Weekend 611.0

The weekend is always like a blank canvas. I’m drinking coffee and listening to EURO GAMEDAY on TALKSPORT.

(1) St Margaret’s Roman Catholic church, Twickenham by Williams and Winkley (The Architectual Review)

(2) The Vision of Sir Galahad by E.W. Twining:

Vision of Sir Galahad

(2a) A quote from The Art and Craft of Stained Glass by E.W. Twining:

The subject is one which is popular with lovers of the legends of romance and chivalry, and particularly of those old tales of King Arthur, his Knights of the Round Table, and the adventures met with by some of them when they set out to make search for the Holy Grail, supposed to have been lost after being brought to Glastonbury by he whom Tennyson refers to in his lovely Idyls of the Kings as “Arimathean Joseph.”

The incident depicted is an imaginary one, invented for making up the design, but it may be thought to be quite in keeping with the romantic and spiritual halo surrounding the name of the pure and saintly knight, Sir Galahad. According to legend, only to him, to Sir Percivale, to Sir Bors, and to one other, a nun, Sister to Sir Percivale, was the vision of the Grail vouchsafed.

(3) A related quote from Faith of Our Fathers by Joseph Pearce:

A similar legend tells of St. Joseph of Arimathea’s arrival as a Christian missionary to England in A.D. 63. It is said that he planted his staff on Wearyall Hill in Glastonbury and that, like Aaron’s rod, it budded and blossomed. The Glastonbury Thorn, as it became known, bloomed every Christmas for centuries until the Puritans cut it down.

It is also said that St. Joseph of Arimathea brought two sacred vessels with him, one containing the blood and the other the water that had flowed from Christ’s side at the Crucifixion. These sacred vessels, or at least one of them, became the Holy Grail of Arthurian legend.

Fr. Roger Huddleston, O.5.B., says something similar in his entry on Glastonbury Abbey in the Catholic Encyclopedia, though he says it somewhat more prosaically. There was now such an accretion of stories surrounding the history and name of Glastonbury, “a mass of tradition, legend, and fiction, so inextricably mingled with real and important facts, that no power can now sift the truth from the falsehood with any certainty”.

Although there can be no reliable sifting of the true from the false, as Fr. Huddleston reminds us, we can at least distinguish between the implausible and the impossible. It is possible that St. Joseph of Arimathea set out as an early missionary, to France and then to England, as pious legend suggests, and it is therefore possible that he arrived at Glastonbury in A.D. 63 as legend also suggests. It might be considered implausible but it is not impossible. What is certain is that there was a chapel at Glastonbury from the early years of the Roman occupation, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, which means that missionaries had arrived in the area at around the time that St. Joseph of Arimathea is said to have been there. The story of the miraculous staff and the Holy Grail might be little more than wishful thinking or, as H. M. Gillett thinks (perhaps wishfully!), they “may indeed be based on old and half-remembered traditions”.

The mythical or legendary presence of the Holy Grail somewhere on English soil, and the figure of King Arthur, the once and future king, have transformed England’s “green and pleasant land” into a Christ-haunted country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *