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The Grail: what is it, the story of a legend

The Grail: what is it, the story of a legend

The quest for the Holy Grail has been going on for many centuries. The mystical vessel is identified with the pagan horn by abundance, is associated with the Last Supper as a vessel for participles, is called a stone that grants immortality.

Grail, what is it?

From the Last Supper to Mansalvat

The sacred bowl, shrouded in many centuries by a mysterious veil. It is only known that this is a powerful relic that grants many earthly blessings.

She is associated with the first chalice that served Jesus Christ and his apostles when the Last Supper was held.

Some legends say that the Grail is an agate adorning the crown of Lucifer, which he lost during the overthrow from heaven.

In another legend about the chalice it is said that during the execution of the son of God, blood was collected in it, flowing down over the crucified body. This was done by Joseph of Arimathea, who was a Jewish elder and secret follower of Christ.

The Grail: what is it, the story of a legend

Angered by Joseph’s deed, the Jews throw him into prison and forget about him. The sacred vessel supported the unfortunate prisoner for forty-two years, giving him food and not allowing him to die from hunger and thirst.

Joseph was freed by the emperor Vespasian, who was cured of leprosy with the help of a shroud with the face of Christ. From this moment begin the wanderings of the Holy Vessel.

Joseph of Arimathea had a vision in which Jesus instructed him to guard the sacred cup. He hides the Grail in things and goes with him to the shores of Britain.

Before his death, Joseph entrusts the care of the Grail to his nephew.

Another legend tells that the sacred vessel has been in heaven for a long time, waiting for the time when decent knights will appear on Earth.

The ancestor of those who had the honor to keep the famous relic to become a ruler from Asia — Perill, who settled in Gaul. Later, his heirs will create marriages with the children of an influential prince.

To protect the sacred vessel is entrusted to the pious Titurel, a descendant of Perill. It is he and his faithful knights who are called to guard the celestial cup in whose name they are erecting the castle of Monsalvat.

This legend says that the bowl is still under the arches of the legendary castle.

In numerous legends it is said that the holy Grail gave food and drink to all those who honored him and worshiped him. He also healed incurable diseases, could give immortality and eternal youth.

The mysterious vessel bestowed enlightenment and spiritual purity to all those who touched it. For many centuries, the Grail is treated as the most legendary and mysterious relic in the history of mankind.

How was the legend born

The tradition of the mysterious bowl has long been considered “popular” and it is quite difficult to trace the beginning of the birth of a legend. However, people who are engaged in the study of everything connected with the mystical cup, do not lose hope. They argue that the search should begin in medieval Europe.

It was there and at that time a massive search for Christian relics was unfolding.

At that time, the Roman Church obliges all churches to keep the remains or belongings of the saints. Relic items belong to the category of goods that bring considerable benefits.

From the eastern countries to European countries begin to bring a great variety of relics, bones and objects, allegedly belonging to a famous saint.

The most valuable are those relics that were related to the Passion of Christ. These included:

  • parts of the wooden cross on which they crucified Christ;
  • Longin’s spear;
  • nails that beat Jesus to the cross;
  • a small shroud with the face of God’s son and a large one with the imprint of his body;
  • crown of thorns.

All this wanted to get the big feudal lords, high-ranking church officials and even monarchs into their property.

Lack of bowl

However, among the many sacred things inserted by the clergy in the churches, there was no legendary Grail. Its value to ministers of the church can not be overemphasized.

After all, according to legend, it was from her that Christ first communed his followers during the Last Supper. Considering this fact and the importance attached to communion with wine in the Catholic Church, such a vessel became the most desired relic.

The Grail: what is it, the story of a legend

The absence of such an important subject from the clergy was obvious. Various assumptions were built, rumors were spreading about the location of a powerful rare book and its unusual properties.

At that time, the dynasty of the French kings was able to collect a huge number of Christian shrines. In contrast to this «success», Britain puts forward the legend of the sacred vessel and claims that it is in its territory.

The right to such an assertion is received by Britain after the manuscripts telling about the Grail were discovered. These were two old documents, «disclosing» the secret.

The Chronicle of William of Malmesbury and the manuscript Grand Saint Graal

The chronicle tells about the distant 63 years after the birth of Christ. At that time, loyal followers of the Apostle Philip arrive in Britain to preach the Christian faith.

