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The Arma Christi, meaning the Weapons of Christ, or the Instruments of the Passion, are the objects associated with Jesus' Passion. They are seen as arms in the sense of heraldry, and also as the weapons Jesus Christ used to achieve his conquest over Satan; the prime member, the Cross, had been introduced to Christian art in the 4th century as the crux invicta, a symbol of victory.

Overview

As a group they have a long tradition in iconography, dating back to the 9th century. Relics of the most important items had a long history, dating back to the Empress Helena's discovery of the True Cross in the early 4th century. Relics claiming to be the Holy Lance, Holy Sponge, Holy Chalice and nails from the cross were all venerated well before 1000, and were to proliferate in later centuries. There was a wave of new relics in the West at the time of the Crusades, and a further wave as the Instruments became featured more prominently in devotional literature and practices in the 14th century.

The Instruments are currently in the possession of a secret division known as section III Mathew within the Vatican. They are kept in a special and secure vault that no single demonic presence or being can reach. Even when they are many yards away from the vault itself, they could feel the holy barrier pushing them back gradually and feeling as though that their bodies themselves are slowly being burned alive. The weapons inside are so powerful that even beings like Satan and Lucifer fear them.

Description

List of Known Instruments

  • The Cross on which Jesus was crucified (True Cross), either depicted alone or with the crosses of the two thieves.
  • The Crown of Thorns.
  • The pillar or column where Jesus was whipped in the Flagellation of Christ.
  • The whip(s), in Germany often birches, used for the 39 lashes.
  • The Holy Sponge set on a reed, with which gall and vinegar were offered to Jesus.
  • The Holy Lance with which a Roman soldier inflicted the final of the Five Wounds in his side.
  • The Nails, inflicting four wounds on the hands and feet.
  • The Veil of Veronica.

Other Common Ones

  • The reed which was placed in Jesus' hand as a sceptre in mockery
  • The purple robe of mockery
  • The Titulus Crucis, attached to the Cross. It may be inscribed in Latin (INRI, Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum), Greek, Hebrew, or some other language.
  • The Holy Grail, the chalice used by Jesus at The Last Supper, and which some traditions say Joseph of Arimathea used to catch his blood at the crucifixion
  • The Seamless robe of Jesus
  • The dice with which the soldiers cast lots for Christ's seamless robe
  • The rooster that crowed after Peter's third denial of Jesus
  • The vessel used to hold the gall and vinegar
  • The ladder used for the Deposition, i.e. the removal of Christ's body from the cross for burial
  • The hammer used to drive the nails into Jesus' hands and feet
  • The pincers used to remove the nails
  • The vessel of myrrh, used to anoint the body of Jesus, either by Joseph of Arimathea or by the Myrrhbearers
  • The shroud used to wrap the body of Jesus before burial
  • The sun and moon, representing the eclipse which occurred during the Passion
  • Thirty pieces of silver (or a money bag), the price of Judas' betrayal
  • A spitting face, indicating the mockery of Jesus
  • The hand which slapped Jesus' face
  • The chains or cords which bound Jesus overnight in prison
  • The lantern or torches used by the arresting soldiers at the time of the betrayal, as well as their swords and staves
  • The sword used by Peter to cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant. Sometimes a human ear is also represented.
  • Sometimes the heads or hands of figures from the Passion are shown, including Judas, Caiaphas, or the man who mocked Christ spitting in Christ's face. The washing hands of Pontius Pilate may be shown. The Lorenzo Monaco painting below has several such images.
  • The trumpet played for mocking Christ on the Way to Calvary
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