The Holy Grail is a treasure that serves as an important motif in Arthurian literature. Different traditions describe it as a cup, dish or stone used by Jesus at the Last Supper and said to possess miraculous powers that provide eternal youth or sustenance in infinite abundance, often in the custody of the Fisher King. The term "holy grail" is often used to denote an elusive object or goal that is sought after for its great significance.
The quest for the Holy Grail makes up an important segment of the Arthurian cycle, appearing first in works by Chrétien de Troyes. The legend seems to combine Christian lore with Celtic myths of a cauldron endowed with special powers.
- If we only have love
Then we'll only be men
And we'll drink from the Grail
To be born once again —
Then with nothing at all
But the little we are
We'll have conquered all time
All space, the sun, and the stars.
- Jacques Brel, in "If We Only Have Love" (1957), as translated in the closing scene in the 1968 musical Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (1975 film version)
- I simply state that I'm a product of a versatile mind in a restless generation — with every reason to throw my mind and pen in with the radicals. Even if, deep in my heart, I thought we were all blind atoms in a world as limited as a stroke of a pendulum, I and my sort would struggle against tradition; try, at least, to displace old cants with new ones. I've thought I was right about life at various times, but faith is difficult. One thing I know. If living isn't seeking for the grail it may be a damned amusing game.
- I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it,
So can't get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn't.
(I stole the goblet from the children's playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.
- Only the worthy can find the Grail, Leigh. You told me that.
- Okay, maybe there is no proof. Maybe the Grail is lost forever. But, Sophie, the only thing that matters is what you believe. History shows us Jesus was an extraordinary man, a human inspiration. That's it. That's all the evidence has ever proved. But... when I was a boy... when I was down in that well Teabing told you about, I thought I was going to die, Sophie. What I did, I prayed. I prayed to Jesus to keep me alive so I could see my parents again, so I could go to school again, so I could play with my dog. Sometimes I wonder if I wasn't alone down there. Why does it have to be human or divine? Maybe human is divine. Why couldn't Jesus have been a father and still be capable of all those miracles?
- The search for the Cup of Christ is the search for the divine in all of us. But if you want facts, Indy, I've none to give you.
- The quest for the Grail is not archeology, it's a race against evil. If it is captured by the Nazis the armies of darkness will march all over the face of the Earth. Do you understand me?
- You must choose. But choose wisely, for as the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.
- "Grail Knight", played by Robert Eddison, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) screenplay by Jeffrey Boam
- As the dreaded Black Beast lunged forward, escape for Arthur and his Knights seemed impossible. Then suddenly the animator suffered a fatal heart attack. The cartoon peril was no more. The Quest for the Holy Grail could continue.
- It begins with the king as a boy, having to spend the night alone in the forest to prove his courage so he can become king. Now while he is spending the night alone he's visited by a sacred vision. Out of the fire appears the holy grail, symbol of God's divine grace. And a voice said to the boy, "You shall be keeper of the grail so that it may heal the hearts of men." But the boy was blinded by greater visions of a life filled with power and glory and beauty. And in this state of radical amazement he felt for a brief moment not like a boy, but invincible, like God, so he reached into the fire to take the grail, and the grail vanished, leaving him with his hand in the fire to be terribly wounded. Now as this boy grew older, his wound grew deeper. Until one day, life for him lost its reason. He had no faith in any man, not even himself. He couldn't love or feel loved. He was sick with experience. He began to die. One day a fool wandered into the castle and found the king alone. And being a fool, he was simple minded, he didn't see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain. And he asked the king, "What ails you friend?" The king replied, "I'm thirsty. I need some water to cool my throat". So the fool took a cup from beside his bed, filled it with water and handed it to the king. As the king began to drink, he realized his wound was healed. He looked in his hands and there was the holy grail, that which he sought all of his life. And he turned to the fool and said with amazement, "How can you find that which my brightest and bravest could not?" And the fool replied, "I don't know. I only knew that you were thirsty."
