The Grail Quest



The subject of the Holy Grail has had a resurgence in recent years. Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, has enjoyed enormous success. It publicises an alleged secret about Jesus Christ, a piece of astonishing information which has him married with children, or at least one child and at least one wife. The author derived his knowledge (and there was indeed a plagiarism lawsuit) from a book by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln, entitled The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (1982).

In this series we will look at the Medieval romances about the Grail and the knights of King Arthur’s Round Table. We will try to answer some of the intriguing questions.

What is the Grail (a cup, dish, platter, an abstract symbol)?                                      Where is the Grail (in Britain, Brittany, Southern France, Spain)?
Whence is the Grail (its origins in Celtic lore, Christian legend)?
Whose is the Grail (Perceval/Perlesvaus/Parzival, or Galahad, or Peredur, or Peveril)?
Who is the Grail (a person or persons in Christian history)?

We will have occasion to mention Glastonbury, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene, the Merovingian Dynasty, the Templars, the guileless fool, the fisher king, a bleeding spear, a mysterious sword, and Wagner’s opera Parsifal.

Introductory Reading 

Richard Barber, The Holy Grail: The History of a Legend (Penguin Books, 2005)

The Da Vinci Code FAQ

The so-called Priory of Sion