The Annointed King

It was Wolfram von Eschenbach who picked up the theme, and declared in his preface and his conclusion that Chretien had misrepresented it.  Wolfram developed it in full.  And this is the great Parzival that Wagner took over – and I would say, in a certain way, destroyed.  Now, according to Wolfram, who really knew what he was talking about, the reason for the enchantment was that the Grail King had been very severely wounded by a pagan lance.  The character of the Grail King is the crux of this whole situation.  This young man inherited his role; he had not earned it.  He was simply anointed as king.  The whole problem in the Middle Ages was that the religious life was under the control of the anointed.  The salvation of man transpired through the sacraments, which were handed down through anointed clergy.  And whether you were a person of great majestic spirituality or a very trivial character who had made a good confession, you would be saved through the ritual magic of the sacraments.  You might ask, Why should anyone go in quest of the Grail in the Middle Ages when the holy sacrifice of the Mass was being celebrated every day, and all one had to do was go around the corner, and there was Christ himself in the sacrament of the alter? 

   The point is that the sacrament of the alter was simply ritualistic, available to anyone who went through the paces, while the Grail Castle is to be entered only by one who is worthy of it.  An unworthy person, no matter how many Hail Marys or Our Fathers he might have said sacramentally, is not guaranteed to be eligible for it.  Wolfram shows the Grail Castle entered not only by the Grail hero but also by his Muslim half brother.  So in Wolfram’s context you don’t even have to be a baptized Christian to get to the Grail Castle.  It is the majesty of spirit that counts.   RG 156