Where Is the Holy Grail?

Historic drawing of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey
Historic drawing of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey.

Print Collector / Getty Images 

The Holy Grail is, according to some sources, the cup from which Christ drank during the Last Supper and which was used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect Christ's blood during the crucifixion. Most people believe that the Grail is a mythical object; others believe that it is not a cup at all but is, in fact, a written document or even the womb of Mary Magdalene. Among those who believe that the Grail is a real cup, there are various theories as to where it is and whether or not it has already been found.

Key Takeaways: Where is the Holy Grail?

  • The Holy Grail is supposedly the cup used by Christ at the last supper and by Joseph of Arimathea to collect Christ's blood at the Crucifixion.
  • There is no proof that the Holy Grail existed at all, though many are still searching for it.
  • There are multiple possible locations for the Holy Grail, including Glastonbury, England, and several sites in Spain.

Glastonbury, England

The most prevalent theory about the location of the Holy Grail relates to its original owner, Joseph of Arimathea, who may have been Jesus' uncle. Joseph, according to some sources, took the Holy Grail with him when he traveled to Glastonbury, England, following the Crucifixion. Glastonbury is the site of a tor (a tall prominence of land) where the Glastonbury Abbey was built, and Joseph was supposed to have buried the Grail just below the tor. After its burial, some say, a spring, called the Chalice Well, began to flow. Anyone drinking from the well was said to gain eternal youth.

It is said that many years later, one of the quests of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table was the search for the Holy Grail.

Glastonbury, according to legend, is the site of Avalon—also known as Camelot. Some say that both King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are buried at the Abbey, but as the Abbey was largely destroyed during the 1500s, there is no remaining evidence of their supposed burial.

Leon, Spain

Archaeologists Margarita Torres and José Ortega del Rio claim to have found the Holy Grail in the Basilica of San Isidoro in León, Spain. According to their book, The Kings of the Grail, published in March 2014, the cup traveled to Cairo and then to Spain around 1100. It was given to King Ferdinand I of Leon by an Andalusian ruler; the king then passed it on to his daughter, Urraca of Zamora.

Research suggests that the chalice was, in fact, made at about the time of Christ. There are, however, about 200 similar cups and chalices from about the same time period that are contenders for the role of the Holy Grail.

Valencia, Spain

Another contender for the Holy Grail is a cup kept in La Capilla del Santo Cáliz (Chapel of the Chalice) in the Valencia Cathedral in Spain. This cup is quite elaborate, with gold handles and a base inlaid with pearls, emeralds, and rubies—but these ornaments are not original. The story goes that the original Holy Grail was taken to Rome by Saint Peter (the first Pope); it was stolen and then returned during the 20th century.

Montserrat, Spain (Barcelona)

Yet another potential Spanish location for the Holy Grail was the Montserrat Abbey, just north of Barcelona. This location was, according to some sources, discovered by a Nazi named Rahn who had studied the Arthurian legends for clues. It was Rahn who enticed Heinrich Himmler to visit Montserrat Abbey in 1940. Himmler, convinced that the Grail would give him great powers, actually built a castle in Germany to house the holy chalice. In the basement of the castle stood a spot where the Holy Grail was to sit.

The Knights Templars

The Knights Templars were an order of Christian soldiers who fought in the Crusades; the order still exists today. According to some sources, the Knights Templars discovered the Holy Grail at the Temple in Jerusalem, took it away, and hid it. If this is true, its location is still unknown. The story of the Knights Templars forms part of the basis of the book The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

Sources

  • Hargitai, Quinn. “Travel - Is This the Home of the Holy Grail?” BBC, BBC, 29 May 2018, www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180528-is-this-the-home-of-the-holy-grail.
  • Lee, Adrian. “The Nazis' Search for Atlantis and the Holy Grail.” Express.co.uk, Express.co.uk, 26 Jan. 2015, www.express.co.uk/news/world/444076/The-Nazis-search-for-Atlantis-and-the-Holy-Grail.
  • Miguel, Ortega del Rio Jose. Kings of the Grail: Tracing the Historic Journey of the Holy Grail from Jerusalem to Spain. Michael O'Mara Books Ltd., 2015.