History Podcasts

What is the holy grail?

What is the holy grail?

From the knights of medieval legends to Indiana Jones, the holy grail has been the most sought-after Christian relic in popular culture for centuries. The grail is most commonly identified as the cup that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper and that Joseph of Arimathea used to collect Jesus’s blood when he was crucified. Given the importance of Jesus’s crucifixion and the eucharist in Christian beliefs, the search for the grail became the holiest of quests as it signified the pursuit of union with God.

Possibly stemming from the presence of cauldrons and other mystical objects in Celtic mythologies, the grail became a common theme in literature related to King Arthur. French poet Chrétien de Troyes is credited with introducing the grail as a divine object in his early-12th century romance, “Perceval.” Around 1200, Robert de Boron further specified its Christian significance in his poem “Joseph d’Arimathie,” citing the holy grail’s origins at the Last Supper and Christ’s death. While Perceval was the knight destined to pursue the grail in Troyes’s and de Boron’s prose, it was Sir Galahad, introduced in the “Queste del Saint Graal” later in the mid-13th century, who became the most well-known knight of King Arthur’s court to complete the quest.

Although it is generally accepted as mythic, some believe the holy grail is more than just a figment of medieval literature. Some Arthurian tales claimed that Joseph of Arimathea brought the grail to Glastonbury in England. One legend has it that on the spot where he buried the grail, the water runs red because it runs through Christ’s blood, though scientists agree this is just the effect of red iron oxide in the soil. Others believe that the Knights Templar seized the holy grail from Temple Mount during the Crusades and secreted it away.

According to the teachings of Christianity, the Holy Grail was the cup that Jesus Christ drank from during the Last Supper.

It was also the cup used to collect Christ’s blood during the crucifixion.

But its existence and form have been speculated over by many theorists and academics, with the majority of people believing the Holy Grail is a mythical object.

However some believe the Grail is not a cup but a written document or even the womb of Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene.

For the people who believe the Holy Grail is the cup Jesus drank from, there are various theories as to where it is located - and if it has already been found.

In Arthurian literature, it is an important treasure in the legend of the era of King Arthur.

It is described as a cup, dish or stone with miraculous powers that provide happiness, eternal youth or sustenance in infinite abundance - and is often in the custody of the Fisher King.

In modern times, the term Holy Grail is often used to describe a hard to reach goal or subject that is highly sought after.


In 932 AD, King Arthur and his squire, Patsy, travel Britain searching for men to join the Knights of the Round Table. Along the way, Arthur debates whether swallows could carry coconuts, recounts receiving Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, defeats the Black Knight and observes an impromptu witch trial. He recruits Sir Bedevere the Wise, Sir Lancelot the Brave, Sir Galahad the Pure and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Lancelot, along with their squires and Robin's minstrels. Arthur leads the knights to Camelot, but, after a musical number, changes his mind, deeming it "a silly place". As they turn away, God appears and orders Arthur to find the Holy Grail.

Arthur and his knights arrive at a castle occupied by French soldiers, who claim to have the Grail and taunt the Britons, driving them back with a barrage of barnyard animals. Bedevere concocts a plan to sneak in using a Trojan Rabbit, but no one hides inside it, and the Britons are forced to flee when it is flung back at them. Arthur decides the knights should go their separate ways to search for the Grail. A modern-day historian filming a documentary on the Arthurian legends is killed by a knight on horseback, triggering a police investigation.

On the knights' travels, Arthur and Bedevere are given directions by an old man and attempt to satisfy the strange requests of the dreaded Knights Who Say "Ni!". Sir Robin avoids a fight with a Three-Headed Knight by running away while the heads are arguing. Sir Galahad is led by a grail-shaped beacon to Castle Anthrax, which is full of young women, but is unwillingly "rescued" by Lancelot. Lancelot receives an arrow-shot note from Swamp Castle. Believing the note is from a lady being forced to marry against her will, he storms the castle and slaughters several members of the wedding party, only to discover the note was from an effeminate prince.

Arthur and his knights regroup and are joined by three new knights, as well as Brother Maynard and his monk brethren. They meet Tim the Enchanter, who directs them to a cave where the location of the Grail is said to be written. The entrance to the cave is guarded by the Rabbit of Caerbannog. Underestimating it, the knights attack, but the Rabbit easily kills Sirs Bors, Gawain and Ector. Arthur uses the "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch", provided by Brother Maynard, to destroy the creature. Inside the cave, they find an inscription from Joseph of Arimathea, directing them to Castle Aarrgh.

An animated cave monster devours Brother Maynard, but Arthur and the knights escape after the animator dies of a heart attack. The knights approach the Bridge of Death, where the bridge-keeper challenges them to answer three questions to pass, or else be cast into the Gorge of Eternal Peril. Lancelot easily answers the simple questions and crosses. Robin is defeated by an unexpectedly difficult question, and Galahad fails an easy one both are magically flung into the gorge. When the bridge-keeper poses an obscure question about swallows to Arthur, he asks the bridge-keeper to clarify what he means the bridge-keeper cannot answer and is thrown into the gorge.

