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Holy Grail Found in Da Vinci’s Last Supper
Status: True (in my opinion)
Here's a bit of a mystery. I received an email from someone called Prastil who wrote, "Check this hoax out:" The site he directed me to claims that the holy grail has finally been discovered in Da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper. For centuries people have wondered why Da Vinci omitted the grail from his painting, given that the grail is one of the central elements of the Last Supper story. Its absence has spawned a variety of theories, such as the one elaborated in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, that the holy grail was Mary Magdalene's uterus (and that the figure to the left of Jesus in the painting is Mary Magdalene). But claims that Da Vinci actually did include the grail in his painting, if you look hard enough. He concealed it as a symbol on the wall above the head of St. Bartholomew, the disciple at the extreme left. (I highlighted the cup in the image below).

It may seem a bit farfetched that after centuries someone discovered a detail in the Last Supper that no one had ever seen before, but as far as I can tell, that's the case. The man who noticed the grail in the painting was Gary Phillips, a Michigan computer programmer (and cryptologist). He was aided in his discovery by the fact that the painting was recently cleaned, revealing details previously concealed by dirt and grime. Of course, Phillips could be seeing a shape that was not intentionally placed there by Da Vinci, but once you see the cup, it seems so obvious that it's hard to believe it wasn't placed there on purpose. The legitimacy of Phillips's claim to have discovered this hidden detail is noted on a number of sites, such as's Art History blog.

Now here's where things get strange. Phillips has nothing to do with Instead, Phillips maintains a separate site called Realm of Twelve. is registered to (drumroll, please) Prastil, the same guy who emailed me telling me that the site was a hoax. Why did Prastil claim his site was a hoax? Was he trying to get me to write about his site, not thinking that I would check the domain registration? I have no idea (and I wrote about it anyway). But Phillips's discovery of the grail hidden as a symbol on the wall in The Last Supper seems real enough to me... unless there's some part of the story that I'm not clued in to. (Very possible.)
Categories: Art
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 27, 2005
Comments (123)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
Have a look at the original painting (search Google images). It's clearly a fake.
Posted by Ciaran  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  10:38 PM
I did do a google image search. But you've got to make sure that a) you're looking at the restored version of the last supper (you can't see it in the unrestored version); and b) you're looking at da vinci's last supper, and not one of the many copies of it. The cup is there.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  11:19 PM
Maybe the restorers put it in as a joke? It's very subtle, and definitely not visible on the unrestored version (although the unrestored version is so badly deteriorated you can't make out a lot of the finer details).
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  11:40 PM
I thought it was a fake at first too, so I tried to find some other, more trustworthy images to check against. The image is certainly there in the restored. However, if you go to the enlarged image available at it loses its definition as a chalice. Perhaps this is an intended illusion by da Vinci or perhaps it isn't a chalice at all.
Posted by Dean  in  Ithaca, NY  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  11:42 PM
So THAT'S where Jesus left his beer stein!
Posted by 8  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  05:01 AM
...I always thought people looked into these things too much. Maybe in all of DaVinci's "genius", he just liked to paint, and forgot about that specific detail. Why would it be such a big deal that one of the details revealed in scripture is missing from the picture? DaVinci was not a priest or a theologian, I doubt he would have just forgotten that the cup existed, but maybe it wasn't what he wanted people to focus on.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  05:15 AM
In the same vain, I have found at least two other Holy Grails in the Last Supper the last hour. One befittingly is in the hands of Jesus, the other in those of Judas:


Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  05:48 AM
Oops: that last one should've been:

Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  05:49 AM
Here is the original.....and it CAN be seen....
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  07:05 AM
There are plenty of little cups on the table. Why couldn't one of those be the grail?
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  07:24 AM
Accipiter makes a good point. Also, that thing on the wall is not supposed to be the grail. If DaVinci wanted people to see the grail there, it would be subtle and beautiful. What we see there now is clumsily grail-shaped, sort of.
Posted by Matt  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  07:35 AM
maybe it was in the kitchen getting washed at this point during the supper. or maybe it fell on the floor...
or maybe it was getting washed because it fell on the floor.
Posted by thephrog  in  CA USA  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  08:48 AM
The restored painting does not show a grail. Only half of the supposed grail is there, the right side is missing. Even if the design showed bilateral symmetry it would still be a reach to claim it's a grail symbol.

I agree with Accipiter. The grail was simply the vessel that Christ used at the last supper. There's no reason to believe that it would be anything other than an ordinary cup. Didn't anyone see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?

