Ancient history

Holy grail

The Holy Grail was one of the most popular legends of the Middle Ages and made reference to the supposed cup used by Jesus during the Last Supper.

The Holy Grail is the name of one of the main legends from the Middle Ages period and refers to the cup used by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper . The legend of the Holy Grail emerged around the century XII and was quickly popularized in medieval Europe. This legend merged with elements of the legends Arthurians and featured Celtic influences . Currently, some churches in Europe claim the title of possessor of the Holy Grail - although it is impossible to prove the veracity of the object.

Also see: Understand how the Church was established in medieval Europe

Understanding the Holy Grail

The Holy Grail is a legend that came from a tale published by a twelfth-century French writer. But before we understand the origins of this mythical and sacred piece, it is important that we know what the Holy Grail is actually about.

The Holy Grail was a relic , that is, a sacred object that was related with holy men or with Jesus himself Christ. In this case, the Holy Grail was related to Jesus Christ himself, since he was the cup used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. It was there that Jesus performed the first Eucharist , sacrament in which the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. As a relic, the Holy Grail was believed to have powers magicians.

Also, others legends Medieval scholars about the Holy Grail say that in addition to being the chalice of the Last Supper, it was also the cup that was used by Joseph of Arimathea to collapse the blood of Jesus Christ after he was pierced by the Roman soldier during his crucifixion. Other legends also claim that the Holy Grail was the bowl (not the chalice) that Jesus used to break bread during the Last Supper.

The image, in turn, that consolidated the Holy Grail was that of the chalice used during the Last Supper. This legend has crossed over the centuries and currently remains alive, as some churches in Europe claim for themselves the title of possessor of the Holy Grail. The best known of these is in Valencia, in Spain.

Location of the “Holy Grail” inside the Cathedral of Valencia, Spain.*

The Cathedral of Valencia Its construction began in the 13th century and currently claims to possess the true Holy Grail. The story explained by this Cathedral tells that the chalice was taken to Rome by St Peter, then it was sent to Huesca, because of the persecution to Christians in the Roman Empire. In the 15th century, King Alfonso the Magnanimous assumed the throne of Aragon and donated the Holy Grail for the Cathedral of Valencia.

This story, however, is impossible to prove by historians, since they are missing evidence documents to support the Valencia Cathedral claim. To make this situation more complicated, other places, such as the Basilica of San Isidoro, in León, also in Spain, claim to have the Holy Grail.

Influences and origins of the Holy Grail

The legend of the Holy Grail rests on legends medieval of Christian origin, but it also has elements pagans. In this part, we'll take a brief look at each of the Holy Grail's influences and origins.

  • Paganism

Many scholars on the subject point out that the legend of the Holy Grail was influenced by culture Celtic. That's because before it became popular as a chalice, the Holy Grail was for many a round bowl . This image was close to a Celtic legend , people who inhabited the British Isles and part of Central Europe.

The Celts believed that there was a cauldron with magical powers who was able to supply food and drink infinitely. Historians believe that this vision of a magical cauldron capable of providing food and therefore vigor and life for people it was very important in the construction of the first story that mentions the Grail.

  • Christianity

Despite the pagan element present in the legend of the Holy Grail, the bulk of its history stems from Christianism. The story of the Holy Grail was first published in the 12th century by Chrétien de Troyes under the name of “The Grail Tale ”. In this story, we have the first record of the word “grail” and the main character – Percival – was in search of this sacred object.

This first history, historians claim that the grail not if treated of a cup, but probably from a bowl called scull (hence its association with the magical cauldron of the Celts). Chrétien de Troyes later decided to write a sequel to Percival's story, but that continuation was left unfinished, probably because of his death.

Later, with the success of the story of Chrétien de Troyes, new stories were written by medieval Europe on the subject. They all merged the Holy Grail with the legends of King Arthur and these stories had a strong religious appeal, as the Holy Grail was a sacred object and brought to the fore all the importance of relics in the imaginary of Christianity medieval. In these stories, the King Arthur and his knights was looking for do Saint Grail.

The Holy Grail has indeed become a chalice in later stories than Chrétien de Troyes. In other stories, such as that of Robert Boron , for example, the Holy Grail was a sacred object, but without a defined form. Here, we can see that the Holy Grail has taken over three shapes in medieval legends:a bowl , a chalice and an undefined object . Of these, the chalice was the most consolidated in the popular imagination.

Also see: See about the epidemic that killed 1/3 of Europe in the 14th century


  • The story of the Holy Grail merged with the Templars in the popular mind, through the scholarly work of an Austrian student named Joseph von Hammer-Pugstall . In that work, Hammer-Pugstall claimed that the Grail was used for purposes satanic by the Templar Knights.

  • In the early 20th century, it was believed that the Chalice from Antioch was the Holy Grail, but further studies concluded that it was just a lightbulb oil.

  • The Holy Grail was present in films such as Monty Python in search of the chalice sacred and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade .

  • In literature, the Holy Grail was present, for example, in the Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown.

  • In the 19th century, Order Hermetic da Aurora Gold believed that the Holy Grail stories hid secrets of faith Christian.

  • In England, according to medieval legends, many believed that the Holy Grail was brought there through Joseph from Arimathea.

  • From the 16th century onwards, the legend of the Holy Grail lost strength in some parts of Europe because of the Protestant Reformation .

*Image Credits:Kumpel and Shutterstock

Previous Post