Jerry E. Smith
CONSTANTINE AND THE SPEAR OF DESTINY
Jerry E. Smith & George Piccard
[A somewhat abbreviated version of this article appeared in the last print version of the magazine PARANOIA: The Conspiracy Reader, Issue #51, Fall 2009.]
So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet.
~ 2 Kings, 13:20-21.
In the passage above we see the power of a holy relic. The word relic comes from the Latin reliquiae, the origin of the English word remains. The preservation of relics is nearly universal, found in almost all times, religions and cultures, right up to our own.
Throughout human history relics have been used to tap into the power that worked through saints, or came from deities. Some relics have been used to cure disease, others to cause them. Some relics have helped to ensure bountiful harvests or fertility, while others have marched before armies into war. Do these relics truly have powers? Are they a channel, a contact point to someone or something in the spirit realm?
Many tales of miracles and other marvels have been attributed to relics, particularly in the early centuries of the Christian era. Some of these tales became especially popular during the Middle Ages. These tales were collected into books called hagiographies, which comprised an important literary genre in the early millennia of the church, providing informational history as well as inspirational stories and legends. One such was The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine, which became a late medieval best seller. It was probably compiled around 1260. More than a thousand manuscript copies of the work survive to this day. When printing was invented in the 1450s, editions appeared quickly, not only in Latin, but also in every major European language. It is said that no book other than the Bible was so widely read during the late Middle Ages.
These miracle tales made relics much sought after. Pieces of the True Cross were the most highly prized of all. Many churches claimed to possess a piece of it, so many in fact, that Erasmus, the famous theologian of Rotterdam (1466-1536), remarked that there were enough pieces of the True Cross to build a ship from!
Gregory (c. 538-594?) was an historian and bishop of Tours. Ernest Brehaut in his introduction to the writings of Gregory of Tours analyzed the Romano-Christian concepts that gave relics such a powerful draw. He distinguished Gregory's constant usage of Sanctus and Virtus, the first, Sanctus, with its familiar meaning of "sacred" or "holy", and the second, Virtus, as:
... The uncanny, mysterious power emanating from the supernatural and affecting the natural. The manifestation of this power may be thought of as a contact between the natural and the supernatural in which the former, being an inferior reality, of course yielded. These points of contact and yielding are the miracles we continually hear of. The quality of sacredness and the mystic potency belong to spirits, in varying degrees to the faithful, and to inanimate objects. They are possessed by spirits, acquired by the faithful, and transmitted to objects.
Opposed to this holy Virtus was also a false mystic potency that emanated from inhabiting daemons that were conceived of as alien and hostile. Truly holy Virtus would defeat it, but it could affect natural phenomena and effect its own kinds of miracles – deceitful and malignant ones. This Virtus Gregory of Tours and other Christian writers associated with the devil, demons, soothsayers, magicians, pagans and pagan gods, and heretics. False Virtus was believed to inhabit images of the pagan gods, leading early Christians to smash the idols of Greece and Rome, leaving us with the lovely Venus without arms.
This question of true vs. false Virtus repeatedly turns up in writings about the Spear of Destiny. If the Spear of Destiny has indeed been infused with an "uncanny, mysterious power emanating from the supernatural" is it one from God, or from another Force entirely – one of the false inhabiting daemons, or, as Trevor Ravenscroft alluded, from the Anti-Christ himself?
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
A few physical bits and pieces from The Passion, may have survived into this, the third millennium of the Christian era -- the most famous of which today are the Shroud of Turin and the Spear of Longinus. There are, however, many more, although less well known in churches and museums around the world. These venerated objects include a bit of tablecloth from the Last Supper and numerous thorns from The Crown of Thorns.
The story as told in the New Testament says that after Pontius Pilate, the Governor and Pro-Consul of Roman-occupied Judea, washed his hands of the whole affair, Jesus was tried by the highest Jewish tribunal, the Sanhedrin. After his conviction, Jesus was fitted with a crown of thorns, scourged with a whip, and then forced to carry a heavy wooden cross to a place where the Roman occupation executed common criminals – Golgotha (“The Place of the Skulls”) upon Calvary hill. Once there, Jesus and two common criminals named Gestas and Dismas, were nailed to their respective crosses to spend the day in torment upon them.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 19, verses 28 through 37 we read:
28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
The day appointed for the death of Jesus was a Friday, and not just any Friday, but the Friday before the Passover, one of the most important events of the Jewish religious calendar. The Hebrew Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday. It is against Talmudic Law to perform an execution, or a funeral, on the Sabbath; therefore Jesus, and the two criminals crucified with him, had to be dead before sunset, and could not be buried until Sunday.