The preachers, led by Joseph of Arimathea, erect the first Christian temple at the place where Glaston-Burye Abbey will be founded over time. Legends say that it is in this abbey that the body of the famous King Arthur and Queen Guinevere will be found.

To this day there exists a source called the «bowl well».

Another manuscript includes a manuscript dated to the 12th century. It deals with the delivery of the Holy Grail to Britain and the knights guarding the cup.

This story was reproduced in his novels by Robert de Boron and Chrétien de Troy, linking his narrative with the legends of the fearless King Arthur.

The British “version” of the appearance of priceless relics in its expanses gains unprecedented popularity and becomes almost a “medieval bestseller”. In many European countries, similar novels and novels appear that tell new “reliable” details.

So the legend spreads and becomes a “historical fact” causing a growing interest in many nations of the world.

Type of grail

There is another version of why the legend about the Grail, as a vessel capable of giving abundance and other benefits, appears in Britain. We consider the relationship between the Christian Grail and pagan prototypes, also giving food, health, gold and knowledge.

Here are just a few examples.

  1. In Ireland, such mystical properties endowed Dagda’s cauldron, from which food and drinks appeared.
  2. In Britain, such a cornucopia was considered to be the magic cup brought by the powerful Merlin on a crystal ship. This thicket could show the future, discover sacred knowledge and secrets of the universe.
  3. The mythology of the Welsh tells about a vessel of wisdom belonging to the goddess Seridven. He is told in the Taliesin Story.
  4. Also in Welsh legends and traditions another magical thicket is mentioned that was given to Bran the Blessed Dwarf from the Lake of the Bowl, a witch and a black giant. This vessel healed any deadly disease, healed wounds and raised the dead. The legend about Bran says that later the cup loses its abilities. During the battle, Bran the Blessed throws into it the severed head of his enemy, which defiles the purity of the vessel.

All these legends, perhaps, formed the basis of the legend about the Holy Grail.

Bowl, dish and stone

The Holy Grail is associated not only with the image of the cup. This is just one of his many other images.

In some Welsh legends, the Grail is identified with a silver platter on which a bloody head rests. This image is vaguely reminiscent of the story of John the Baptist.

Eschenbach in Parzifal describes the Grail as a stone with unique magical properties and able to work wonders. In some versions, the Grail is a reservoir for the blood of Christ, and it is the Virgin Mary.

Over time, the number of assumptions and versions only grew, and there was no single idea of ​​such an amazing relic.


Remains a secret and the name of the sacred vessel. Why was this cup given such a name? The answer can not be found in any confirmed historical document or in the legend.

Therefore, the origin of the word «Grail» remains unknown and gives rise to many theories and conjectures.

The Grail: what is it, the story of a legend

According to one version, it is believed that the name and the legend connected with it are of Celtic origin. Such a statement is based on the consonance of the name of the famous bowl and the Irish word cryol, which means «basket of abundance.»

Here the semantic load of the word and the magical properties that are attributed to the grail match.

Another version reveals the meaning of the old French word «sangreal», which translates as «true blood.» Another version comes from the word “gratalem” denoting a large vessel in which wine and water are mixed.

The Quest for the Holy Grail

Even in our days, new “candidates” for the title of the Holy Grail are being nominated. So in 2014 in the Leon basilica they found an ancient relic, which was immediately called the Grail.

Historians who discovered it claim that after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the sacred vessel was transported to Palestine. Then it is “declared” in Egypt, and from there it falls into Arab Spain. After the liberation of the Spanish lands from the Arabs, the Grail moves to the city of Leon.

There he is called the cup of Urraki, in honor of Queen Castile.

Nowadays, several cities are trying to prove that they possess an ancient mysterious relic. The most famous «applicants» can be counted as a silver vessel — the Antioch chalice.

It was discovered by antiquarians in Antioch at the beginning of the last century. The vessel is made in the form of a cup on a round leg.

On it is boldly depicted Jesus Christ and his apostles.

Another “only authentic” Grail is located in Valencia and belongs to the Cathedral of Saint Mary.

Read more about the sacred relic here:

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