the subject of a massive campaign by Hitler in World War II.  Hitler hoped to acquire the spear, and according to many historians believed that possessing the artifact would endow him with supernatural power over his enemies.  By this time the spear was given another name, “The Spear of Destiny.”  Eventually, however, Hitler would lose the spear and his life at about the same time as Allied troops recaptured the object and it fell into the hands of US general George S. Patton.  With the spear in his possession, allied troops would ultimately topple the growing Nazi empire and once again restore peace to Europe.

But there are those who suggest the spear’s qualities bear with them not only good fortune and power, but an augmenting effect.  If the spear is wielded by someone who is inherently evil, this evil will be accented allowing them unlimited potential to oppress others and gain power.  If, however, it is wielded by someone of good heart it can be used to help people and restore peace.  Of course this speculation largely borrows from the more recent events of World War II, forgetting centuries of the artifact passing from hand to hand throughout history.

Still, Lancea Longini is thought of as not only a holy relic, but an object with powers that have never been mastered even if it has been long sought after by powerful figures.  Still it seems like so many objects of mythology, those who attempt to master it to do their bidding end up themselves being mastered by it.