Mike Aquilina

Grail Expectations

Friday April 28th 2006, 11:43 am

I promised you some thoughts on the patristic roots of the Holy Grail legends. As I said before, if Arthur existed, he was a contemporary of the Fathers. And if vestiges of his history survive in the legends, they are likely preserved among relics of the piety of his times.

Chalice piety was widespread and profound during this period. Several generations before Arthur’s Battle of Mount Badon, St. Jerome urged Pope Damasus to promote not only reverence for the Eucharist, but reverence for the Eucharistic vessels as well. In the pre-Constantinian Acts of the Martyrs, we find catalogs of chalices confiscated by the pagan authorities — chalices made of precious metals. In the late second century, Tertullian reports the use of richly decorated chalices. And ritual abuses of the eucharistic chalice brought down the wrath of Fathers as early (and as far-flung) as Irenaeus (second-century Gaul) and Cyprian (third-century Africa).

The ancients revered the chalice and worshipped its Contents. From earliest times the chalice was emblematic of the mystery it held — the mystery of Christ and of salvation by His blood (see Lk 22:20). The chalice came to stand also for the true doctrine of the mystery.

In my new book, The Grail Code, my co-author and I examine the patristic material in some detail, and we trace its trajectory in literature well into the Middle Ages.

Ancient chalice piety isn’t the only source of the Grail legends. There’s much more. In fact, it involves a conSpiracy wilder and vaster than Dan Brown ever imagined.

My co-author Chris Bailey is hosting an ongoing Grail discussion in the room next to his Grail library at our website, GrailCode.com.