Arthur and Bedevere cannot find Lancelot, unaware that he has been arrested by police investigating the historian's death. The pair reach Castle Aarrgh, but find it occupied by the French soldiers. After being repelled by showers of manure, they summon an army of knights and prepare to assault the castle. As the army charges, the police arrive, arrest Arthur and Bedevere and break the camera, ending the film.

    as Arthur, King of the Britons
    • Chapman also plays the hiccuping guard, and the middle head of the Three Headed Giant, as well as providing the voice of God.
    • Cleese also plays the Black Knight, French Taunter, and Tim the Enchanter, among other roles
    • Gilliam also plays the Soothsaying Bridgekeeper, among other roles, and appears as himself as the Weak-Hearted Animator
    • Idle also plays Concorde, Lancelot's squire, Roger the Shrubber, and Brother Maynard, among other roles
    • Jones also plays Prince Herbert, among other roles
    • Palin also plays the Leader of the Knights Who Say Ni, Lord of Swamp Castle among other roles, and provides the voice of the film's narrator

    Development Edit

    Fifteen months before the BBC visited the set in May 1974, [5] the Monty Python troupe assembled the first version of the screenplay. [6] When half of the resulting material was set in the Middle Ages, and half was set in the present day, the group opted to focus on the Middle Ages, revolving on the legend of the Holy Grail. By the fourth or fifth version of their screenplay, the story was complete, and the cast joked the fact that the Grail was never retrieved would be "a big let-down . a great anti-climax". [6] Graham Chapman said a challenge was incorporating scenes that did not fit the Holy Grail motif. [7]

    Neither Terry Gilliam nor Terry Jones had directed a film before, and described it as a learning experience in which they would learn to make a film by making an entire full-length film. [8] The cast humorously described the novice directing style as employing the level of mutual disrespect always found in Monty Python's work. [6]

    The film's initial budget of approximately £200,000 was raised by convincing 10 separate investors to contribute £20,000 apiece. Three of those investors were the rock bands Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Genesis, who were persuaded to help fund the film by Tony Stratton-Smith, head of Charisma Records (the record label that released Python's early comedy albums). [9] According to Terry Gilliam, the Pythons turned to rock stars like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Elton John [ disputed – discuss ] for finance as the studios refused to fund the film and rock stars saw it as "a good tax write-off" due to UK income tax being "as high as 90%" at the time. [10]

    Filming Edit

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail was mostly shot on location in Scotland, [11] particularly around Doune Castle, Glen Coe, and the privately owned Castle Stalker. [12] The many castles seen throughout the film were mainly either Doune Castle shot from different angles or hanging miniatures. [13] There are several exceptions to this: the very first exterior shot of a castle at the beginning of the film is Kidwelly Castle in South Wales, and the single exterior shot of the Swamp Castle during "Tale of Sir Lancelot" is Bodiam Castle in East Sussex [14] all subsequent shots of the exterior and interior of those scenes were filmed at Doune Castle. Production designer Julian Doyle recounted that his crew constructed walls in the forest near Doune. [15] Terry Jones later recalled the crew had selected more castles around Scotland for locations, but during the two weeks prior to principal photography, the Scottish Department of the Environment declined permission for use of the castles in its jurisdiction, for fear of damage. [13]

    At the start of "The Tale of Sir Robin", there is a slow camera zoom in on rocky scenery (that in the voice-over is described as "the dark forest of Ewing"). This is actually a still photograph of the gorge at Mount Buffalo National Park in Victoria, Australia. Doyle stated in 2000 during an interview with Hotdog magazine [16] that it was a still image filmed with candles underneath the frame (to give a heat haze). This was a low-cost method of achieving a convincing location effect.

    On the DVD audio commentary, Cleese described challenges shooting and editing Castle Anthrax in "The Tale of Sir Galahad", with what he felt the most comedic take being unused because an anachronistic coat was visible in it. [17] Castle Anthrax was also shot in one part of Doune, where costume designer Hazel Pethig advised against nudity, dressing the girls in shifts. [13]

    In the scene where the knights were combatting the Rabbit of Caerbannog, a real white rabbit was used, switched with puppets for its killings. [18] It was covered with red liquid to simulate blood, though the rabbit's owner did not want the animal dirty and was kept unaware. The liquid was difficult to remove from the fur. [18] He also stated that he thought that, had they been more experienced in filmmaking, the crew would have just purchased a rabbit instead. Otherwise, the rabbit himself was unharmed. Also, the rabbit-bite effects were done by special puppetry by both Gilliam and SFX technician John Horton.

    As chronicled in The Life of Python, The First 20 Years of Monty Python, and The Pythons' Autobiography, Chapman suffered from acrophobia, trembling and bouts of forgetfulness during filming due to his alcoholism, prompting him to refrain from drinking while the production continued in order to remain "on an even keel". Nearly three years later, in December 1977, Chapman achieved sobriety.

    Originally the knight characters were going to ride real horses, but after it became clear that the film's small budget precluded real horses (except for a lone horse appearing in a couple of scenes), the Pythons decided their characters would mime horse-riding while their porters trotted behind them banging coconut shells together. The joke was derived from the old-fashioned sound effect used by radio shows to convey the sound of hooves clattering. This was later referred to in the German release of the film, which translated the title as Die Ritter der Kokosnuß (The Knights of the Coconut). [19] Similarly, the Hungarian title Gyalog galopp translates to "Galloping on Foot". [20]

    The opening credits of the film feature pseudo-Swedish subtitles, which soon turn into an appeal to visit Sweden and see the country's moose. The subtitles are soon stopped, but moose references continue throughout the actual credits until the credits are stopped again and restarted in a different visual style and with references to llamas, animals often mentioned in Flying Circus. The subtitles were written by Michael Palin as a way to "entertain the 'captive' audience" at the beginning of the film. [21]

    In addition to several songs written by Python regular Neil Innes, several pieces of music were licensed from De Wolfe Music Library. These include:

    • "Wide Horizon", composed by Pierre Arvay used during the opening titles.
    • "Ice Floe 9", composed by Pierre Arvay used during the opening titles.
    • "Countrywide", [22] composed by Anthony Mawer used during the beginning titles after the first titlers are sacked.
    • "Homeward Bound", composed by Jack Trombey used as King Arthur's heroic theme.
    • "Crossed Swords", [23] composed by Dudley Matthew played during King Arthur's battle with the Black Knight.
    • "The Flying Messenger", [24] composed by Oliver Armstrong played during Sir Lancelot's misguided storming of Swamp Castle.
    • "The Promised Land", [25] composed by Stanley Black used in the scene where Arthur approaches the castle on the island.
    • "Starlet in the Starlight", [26] composed by Kenneth Essex briefly used for Prince Herbert's attempt to express himself in song.
    • "Love Theme", [27] composed by Peter Knight also used briefly for Prince Herbert.
    • "Revolt", [28] composed by Eric Towren used as the army charges on Castle Aaargh.

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail had its theatrical debut in the United Kingdom on 3 April 1975, [29] followed by a United States release on 27 April 1975. [30] It was re-released on 14 October 2015 in the United Kingdom. [31]

    The film had its television premiere 25 February 1977 on the CBS Late Movie. [32] Reportedly, the Pythons were displeased to discover a number of edits were done by the network to reduce use of profanity and the showing of blood. The troupe pulled back the rights and thereafter had it broadcast in the United States only on PBS and later other channels such as Comedy Central and IFC, where it runs uncut. [33]

    Home media Edit

    In Region 1, The Criterion Collection released a LaserDisc version of the film featuring audio commentary from directors Jones and Gilliam. [34]

    In 2001, Columbia Tristar published a two-disc, special-edition DVD. Disc one includes the Jones and Gilliam commentary, a second commentary with Idle, Palin and Cleese, the film's screenplay on a subtitle track and "Subtitles for People Who Don't Like the Film"–consisting of lines taken from William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2. [34] Disc two includes Monty Python and the Holy Grail in Lego, a "brickfilm" version of the "Camelot Song" as sung by Lego minifigures. [35] It was created by Spite Your Face Productions on commission from the Lego Group and Python Pictures. The project was conceived by the original film's respective producer and co-director, John Goldstone and Terry Gilliam. [36] Disc two also includes two scenes from the film's Japanese dub, literally translated back into English through subtitles. "The Quest for the Holy Grail Locations", hosted by Palin and Jones, [37] shows places in Scotland used for the setting titled as "England 932 A.D." (as well as the two Pythons purchasing a copy of their own script as a guide). Also included is a who's who page, advertising galleries and sing-alongs. [37] A "Collector's Edition" DVD release additionally included a book of the screenplay, a limited-edition film cell/senitype, and limited-edition art cards. [38]

    A 35th-anniversary edition on Blu-ray was released in the US on 6 March 2012. [39] Special features include "The Holy Book of Days," a second-screen experience that can be downloaded as an app on an iOS device and played with the Blu-ray to enhance its viewing, lost animation sequences with a new intro from animator Terry Gilliam, outtakes and extended scenes with Python member and the movie's co-director Terry Jones. [40]

    Contemporary reviews were mixed. Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote in a favourable review that the film had "some low spots," but had gags which were "nonstop, occasionally inspired and should not be divulged, though it's not giving away too much to say that I particularly liked a sequence in which the knights, to gain access to an enemy castle, come up with the idea of building a Trojan rabbit." [41] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times was also positive, writing that the film, "like Mad comics, is not certain to please every taste. But its youthful exuberance and its rousing zaniness are hard not to like. As a matter of fact, the sense of fun is dangerously contagious." [42] Penelope Gilliatt of The New Yorker called the film "often recklessly funny and sometimes a matter of comic genius." [43]

    Other reviews were less enthusiastic. Variety wrote that the storyline was "basically an excuse for set pieces, some amusing, others overdone." [44] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two-and-a-half stars, writing that he felt "it contained about 10 very funny moments and 70 minutes of silence. Too many of the jokes took too long to set up, a trait shared by both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. I guess I prefer Monty Python in chunks, in its original, television revue format." [45] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post called the film "a fitfully amusing spoof of the Arthurian legends" but "rather poky" in tempo, citing the running gag of Swedish subtitles in the opening credits as an example of how the Pythons "don't know when to let go of any shtik". [46] Geoff Brown of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote in a mixed review that "the team's visual buffooneries and verbal rigamaroles (some good, some bad, but mostly indifferent) are piled on top of each other with no attention to judicious timing or structure, and a form which began as a jaunty assault on the well-made revue sketch and an ingenious misuse of television's fragmented style of presentation, threatens to become as unyielding and unfruitful as the conventions it originally attacked." [47]

    Legacy Edit

    The film's reputation grew over time. In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted Holy Grail the fifth-greatest comedy film of all time. [3] The next Python film, Life of Brian, was ranked first. [3] A 2006 poll of Channel 4 viewers on the 50 Greatest Comedy Films saw Holy Grail placed in sixth place (with Life of Brian again topping the list). [4] In 2011, an ABC prime-time special, Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time, counted down the best films chosen by fans based on results of a poll conducted by ABC and People. Holy Grail was selected as the second best comedy after Airplane!. In 2016, Empire magazine ranked Holy Grail 18th in their list of the 100 best British films (Life of Brian was ranked 2nd), with their entry stating, "Elvis ordered a print of this comedy classic and watched it five times. If it's good enough for the King, it's good enough for you." [48]

    In a 2017 interview at Indiana University in Bloomington, John Cleese expressed disappointment with the film's conclusion. "'The ending annoys me the most'", he said after a screening of the film on the Indiana campus, adding that "'It ends the way it does because we couldn't think of any other way'". [49] However, scripts for the film and notebooks that are among Michael Palin's private archive, which he donated to the British Library in 2017, do document at least one alternate ending that the troupe considered: "a battle between the knights of Camelot, the French, and the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog". [50] [51] Due to the film's small production budget, that idea or a "much pricier option" was discarded by the Pythons in favour of the ending with "King Arthur getting arrested", which Palin deemed "'cheaper'" and "'funnier'". [50]

    Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes offers a 97% approval rating from reviews of 78 critics, with an average rating of 8.46/10. The consensus reads, "A cult classic as gut-bustingly hilarious as it is blithely ridiculous, Monty Python and the Holy Grail has lost none of its exceedingly silly charm." [52]

    Spamalot Edit

    In 2005, the film was adapted as a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Spamalot. Written primarily by Idle, the show has more of an overarching plot and leaves out certain portions of the movie due to difficulties in rendering certain effects on stage. Nonetheless, many of the jokes from the film are present in the show. [53]

    In 2013, the Pythons lost a legal case to Mark Forstater, the film's producer, over royalties for the derivative work, Spamalot. They owed a combined £800,000 in legal fees and back royalties to Forstater. [54] [55] To help cover the cost of these royalties and fees, the group arranged and performed in a stage show, Monty Python Live (Mostly), held at the O2 Arena in London in July 2014. [56] [57]

    In May 2018, it was announced that 20th Century Fox had greenlit a film adaptation of the musical. Idle will write the screenplay and stage director Casey Nicholaw will direct. Filming was to begin in early 2019 but was delayed due to the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by The Walt Disney Company. [58] On January 6, 2020, it was announced that the project will move to Paramount Pictures and that it is set to begin pre-production, with Idle and Nicholaw still attached as writer and director and Dan Jinks joining as a producer. [59]

    Is the Holy Grail real?

    The mystical Holy Grail has caught the attention of many writers, archeologists and myth busters the world over. But what exactly IS it?

    The first mention of the grail appears in the incomplete poem The Story Of The Grail written between 1180 and 1191, but said grail has no holy or mythological properties. It wasn’t until the grail appeared again in Robert de Boron’s verse romance Joseph d’Arimathie between 1191 and 1202 that the grail or ‘chalice’ is linked to Christ, claiming that the sacred cup was used in the last supper and to collect Christ’s blood on the cross.

    The grail then appears in a growing selection of texts, in some it keeps its religious connotations and links to Jesus Christ, but in others it becomes entangled in King Arthur’s quests, even becoming a cauldron that magically produces food. Because of this it becomes difficult to trace the true origin of the grail, whether it originates from Celtic folklore or a Christian symbol, or both. Either way, the quest to find the true ‘Holy Grail’ has led to several claims of discovery around the world and even whispers of a Templar plot to hide it. However, there is no actual evidence to believe the mythical grail exists. The actual cup Jesus would have used at the last supper would have been made from wood and would have decomposed to dust unless, of course, it was infused with sacred qualities, which is yet again impossible to prove. So for now, until some miraculous discovery is unveiled, we must conclude the Holy Grail to exist wholly in folklore and myth.

    Discover the answer to all your historical questions by picking up a copy of All About History now.

    All About History is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site.

    © Future Publishing Limited Quay House, The Ambury , Bath BA1 1UA . All rights reserved. England and Wales company registration number 2008885.

    Later Versions of the Quest

    The Morte D'Arthur is not the only version of the story of the quest, and the details vary in different tellings. Some of the most famous 19th-century versions include Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "Sir Galahad" and Idylls of the King, as well as William Morris's poem "Sir Galahad, a Christmas Mystery."

    In the 20th century, one of the best-known versions of the Grail story is Monty Python and the Holy Grail—a comedy that nevertheless follows the original story closely. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is another movie that follows the Grail story. Among the most controversial retellings is Dan Brown's book The DaVinci Code, which builds on the idea that the Knights Templar might have stolen the Grail during the crusades, but which finally incorporates the questionable idea that the Grail was not an object at all but referred instead to the child of Jesus in Mary Magdalen's womb.

    The quest for the Holy Grail is, in fact, still in progress. Over 200 cups have been found which have some kind of claim to the title of Holy Grail, and many seekers pore over ancient and medieval literature to find clues as to where the Grail could be hidden.

    Significance of the Holy Grail

    The significance of the Holy Grail has changed dramatically over the years, and it is even more complex today than in the past. Some interpretations see the Grail as a symbol of purity, while others see it as a very real object capable of being rediscovered today. In fact, several seekers claim to have actually found the Holy Grail.

    The Holy Grail as a Real Object

    Those who believe the Holy Grail is a real object suggest several different possible locations for it. The most popular is that the Grail was brought to Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea. Another holds that the Grail was stolen from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by the Knights Templar during the Crusades and spirited away to a still-secret hiding place. The Nazis believed in the existence of a real Holy Grail, and at one point sought it at Montserrat Abbey near Barcelona.

    The Holy Grail as Mary's Womb

    One unlikely version of the Grail story suggests that the Grail is neither a cup, a bowl, nor a stone, but is, in fact, the uterus of Mary Magdalen. This version (which serves as the focus of The DaVinci Code) is built around reading the term "san greal" (holy grail) as "sang real" (royal blood). In other words, the Holy Grail is the container of royal blood—Christ's descendant.

    The Holy Grail as the Ultimate Object of Desire

    In popular culture, the term "the holy grail" is often used to describe the ultimate object of desire or authority in any given area of interest. For example, the Academy Award might be the "holy grail" of the film industry, while stem cells are sometimes referred to as the "holy grail" of medicine.

    The Holy Grail

    If you’re aware of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table — if you’ve heard Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal or seen movies such as “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” — you’ve heard of the Holy Grail.

    That object of quest and romance, providing supernatural nourishment and healing, has a long history in literature and legend. Tales about the Holy Grail — as a stone or gem, as the chalice Jesus used, or as the platter on which the Passover lamb was served at the Last Supper before Jesus suffered and died on Calvary — appeared in French, English, German and Italian during the 12th and 13th centuries. The stories include mysterious connections with Joseph of Arimathea, the spear of Longinus (the centurion who pierced Christ’s side on the cross) and even the conversion of England. The Grail was also sometimes described as the cup in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the blood and water that poured from Christ’s side after Longinus pierced Him as He hung dead on the cross, a mysterious sign of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist and their source in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    In these early versions of the quest for the Holy Grail, the imagery clearly reflects Catholic belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Precious Body and Blood of the Holy Eucharist. In spite of all these sacramental and doctrinal images and interpretation, the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages did not participate in or emphasize the quest for the Holy Grail. While the medieval Church is often criticized for taking advantage of miracles and shrines for pilgrimage, she did not use this seemingly perfect opportunity for donations and bequests to venerate the Holy Grail, among other relics of Jesus’ life and passion. Yet, in the same era, the Church developed even greater devotion to the holy Eucharist through the institution of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, in 1264. Pope Urban IV asked St. Thomas Aquinas to write the Divine Office for this great feast, and he composed the great hymns and sequences we sing today on Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday and at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The legend of the Holy Grail coincides with this focused devotion and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which including the Corpus Christi processions.

    Journeys of the Grail

    The story of the Holy Grail begins with Joseph of Arimathea, the member of the Sanhedrin who went to Pontius Pilate for permission to remove Jesus’ body from the cross on Good Friday. Joseph and Nicodemus — who had come to Jesus secretly — prepared His body for burial in Joseph’s own new tomb. Imprisoned by the Jewish authorities for his proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection, according to the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, Joseph receives the Grail from our Savior to nourish him — then miraculously escapes from his cell without disturbing the seals on the door. Leaving the Holy Land, he travels to France and then to England, bringing the Grail with him to Glastonbury in Somerset, England. As Glastonbury is also claimed by some legends to be the burial place of King Arthur and his queen, Guinevere, the legends of Avalon or Camelot and the Holy Grail become entwined.

    The Holy Grail of Arthurian legends becomes the great object of a chivalric quest, as the Knights of the Round Table set out to find the chalice and the Holy Blood (the sangreal) — and fail or succeed according to their purity and holiness. Thus the great Lancelot fails because of his adulterous affair with Guinevere, while Percival, Bors or Galahad, depending on the version, succeed because of their purity, or in the case of Galahad his virginity. Literary historians have often surmised that the ideals of chivalry were inspired by medieval devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Arthur’s knights strove to be brave, to defend women, and to be chastely devoted to their chosen Lady. When a knight failed in this ideal, as Sir Lancelot failed, the Holy Grail became a catalyst for his repentance as he recognizes his unworthiness and does penance for his sins of adultery and disloyalty.

    Although Thomas Malory’s 15th century Le Morte d’Arthur included the quest for the Holy Grail in his influential summation of the Arthurian legends, the fascination of the Grail legend faded at the end of the Middle Ages. The story of the Holy Grail was revived by Romantic and Victorian era interest in what many called the “Age of Chivalry,” with Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King” (1869) and Richard Wagner’s Bayreuth festival piece Parsifal (c. 1880), although both the Anglican Tennyson and the mystical Wagner eliminated the background of the Real Presence in their Grails. In the 20th century, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” tells a ridiculously comic version of King Arthur’s knights and their quests, while John Boorman’s 1981 film, “Excalibur,” based on Thomas Malory’s work, included Percival’s successful quest for the Holy Grail, healing Arthur and the land because “the land and the king are one.”

    Myths and Theories

    Joseph of Arimathea removes Jesus from the cross. Shutterstock

    This mysterious link between the legend of the Holy Grail and Britain, or England, became an argument for the English Reformation in the 16th century. Queen Elizabeth I cited Joseph of Arimathea’s presence in England long before Pope St. Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to Kent as important to the tales. She informed the Catholic bishops who protested against the establishment of the Church in England at Parliament in 1559 that Joseph of Arimathea was the “first preacher of the Word of God” in England, and that the country already had bishops and priests when Rome “usurped” their authority. Elizabeth was citing the authority of the sixth-century monk Gildas, whose shrine at Glastonbury Abbey had been destroyed when King Henry VIII suppressed all the monasteries, convents and friaries in England, Wales and those parts of Ireland he ruled.

    Near the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey today, the annual Glastonbury Festival celebrates music and New Age, neo-pagan spirituality during the summer solstice. Although the most reliable historical research indicates that Glastonbury Abbey was founded in the seventh century, the legends of King Arthur, Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail, Avalon and even the Glastonbury Thorn, a tree that magically grew from Joseph’s staff, become a confusing tangle of mystery and secret knowledge.

    Conspiracy theorists have even woven the legend of the Holy Grail into their webs of arcane and unknowable history, presenting a story that Dan Brown infamously adopted in “The Da Vinci Code.” This version claims that the Holy Grail was really the womb of Mary Magdalen, or her descendents from her marriage with Jesus, who had not really died on the cross, nor risen from the dead — and who, according to Brown and his sources, is not really the Incarnate God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who came to earth to redeem us and establish His Church.

    The Real Presence

    As noted in the 2006 book “The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence” (Loyola Press), Adolf Hitler did search for the Holy Grail just as “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” depicts. He and Heinrich Himmler were fascinated by the promise of great and secret powers they could obtain by possessing the Grail Hitler believed the blood of the Grail was the original, pure Aryan blood. Himmler, according to “The Grail Code,” was “nuts for Grail lore and the Arthurian legends in general” (p. 223), and he both re-created the Round Table at the SS headquarters and searched for the Holy Grail in southern France, the enclave of the medieval Cathars, Gnostic heretics who surely would not have valued the Holy Grail in connection with the Eucharist. The Cathars rejected belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist because of their absolute dualism, believing that all matter is evil, and since each of the seven sacraments involve matter (bread and wine, water and oil, etc.), they refused baptism and all the human elements of the Catholic Church.

    But all these false views of the Holy Grail cannot diminish the true mystery of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist. We have found the Holy Grail Jesus Christ gave it to the Church the night before He died and told the apostles to “do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19). At every Mass the words of consecration make the Lord present in holy Communion, our sacramental source of nourishment and healing.

    Stephanie A. Mann writes from Kansas.

    Thomas Aquinas and the Grail

    When he wrote the Divine Office for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, St. Thomas Aquinas also wrote prayers to prepare for and rejoice after receiving holy Communion. As the Holy Grail healed and made whole the knight who was worthy to find and receive it, St. Thomas shows how much we need the healing grace of holy Communion: “Almighty and ever-living God, I approach the sacrament of Your only-begotten Son Our Lord Jesus Christ, I come sick to the doctor of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy, blind to the radiance of eternal light, and poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Lord, in your great generosity, heal my sickness, wash away my defilement, enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness. May I receive the bread of angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with humble reverence, with the purity and faith, the repentance and love, and the determined purpose that will help to bring me to salvation. May I receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood, and its reality and power. . . . Amen.”

    Like knights of old we seek the Holy Grail, finding it at Mass each Sunday or weekday, praying to be prepared to receive the Lord’s Body and Blood worthily and devoutly.

    The Mystery Of The Holy Grail

    As a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, this site may earn from qualifying purchases. We may also earn commissions on purchases from other retail websites.

    The symbol of the Grail is without a doubt one of the holiest treasures in religion and it occupies a special place in human history ever since the stories began to spread through Europe in the Middle Ages. It is something that continues to exert a fascination on all who come within its sphere of influence. However, there is no concrete and definite image of the Grail, and better yet, the Grail has not been proven to exist thus leading towards a series of speculations and theories with all kinds of opinions about the origin of the stories that come circulating in written form from the early twelfth century, about his true form: a cup, a plate, a stone, jewel and finally as believed by some, as a device.

    However, researchers and historians have agreed that it is something profoundly mysterious, something magically sacred and the quest of finding it is perhaps worth devoting a lifetime, even knowing that the search might be fruitless. Some believe it to be a myth while others state it is something truly otherworldly.

    Several mythologies speak of a similar set of sacred items around the world, and in general religion, not just Christian religion, because although the Grail was strongly connected with the Western world as a symbol of Christ’s doctrine, it is proven that much of its origins are also present in Eastern cultures and religions, perhaps not in the same way, but in similar fashion.

    The story that we all have heard of begins with Joseph of Arimathea, who took over the body of Christ for burial preparations and it is believed, that he was also in possession of the chalice used by Jesus at the Last Supper. While washing the body of Christ, preparing it for burial, Joseph collected the blood that poured from the wounds of Christ into a cup. After the disappearance of the body, Joseph is accused of stealing it and was locked in prison without any food. Christ appeared, bathed in a bright light, and entrusted him with the cup and also provided him with the instructions for the Mass or holy communion and also sharing knowledge and vanishing afterward.

    Miraculously, José was able to stay alive by a dove which entered his cell each day and deposited a host into the chalice. Jose was released at the age of 70 and went into exile along with a small group of supporters, which included his sister and her husband, Bron.

    Jose and his supporters built a table which is known as the first grail table which represented the table of the Last Supper and twelve places that were occupied at the table. The place of Christ was occupied by a fish. There was also a thirteenth seat, which represents the position of Judas this seat was called the Siege Perilous.

    By some accounts, José embarks to Britain, where he founded the first Christian church in Glastonbury, dedicating it to the mother of the Savior. The Grail was supposedly located in this church, where he employed it as a chalice at Mass (in which the whole community participates) which was then known as the Mass of the Grail.

    In other versions, Joseph does not arrive beyond the European continent, and the custody of the cup passes onto Bron who ends up being known as the Rich Fisherman after having fed the entire community with a single fish. The group settled afterward in a place referred to as Avaron which could also be Avalon.

    The time of Arthur

    Illustration of ‘The Round Table and the Holy Grail’, from a manuscript of ‘Lancelot-Grail’ written by Michel Gantelet, completed in 1470

    Merlin the magician has founded the Round Table or the Third table- lacking the grail, around which the brotherhood of knights led by Arthur meets they are governed by the rules of chivalry. On the day Pentecost (the Christian festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, held on the seventh Sunday after Easter.) the Grail appears floating in a beam of light and covered by a veil, and the knights pledge to seek it out and recover it. With this moment, the adventures of initiation official commence in which almost all the knights are involved in, especially Lanzarote, Gawain and Bors, although the greatest role belongs to other two knights, Perceval (Percival or Parsifal), nicknamed the Perfect Fool because of his innocence and Galahad, son of Lanzarote, who is distinguished from the others from the beginning because he was the one who sat at the Siege Perilous and was unharmed. In the quest for the Holy Grail, only three managed to find the Grail and participate, in various forms, in its mysteries: Galahad, Perceval, and Bors, which is the only one of the three to return to Camelot with news of the quest.

    After suffering the first failure and wandering alone for five years, Sir Perceval manages to find the way to the castle of the wounded King- who in some versions is his uncle, and manages to cure him by asking a ritual question: “Whom does the Grail serve?” or “Who serves the Grail?” The answer, which is never explicitly revealed, is “the King himself,” who remains alive beyond normal life, although tormented by the wound.) Once cured, the King was allowed to die, and the waters ran again through the desolate lands, making them flourish.

    Galahad, Perceval, and Bors continue their journey and reach Sarras, the Heavenly City of the East, where the Grail mysteries are celebrated and where the three men are involved in a mass where the Grail again serves as a holy chalice.

    Christ is manifested, first as celebrant, then, as a shining child and, finally, in the Host as crucified. Sir Galahad dies in the odor of sanctity and the Grail ascends to the heavens Perceval returns to the castle of the King to take his place, and Bors is the only one who returns to Camelot.

    The origin, history, evolution of the Holy Grail and its ultimate e demise are described in detail, and although there are contradictions regarding the shape of the chalice, there is no evidence whatsoever that the holy grail stayed on this world. This is an important clue to the nature of the Grail as a symbol, and the way its understood today.

    The Church, however, has never made reference to such an important religious treasure neither to confirm nor to deny its existence. This has only given fuel to adventurers to search for the holy grail, just as the search for the Ark of the covenant continues in an effort to find the holiest of the treasures.

    What is the Holy Grail?

