- "The spear was ancient when it pierced the Savior's side, and ancient when it crossed the sea from Erin to the land of the Cymry... Following the Resurrection, the spear would have traveled back to Britain, with Joseph of Aramethea, in plenty of time to make its appearance in the Grail procession."
- ―Henry Walton Jones, Sr.[src]
The Spear of Longinus or the Spear of Destiny was a biblical artifact said to be the lance that pierced the side of Jesus Christ during the crucifixion. However, the spear's history dates back nearly 500 years before that time, when it was made in Ireland and was called Aredbair or the Spear of Lugh, as it was used by the young god, Lugh. It eventually traveled to Wales, where during Roman times, it was taken to Roman-controlled Jerusalem, and was in possession of the Roman soldier Longinus. After the crucifixion of Jesus, it was claimed by Joseph of Arimathea, who also had taken vessels of Christ's blood, and took the relics to England as a missionary. Near the site of Glastonbury, Joseph thrust his staff (which had been the spear's shaft) into the ground and it rooted and grew into a thorn tree (the Holy Thorn).
The spear had a metal tip and a shaft made from the wood of a yew tree. According to Celtic mythology, it had to be stored in a cauldron of blood. In Grail mythology, the spear was also stored upright in a vessel, and the spear tip would bleed.
- "There is a darker legend concerning the Spear of Longinus. It is said that he who claims the spear and solves its mystery, holds the fate of the world in his hands... for good or for evil!"
- ―Henry Jones, Sr.[src]
By the modern era, the spear tip may have ended up in the Weltliche Schatzkammer museum in Vienna, Austria. When Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, the spear tip was taken to the museum in Nuremberg, where it was kept by assistant curator, Otto Nehrkorn.
Indiana Jones and his father, Henry, sought out the relic in the spring of 1945 when it became the interest on the Nazis in the final year of World War II. Dieterhoffmann, working with Nehrkorn, claimed the spear tip and traveled to England to find the Holy Thorn tree from which the shaft could be made to complete the spear. When the Joneses, and Indy's Irish assistant, Brendan O'Neal, crossed paths with Dieterhoffman and his crew in Glastonbury, the spear tip was broken in half, with one half in the possession of O'Neal, and the other half in the possession of Seigfried, Dieterhoffman's son. O'Neal was also given a sprig of the Holy Thorn from Edwina Cheltingham, a historical botanist.
In Ireland, O'Neal and the elder Jones hid at the Indy's excavation site and realized the full history of the spear, combining Celtic and Christian lore. O'Neal assembled the spear, carving a shaft from a yew tree, and affixing the bit of the holy thorn, and half of the spear head. Indiana and Rebecca Stein arrived, with another half of the spear tip stolen from Seigfried, but it turned out to be a decoy. When the Nazis arrived with the real other half of the spear head, the spear halves magically reassembled, and the spear flew around the cave site, killing Kurt, Dieterhoffmann's Nazi muscle, and nearly impaling O'Neal, who stood on the Stone of Fal and had commanded the spear to come to him. Henry took the spear, and the morning light of the equinox shown into the cave, illuminating the spear tip. Henry Jones and Dieterhoffman claimed to see that the spear was bleeding from its tip, but a skeptical Indy did not see the marvel. Dieterhoffman then began bleeding profusely and expired. As the cave started collapsing, Henry dropped the spear and when Indy grabbed it, he noticed that Nehrkorn had stolen the tip. Indy stopped his pursuing Nehrkorn to drag a dying Seigfried to safety.
Nehrkorn returned the spear to Germany, where it was kept in a vault in Nuremberg. When American forces captured the city, they claimed the spear and other treasures, and Jones learned that the spear was now in the hands of the American government. When Jones visited O'Neal in New York City in August 1945, and revealed to him the spear's whereabouts, they were both reminded of the legend of spear's power when they heard over the radio of the atomic bomb dropped over Japan by America.
Behind the scenes
The artifact is obviously directly inspired by rumors that in real-life, Hitler indeed was interested in the Spear of Destiny and even obtained it. The rumors are a part of the whole Nazi mysticism theory, from which much of the Indiana Jones series draws influence.
In regards to Hitler's interest, the first draft of Lawrence Kasdan's script for Raiders of the Lost Ark mentioned the Spear of Longinus, referring to a legend that the spear could decide the fate of the world for whomever possessed it. The story states that the relic resides in the Hapsburg Museum of Vienna, Austria, and reveals that the historical Nazi Anschluss of 1938 is a plot by Hitler to acquire the spear. References to the spear, however, were cut from subsequent revisions and from the film itself.
Novelist Rob MacGregor wanted to include the Spear of Destiny as a possible MacGuffin in his Indiana Jones prequel novel series due to Hitler's interest in it, but was discouraged from using the relic under George Lucas's directives to avoid infringing on a copyright or other related legal issue. Max McCoy also intended to write an Indiana Jones story featuring the Spear of Destiny at one point. Due to the development of Dark Horse Comics' own storyline involving the relic, however, the idea was abandoned.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (Mentioned only) (Cut) (First draft)
- Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny (First appearance)