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Holy Grail

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"That's the cup of a carpenter."
Indiana Jones[src]

The Holy Grail was a Biblical artifact said to have supernatural powers. A person that drank from the cup was granted eternal life and youth, though this effect would last only until they crossed the Great Seal that marked the entrance to the cup's resting place at the Temple of the Sun. Water poured from the Grail could heal severe injuries, such as a gunshot wound.


The Holy Grail was believed to be the cup that Jesus Christ used during the Last Supper. It was also used to catch Christ's blood at his crucifixion. The cup was then entrusted to Joseph of Arimathea. It was said that the Grail could give to whomever drank from it eternal life.[1]

Joseph of Arimathea reached Great Britain in 37 AD[3] with the Grail and housed it at the site that would become Glastonbury Abbey but the relic went missing some time after.[2]

The Grail was rediscovered centuries later by King Arthur and entrusted to Sir Bedivere. When Arthur was mortally wounded by his nephew Modred, he was taken to Glastonbury Tor by Bedivere and after the king's passing, Bedivere returned the Grail to where Joseph of Arimathea had left it and founded a hermitage.[2]

However, after Camelot fell to the invading Anglo-Saxons,[4] the Holy Grail was delivered by Sir Galahad to the monastery at Iona where the cup remained for around three hundred years. The monastery was sacked by Vikings in the ninth century and the Holy Grail got a far east as Kiev before trade or raid carried it south.[5]

In the year 1000, an Aramaic-speaking Semite secret society used a pre-existing Greco-Roman facade to construct a temple in a hidden gorge to house the Grail. The group eventually established itself as the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword.[6] They swore to keep it safe from discovery and misuse by any means.[1]


A depiction of Christ's blood being caught in the Holy Grail.

The Grail was found in the Canyon of the Crescent Moon after the First Crusade by a company of knights from France, three brothers who pledged to protect it. They lived in the cup's sanctuary—where a Great Seal acted to prevent the artifact from being taken beyond the temple's entrance—for nearly one hundred and fifty years.[1] Around that time, a chalice was looted from Constantinople by the Knights Templar and it became one of many false grails placed on an altar in the canyon temple to disguise the real cup of Christ.[7] One of the brothers was chosen to stay behind while the other two returned to Europe and left a marker near Ankara about the Grail's location. Sir Richard's shield carried a second marker but the man died on the journey back and he was buried with his shield in a tomb in Venice, Italy. The third brother returned home and in the 13th century, told his story to a Franciscan friar,[1] who recorded about the whereabouts of the holy relic somewhere "in a canyon deep in a range of mountains" and made a painting about it which was kept in a castle's chapel at Klasenheim, Austria-Hungary.[5]

Modern timesEdit

Indiana Jones's father, Professor Jones Sr., became obsessed with the Holy Grail after a vision he had beheld in 1898. He made thorough researches and travels for its study and kept several notes about it in his Grail Diary. While in the ruin of Kaffa, the scholar Codirolli discovered a parchment with the testimony of the physician who attended the dying of the Franciscan friar who spoke of three trials at the location of the Grail. Codirolli later shared the Kaffa parchment with Jones around 1920.[5]


Men under Walter Donovan's employ found the knights' first marker.

The Ankara marker to the Holy Grail's location, a stone tablet, was eventually unearthed by engineers excavating for copper under the employ of American industrialist and antiquities collector Walter Donovan. Donovan was enticed by the Grail's promise of eternal life but the tablet was missing its top portion.[1]

At the close of 1937,[5] Donovan hired Henry Jones to search for the Grail along with archaeologist Doctor Elsa Schneider but both Donovan and Schneider were secretly in league with the Nazis, who had their own sights on acquiring the Holy Grail. While working on the project, Jones and Schneider became lovers but as Jones traced the location of the second marker to Venice, Italy with his Grail Diary, he discovered Schneider's Nazi affiliations and sent the book to his estranged son: Indiana Jones. He was abducted by the Nazis soon afterwards.[1]

In 1938, Donovan contacted Indiana to pick up where Henry had left off and find the Grail, which Jones used as an opportunity to seek out his father. After being attacked by the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword to keep the Grail safe, their leader, Kazim, revealed to Indiana where Henry Jones was being kept. After Indiana rescued his father, the pair resumed the Grail quest to prevent the Nazis from harnessing its powers. The Grail was located in a mountain-side temple in the Canyon of the Crescent Moon in Hatay. In order to reach the cup, the Jones was required to overcome three challenges. The first was the "Breath of God", the second the "Word of God", and the third being the "Path of God". Afterwards, there were extra trials, as the guardian of the Grail had to be defeated in single combat. Finally, the correct Grail had to be found among the altar's other cups. While the Holy Grail would grant eternal life to its drinker, the wrong chalice would see their life taken away.[1]

On Elsa Schneider's recommendation, Donovan made the mistake of choosing a False Grail which he saw as most befitting a "king of kings" and rapidly aged to death. Indiana Jones, however, found the most modest of the chalices and recognized the true Grail as the cup of a carpenter.[1]


The Holy Grail just out of Schneider's reach.

Indiana retrieved the Grail in order to heal a gunshot wound that Donovan had inflicted upon Henry Jones Sr. After Henry was healed, Schneider tried to take the Grail from the temple despite the warning not to do so by the Grail Knight. Her actions caused a large earthquake, and the Grail fell onto a small ledge in a ravine. Schneider, who had nearly fallen in herself, was saved by Indiana but greedily tried to grab the Grail below with her free arm. Indiana could not maintain his grip for long and despite his protests, Schneider overreached to get to the relic. Her hand slipped from its glove and she fell to her death. Indiana nearly tumbled into the abyss himself, but was caught by his father. Indiana, like Schneider, tried to reach the cup, but was persuaded by Henry to let it go thus avoiding Schneider's fate.[1]

The Grail was ultimately lost but the experience gave both Indiana and his father the chance to rekindle their rocky relationship.[1]


Years later, the elder Jones remarked on the elusive, indefinite nature of the Grail, commenting that the cup discovered by the father-son team was simply "a Grail. But many of the oldest Grail texts, written by the most ancient seers, refer to the Grail as an elixir, as a bread, a powder, gold, or a stone."[8]

Behind the scenesEdit

The prop Holy Grail currently resides in the Hollywood Museum (housed in the Max Factor building) in Los Angeles, California.

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure the Grail's appearance is random each time, and its final determination is part of the game's copy protection. When Indy looks at each Grail, he comments "Now THIS is a cup of a carpenter".

In the game, it is possible to catch the Grail with the whip, and then surrender it back to the Grail Knight. This can be done even before Elsa tries to catch it, and that way, she can live till the end of the game.

The carpenter line is spoofed in Monkey Island, where it is repeated by Guybrush Threepwood when he sees a chalice. It is further spoofed in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, when looking at an Atlantean stone cup, and Indy comments "Certainly NOT a cup of a carpenter".



Notes and referencesEdit

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