As told in John, seeing the afternoon progress and the men still lived, the priests went before Pilate, requesting him to have his soldiers break their legs so they would die of suffocation before the beginning of the Sabbath. Pilate agreed and sent word to do the deed. They broke the legs of Gestas and Dismas then turned to finish off Jesus. According to the Gospel of John, 19:34 “One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”
There are other, more detailed versions of the story of this “soldier with a spear,” and of that worthy’s conversion to Christianity in the apocrypha – the so-called Lost Books of the Bible. In some he is named Gaius Cassius Longinus and is said to be a man who had grown old in the service of The Empire. After a long and distinguished career, he was sent to Judea and given a non-combat position (due in part to his near blind condition due to cataracts). Rome assigned Longinus to watch and report on the goings on of the various rebel factions and their rabbis – what in the McCarthy era was called the work of the “Red Squad” (cops and informants looking for Commies).
According to these Christian “urban legends” Longinus had been following Jesus for some two years, listening to his sermons and perhaps even witnessing his miracles. After two years of keeping Jesus under near constant surveillance his mission neared its end when he attended the trial of Jesus by the Sanhedrin, the day before his crucifixion. By this time, Longinus had come to respect the man he’d been tailing all this time.
It is likely that Longinus’ use of his spear on Jesus that day was out of respect for, perhaps even love or worship of the man he’d been following. According to most accounts, he actually stabbed the body of Jesus to show that he was dead, that there would be no need to break His legs. To mutilate the body was a practice of disrespect, something a Roman soldier would only do to a hated enemy.
Longinus’ actions have been taken for two thousand years as proof that Jesus was The Christ (literally “the anointed one”), the Messiah of Prophesy. For, as mentioned in John, Zechariah prophesied that: “Not one bone of his will be broken,” and “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” Further proof of Jesus’ divinity is seen in the account of Longinus’ conversion to Christianity. Hagiographical writings hold that immediately upon piercing Christ’s side, Longinus fell to his knees before the cross; as he looked up some of the blood and “water” from the body dripped on his eyes, miraculously restoring his sight.
There are numerous stories as to what happened to Longinus and his spear after the crucifixion. There are several objects scattered around the planet today that claim to be this Holy Lance. Could any of them be the “real deal”?
THE SPEAR OF DESTINY
Destiny is said to be a predetermined course of events beyond human power or control, and, ultimately, the power or agency thought to predetermine those events. A legend has arisen about Longinus’ spear: "whosoever possesses this Holy Lance and understands the Powers it serves, holds in his hand the Destiny of the world for good or evil."
This Holy Lance (in German Die Heilige Lanze) also called the Spear of Christ and the Spear of Destiny, has been written about for nearly two thousand years. Trevor Ravenscroft captured the world’s attention with his 1972 opus The Spear of Destiny. In 1988-89 Col. Howard Buechner released two books that became underground classics, Hitler’s Ashes and Adolf Hitler and the Secrets of the Holy Lance. These picked up where Ravenscroft left off, with the spear leaving Europe to hide for a while beneath the ice of Antarctica. Since then the Spear of Destiny has appeared in scholarly tomes, novels, and even comic books: including Hellblazer which gave us 2005’s box office miss Constantine.
Ecclesiastics and historians have debated the Powers this Spear is said to be able to bestow on its wielder for nearly two thousand years as well. These include: Invincibility in battle, Clairvoyance, Clairaudience, Precognition and Guidance from the Power the Lance serves, among others. Roman Emperor Constantine the Great is said to have received most, if all, of these (there is no record of Precognition for Constantine although Charlemagne claimed that it allowed him to see battles before they took place).
