The Quest for the Grail
and the Holy Spirit


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Fintry Trust Weekend
2nd - 4th September 2016

The Quest for the Grail and the Holy Spirit
Exploring an alternative version of the Jesus story
with Anne Baring

for information: 

What was the Holy Grail? Was it the Cup of the Last Supper that caught the blood of Christ as he hung on the cross? Or was it a body of sacred texts handed down the generations as a most precious record of the teaching that Jesus imparted to His closest disciples? And what is the connection between the teaching of Jesus, his wife and co-teacher Mary Magdalene, long-lost Gnostic texts, the Grail Legends and the Cathar Church of the Holy Spirit established in the Languedoc area of France during the 12th and 13th centuries, whose symbol was a sacred Cup? Four talks over this weekend will attempt to answer these questions. They will look at the expanding material on Mary Magdalene, the growing evidence of her marriage to Jesus and the existence of their children and how, astonishingly, with the help of her friend, Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene and her children left Palestine and settled ultimately in Narbonne, in south-western France, where Claudia had lived as a child.

The first talk will look at the expanding material on Mary Magdalene and the evidence of her marriage to Jesus. Why is there such interest in their relationship? It will also explore the legends which said that after the Crucifixion she, accompanied by two other women named Mary and a woman named Sarah, landed at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in southern France. According to these legends, she ended her life in a huge cave on the Sainte Baume mountain in Provence. It is likely that she brought with her from Palestine precious texts relating to the teachings that she and Jesus shared with a close group of disciples. But new evidence suggests that she landed at Narbonne, which was then only three days sailing time from the port of Ostia, near Rome.

The second talk will focus on the teachings of the Gnostics which have come down to us through the sensational discovery in 1945 at Nag Hammadi in Egypt of a large body of texts hidden since the fourth century and published in 1977 as the Nag Hammadi Library. Among these texts were the Gospels of Thomas, Philip and Mary and the Secret Book of John or Apocryphon of John. The Gospel of Mary is particularly relevant to Mary being Jesus' wife and co-teacher.

The third talk will look at the legends that suddenly appeared in Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries about the Quest for the Holy Grail. At the beginning of the twelfth century, no-one had heard of these legends. By the end there was no-one in Europe who had not heard of them. There are three main sources for them: the French writer Chrétien de Troyes and the German Wolfram von Eschenbach and the lesser known school for troubadours at St. Guilhem-le-desert near Montpelier who took what they had learnt there to Courts all over Europe. Was the Holy Grail the Cup of the Last Supper as has long been thought or was it the body of sacred teachings that had survived through the centuries — teachings about Sophia and the Church of the Holy Spirit? What was the Vision of the Grail that the knights so diligently sought and so few experienced?

The fourth talk will tell the extraordinary 12th and 13th century story of the Cathars or Albigensians and their Church of the Holy Spirit and how this was symbolised by a sacred Cup. The texts they held in the highest regard were the Gospel of John, The Secret Book of John and two others called The Book of Love and The Secret Supper. The Secret Book of John was one of the 52 Gnostic texts found at Nag Hammadi in 1945. No trace remains of the last two. The Cathar Church and the brilliant culture of the Languedoc were utterly destroyed in the thirteenth century by the infamous Albigensian Crusade, instigated by the Pope and the Inquisition – a prime example of genocide.


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