Geghard Monastery

Geghard Monastery: Ancient Guardian of the Lance that Stabbed Jesus?

(Read the article on one page)

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus was stabbed in his side by a lance whilst hanging from the cross. As a result, this weapon is believed to possess supernatural powers, and became an important and much sought after Christian relic. Over the centuries, a number of churches have claimed to possess this sacred object. One such claimant is the Geghard Monastery, or Geghardavank (meaning ‘Monastery of the Spear’).

The Geghard Monastery is located in Kotayk, a province in the center of Armenia. Situated at the head of the Azat Valley, the monastery is surrounded by towering cliffs. In fact, part of the monastery is carved out of the adjacent mountain. According to tradition, the Geghard Monastery was founded in the 4 th century AD by St. Gregory the Illuminator. The site where St. Gregory chose to build the monastery was a spring arising in a cave that was regarded as sacred prior to the arrival of Christianity. Thus, the Geghard Monastery was known in earlier times as Ayvirank (meaning ‘Monastery of the Cave’)

Detail of the famous cave inside the Geghard Monastery, Photo by Arabsalam. 2010, Armenia.

Detail of the famous cave inside the Geghard Monastery, Photo by Arabsalam. 2010, Armenia. ( Wikimedia Commons )

Nothing remains of this first monastery, as it was destroyed in the 9 th century AD by the Arabs. At the end of Muslim rule in Armenia, however, the monastery was re-established. The most ancient part of the present monastery is the Chapel of St. Gregory the Illuminator. The earliest inscription on its external wall has been dated to 1177 AD. This small chapel is located to the east of and outside of the main monastery complex. Carved directly into the rock of the mountainside, this project was abandoned before it was completed. By the first half 13 th century, another building project was underway, thanks to the patronage of the brothers Zakare and Ivane, who were generals of the Georgian queen, Tamar.

"The Baptism of the Armenian People. Gregory the Illuminator" by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1892.

"The Baptism of the Armenian People. Gregory the Illuminator" by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1892. ( Wikimedia Commons )

Under the two generals, the Kathoghikè (the main church) was built. According to an inscription, this church was built in 1215 prior to 1250, the first cave church was also built.

Not long after, the monastery was bought by the princes of the Proshyan dynasty. Under the patronage of this Armenian noble family, the monastery was further developed. Over a short period of time, a second cave church, a hall for gathering and studies, as well as numerous monastic cells were also built. Furthermore, the family sepulchre of the Proshyan dynasty can also be found in the monastery. This is indicated by their coat of arms – two chained lions, between which is an eagle with half-spread wings, whose claws grasp a calf, carved in the rock.     

Chapel at Khor Virap, Armenia. Inside there's a cave where Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for about 13 years, Photo by Heretiq, 2005.

Chapel at Khor Virap, Armenia. Inside there's a cave where Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for about 13 years, Photo by Heretiq, 2005. ( Wikimedia Commons )

It was also during the 13 th century that the monastery gained its present name. When the monastery was re-established, it was first given the name ‘Monastery of the Seven Churches’.  It was also known as the ‘Monastery of the Forty Altars’. In time, however, the name of the monastery was changed to Geghard Monastery. This was due to a legend, which claimed that the lance that pierced the side of Jesus was brought to Armenia by the St. Jude the Apostle, known also as Thaddeus, and was stored in the monastery.

In addition to this lance, the monastery was said to have housed a number of other Christian relics, including relics of the Apostles Andrew and John. It was these relics, the Holy Lance above all, which drew pilgrims to the Geghard Monastery. In the following centuries, numerous grants of land, money, manuscripts and other valuables were donate to the monastery. For instance, on the internal walls of the Kathoghikè, there are many inscriptions recording the donations made by pilgrims.

Fresco by Fra Angelico, Dominican monastery at San Marco, Florence, showing the lance piercing the side of Jesus on the cross (c. 1440)

Fresco by Fra Angelico, Dominican monastery at San Marco, Florence, showing the lance piercing the side of Jesus on the cross (c. 1440) ( en.wikipedia.org)

Comments

Regarding what was used to 'stab' the person known to us as Jesus, the Christ, yes, the Romans had what we today call a "lance" or "spear". The 'pilum' was as someone described above -- a 'needle' with a wooden haft, more or less -- =however=, it was an item used 'in the field' ((any former service member knows what that means and what the distinction is)), =not= while on garrison duty. "Spears" -were- used in towns, etc, but that 'thing' in the silver case in that picture -is- =not= a 'spear head', period, full stop! A specifically made pseudo-artifact, sure, easily, but a 'duty object' to be used 'for real'? Sorry, not a chance.

There never was a historical Jesus so no spear forget it ! This is a nonsense discussion ..

I'm waiting to see a feather from the Holy Ghost - THEN I'll believe.

There is no way this was the spear used. The design is all wrong. As other's have pointed out a Roman soldier in the 1st century would not have had a cross on their spear. Secondly, this design is all wrong. It would not even be functional as a weapon with this design.

Soldiers during this time in the Roman army used what was called a Pilum, which is a pole attached to a long thin needle looking piece of iron on the end which was used either as a throwing projectile or to find weaknesses in armor up close. Most likely it was a pilum that was used as that is what soldiers of that era would have had access to.

This was most likely made between the 8-12th centuries as one of the thousands of counterfeit relics meant to attract parishioners for worship.

Now surely Soren you don't mean to tell me that you actually believe this do you? After all, wasn't Jesus Christ just some popular, nevertheless, fraudulent man who learned everything that he knew from Budda?

Pages

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Myths & Legends

Edgar Cayce (Credit: Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment, Author provided)
For nearly 30 years I have returned to the famous “Sleeping Prophet” Edgar Cayce’s readings as a road map to try and piece together the complex origins of civilization and the creation of Homo sapiens. Cayce (March 18, 1877 – January 3, 1945) was an American Christian mystic born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky who answered questions on subjects as varied as healing, reincarnation, wars, Atlantis, and future events while in a trance state.

Human Origins

Edgar Cayce (Credit: Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment, Author provided)
For nearly 30 years I have returned to the famous “Sleeping Prophet” Edgar Cayce’s readings as a road map to try and piece together the complex origins of civilization and the creation of Homo sapiens. Cayce (March 18, 1877 – January 3, 1945) was an American Christian mystic born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky who answered questions on subjects as varied as healing, reincarnation, wars, Atlantis, and future events while in a trance state.

Ancient Technology

Detail of a star chart dating to the Middle Kingdom.
The calendar is one of mankind’s most important inventions. Calendars allowed societies to organize time for religious, social, economic, and administrative purposes. The calendar, or rather, two sets of calendars, were invented by the ancient Egyptians. One of these was a lunar calendar, which was used mainly for the organization of religious festivals.

Ancient Places

Healing Temple of Aesculapius (Asklepios) by Robert Thom
In the ancient world, many cultures built elaborate temple complexes dedicated to their healer gods - Imhotep in Egypt and Asklepios in Greece for example. These gods were recognized as having the power to cure supplicants from a variety of ailments within sleep and sacred dreams. Those who desired healing might travel many hundreds of miles to reach such a temple

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article