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Holy Grail

The Holy Grail, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

In Christian mythology, the Holy Grail is the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper, or alternatively a cup that caught his blood when he was on the cross, or both. It was said to have the power to heal all wounds. Much of the Christianised Arthurian mythos relates to the quest for the Holy Grail. The legend may be a combination of genuine Christian lore with a Celtic myth of a cauldron endowed with special powers.

The identification of the cup of the Last Supper and the Grail could come from the fact that in Old French, san grial means "Holy Grail" and sang rial means "royal blood".

According to one legend, the Grail was brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, when he travelled to the British Isles as the first Christian missionary to the country and established the first Christian church in the British Isles.

A number of knights undertook the quest for the Grail, in tales that have become annexed to the Arthurian mythos. Some of these tales tell of knights that succeeded, like Parsifal or Galahad; others tell of knights who failed to achieve the grail because of their tragic flaws, like Lancelot. In some of these legends, the Grail was custodied at Montsalvat, which some have identified with the real sanctuary of Montserrat in Catalonia.

The fate of the Holy Grail is unknown, with various groups (including the Knights Templar) claiming ownership. There are cups claimed to be the Grail in several churches like the Valencia cathedral. Other stories claim that the Grail is buried beneath Rosslyn Chapel.

The legends of King Arthur and the Holy Grail were collected in the 15th century by Thomas Malory. The movie Excalibur is a modern representation of the tale, while The Fisher King and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade place the quest in a modern setting. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a comedy based on the legend.

The legend of the Holy Grail is the basis of the use of the term holy grail in modern-day culture. A "holy grail" is seen as the ultimate goal for a person or organization to achieve. For instance, in sports, fans of the professional baseball refer to a World Series championship as their team's Holy Grail.

See also

Cornucopia and sampo are other mythical vessels with magical powers.

External links