Stationed in Judea, a Roman legionnaire called Gaius Cassius carried a spear that had been given to his grandfather by Julius Caesar. During a crucifixion, he used the spear to pierce the side of a Jewish prophet called Jesus Christ. Immediately after the crucifixion Gaius Cassius converted to Christianity, left the army and, taking his spear, went off to preach the new religion.
For the next two millennia, the spear that pierced the side of Jesus, would be coveted by the most powerful leaders in history to fulfil the prophecy: that whoever owned the Spear controlled the destiny of the world. Known as the ‘Holy Lance’, it would pass through the hands of the great and powerful: Constantine owned it as he began to build the new Rome; Charlemagne fought with the Spear during his military campaigns and slept with it by his side; the Second Army of the Crusades were saved from destruction by finding it.
By the early Twentieth century the Spear was an object of fascination for a young Adolf Hitler, who believed that it was his destiny to claim it and change the world. On March 14th 1938, Hitler claimed the Spear as the German Army annexed Austria and brought it to Germany. After Hitler’s suicide it was reclaimed by the United States Army who returned it to the Hofburg Museum in Vienna.
But did they return the real Spear or a brilliant fake? Has the real one been missing for half a century? Who now owns it, and with it the destiny of the world?
Alec Maclellan has travelled around the world to answer these questions, following clues through Europe, Asia and even Antarctica.