Roman Emperor Constantine I, also known as The Great, was born Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus near Naissus (the modern Serbian city of Nis) in 272 AD. He was the first-born son of a Roman military commander who would become a short-lived Emperor, Constantius Chlorus. Young Constantine distinguished himself as a soldier in Diocletian’s famous expedition to Egypt in 296 and also served under Galerius in the Persian Wars. Unfortunately it is unknown to history when or how Constantine obtained the Holy Lance, only that he had it by the time he marched on Rome and had his famous vision in 312.
In 305 the two senior Emperors (Augusti), Diocletian and Maximum abdicated and Galerius and Constantinus Chlorus, their two junior Emperors (Caesari) took over as Augusti. Constantine joined his father in ruling the western half of the empire from Boulogne, today a principal French port city. That same year father and son crossed the English Channel in an expedition against the Picts (the inhabitants of Scotland before the Scots pushed them out) who were said to be ravaging Roman Britain. The older Constantine died suddenly at Eboracum, later the city of York, and his troops immediately proclaimed his son as their Emperor. Agustus Galerius did not oppose the decision, although he only granted Constantine the title of Caesar. One of Constantine’s first acts as ruler of Britain and Gaul was, in 306, to declare a moratorium on the persecution of Christians in his part of the Empire – could it have been the Spear at work?
Over the next 18 years Constantine was constantly embroiled in one political struggle after another, as a handful of Emperors schemed for supremacy of the empire. This produced a series of battles and civil wars which culminated in Constantine’s crossing the Alps and marching his troops on Rome. It was there, on the outskirts of the city at the Milvian Bridge that he met his Destiny.
Some have told the tale that, prior to the battle, Constantine saw a vision of a ‘flaming cross’ that inspired him to great bravery and ultimately to Christianity. Others, such as Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 264-340) known as “The Father of Christian History,” have recorded a slightly different tale. In Eusebius’ Life of Constantine that worthy told how the emperor was convinced “that he needed some more powerful aid than his military forces could afford him on account of the wicked and magical enchantments which were so diligently practiced by his enemies.” Could the Spear have been used as an early “super-weapon”?
Constantine was praying to his father's god, beseeching him to tell him who he was and imploring him to stretch out his right hand to help him in his present difficulties. While he was fervently praying, an incredible sign appeared to him from heaven. (It would be hard to believe his account if it had been told by anyone else. But the victorious emperor long afterwards declared it to the writer of this history -- when I was honored to meet and talk with him and he even confirmed his statement by an oath. Thus, who could doubt him, especially since time has established its truth?) He said that about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and an inscription that said 'Conquer by This' attached to it. Seeing this, he and his army, which followed him on an expedition and witnessed the miracle, were struck with amazement.
He said that he doubted within himself what importance the vision might hold. He continued to ponder its meaning through until he fell asleep. While sleeping, the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign he had seen earlier in the heavens. God commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens and to use it as a safeguard in all encounters with his enemies.
Constantine’s vision has often been described as a “flaming cross” that appeared near or emblazoned on the sun, and maybe with the Greek letters "Chi-Rho," the first two letters of "Christ" intertwined with it (this symbol is now called the labarum and looks like a capital "P" superimposed on a capital 'X" in the English alphabet). Additionally, Constantine either saw or heard a Greek phrase that is often rendered in Latin as In Hoc Signo Vinces — "Under this sign, you will conquer." Constantine is said to have put a cross or the labarum on his solders' shields in response to this vision. Was it the Spear that wispered those words of Destiny to him? Did he see that phrase, as Eusebius claimed, or did he hear it? If seen, it was clairvoyance; if heard, it was clairaudience in today’s lexicon.
On October 28, 312 AD two armies clashed at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, and Constantine emerged victorious. While European history is filled with famous battles, this one is perhaps the single most important in Christian history. With Constantine the victor he went on to rule the Empire, and in converting his family to Christianity, laid the foundation for the Chrisianization thereof.
Eight years earlier, late in 304 Emperor Diocletian became ill and thought he was about to die. He didn’t trust his tyrannical co-Emperor Maximianus Herculius do to the right thing in his absence, so, on 1 May 305 he forced Maximianus to join him in resigning the Purple and go into retirement. Diocletian, however, recovered from his near-fatal illness, and Maximianus never lost his lust for power. Diocletian and Maximianus were succeeded by Constantius Chlorus and Galerius as Augusti; their new Caesars being Severus and Maximinus Daia respectively. Constantius and Severus ruled in the West, whereas Galerius and Daia served in the East.
