Holy Grail

The Damsel of the Sanct Grael by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1874)

The Holy Grail is a treasure that serves as an important motif in Arthurian literature. Different traditions describe it as a cup, dish or stone with miraculous powers that provide happiness, eternal youth or sustenance in infinite abundance, often in the custody of the Fisher King. The term "holy grail" is often used to denote an elusive object or goal that is sought after for its great significance.[1]

A "grail", wondrous but not explicitly holy, first appears in Perceval, le Conte du Graal, an unfinished romance written by Chrétien de Troyes around 1190. Here, Chrétien's story attracted many continuators, translators and interpreters in the later 12th and early 13th centuries, including Wolfram von Eschenbach, who perceived the Grail as a stone. In the late 12th century, Robert de Boron wrote in Joseph d'Arimathie that the Grail was Jesus's vessel from the Last Supper, which Joseph of Arimathea used to catch Christ's blood at the Crucifixion. Thereafter, the Holy Grail became interwoven with the legend of the Holy Chalice, the Last Supper cup, a theme continued in works such as the Vulgate Cycle, the Post-Vulgate Cycle, and Le Morte d'Arthur.[2]


The word graal, as it is earliest spelled, comes from Old French graal or greal, cognate with Old Provençal grazal and Old Catalan gresal, meaning "a cup or bowl of earth, wood, or metal" (or other various types of vessels in different Occitan dialects).[3] The most commonly accepted etymology derives it from Latin gradalis or gradale via an earlier form, cratalis, a derivative of crater or cratus, which was, in turn, borrowed from Greek krater (κρατήρ, a large wine-mixing vessel).[3][4][5][6][7] Alternative suggestions include a derivative of cratis, a name for a type of woven basket that came to refer to a dish,[8] or a derivative of Latin gradus meaning "'by degree', 'by stages', applied to a dish brought to the table in different stages or services during a meal".[9]

In the 15th century, English writer John Hardyng invented a fanciful new etymology for Old French san-graal (or san-gréal), meaning "Holy Grail", by parsing it as sang real, meaning "royal blood".[10][11] This etymology was used by some later medieval British writers such as Thomas Malory, and became prominent in the conspiracy theory developed in the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, in which sang real refers to the Jesus bloodline.[12]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Heilige Graal
aragonés: Santo Gredal
azərbaycanca: Müqəddəs Qədəh
беларуская: Святы Грааль
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сьвяты Грааль
български: Свещен Граал
brezhoneg: Graal
català: Sant Greal
čeština: Svatý grál
Deutsch: Heiliger Gral
español: Grial
Esperanto: Sankta gralo
euskara: Graal
فارسی: جام مقدس
français: Graal
galego: Santo Graal
한국어: 거룩한 잔
հայերեն: Սուրբ Գրաալ
hrvatski: Sveti gral
Bahasa Indonesia: Piala Suci
italiano: Graal
magyar: Szent Grál
македонски: Свет грал
മലയാളം: തിരുക്കാസ
Bahasa Melayu: Holy Grail
Nederlands: Heilige graal
日本語: 聖杯
Nouormand: Gréâ
occitan: Sant Grasal
polski: Graal
português: Santo Graal
română: Graal
Simple English: Holy Grail
slovenčina: Svätý grál
slovenščina: Sveti gral
српски / srpski: Свети грал
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sveti gral
svenska: Graal
Türkçe: Kutsal Kâse
українська: Святий Ґрааль
Tiếng Việt: Chén Thánh
中文: 圣杯