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Last Updated: Friday, December 10, 2004 04:51:08 PM 

A Clue to the Secret of the Holy Grail
- The Insider, Dec. 10, 2004 -

A legendary medieval Order, the Knights Templar, established a base in Hertfordshire during the Crusades. It is said that some of their descendents still live here today and maintain the original Templar tradition.

A rural county on the Northern boundary of London, Hertfordshire has been a sacred place since prehistoric times - particularly the county-town, Hertford, where ancient rivers meet.

In St Andrew's church in Hertford there are many beautiful stained glass windows. They are said in certain circles to hold a clue to the secrets of the Holy Grail.

There are similar rumours about other locations in the UK, such as Staffordshire in England and Rosslyn in Scotland. The windows of St Andrew's and the characters and symbols in them do seem rather like a riddle that can be unlocked by certain knowledge:

    1. John holds a cup, a famous scene from the Last Supper, hence the cup is the Holy Grail. Jesus and Mary Magdalene gaze meaningfully at each others, resonating with the famous heresy regarding the Bloodline of Christ.

    2. Joseph of Arimathea represents the famous legend that Jesus went with him to Britain (hence the hymn "And did those feet...") and his staff sprouts living shoots symbolising a new family tree.

    3. Theodore of Tarsus is like a signpost pointing to Hertford, because he called the first ever church Synod, held in Hertford Castle, where the date of Easter Sunday was decided.

    4. The craftsman who created the window based the cup on a genuine relic. The chalice has been dated to the century when the Knights Templar went underground, but it still exists today.

According to today's edition of the local newspaper, the Hertfordshire Mercury, the family service at St Andrew's church this Sunday (9.15 AM on 10 December 2004) will include be a sermon about the Knights Templar and
the Magdalene heresy. Members of the congregation are invited to ask questions about the best-selling book, The Da Vinci Code, which covers these topics.

The Church Warden is Cllr Peter Ruffles, the local mayor, who is also a Freemason and may be familiar with the ancient mysteries. Another local gentleman, Tim Acheson, who some say knows the local Templars, seems to discourage speculation about the Grail: "The Quest for the Holy Grail is not for those who seek the relic, but for those who seek the Truth. It is a pilgrimage of learning, and Wisdom is the prize."

The name of this region, "Hert-ford-shire" is based on an ancient natural scene which also inspired Psalm 42 in the Old Testament of the Bible:

    "As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
    so panteth my soul after thee, O God."
    - Psalms 42 (KJV)

    "As a deer longs for flowing streams,
    so my soul longs for you, O God."
    - Psalms 42 (NRSV)

The scripture refers to hert deer around the river Jordan in Israel. It was in these waters that John baptised Jesus. The name "Hertfordshire" refers to the hert deer that ford the ancient waters that flow through the English countryside. The traditional symbol for Herts is a deer standing in flowing water. Indeed, pilgrims from medieval England might have felt more at home in the Holy Land with this familiar scene in mind.

Psalm 42, from Book II of the Psalms, is said to have been written by King David himself, whose son Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem. He saw the hert deer's instinctive love of flowing water as an ideal metaphor for man's need for God. The psalm is celebrated in a popular old English hymn:

    "As pants the hart for cooling streams,
    When heated in the chase,
    So longs my soul, O God, for thee,
    And thy refreshing grace."

In a poetic way John the Baptist is like the hert deer in the psalm, standing in flowing waters, his soul thirsting to be with God. Early Christians performed the baptismal rite in rivers too.

The ancient Jewish prophet may well have recited these verses as he stood in the shallows baptising the faithful. How joyfully he would have sung when Jesus came to seek his blessing.

* * *


The Holy Grail - Hertford may hold a clue


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