The Sacred Lance and Nails
(Friday after the 1st Sunday in Lent)
This Feast is found in the Missae pro Aliquibus Locis of the Roman Missal. “The Supreme Pontiff, Innocent VI, in his decree establishing the Feast and Office of the Lance and Nails, which pierced the body of our crucified Lord Jesus Christ, exhorts all the faithful to have a special veneration for, and devotion to, all the sacred instruments of our Savior’s Passion. The following are his words: “We should honor the most holy Passion of our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, in such manner that, meditating on all the mysteries and merits of the same Passion, we venerate also each sacred instrument thereof. Then this holy and zealous Pontiff, coming more directly to the honor due to the lance and nails, says: “Although the lance and nails, and the other sacred instruments of the Passion, should be everywhere venerated by the faithful of Christ, and though every year the Church celebrates the solemn offices of the same Passion, yet we deem it proper and fitting that a special solemn feast should be instituted and celebrated in honor of those particular instruments of the Passion, more especially in those places wherein these salutary instruments are preserved. Hence we wish to encourage this devotion by special office and privileges. ” (Innocent VI in Decret. de Fest. Lane, et Clav. Domini).”
The Lance, also known as the spear of Longinus is kept in the Vatican Basilica, given to Innocent VIII in 1492. The nails were kept with the Crown of Thorns, along with a small piece of the Lance of Longinus at Saint Chapelle, France and were subsequently lost during the French Revolution. The crown of thorns was the only relic saved and is now kept at Notre Dame Cathedral.