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Long before Indiana Jones went in search of the Holy Grail, others were hot on the trail. The Crusaders, King Arthur, and many more have set out on the quest for this most sacred of all relics. The legend of the Grail is one of the most enduring in our human history. It stirs images of knights of old, the power of God and the importance of the setting out on a quest. The Grail is by its nature, mysterious, and the mystery lingers into this millennium.

Although the story of Grail varies from author to author, certain aspects are consistent. At the last supper Jesus filled a vessel or chalice with wine and passed it among his disciples. He instructed them to "drink his blood." Later, it is said as Christ was removed from the cross, Joseph of Arimathea collected his split blood in the very same vessel. Thus we have the mythical origins of the Grail, as connected to Jesus.

Leaving Jerusalem, Joseph took the cup with him, some say to Glastonbury, England, others say to the Pyrenees. By some accounts the Grail was passed down through generations of Joseph's family, who were self-appointed guardians of the relic.

However, after the death of Jesus, the history of the vessel becomes mixed in legend, heaped upon more legend. According to myth, the Grail holds magical powers, possibly in some way related to the magic vessels of ancient Celtic tales. It was believed the Grail could furnish food for those without sin, strike mute the irreverent or blind the impure of heart. The Grail is so powerful, it's reputed to hold the power to cure mankind of all ailments.

The Holy Grail first appeared in written text in old French verse around the year 1180. These verses were translated to other European languages and additional versions were written over several hundred years.

In the French verse, a young man called Percival sets out to become a Knight in King Arthur's court. Along the way he reaches the castle of the Fisher King, who is supposedly the guardian of both the Holy Grail and the spear that wounded Jesus when he was crucified. In another version, a now-famous knight called Galahad ultimately finds the Grail and completes the quest.

The Grail was especially important during Medieval times. One scholar called it "the defining myth for the warrior class of the Middle Ages." After the Middle Ages the Grail faded until the nineteenth century when the legend awoke the interest of more writers, composers and artists.

So where is the Grail now? Some believe it lies in the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England, while others point to Oak Island in Nova Scotia. Theories abound. Perhaps this is one mystery which can never be solved, but the story is fascinating nonetheless.