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According to Wikipedia article devoted to the tale Perceval, the Story of the Grail by Chrétien de Troyes,

Perceval is the earliest recorded account of what was to become the Quest for the Holy Grail but describes only a golden grail (a serving dish) in the central scene, does not call it "holy" and treats a lance, appearing at the same time, as equally significant.

However, I've been reading this romance in an Italian translation by Gabriella Agrati and Maria Letizia Magini and, at a certain point, when the hermit explains to Parceval that is the Fisher King’s father who uses the grail, he calls it with the Italian word "santo", which means "holy":

E sappi che il Re Pescatore è il figlio di quel re che si nutre del Santo Graal. Ma non credere che gli si serva luccio lampreda o salmone. Solo ostia gli si porta nel Santo Graal.

This is an extract from the book Chrétien de Troyes, I romanzi cortesi, edited by Mondadori (page 611 in the Kindle ebook with ISBN 9788852038693), that can more or less be translated this way:

And know that the Fisher King is the son of that king who feeds on the Holy Grail. But don't think that pike, lamprey or salmon is served to him. Only host is brought to him in the Holy Grail.

I've tried to access the Old French original, but this part of the text has not yet been included in the Wikisource project.

So, I wonder if the original text by Chrétien de Troyes calls the grail "holy" (that is, "saint" or an equivalent word in Old French) or not. That's my question.

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  • Your first quote doesn't really understand Arthurian legend. The lance is equally significant, if it's the one that wounded Christ, which it is in the Grail story. This is not an argument against the holiness of the Grail.
    – Peter Shor
    May 14 at 22:09

1 Answer 1

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In the French text on Wikisource, I found the corresponding passage (emphasis mine):

Et ne cuidiez pas que il ait
luz ne lanproies ne saumons :
d’une seule oiste, ce savons,
que l’an an ce graal aporte,
sa vie sostient et conforte,
tant sainte chose est li graal ;

The edition by Ch. Potvin (Mons, 1866 renders the same passage as follows (emphasis mine):

Mais ne quidiés pas qui il ait
Lus ne lamproie ne saumon;
D'une sole oiste li sains hom
Quant en ce Gréal li aporte,
Sa vie sostient et conforte,
Tant sainte cose est li Graaus;

The last line can be translated as "that so holy thing that is the grail". Even though the phrase "saint graal" does not occur in the French text on Wikisource, the above passage clearly describes it as "holy".


In the 13th-century manuscript at (Overnia, bibliotheque numerique du patrimoine), page 211, the corresponding passage looks as follows:

screenshot of manuscript; see transcription below

Transcription:

Mais ne cuidez paſ quil enait
Luz· ne lamproie· ne ſaumon
D une ſole oiſte le ſert hon
Cui len encel graal li porte
Sauie· en ſoſtient et conforte
Tant ſeinte choſe eſt li graauſ

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  • 2
    @Randal'Thor It's strikingly different from Rabelais's 16th-century French, let alone present-day French.
    – Tsundoku
    Mar 29 at 16:23
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    I made an edit that expands the scribal abbreviations. Line 1: qͥ = qui. Line 4: ğ̆ = gra. Line 5: ƶ = et, ꝯ = con. Mar 30 at 11:20

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