This division of the Empire between four new heads of state lasted only slightly over a year before the proverbial hit the fan. Maximianus Herculius’ son, Maxentius, did not appreciate Constantius Chlorus’ elevation to Augusti, thinking it should have come to him. When he learned of Constantius Chlorus’ death, and that he had been passed over again, with Galerius’ hand picked man, Severus, being elevated to Augustus and Constantine accepted as his Caesar, Maxentius was overcome with rage. He immediately proclaimed himself sole Emperor, and took measures to secure Rome and its bothersome Senate.
The plebs and the Praetorians of Rome accepted Maxentius’ claim to the Purple. He bought their loyalty with promises of riches for those who helped him. Galerius was outraged when he learned of Maxentius’ revolt. He sent Severus to remove him. Severus failed and was put to death by Maxentius for his efforts.
Early in the summer of 307 Galerius sought to avenge the murder of Severus. He invaded Italy and made it to Rome encountering no resistance, but quickly discovered that any attempt to besiege the city would be impossible, as his army was not large enough to encompass the city's fortifications. After negotiations failed Galerius was forced to withdraw leaving Maxentius in control of a third of the Empire.
A strange disease suddenly overcame Galerius in the spring of 311. First his genitals suffered a severe inflammation. This was followed by the growth of a deep ulcer that quickly filled with worms. It swelled obscenely, rotting on his body. Some of Galerius' doctors were simply unable to endure the stench. These were executed immediately. His other doctors lived only a short while longer. They too were killed for not curing their emperor's disease.
Galerius was then in Nicomedia (Nicaea), a city in the northwestern part of Turkey about 100 km east of modern Istanbul. Diocletian, leaving Rome for a position closer to his eastern domain, and Rome’s endless campaigns against the Persians, had made it the chief city of the Eastern Roman Empire. It was from there that Galerius had ruled. Later it became important to Christians as the site of the First Ecumenical Council of the church.
From his sickbed Galerius issued an edict that was confirmed by his fellow emperors, canceling the persecution of Christians. This act, ending all persecution in the Empire, was a portent of the religious changes sweeping the land. People have been puzzled by this strange disease and miraculous edict since the moment it was announced. Could this horrendous illness have been due to the wrath of god? Could the illness, combined with Galerius' own guilty conscience, have led him to believe that he was suffering some form of divine retribution? Some have theorized that Constantine might have been the real author or true initiator of the edict, with Galerius only serving to confirm it. Constantine had already abolished the persecution of Christians in his own realm and was probably in possession of the Spear that pierced the side of Christ. Was Constantine’s conversion from pagan to Christian already in progress?
Only a few days after signing of the decree to stop all Christian persecution, Galerius succumbed to his gruesome illness in the opening days of May 311 AD. When Galerius died the power struggle was on. In the summer of 312 Constantine gathered his forces and decided to settle the issue of “Emperor” Maxentius by force. Further evidence that Constantine possessed the Spear of Longinus at this time is seen in the fact that he marched on Rome with an army that was vastly inferior to that of Maxentius, demonstrating Invincibility in Battle – some versions of the tale say he was out-numbered by as much as 10 to 1! Could it be that Constantine felt that the power of The Spear of Destiny was great enough to make up for the missing men? Could it have been something more?
Could it be called The Spear of Destiny because it is an irresistible power or agency in its own right? Is it more than a mere inanimate object, bobbling like a cork on the river of time? Could it be more like a magnet, attracting people to it, leading them down a predetermined course of events toward their destinies? What are these mysterious Powers it is said to serve? Was Constantine’s victory preordained by “Destiny”? Was he “given” the Spear to ensure the eventual victory of Christianity over paganism in the Roman Empire?
