and it turned upon the point of a lance

Adhemar rolled over and coughed dryly. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust around the gleaming torchlight before he recognized the figure standing over him. He sat up in a cloud of dust and ran his fingers upward through his beard.

“Oh... it’s you. Is there movement?” The words barely escaped his parched throat.

“No, your Excellency,” the page replied, “it’s a miracle, come see!”

With much difficulty, Adhemar got to his feet and limped to the window. Outside was the Basilica of Saint Peter and at its entrance a large crowd was illuminated by a hundred fiercely burning torches. At the open doors, a skinny man, naked except for a tattered shirt, stood facing the crowd, holding something above his head.

“Who is that? What’s he got there?” Adhemar asked.

“It’s that visionary,” said the page, “He’s found the spear!”

At these words, color appeared in Adhemar’s face where none had been for weeks.

“Nonsense!” he screamed. “Damn that peasant. And damn those stupid enough to believe him. Our men need food and water and what does he do? He gives them...”

Adhemar de Monteil, Bishop of Puy-en-Velay and Papal Legate, caught his breath as he looked back down at the crowd. It had almost doubled in size. Every man was kneeling.

“He gives them... hope... yes, so be it. Hope.” He leaned out the window and bellowed, “Deus Vult!”

The object that Peter Bartholomew dug up on June 14, 1098 wasn’t even a spear; it was the cap to a standard. But it was close enough for the starving Franks. Abandoned by the Greeks, barricaded behind the walls of Antioch and on the brink of disaster, they rallied with their new relic of Longinus to scatter the superior Muslim armies, ensuring continuance of the First Crusade.

No comments: