Monday, October 07, 2002

The next morning at 6:58 I caught the train to Vienna. Arrived about 6:00 on a cool rainy evening and checked into a hotel right across from the train station. The next morning I walk down Mariahilferstrass to the so-called Inner Ring, the downtown area of Vienna. It was rainy and cool and St. Stephens Square was deserted. I ducked into a cafe right on the square and had a cafe creme while studying the immense St. Stephens Cathedral through the rain-streaked windows.

St. Stephens Cathedral in St. Stephens Square, Vienna

FInally about nine o'clock the crowds of tourists started gathering. I headed up the street to the huge Hofsberg, formally the residence of the Hapsburgs and now a complex of extremely confusingly arranged museums. Finally found my way into the Royal Treasure Room where all kinds of Hapsburg relics and treasures are found. Of course I headed straight for Room 12 where the crown of St Stephen and the so-called Spear of Destiny are kept. I have wanted to see the Spear ever since reading Ravencroft's book "The Spear of Destiny" two decades ago. According to legend this is the very spear which pierced the side of Christ while he was on the Cross. Historians have more-or-less disproved this legend and dated the spear to the eighth century. Ravencroft floats another legend which says that whoever possesses the Spear of Destiny controls the fate of the World. According to one of his informants Hitler came here to this museum when he lived in Vienna and stood for hours transfixed in front of the Spear. Whether this actually happened is questionable. But when Hitler finally did take over Austria and enter Vienna he did have the Spear removed to Germany. During the war it was protected from Allied bombing in a cave along with other art treasures. General George Patton, who also seemed to be obsessed with the Spear, took control of it and it was later taken back to Austria under direct orders from Eisenhower. It it now back in the very room where Hitler supposedly first saw it. An very interesting tale, but many more sober minded historians have questioned Ravencroft's sources, some of whom seem to have gotten their information by what is now known as 'channeling' . . .