Idylls of the King (1862)
- The sweet vision of the Holy Grail
Drove me from all vainglories, rivalries,
And earthly heats that spring and sparkle out
Among us in the jousts, while women watch
Who wins, who falls; and waste the spiritual strength
Within us, better offered up to Heaven.
- The Holy Grail (1869)
- The Holy Grail! —
… What is it?
The phantom of a cup that comes and goes?
- "The Holy Grail" (1842)
- The cup, the cup itself, from which our Lord
Drank at the last sad supper with his own.…
If a man
Could touch or see it, he was healed at once,
By faith, of all his ills. But then the times
Grew to such evil that the holy cup
Was caught away to Heaven, and disappeared.
- "The Holy Grail" (1842)
- Sweet brother, I have seen the Holy Grail…
The Holy Thing is here again
Among us, brother, fast thou too and pray,
And tell thy brother knights to fast and pray,
That so perchance the vision may be seen
By thee and those, and all the world be healed.
- "The Holy Grail" (1842)
The Birth Of Sir Galahad (1925)
- by Thomas De Beverley
- No bravery is such a virtue as the Graele may gain.
For Arthour never gained it — Launcelot
Could not achieve it. Only three there were:
Galahad, Bors, and Percival; of these
Their spotless souls had ne'er been flecked by sin.
- Then came a maiden in — though all the doors
Were closed. She, in her hands, the Sangrael bore.
Then was a table o'erlaid with goodly fare:
Red wine in crystal cups, and meat and fruit.
"Peace be to thee and thine," she said, "Sir Bors,
Go to the perilous siege, the siege of death!
But first the Sangrael Galahad shall achieve;
His father he excels in purity."
Then kneeled they down, while wafted on the air
Was incense of such savour, as the world
Had never known; and, when the dove took flight,
The maiden vanished, as the mists of morn —
Vanished before the rays of that red sun,
The source of life. Thus vanished and was gone
The maid — the cup of sacred wine remained.
- Sir Bors de Ganis, he of Launcelot
The nephew, brave as lions, pure as snow,
With Galahad and Percival was destined
The Holy Grail to witness and to taste
Wine from the Sacred Chalice. Only these,
Of all the Table Round, had purity
Which gift alone the sangrael could win.
- Kalachakra (the Wheel of Time, or the Wheel of the Law) is the Teaching ascribed to the various Lords of Shambhala. Traces of this Teaching can be found in almost all the philosophical systems and teachings of India. At present, it is perhaps known particularly in Tibet. One can also find obscure hints concerning Shambhala in Western literature. After all, the legend of the Grail also originated in the East, and is actually one of the numerous versions of the very same Shambhala... The Holy Grail is now guarded in the East. Recently there appeared quite a few investigators of the mysterious personality of Prester John, and also of the symbolism of the legend of the Grail. There is a theory that the Holy Chalice, or Grail, is the sacred Stone (read the legend about the "Stone" in On Eastern Crossroads), and such a version has its reason. (30 March 1936)
- The thoughts you expressed about a symbol are very beautiful and quite true — the Chalice of Amrita, the Chalice of Beauty and Attainment, the Chalice — the Holy Grail! The legend about the Chalice — the Grail—also came from the East as one of the versions of a great spiritual achievement and the very same mysterious Shambhala. Incidentally, some investigators of the symbolism connected with the Grail perceive in this Chalice the Stone, which is at present in the world, accompanying historic events; later it is supposed to return to the "Heart" of Asia. This interpretation is also close to the truth. (2 April 1936)
- The Chalice itself does exist, and before the beginning of a new era, it is sent to where the Teaching of Kalachakra shall be affirmed. Many legends exist about this Chalice. One of these says that the Chalice always comes unexpectedly and through the air. Thus, at the proper time, it was brought to the Lord Buddha. The origin of this Chalice is Egyptian, and its antiquity goes back to some twelve thousand years B.C. After the death of Buddha, this Chalice was for some time in a temple in KaraShahr, from which it disappeared, and since then has been guarded in Shambhala. According to all the legends, this Chalice will again appear before the New Epoch of Maitreya. (2 April 1936)