The Holy Grail

This powerful relic still today remains one of the most mysterious icons of the past thousand years. Let’s analyze some fascinating theories…

Traditionally, it is believed that the Holy Grail is a cup with miraculous powers. According to the most popular Christian tradition, it is the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and then used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch Christ’s blood during the Crucifixion. This version was widely criticized over the centuries and the debate around the grail became so violent to justify brutal repressions and cruel political and religious battles.

The Myth spreads in Europe
Only in the 12th century this myth reached the European culture, thanks to two very famous poems. The ‘Le Roman De Perceval Ou Le Conte Du Graal’ by Chrétien de Troyes and the ‘Perzeval’ by Wolfram Von Eschenbach, both focused on the adventures of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round table.

The De Boron legacy
The French poet Robert de Boron is the one to give the myth of the Grail its typical Christian tradition we are used to reading about. In his poem ‘Joseph d’Arimathie’, in fact, he describes the Grail as the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and then used by Joseph of Arimathea who brought it to Europe. Soon after he wrote yet another poem ‘Merlin’ in which he told about the diabolic origins of King Arthur’s magician. This is the last version of the Grail to spread throughout the Middle Ages and many believe that this incredible relic was discovered and hidden by the Knights Templar while they were in Jerusalem after the First Crusade (1099).

Alice Totemica, Area Industriale Tattoo, Brescia, Italy
Alice Totemica, Area Industriale Tattoo, Brescia, Italy

Modern times theories
The legend is partially forgotten to then be incredibly rediscovered in the 800’s, especially thanks to the work of artists who re-interpreted the myth of the Grail. The first was the English poet Arthur Tannyson who speaks about this in his book ‘Idylis Of the Kings’ followed by the painters Arthur Rackham and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. But in the 20th century the real “quest for the Holy Grail” begins. Historians, archeologists and experts the world over are convinced that the myth hides something real. The incredible Nazi quest for magic relics focuses on the Grail, besides the Ark of the Covenant and Longino’s Lance, as instruments of power. All kinds of adventurers set off on this amazing search.

The Sangréal (or “bloodline”)
Apparently more recent is the idea that the Holy Grail is not a material object but the symbol of the continuation of the dynasty of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. According to this theory (it becomes very popular thanks to Dan Brown’s novel ‘The DaVinci Code’), Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and Jesus did not die on the cross, but was saved by some of his followers and escaped with them to France. Their children eventually married into the royal Frankish family, also descendants of an Israeli tribe and formed the Merovingian dynasty. The word sangréal would in fact mean “bloodline”. This interpretation went even further, claiming that Jesus was a legitimate descendant of an ancient sangréal with roots in Egypt or the ancient Babylonian Empire.

The Mary Magdalene role
The theory of the sangréal has another important aspect to it: it is the ideological pillar of an alternative “female” religion (the main character is Mary Magdalene, she who generates the sangréal) and this would explain – according to the supporters of this theory – the cruel repressions she suffered, especially with reference to the massacre of the Cathars, Paulicians and Bogomils in the Middle Ages.