THE QUEST OF THE HOLY GRAIL
(translated by William Wistar Comfort [London: J.M. Dent
and Sons, Ltd., 1926, pp. 214-219])
he next morning, when Galahad had heard mass, he left
there,commending the friars to God, and rode five full years before coming
to the residence of the Cripple King. And during all these five years
Perceval bore him company wherever he went. Within that time they had so
completely achieved the adventures of the kingdom of Logres that few were
ever seen there afterward except some miraculous revelation of Our Lord.
And wherever they passed, and whatever the number of their foes, they
could never be discomfited or dismayed or frightened.
One day it happened that they came forth from a great and
marvelous forest. And there they met at a cross-road Bors who was riding
alone. When they recognised him, do not ask whether they were glad and
happy, for they had long been without his company and greatly desired to
see him. So they made much of each other, celebrating the honour and good
fortune of the meeting. Then they asked him how he was, and he told them
the truth and how he had fared: and he said that full five years had
passed without his lying four times in any bed or in any house where
people lived; but he had slept in lonely woods and distant mountains,
where he would have died more than a hundred times, had it not been for
the grace of the Holy Spirit which had comforted and cheered him in his
distress. "And did you find what we are looking for?" asked Perceval.
"Certainly not," said he, "yet I believe that we shall not separate before
we have finished that for which we started upon this Quest." "God grant
us that!" said Galahad, "for so help me God, I know of nothing which could
make me so happy as your arrival which delights me and satisfies my
Thus chance brought the three companions together as chance had
previously separated them. They journeyed together for a long time until
one day they came to the castle of Corbenye. When they were inside and
the king recognised them, the joy was great and marvelous, for it was
generally known that with their arrival the adventures of the castle would
end, which had so long existed. And the news traveled far and wide, until
all the inhabitants came to see them. King Pelles wept over Galahad, his
nephew, and so did the others who had seen him as a little child.
When they had removed their arms, Elyezer, the son of King Pelles,
brought to them the Broken Sword, of which the story has already been
told, and with which Joseph had been smitten through the thigh. And when
he had drawn it from the scabbard and had told them how it cam to be
broken, Bors took it to see if he could join it again, but without
success. When he saw that he was not equal to the task, he handed it to
Perceval, saying: "Sire, see whether you can achieve this adventure."
"Willingly," he replied. So he took the sword just as it was and fitted
the two pieces together, but could by no means join them. Seeing this, he
said to Galahad: "Sire, we have failed in this adventure. Now you must
try, and if you fail, I think it will never be achieved by mortal man."
Then Galahad took the two pieces of the sword and fitted them together.
And at once the pieces became joined so marvelously that no one in the
world could detect the break or know that it had ever been broken.
When the companions beheld this, they said that God had granted
them a good beginning, and that they believed that they would easily
accomplish the other adventures, since this one had now been achieved.
When the others present saw that the adventure of the sword had been
concluded, they were very happy. They presented it to Bors, saying that
it could not be in better hands, for he was such a wonderfully fine knight
and worthy man.
When the vesper hour arrived, the weather changed, the sky grew
dark, and a great and marvelous wind arose which fairly struck the palace;
and the heat of the wind was so fierce that many of them expected to be
burned, and some fainted with fear. Then they heard a voice saying: "Let
those who are not entitled to sit at the table of Jesus Christ withdraw;
for the true knights are about to be fed with food from heaven."
Upon hearing this, all went out without delay, except King Pelles,
who was a worthy man of holy life, his son Elyezer and a damsel who was
the king's niece, the most holy and religious creature known in those days
in any land. With these three the three companions remained to see what
revelation Our Lord would be pleased to grant them. After waiting a
little while, they saw coming through the door nine armed knights, who
took off their helmets and armour; then approaching Galahad, they bowed to
him and said: "Sire, we have come in haste to be present with you at the
table when the precious food is to be broken." Then he replied that they
had arrived in time, for they too had just got there. Then they all sat
down in the midst of the palace, and Galahad asked them whence they came.
Three of them said they came from Gaul, and three from Ireland, and the
other three from Denmark.
While they were conversing thus, they saw come out from one of the
adjoining chambers a wooden bed borne by four damsels. Upon the bed there
lay a worthy man apparently in great distress, and he had a golden crown
upon his head. When the damsels had carried him into the middle of the
hall, they set him down and withdrew. Then he lifted his head and said to
Galahad: "Welcome, sire! I have long desired to see you and have long
waited for you to come, being in such pain and anguish the while that any
other could not have endured the trial. But now, if it please God, has
come the hour when my grief is to be relieved, and I shall depart from
this life as it was long ago promised me."
While they were speaking thus, they heard a voice saying: "Anyone
who has not been a companion of the Quest of the Holy Grail should now
withdraw: for he may not longer remain here." As soon as these words
were uttered, King Pelles and his son Elyezer and the damsel withdrew.
When the palace was emptied of all except those who knew themselves to be
companions of the Quest, it seemed at once to those who had remained that
there came from heaven a man dressed in the garb of a bishop, with a
crozier in his hand and a mitre upon his head; and four angels carried him
upon a rich seat and seated him at the table on which was the Holy Grail.
He who had been carried in like a bishop had words on his brow which said:
"Behold Josephe, the first Christian bishop, whom Our Lord anointed in the
city of Sarraz, in the temple there." And the knights seeing this
understood the words, but marveled how it could be true; for this Josephe
to whom the words referred had been dead more than three hundred years.
