The Holy Grail, also called the Sangreal, was believed to be the cup that Jesus used in the Last Supper to present the wine used to represent the new covenant in his blood. Legends claim that the Grail was a golden goblet similar to the holy vessels for the drink offerings in the temple, that the Grail was protected by the Templar Knights and that the Grail was eventually hidden on the island of Avalon. In King Arthur and His Knights, by Sir James Knowles, on the death of Sir Galahad a hand came from heaven and took the Sangreal and the spear of Longinus and bore them out of sight.
The grail is a frequent goal for legendary heroes, and it, like the Holy Lance, is rumored to have special healing properties. The Holy Grail was first featured in literature sometime late in the 12th century, when Chretien de Troyes wrote his poem, The Story of the Grail. While common knowledge describes the grail as a chalice or cup of sorts, in reality, it was first portrayed as a bowl or dish.
According to author and professor Salvador Antuñano Alea, the Last Supper’s holy chalice, kept in the cathedral of Valencia, Spain bases its probability on tradition and “very reasonable archaeological and historical evidence” but for Christians what is most important is “its condition as a sacred icon.”
The Holy Grail has inspired authors and directors for centuries, notably Dan Brown for his book The Da Vinci Code, Stephen Spielberg for his film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and British comedians for their film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Other popular uses of the grail include the search by King Arthur and his knights of the round table, and the use of the grail as a metaphor for a very lofty trophy. It is frequently alluded in works of historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy.
- King Arthur and His Knights, compiled and arranged by Sir James Knowles 1927, based on Mallory's Morte d'Arthur, illustrated by Louis Rhead, Random House Value Publishing © 1989, Children's Classics, Chapter XII, page 329.
- The Mystery of the Holy Grail: Tradition and Legend of the Holy Chalice, Salvador Antuñano Alea, published by EDICEP, 1999. Salvador Antuñano Alea is a doctor in philosophy and professor at the University of Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid.