When I first read that the Holy Grail was so important because it had once contained the blood of Christ I was skeptical. After all, Middle Age Europe was filled with merchants selling pieces of the Cross Jesus died on, cuttings of his hair, his bones, and any other object associated with the last days of his life. All of those that have ever been tested have proven frauds.
Of course there was the surface evidence. Though Lancelot was the perfect knight, his affair with the queen made him too tainted to win the grail. Deeply flawed knights often died on the quest for the grail, while lesser knights whose hearts were pure (Galahad, Perceval, Bors) were in this religious atmosphere much greater than they ever had been. But that was not so believable.
As I began to read more of the Medieval literature, my suspicions were somewhat allayed. Claims of Perceval’s descent from Joseph of Arimathea gave the story depth as Joseph was traditionally the man who provided Jesus’ grave site and was gifted items from the Apostles. When I learned that Lancelot was cousin to Perceval and that his son and another cousin, Galahad and Bors, were descended from Joseph as well I was confident that the Christian solution was the right one.
The oft-repeated story that Perceval was the heir to the ownership of the grail, through Joseph, put things in perspective. This was the story of one boy’s maturity to a point where he was worthy of the grail, a sort of journey of the true Christian that had been recorded and perhaps altered to create a parable.
Other items fell into place as well. Though there was much of the fantastic in the stories, some of them had tidbits I questioned. Knights, or in a fifth-century context warriors, converted to Christianity made sense on an island only recently exposed to the religion.
The feast, too, makes sense. In the original version by Chrétien de Troyes, many of the foods and the manner of eating make perfect sense from a Jewish context. It is a Passover meal, and it is the time of Passover according to the story.
Names, too, seemed reasonable. Carbonek, for instance, is totally nonsensical against the geography of Britain. Car/Caer means castle or fortress, usually of Roman manufacture, and there is no record of the place in any official record. However, French cors and Welsh corff means body. If the name meant “Christ’s body” or some such it would explain the absence. No other explanation has ever been seriously offered.