Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Catholic Encyclopedia: The Holy Grail

The online Catholic Encyclopedia has a very informative article on the Holy Grail from which I quote the following excerpt:

The meaning of the word has also been variously explained. The generally accepted meaning is that is given by the Cistercian chronicler Helinandus (d. about 1230), who, under the date of about 717, mentions of a vision, shown to a hermit concerning the dish used by Our Lord at the Last Supper, and about which the hermit then wrote a Latin book called "Gradale." "Now in French," so Helinandus informs us, "Gradalis or Gradale means a dish (scutella), wide and somewhat deep, in which costly viands are wont to be served to the rich in degrees (gradatim), one morsel after another in different rows. In popular speech it is also called "greal" because it is pleasant (grata) and acceptable to him eating therein" etc. The medieval Latin word "gradale" because in Old French "graal," or "greal," or "greel," whence the English "grail." Others derive the word from "garalis" or from "cratalis" (crater, a mixing bowl). It certainly means a dish, the derivation from "grata" in the latter part of the passage cited above or from "agréer" (to please) in the French romances is secondary. The explanation of "San greal" as "sang real" (kingly blood) was not current until the later Middle Ages. [Emphasis added.] Other etymologies that have been advanced may be passed over as obsolete.
SOURCE: Arthur F.J. Remy, "The Holy Grail," The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909). http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06719a.htm. Retrieved 23 December 2008.

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