Maria Theresa, Holy Roman Empress
Among assorted treasures, the Spear of Destiny, the imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire and a 1st class relic of Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier are to be found at this remarkable exhibition. There are no 16th century arms, reflecting her reign as one of justice and mercy - iustitia et clementia - as inscribed around the rim of the famous Maria Theresa thaler.
Photography was not exactly allowed, but I managed to snap two photographs before the guard found out:
Do not be fooled by its delicate appearance - the imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire is bigger and heavier than it seems. Dating back to the 10th century, the crown consists of eight plates of pure gold, trimmed with jewels and pearls. The replica was constructed with the same materials as the original, now kept at the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna.
While there have been many objects purporting to be the spear that pierced the side of Our Lord at the Crucifixion (this blogger believes the actual spear is to be found in Armenia), this one is undoubtedly the most famous. Passing through a multitude of hands, including Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, Charles Martel, Frederick Barbarossa, Napoleon and Hitler, it was believed that whoever claimed the Spear "holds the destiny of the world in his hands for good or evil".
Amazing then, that security for such a renowned relic (and the exhibition) was extremely lax. In fact, security was nonexistent to the point that we could hit a key on a harpsichord, clearly marked with a sign warning visitors not to touch, and get away with it.
For a moment, some of us wondered if such an exhibition would ever be attacked for its priceless relics by assorted lunatics - occultists, fanatical Roman Catholics, deluded power-hungry types, etc - but all was laid to rest after realising that this is Singapore. Michael says that Singaporeans do not put stock in mediaeval myths and legends - we'd rather get a job at Shenton Way rather than rule the world.