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Lundy, Isle of Avalon

‘Joseph of Arimathea’

by Robert de Boron

   Lundy, Isle of Avalon         Arthurian and related Texts

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One of the earliest Grail Romances, the poem called ‘Joseph of Arimathea’, was composed by Robert de Boron  between 1180 and 1199. The village of Boron is beside MontbÚliard near the modern Franco -Swiss border. This may have been his property, his birthplace, both, or neither! 

It is known that Robert wrote under the patronage of a certain Gautier de MontbÚliard. A figure recorded elsewhere in history. Gautier de MontbÚliard traveled to Italy in 1199 and took part in the fourth Crusade, from which he failed to return. 

De Boron tells how one of Pontius Pilate's soldiers, Joseph of Arimathea was secretly a follower of Jesus . Joseph claimed the body of Jesus from Pilate and arranged the interment. He also used the chalice from the Last Supper to collect the blood of Christ.

According to Robert's Joseph of Arimathea, "When on the third day, the Jews discovered that the body was missing, they accused Joseph of stealing it and threw him into a dungeon. The Crucified appeared to the prisoner in a blaze of light, presented him with the same vessel in which he had collected the holy blood, and told him that he was to have the guardianship of the vessel and would have only three successors, in token of the Trinity. Christ also instructed Joseph in the symbolism of the mass, and informed him that the vessel containing the divine blood was to be called 'calice'. Then the visitant departed." Roger Sherman Loomis, The Grail, From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol

The Fourth century Apocryphal ‘Acts of Pilate’ tells of Joseph’s imprisonment and vision of Jesus, without mentioning the vessel

"According to the Vindicta Salvatoris Vespasian, son of the Roman emperor, was converted as a result of the miraculous cure effected by the sight of Veronica's veil, in which was imprinted the face of Christ. [This would have been after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.] He promptly set out to avenge the death of Jesus, assembled the Jews, and, learning from their own lips their responsibility for the Crucifixion, caused a number of them to be executed. One, however, tried to save his life by revealing where Joseph was incarcerated. Vespasian had himself lowered into the dungeon and found him still alive. When Joseph expounded the doctrines of the Fall and the Redemption, Vespasian was convinced and delivered the prisoner." - Roger Sherman Loomis, The Grail, From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol

Another connection between Joseph of Arimathea and the (future) Emperor Vespasian lies in their connections with the South west of Britain

Subsequently Joseph entrusts the Grail to someone called 'Bron (s)’ who is to be the Keeper of the Grail after the death of Joseph. Bron is to take the sacred vessel to the ‘vaus d’avaron’ in the West in a mission of conversion.


related pages

Grail Romances
Joseph of Arimathea



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