The Holy Grail, in medieval Celtic and Norman myths, is one of the instruments of the Passion, the cup from which Jesus Christ tasted at the Last Supper and into which Joseph of Arimathea collected the blood from the wounds of the crucified Jesus.
The legendary Knights of Roundstone searched unsuccessfully throughout their lives for the Holy Grail, which (along with the spear that pierced the side of Christ) was supposedly preserved and brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea. In the artistic works of the time, the Grail was not interpreted as a chalice, but as a stone or some precious relic.
According to the beliefs, one who tastes from the Grail cup receives forgiveness of sins, immortality, etc. The words “Holy Grail” are often used in a figurative sense, as a reference to some cherished goal.
The quest for the Holy Grail
Around the 9th century in Europe began an active search for various relics somehow or other related to the earthly life of Jesus. The process reached its climax in the 13th century, when Louis the Holy brought to Paris from Constantinople many relics of the Passion, in whose authenticity almost no one doubted.
However, among all these relics was not the cup from which the Savior tasted at the secret supper. This has led to a variety of versions about its location. Over time, many theories related to the Holy Grail emerged, including the story of its relocation.
In medieval novels about Percival, the main character discovers a kind of magical fortress, Munsalves, where the cherished cup is guarded by the Templars. Some writers have endowed the Grail with miraculous characteristics similar to the inexhaustible vessel from ancient Celtic and Indo-European myths.
Meanwhile, in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, the Holy Grail was a “stone of a special rock. Beginning with Robert de Boron the finding of Joseph of Arimathea in Britain became associated with Glastonbury Hill.
Spear of Longinus
In 1190 the monks of Glastonbury Abbey claimed to have found the burial place of King Arthur and his wife Guinevere. In 1278 a grand reburial ceremony was organized. Since then, the Holy Grail in the imagination of subsequent generations has been associated exclusively with Glastonbury.
Curiously enough, in every historical era there were different seekers. For example, Adolf Hitler was obsessed with the search for the Grail, organizing large expeditions for this purpose, which received excellent funding. The Führer was one of those who firmly believed that whoever possessed the cup would gain unlimited power over the world and gain immortality.
It is important to note that at the same time Hitler was searching for the so-called Lance of Longinus, with which the body of the crucified Jesus was supposedly pierced. According to legend, the lance has miraculous powers and allows the chosen one to heal from wounds and illnesses and remain invincible.
The owner of the Spear of Longinus is able to have power as long as he does not break the established rules or part with it. Today, there are several relics claiming to be called the Spear of Longinus and kept in various temples.
The Arthurian cycle
In the Arthurian cycle, the cup from which Christ tasted is first found in the French novel Perceval, or The Legend of the Grail, by Chretien de Troyes. The names of two Knights of the Round Table, Percival and Galahad, are closely associated with this relic.
Percival saw the Grail with his own eyes when he visited his kinsman, the Fisher King. The knight witnessed the king being miraculously healed by drinking the holy water from the Grail.
Galahad is presented as a saint and the only knight fortunate enough to possess this vessel. Being a righteous man, Galahad touched the Grail with the permission of the monks, after which he ascended into heaven as a saint.