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Religious Conspiracy Update: The Holy Grail

According to legend, there was possibly a dish, cup or plate used by Jesus at The Last Supper that took on some divine attributes. This mythological “Holy Grail” was said to possess miraculous powers, although no one knows for sure what these powers were. It was considered a sacred Christian treasure to be protected first from the Romans who were persecuting Christians, then from the early church leaders who, for reasons unclear, could not be trusted — same with various kings and governments through the ages. Some maintain this Grail would reveal certain Christian truths, perhaps secrets or messages Jesus may have tried to hand down to later followers.

By several accounts, Joseph of Arimathea is said to have received the Grail from an apparition of Jesus in the 12th century. This is the same Joseph who, in many legends, is believed to have accompanied Mary Magdalene out of the Holy Land, possibly with a child. For this reason, modern legend often points to the possibility that Mary was the chalice, or vessel, as in something that is carrying something else inside, thereby posing the remote possibility that Mary was pregnant or carrying a child with her.

This idea that the Grail was not an actual object but rather a person was quite a stunning “aha” moment for many, hence the storyline for The Da Vinci Code. As far-fetched as this theory may be, by now some eighty million copies of that book have been sold, meaning a whole lot of people have been exposed to this notion. With some level of skepticism it does merit as much consideration as any Grail theory these days.

Whether an object or person, it was reported that the Grail was then sent to Great Britain, where, to this day, belief in the Grail and interest in its rediscovery in modern times continues with great passion and national pride.

For many of us now in our 40s, 50s and 60s, in thinking about all things “Grail,” a certain hilarious movie comes to mind.  Whenever the Grail topic arises many a person conjures up scenes from the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The witty, well-written film became a timeless cinematic masterpiece for very good English comedy, but it certainly causes many of us to make light of the Grail theories and laugh under our breath when people try to take the Grail topic seriously.

So, what is the basis for the continuing belief in the Grail?

Over the centuries, various groups claimed ownership of the Grail, including The Knights Templar. Saint Mary of Valencia Cathedral in Spain claims to have the Grail, which they know as a “Holy Chalice.” The Grail was supposedly taken by Saint Peter to Rome in the first century, and then to Huesca in Spain by Saint Lawrence in the 3rd century. The Saint Mary of Valencia Grail was scientifically dated to a period between the fourth century BC and the first century AD in the Middle East. It is considered by whomever an authority could possibly be, to be a “contender” for the actual Grail. It is, after all, an object dated within 500 years of Jesus’ time from somewhere in the Middle East, which covers a huge chunk of the planet, but is within a few thousand miles of where Jesus lived and worked — during, that is, those few years of His that we have on biblical and historical record.

However much a contender the Holy Chalice may be, readers familiar with the work of Dan Brown will know that there are still others who claim that the Grail is buried beneath Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, or may be buried in the spring at Glastonbury Tor. If they weren’t claiming it before reading Dan Brown’s stuff, they most certainly claim so afterward.

But, despite all the interest and resources dedicated to unearthing the truth, there isn’t much Grail news as far as new ways to use X-Ray detection to see what may be buried in some of these famous and mysterious places. It seems Grail theories are somewhat stagnant for the period in which we live, but they sure do spread like wildfire, especially around the Internet.

Conspiracy theorists adore the Grail topic and some even believe there is a secret group, or even a hereditary line of Grail protectors still among us. I know this little tid-bit because I must be the bulls-eye of their marketing efforts and wind up buying and devouring all their books and films.

Tours of many potential Grail resting places come complete with unique and surprising theories, as well as their pricey souvenir shops. Grail travel is still a bit of a booming business in Europe, following The Da Vinci Code and other Grail books over the years.

Sadly, the questions people keep asking and wondering about will likely go forever unanswered. Honestly, how would we know it if we saw it? Does it glow? Does it have magical powers or healing qualities? If it is not a magical object, but rather a person or descendant of a person, how can we know for sure that the person making that claim actually descended from Jesus Himself when we don’t have Jesus’ DNA?

The Grail, however real or not, gives lots of writers something to write about and it gives people something to be hopeful about. It gives us an unsolvable mystery in our lifetimes and a puzzle to continually ponder. It gives treasure-hunting types just enough of a clue to get them hooked, and it never lets go. The Grail gives many people a reason to travel and learn about history. It even boosts little micro economies in antiquated villages in Europe.

Precisely what it is may never be known, but we can safely say after centuries of searching for something beyond what Jesus left in his much later transcribed messages, that became books in the New Testament, that the enigma itself is most certainly the Grail, too.

Where would humanity be without its curiosity?



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