The town of Glastonbury, in the southwest of the U.K. in Somerset county, is noted for its legendary connections with the Holy Grail, King Arthur and Jesus, as well as a contemporary music festival.
According to tradition, Joseph of Arimathea, who was the Uncle of Jesus, came to Glastonbury in the year 37 A.D. He is said to have brought with him the Holy Grail, the cup from the Last Supper with which he caught drops of Jesus’ blood during the crucifixion.
Legend holds that Joseph thrust his walking stick into the earth, where it took root and grew into a hawthorn tree. It remained in Glastonbury until Puritan times when it was judged to be a superstition and was chopped down. Cuttings of the original thorn tree were preserved and nurtured by monks, ultimately growing into the tree that now stands on the grounds of the local abbey. The tree blossoms at Christmas time, and it is traditional for the local vicar to cut a sprig and have it sent to the royal family as a decoration for their festive table.
In 1804 the poet William Blake wrote “And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England’s mountains green.” His words were later set to music as the hymn “Jerusalem.” This speculation is based on an apocryphal visit made to Glastonbury by Christ Himself. The idea is not as impossible as it first may seem. Jesus’ uncle Joseph was a man of commerce. He is believed to have traveled to Somerset to trade for tin, which was prized by the Romans.
The period of the life of Christ from age 12 to 30 is missing from the Bible. This gap is commonly known as the Lost Years of Jesus. Is it possible that, as a youth, He traveled with His Uncle Joseph on one of his trade voyages? Some people believe there was a Druid mystery school in Glastonbury at that time, and, if true, it is possible Jesus may have studied there.
Whether these stories are based on historical fact or are merely colorful myths, there is no doubt that Glastonbury today holds many attractions for the visitors who are drawn to this fascinating destination. Among the most popular sites on travel itineraries are St. Michael’s Tower, the remains of a 14th century church atop Glastonbury Tor, and King Arthur’s Tomb, where the legendary ruler and his Queen are believed to be buried.