Constantine’s blitzkrieg into Italy began with the storming of Susa (51 kilometers west of Turin, current home of the alleged death Shroud of Jesus). Soon after, he nearly annihilated a far larger army outside Turin. Verona’s surrender soon followed. In spite of the seemingly overwhelming numbers of his enemy Constantine confidently marched on. He stood less than 10 miles from Rome when Maxentius chose to make his stand in front of the Milvian Bridge. Maxentius knew that holding it was crucial if he were to keep his rival out of Rome, where the Senate would surely favor whoever held the city.
Maxentius mustered his troops, and on the morning of October 28 marched them out, striking north to meet Constantine’s forces. Their armies clashed nine miles north of the bridge. Constantine’s forces immediately began to push Maxentius' army back toward the Tiber River. Maxentius was forced to retreat, hoping to make another stand at Rome itself. But there was only one escape route, via the bridge, and Constantine's men inflicted heavy losses on the retreating army. Only a remnant of Maxentius' force made it to the Tiber, retreating in chaos, franticly trying to reach the safety of Rome's walls.
The bridge was choked with men, its narrow confines permitting only a few hundred to cross at once. Finally, a bridge of boats was set up alongside the Milvian Bridge, over which other soldiers escaped. The bridge of boats, according to most accounts, collapsed under the weight of so many fleeing men. Maxentius was on it and weighted down by his armor was drowned in the Tiber. Those men stranded on the north bank of the river were either taken prisoner or killed. Constantine emerged from the battle a changed man. The Sign of the Cross and the Holy Spear, he believed, had aided his victory and their power was evidently greater than any of the pagan gods he had previously worshipped. In that moment he vowed to Christianize the Roman Empire. It would take another dozen years for Constantine to emerge as the sole master of the Roman Empire.
THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA
Constantine proved to be the most important person in the history of Christianity since the first century of the Common Era. He not only Christianized pagan Rome but laid the philosophical and political foundations for the Roman Catholic Church. In 325 he called the first Council of Nicaea. As the sole Emperor he was also the Pontius Maximus, Pope of the official Roman state religion – a religion was that was dying. Rome was awash in new religions, new cults, new ideas. He decided to create a new universal religion that would bring all these diverse faiths together in one Church – one that he controlled.
Catholic is from the Greek katholikos meaning "universal". Attending the council were not only Christian leaders from Alexandria, Antioch, Athens, Jerusalem and Rome but also the leaders from dozens of other cults, sects and religions. These included representatives from the cults of Apollo, Demeter/Ceres, Dionysus/Bacchus, Janus, Jupiter/Zeus, Oannes/Dagon, Osiris and Isis, and “Sol Invictus,” the Invincible Sun, the Mithrain sun god. The Spear played a role is this affair. A report of the gathering says that while the arguments raged around the emperor he sat quietly on a dais, ‘grasping the holy talisman of power and revelation to his breast.’
Arius (ca. 250-336) was a Berber Christian priest from Alexandria, Egypt who taught that there was a time when Jesus did not exist, i.e. that he was not co-eternal with the Father, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were therefore of three separate and distinct essential natures and that the Son was subordinate to the Father – that Jesus was just a man. These teachings were condemned and Arius excommunicated in 318 by a council convened by Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria. But that did not by any means close the matter. Indeed, within a hundred years the Arian Heresy was the belief of the largest faction of Christians!
Constantine’s opportunity to form the Universal Church came when he was called upon to settle the Arian dispute. He summoned what has become known as the First Ecumenical Council of the church. The opening session was held on 20 May 325 in the great hall of the palace at Nicaea (Nicomedia), Constantine himself presiding and giving the opening speech.
In the end the Council of Nicaea decided the definition of the Christian deity as the Holy Trinity: God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit. This council also formulated a creed which has become known as the Nicene Creed, which is still in use today. If Constantine had hoped that the council would settle the Arian issue forever, he must have been bitterly disappointed. The disputes continued for another century, and Constantine himself vacillated. The previously mentioned church father Eusebius was a supporter of Arius. Eusebius had been exiled in 325, but was recalled in 327. He soon became the emperor's chief spiritual advisor, the Billy Graham of his day, and thus it was that he was privy to Constantine’s relationship with the Spear of Destiny.
Not long after Constantine had established his authority throughout the empire the Spear spoke to him again. In a dream it revealed where he should relocate his capitol.