I don't think it's a hoax so much as wishful thinking.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  09:10 AM
I'm still inclined to think that Da Vinci intended to put a grail there, because artists like him never do anything by accident. Plus, it's not something subtle. It's really obvious, once it's pointed out.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  09:22 AM
If I am not mistaken, the painting depicts the point of the Last Supper where Jesus tells everyone that one of them will betray him the next day, hence most of the disciples look agahast and why Judas is the only one leaning away from Jesus, etc. etc. This point of the Last Supper was before the breaking of the flesh-bread and shedding of the blood-wine for eucharist. It could be that Jesus just hasn't had the grail brought to him yet.
Posted by Dean  in  Ithaca, NY  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  12:55 PM
Don't you people know? Mary Magdalene is the real Holy Grail, as Leonardo da Vinci was hired by the Priory of Sion AND the Illuminati along with other famous genius' to make these kind of clues to distract people so they could plot together to create a new world order!
Posted by Yaanu  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  07:22 PM
Was that sarcasm, Yaanu? 'Cause I really hope it was...

big surprise

Posted by Snowy  in  aeternum  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  07:43 PM
Somehow this reminds me of Percival Lowell's canals on Mars: The human brain tends to make patterns where no pattern objectively exist; we're just hardwired that way.
Posted by eovti  in  Sandefjord, Norway  on  Thu Sep 29, 2005  at  03:54 AM
...or discovering the face of the Holy Virgin on a sandwich, or seeing Satan in the smoke billowing from the WTC.
Posted by eovti  in  Sandefjord, Norway  on  Thu Sep 29, 2005  at  04:00 AM
I did a google search, and found this photo where you can zoom in really close (If you had the whole picture at this resolution, it would be over 5 screens wide and 4 screens tall!). It gives this resolution by adding detail as you zoom it, like Google Maps.

It turns out to be a vaguely-grail-shaped piece of detail on the pillar (or whatever it is) behind him.
Posted by Simon Richard Clarkstone  in  England  on  Sat Oct 01, 2005  at  11:31 AM
Referring to Yaanu's opinion,I clearly say that she is right.If some of you who has read The Da Vinci Code, you probably already know that the real Holy Grail is none other than Mary Magdalene herself.
Posted by Anonymus  in  Mary Magdalene  on  Tue Oct 04, 2005  at  03:06 AM
As an art historian (with a bit of paper to prove it) I must point out that this latest 'restoration' is only the most recent in a series of attempts to reverse the severe deterioration that started in this image almost the day Leonardo put down his palette. Any vague shadowy thing you can see in it could be the result of any of the natural or human processes it's undergone over the last few hundred years. - There's a widespread tendency to see Leonardo as almost a wizard (it's his Dumbledore beard that does it), which gets in the way of appreciating his art, in my opinion.
Posted by Mr Henderson  in  UK  on  Tue Oct 04, 2005  at  02:56 PM
To the best of my knowledge, I am the guy that discovered the supposed grail in the painting.

When you look at pre-restoration versions, these are *not* depicted as the artist originally intended. Through the centuries, the paintings were 'repaired' and sometimes intentionally altered for various reasons.

The post-restoration version of The Last Supper is, in my opinion, much closer to the original than before.

For some of Leonardo's comments regarding his art, please visit the Holy Grail (Sangreal) page on my web site

(and thank you, webmaster, for the link)

Posted by Gary Phillips  in  Petoskey, Michigan  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  04:40 PM
Posted by Jeri  on  Sat Oct 08, 2005  at  07:28 PM
where do you see god??
Posted by Ian  on  Sat Nov 12, 2005  at  05:11 PM
On the zoom in link you can also quite clearly make out a shadowy grail/chalice/vessel shaped thingy-majig on the right just under the painting, lets face it if you want to see it it's there, I can see faces on the stone tiles in my bathroom, message from God? maybe not. As for the people who base their philosophy on Indiana Jones thats got me rollin.
Posted by David Antcliff  in  England  on  Mon Jan 23, 2006  at  05:15 AM
Why the holy isnt a human being ?? why its just a normal cup ?? could the grail be the woman who sat right jesus ?? please help me with your opinions!
Posted by Khalid Hammour  in  khartoum - Sudan  on  Sun Jan 29, 2006  at  06:35 AM
Hi .. just asking why the grail isnt a humanbeing ?? i meant teh person(female who sat right jesus), the positipn she took may be a strong evidence that she could be his secret holder.
Posted by Khalid Hammour  in  khartoum - Sudan  on  Sun Jan 29, 2006  at  06:44 AM
how about this one. up above jesus to the right there is what appears to be a white square with two black spots on it . guess what folks, it is identical to the picture of the doorway located in the queens chamber that rudolph gatenbrink discovered with the robot in 1993 i believe. and just so happens it is above mary magdaline and if you look at it it is the shaft that leads to it. if anyone is interested i have discovered many other things in the painting i have been telling people for 7 years way before the davinci code came out .i would be happy to share some truly mind boggling things that are right in front of our face that are unexplainable . the man was able to see in the future. feel free to e mail me and be ready to be shocked, just a quick note about the grail the word if you arrange the letters different says agirl eleven men sat at the table. if you remove the v from eleven which would symbolise the woman it now reads table of elements. now the alter is the rememberance of the table and the latin word for alter is mensa. which i also believe is a club of some smart people. gotta go im painting a picture of a brain and i needed a break . thanks for listening. catherine
Posted by catherine higgs  in  northern ca  on  Tue Mar 28, 2006  at  11:04 PM
"just a quick note about the grail the word if you arrange the letters different says agirl eleven men sat at the table. if you remove the v from eleven which would symbolise the woman it now reads table of elements. now the alter is the rememberance of the table and the latin word for alter is mensa. which i also believe is a club of some smart people."

*cries as his brain implodes*
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Mar 29, 2006  at  12:45 AM
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