“Secret of the Holy Grail” To be Discussed at Lecture

Oct 25, 2008

A Georgetown University professor who claims to have found the Holy Grail will deliver the fifth annual J.J. Quinn, S.J., Memorial Lecture at The University of Scranton on Friday, Sept. 26. The lecture, which is open to the public free of charge, will be held in the Houlihan-McLean Center on campus beginning at 7:30 p.m.

G. Ronald Murphy, S.J., professor of German at Georgetown University, will discuss “Gemstone of Paradise: The Secret of the Holy Grail.” For centuries, the Holy Grail has captured the imagination of people throughout the world seeking to unravel the mystery behind what many have believed to be a cup or vessel used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Fr. Murphy concurs with the 13th century theory of Wolfram von Eschenbach, who, in Parzival, identifies the Grail as a stone, rather than a cup or dish.

In his book Gemstone of Paradise, The Holy Grail in Wolfram’s Parzival, Fr. Murphy investigates the spiritual nature and meaning of the Grail, as well as his search for and discovery of the actual altar stone that inspired Wolfram’s book. According to Fr. Murphy, Wolfram’s mystic altar stone still exists and is located in the diocesan museum of the German city of Bamberg.

Gemstone of Paradise, published by Oxford University Press (OUP), is one of several published works of Fr. Murphy. In 1989, he produced a definitive study of the early German epic The Heiland, producing a study of the author’s German spirituality in The Saxon Savior (OUP). The book’s translation and commentary, published in 1992, was named the alternate book choice for the Book-of-the-Month Club.

Fr. Murphy has also authored The Owl, the Raven and the Dove: The Religious Meaning of the Grimms' Magic Fairy Tales (Oxford), an examination of the magic confluence of the Germanic and the Christian in the work of the Brothers Grimm.

Fr. Murphy attributes his interest in everything German to his birthplace, Trenton, N.J., which, as he quips, is the first city ever occupied by a German Army (the Hessians, in 1776). In addition to teaching German, he shares the great works of German literature with his students at Georgetown.

The J.J. Quinn, S.J., Memorial Lecture at The University of Scranton celebrates the Catholic intellectual tradition and honors the late J.J. Quinn, S.J., who served as a professor of English at the University for more than four decades.

The lecture is being held as part of Family Weekend, during which families of Scranton students are invited to spend a weekend enjoying campus events and activities with their siblings and family members.

For information about the Quinn Lecture, contact 941-4094.

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