Rome was a city in decline. Virtually abandoned by the Tetrarchy of Diocletian and Maximianus, they and the emperors who followed had set up residences in the cities of Trier (the chief city of Roman Gaul, it is the oldest city in modern Germany, located on the banks of the Moselle River) and Milan (today the second largest city in Italy, located in the plains of Lombardy – it is the capital of the Province of Milan, as well as the regional capital of Lombardy) for rule of the Western half of the Empire, and in Thessalonica (today the second largest city in Greece and the capitol of the Greek province of Macedonia) and Nicomedia for rule of the East. Where the emperors went so did the imperial court, and its attendant courtiers and bureaucrats, reducing Rome’s importance as a center of government.
Under the instructions of the Spear, Constantine rebuilt the ancient Greek city of Byzantium, renaming it Nova Roma. After his death the city was renamed Constantinople, “City of Constantine.” Called the Byzantine Empire by modern scholars, the Eastern Roman Empire had its capital in Constantinople until 1453 when captured by Muslims of the Ottoman Empire, who renamed it Istanbul.
Constantine and the Spear are said to have played an important part in the city’s reconstruction. He carried the Spear around with him, receiving from it inspiration (and more?), as the boundaries of properties and public spaces were settled. As he walked about, he repeated loudly enough for all to hear, “I follow in the steps of Him whom I see walking ahead of me.” A cynic would presume that his out cries of seeing “Him” would be no more than a shrewd politician blowing smoke, and indeed that was your authors’ first thought when reading this so many years ago. But now we wonder, did he actually see a mystical vision of some god-like being walking before him? If this vision was one given to him by the Spear who or what did he see? Jesus? The Spirit of the Anti-Christ?
THE DEATH OF CONSTANTINE
Whether urged to action by hostile moves by the King of Persia, or subtle whisperings from the Spear, in 337 Constantine again prepared for war. He drew up a bold plan to take Persia by force, but when he was about to set his army in motion he was seized by an illness.
As Eusebius wrote in his Life of Constantine:
At first he experienced some slight bodily indisposition, which was soon followed by positive disease. In consequence of this he visited the hot baths of his own city; and thence proceeded to that which bore the name of his mother. Here he passed some time in the church of the martyrs, and offered up supplications and prayers to God. Being at length convinced that his life was drawing to a close, he felt the time was come at which he should seek purification from sins of his past career, firmly believing that whatever errors he had committed as a mortal man, his soul would be purified from them through the efficacy of the mystical words and the salutary waters of baptism. Impressed with these thoughts, he poured forth his supplications and confessions to God, kneeling on the pavement in the church itself, in which he also now for the first time received the imposition of hands with prayer.
After praying at the tomb of his mother's favorite saint he proceeded to Nicomedia, and there he was baptized by Eusebius. In those days a Christian was forgiven of his sins only once, at baptism, and Constantine waited to convert until he was on his deathbed, as he had a lot of sins in intended to commit! A few weeks after his conversion and baptism, on the day of Pentecost, 22 May, Constantine died still wearing the white robes of a Christian neophyte. His body was escorted to Constantinople and lay in state in the imperial palace. His sarcophagus was then placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles, as he himself had directed. The memorial steles of the Twelve Apostles surrounded it, making him (or The Spear of Destiny) symbolically the thirteenth Apostle – arrogant to the end!
But the blood lust of the Spear was not to be denied, or so it would seem, for with Constantine’s death, the bloodletting really began. No, the Spear did not go to war against the Persians, but against the Royal family itself. The next four months were rough on wearers of the purple.
On September 9 Constantine’s three sons, Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans, each assumed the rank of Augustus. But their climb to the top of the Roman heap was over the dead bodies of several possible rivals, including their cousins and brothers-in-law Flavius Dalmatius, Flavius Hannibalianus and Julius Constantius. This bloody purge may have had its roots in the religious strife that split the Royal family and the imperial court between the Arian and Orthodox factions -- a rift that would take centuries and a mountain of dead to heal.
For the rest of the story, what happened to the Spear of Destiny and those who wielded it, see our book SECRETS OF THE HOLY LANCE: The Spear of Destiny in History & Legend.
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