Piercing An Ancient Tale

Religious belief and modern skepticism have been butting heads since the Enlightenment. Here's a case in, um, point: Is the ancient spear in the Imperial Treasury at Vienna's Hofburg Palace really the one that a Roman centurion used to pierce the side of the crucified Jesus Christ? Legend insists that it is, but science is doing its best to fact-check the story. Like the 51-cm relic itself — first mentioned in the Gospel of John — the tale of the Holy Lance, or Spear of Destiny, has been embellished over the ages. As one oft-quoted account has it: "Whomsoever claims this...

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