    The Holy Grail is supposedly the cup or dish Christ used at the Last Supper that was later used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch Christ’s blood as he hung on the cross. It is mythical and not accepted as true by any church. The stories about it were written between 1170 AD and 1240 AD. Most are in French although some are in English and German. They are a part of the legends of King Arthur. It’s supposed to have miraculous properties and people have to be spiritually mature to partake of its grace. You can see where it gets a little off track from true Christian teachings.

    These Articles are Written by the Publishers of The Amazing Bible Timeline
    Quickly See 6000 Years of Bible and World History Together

    Unique Circular Format – see more in less space.
    Learn facts that you can’t learn just from reading the Bible
    Attractive design ideal for your home, office, church …

    Lapis ex Caelis The Emerald Of Lucifer & The Holy Grail

    The Holy Grail is an item from Arthurian legends which combine Christian and Celtic Pagan imagery and lore. The Holy Grail was an object (most often thought of as a cup, due to its name) which bestowed immortality or rebirth, much like the Cauldron of Cerridwen.

    It was believed to be the vessel from which Christ drank from at the last supper claiming that it contained his blood. The word &ldquograil&rdquo is thought to originate from the Persian word &ldquoGhr&rdquo which means &ldquoPearl&rdquo or &ldquoStone&rdquo. The Persian word for &ldquoengraved stone&rdquo is &ldquoghr&rsquoal&rdquo which looks and sounds like the english word &ldquograil&rdquo. Some theorize that it&rsquos symbolic of Christ&rsquos Bloodline and a symbol for the womb, which brings my mind back to the idea of moldavite being with the Venus of Willendorf, the fertility mother goddess. This theory about the grail being the womb and bloodline has been popularized by Dan Brown&rsquos novels and movies such as The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol.

    Image Credit: William Morris | Public Domain

    In the Arthurian Grail epic Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, it is clearly stated that the Holy Grail is a stone which reflects qualities of the philosopher&rsquos stone, which can heal and revive the dead and give immortality among many other things.

    &ldquoIf you do not know it, it shall here be named to you. It is called lapis excillis. By the power of that stone the phoenix burns to ashes, but the ashes give him life again. Thus does the phoenix mount and change its plumage, which afterwards is bright and shining and as lovely as before There never was a human so ill but that, if he one day sees the stone, he cannot die within the weeks that follows. And in looks he will not fade. His appearance will stay the same, be it maid or man, as on the day he saw the stone, the same as when the best years of his life began, and though he should see the stone for two hundred years, it will never change, save that his hair might perhaps turn grey. Such power does the stone give a man that flesh and bones are at once made young again. The stone is also called the Grail.&rdquo

    &ndash Wolfram von Eschenbach

    Image Credit: Felipe Gabaldón | CC2 License

    Legends tells us that when Lucifer fell from heaven, Archangel Michael swung his sword at Lucifer&rsquos crown an emerald fell out and hit the Earth. This legendary emerald was symbolic of the fall of humanity and also the key to humanity&rsquos redemption. In Legend this emerald was the Holy Grail itself. This emerald that fell from the sky sounds very much like Moldavite itself. It is believed that this emerald was was then fashioned into a cup or bowl by another angel that served as the cup of the Last Supper.

    &ldquoThe stone that fell to earth was an emerald that adorned Lucifer&rsquos forehead. It was cut into the shape of a bowl by a faithful angel, and thus the Grail was born. It was given to Adam before he was expelled from the Garden of Eden. Seth, Adam&rsquos son, having temporarily returned to the earthly paradise, took the Grail along with him. Other people transported the Grail to Montsegur, a fortress in the Pyrenees, which Lucifer&rsquos armies besieged in order to get the Grail back and put it into their leader&rsquos crown, out of which it had fallen but the Grail was allegedly saved by knights who hid it within a mountain.&rdquo

    &ndash Julius Evola
    The Mystery of the Grail
    (Please note that Julius Evola was an extreme proponent of fascism and a huge anti-semite and this is not an endorsement of his works or views either partially or entirely, but rather a demonstration of this idea Lucifer&rsquos emerald falling to earth as the holy grail being discussed by a historical occultist, despite how vile his ideas were.)

    Interestingly enough, the Holy Grail was supposedly found and given to Napoleon, who was extremely disappointed to find that it was just a chunk of green glass, which is exactly what Moldavite is.

    Image Credit: Pexels | CC0 License

    Yet another potential Spanish location for the Holy Grail was the Montserrat Abbey, just north of Barcelona. This location was, according to some sources, discovered by a Nazi named Rahn who had studied the Arthurian legends for clues. It was Rahn who enticed Heinrich Himmler to visit Montserrat Abbey in 1940. Himmler, convinced that the Grail would give him great powers, actually built a castle in Germany to house the holy chalice. In the basement of the castle stood a spot where the Holy Grail was to sit.

    The Knights Templars were an order of Christian soldiers who fought in the Crusades the order still exists today. According to some sources, the Knights Templars discovered the Holy Grail at the Temple in Jerusalem, took it away, and hid it. If this is true, its location is still unknown. The story of the Knights Templars forms part of the basis of the book The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

    Watch the video: What Is the Holy Grail? Knightfall. History (November 2021).