THE HOLY GRAIL LIES SOMEWHERE IN GLASTONBURY!
When Joseph of Arimathea and his little band of pilgrims sought asylum from Roman persecution they fled to Glastonbury — and carried with them the most sacred relic in all of Christendom.
This tiny, sheltered corner of Britannia — this holy “Isle of Avalon” — was also a place of refuge when King Arthur and his knights fought off the invading barbarian hoard and it became the King’s final resting place.
Centuries later, the discovery of Arthur’s bones in Glastonbury sparked a great flowering of the faith and yet more magnificent building — after a devastating fire nearly obliterated the work and worship of centuries.
Then, after the last abbot of Glastonbury was dragged to his death atop Glastonbury Tor, the Abbey’s splendid arches were left to crumble. And yet they still stand today — as beacons of hope for the future.
2000 Years Ago on Glastonbury Tor
Celtic Britain: The Coming of the Light
by Donna Fletcher Crow
The dark shape of the Tor rose behind him, a brooding presence commanding all his attention and then drawing his eyes upward toward the vast adumbral sky, far and far above the wind-rustled boughs of the mysterious oak grove at the mountain's base. He saw pale moonlight shimmering on the inky surface of Meare Pool, silhouetting the circle of wattle huts inside the palisade standing on pilings in the lake. And on every side of him mists rose from the river and marshland that separated this small piece of land with its cluster of hills from the rest of the world. The inhabitants called it Ynis Witrin, the Glass Isle, but to this newcomer's eye, with only the silvery moon for a lamp, the shrouded waters resembled not crystal, but obsidian. A shift in the breeze bore a wisp of fog to him. He shivered.
Joseph looked down on the thatched roofs of the lake village where his eleven companions slept in guest quarters. The strangeness of the hill's green-darkness, of its windswept isolation, of its apartness from the rest of the world, chilled him. An almost deafening chorus of crickets and frogs assailed him, and a few drops of dew fell on his cheek as he surveyed this foreign landscape illumined by a cold moon.
What had he done in bringing his little band of believers, many of them women and youths, to this alien land? What awaited them tomorrow? Would the druid leader welcome missionaries of a new faith? Would he listen to the good news of the way of peace and love? Or would he institute one of the sacrifices Caesar had pictured after his visit to Britannia almost a hundred years ago-stuffing a giant wicker figure with human beings and setting it ablaze? Joseph shuddered.
And so begins the saga with the coming of the Holy Grail to Britannia, that far-off island at the edge of the mighty Roman Empire where the followers of The Way might escape persecution from a system that forced them to worship in secret in catacombs and dragged those who dared to disobey Caesar off to do battle in the coliseum.
At first all went far better than Joseph of Arimathea could have dared to hope for. He and his band of 12 are made welcome on The Glass Isle and given 12 hides of land to build homes and a church— the first to be built above ground— which Joseph dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. A Celtic princess of the nearby court chooses Christian baptism along with a Druid priest.
But not all the Druid leaders are so welcoming. Tarana of the fiery hair and temper vows revenge. And then the Romans invade. Caractacus, war leader of the Britons sends out the hosting call and Joseph joins him as chaplain. The Emperor Claudius’s invasion of Britannia with elephants is a matter of historic record and the Celtic rulers are paraded in Rome in chains. Again, all a matter of historic record.
And so the story unfolds through the centuries, through Celtic, Roman, Arthurian, Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Tudor times as Glastonbury sees it all. And the question remains, Where is the Holy Grail?
Glastonbury has been called “The holiest earth in England.” These are her legends, this is her history, this is the magnificent saga.
Donna is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave and A Darkly Hidden Truth, as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to: www.DonnaFletcherCrow.com.
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