But he spoke to them at once, and said: "Ah! knights of God, servants of
Jesus Christ, marvel not to see me before you as I am in the presence of
this Holy Vessel; for just as I served it in the flesh, so I serve it
being a spirit.
Saying this, he drew near the silver table and prostrated himself
on his elbows and knees before the altar. And when he had continued thus
for some space, he listened and heard the chamber door open and slam
loudly. So he looked in that direction, as did all the others. And they
saw the angels come in who had carried Josephe, two of them bearing two
tapers, and a third a red silk cloth, and the fourth a lance which dripped
blood so freely that the drops fell down into a box in his other hand.
Then the two set the tapers upon the table, and the third laid the cloth
beside the Holy Vessel, and the fourth held the lance straight up over the
Holy Vessel so that the blood which was flowing down the lance dropped
into it. As soon as they had done all this, Josephe arose and removed the
lance a little from the Holy Vessel and covered the latter with the cloth.
Then Josephe prepared to celebrate the sacrament of the mass. And
after waiting a little, he took in the sacred Vessel a wafer apparently of
bread. And at the elevation there came down from heaven a figure as of a
child with a face as red as if it were aflame with fire; and He entered
into the bread so that those present saw clearly that the bread had
assumed the form of carnal man. When Josephe had held it thus a while, he
put it back in the Holy Vessel.
When Josephe had performed the priest's part in the service of the
mass, he came up to Galahad and kissed him, and told him in like manner to
kiss all his brothers. And so he did. When this ceremony was over, he
said to them: "Servants of Jesus Christ, who have striven and toiled to
behold a part of the wonders of the Holy Grail, sit down now at this
table, and you shall be filled with the best and most precious food that
ever knights tasted, and this from the very hand of your Saviour. And you
can say that you have toiled to good purpose, for you shall receive to-day
the highest reward that ever knights received." Having said this, Josephe
vanished from their midst, so that they never knew what had become of him.
Then they sat down at once at the table in great fear, and wept so
tenderly that their faces were all wet with tears.
Then the companions looked and saw come forth from the Holy Vessel
a man as it were quite naked, and His hands and feet and body were
bleeding; and He said to them: "My knights and servants and My loyal
sons, who while yet in this mortal life have become spiritual, who have
sought for Me so long that I can no longer conceal Myself from you, it is
fitting that you should behold a part of My mysteries and secrets, for you
have proved yourselves worthy to sit at My table, where no knight ever ate
since the time of Josephe of Arimathaea. Some of the others have partaken
as faithful servants: that is, some of the knights here and many others
have been satisfied with the grace of the Holy Vessel; but they have never
been in the same position which you now occupy. Now take and receive the
precious food which you have so long desired, and for which you have
endured such toil."
Then he himself took the Holy Vessel and came to Galahad, to whom
when he had kneeled, He gave to partake of his Saviour. And he received
Him joyfully with folded hands. So did each of the others, and there was
none to whom it did not seem that something like bread was placed in his
mouth. When they had all received of this precious food, which seemed to
them so marvelously sweet that they thought that all the savours they
could imagine were entering their bodies, He who had regaled them thus
said to Galahad; "Son, so pure and clean as mortal man can be, dost thou
know what I am holding in My hands?" "Nay," he replied, "unless you tell
me." He replied: "It is the bowl from which Jesus Christ ate of the lamb
on Easter Day with His disciples. This is the bowl which has served
acceptably all those whom I have found serving Me; this is the bowl which
no faithless man ever beheld without suffering for it. And because it has
thus served all manner of people acceptably, it is properly called the
Holy Grail. Now thou hast seen what thou hast so desired to see and what
hast coveted. But thou hast not yet beheld it so clearly as thou shalt
yet see it. And knowest thou where it is to be? In the temple in the
city of Sarraz, and therefore it behooves thee to proceed thither and bear
this holy Vessel company, which to-night will leave this kingdom of Logres
so that it shall never be seen there again, nor shall it cause any more
adventures there. And knowest thou why it is going away? Because its
claims are no more served or honoured by the people of this land. For
they have turned to a lower worldly order, in spite of having been
nourished with grace from this Holy Vessel. And because they have so ill
repaid the favour, I divest them of the honour which I had done them.
Therefore I wish thee to go to-morrow to the sea, and there thou shalt
find the ship in which thou didst find the Sword with the strange belt.
In order that thou mayest not go alone, I wish thee to take with thee
Perceval and Bors. However, since I do not wish thee to leave this
country without curing the Cripple King, I wish thee to take some blood
from this lance and anoint his legs with it; for by this shall he be
cured, and by nothing else." "Ah! Sire," said Galahad, "why will you not
permit all the others to come with me?" "Because I will not have it so,"
He said, "but I wish to do it after the manner of My disciples. For just
as they ate with me at the Last Supper, so you have eaten now with me at
the table of the Holy Grail. And you are twelve just as the disciples
were, I being over you as the thirteenth, who am to be your Master and
Shepherd. Just as I separated them and sent them over the world to preach
the true gospel, so I send you, one here and another there. And you shall
all die in this service, except one of you." He gave them His blessing
and vanished, so that they knew not what had became of Him, except that
they saw Him ascend toward heaven.
And Galahad come to the lance which was lying on the table and
touched the blood; then he went to the Cripple King and anointed his legs
with it where he had been wounded. Then the king clothed himself and left
the bed healthy and whole. And he thanked Our Lord for having so promptly
regarded him with His favour. He lived a long time yet, but not in the
world, for he withdrew at once into a community of White Friars. And Our
Lord performed many a fine miracle for love of him, of which the story
does not tell in this place, as there is no need of it.
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