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"The Grail Chapels were built at the start of Gilles Le Breton's reign. He ordered them raised to show his devotion to the Lady, so they have remained, although some have fallen into ruin as the population has been reduced by war, famine and disease. However, many are still in use as places of worship and guarded by a Grail Knight - a chivalrous warrior who has supped from the Grail itself."
Bretonnia's sacred Grail Chapels.[3]
Grail Chapel

A Grail Chapel of the Cult of the Lady along with a visiting Knight.

The Lady’s temples and shrines are called Grail Chapels and are only built on sites where the Lady herself has appeared to one of her worshippers. This is most often the site where a Questing Knight was allowed to drink from the Grail, becoming a Grail Knight.[1a]

Overview

As Grail Chapels are almost invariably built by the nobility, most are of stone and built in a soaring style dominated by pointed arches and large windows. Each Chapel is a single hall with a high ceiling, a door at one end, windows in the side walls, and a large window in the end opposite the door. Stained glass, depicting the Lady, her servants, and great deeds of chivalry, is the dominant form of decoration. All Grail Chapels face the Forest of Loren, home of the Fay Enchantress and the place where, most believe, the Grail Damsels are trained. In much of Bretonnia, then, they face southeast, which also means that a lot of sunlight falls on that side.[1a]

The main window is almost always a depiction of the Lady, but in particularly small or poor chapels it may depict the Grail or a fleur-de-lis. The windows are decorated in order, moving back along the Chapel from the main window. The window over the door is often in the shape of the fleur-de-lis and almost never glazed with stained glass.[1a]

Every Grail Chapel is supposed to be attended by a Grail Knight, who guards it, maintains it, and exemplifies the values of the Lady. In practice, many Grail Knights found Grail Chapels on the site where they themselves encounter the Lady, and thus there are far more Grail Chapels than Grail Knights. In addition, most Grail Knights spend their lives wandering the land and fighting evil or serving their lords. Only a few, the "Hermit Knights," choose to spend their lives watching over a Grail Chapel.[1a][1b]

At an attended Chapel, the Grail Knight gives a short sermon every Ladyday (the name for Holiday in Bretonnia), and those who live nearby are expected to attend. Grail Knights are not selected for their oratorical abilities, but many feel that they ought to make an effort, and thus long, rambling, pointless sermons are extremely common. For the rest of the time, the Chapel is open to those who wish to pray or meditate, but the Knight prevents any lesser use of the building.[1b]

Some Chapels are attended by Grail and Battle Pilgrims, often venerating the reliquary of the Grail Knight who founded the Chapel. These operate in much the same way as those attended by Grail Knights, except that the sermons tend to be better; the leaders of Grail Pilgrims are chosen on the basis of oratorical ability.[1b]

A few Chapels are maintained by nobles who are not Grail Knights. These Chapels were generally founded by an ancestor of the nobles in question, and in some cases, the maintenance of a Chapel is one of the duties attached to a fief. A bare handful are attended by Grail Damsels and Prophetesses. These are the holiest of the Chapels and popular destinations for pilgrimage.[1b]

Many Grail Chapels, however, are unattended and uncared for. These buildings may fall into ruin or be used as storage areas by peasants. As stone buildings, they are normally the sturdiest structure in a village. Grail Knights frown on most such uses, with one exception. Peasants who take refuge from attackers in the Chapel are believed to be putting themselves under the protection of the Lady, an act of piety. It is rare for even these Chapels to fall into ruin, as stone buildings are durable and normally only fall apart completely when building materials are stolen from them. In Bretonnia, only nobles are allowed to build in stone, and no nobles would risk getting caught stealing building material from a Grail Chapel.[1b]

Grail Shrines

Smaller than normal Grail Chapels, shrines to the Lady are usually small groves near a pure water source, adorned with fetishes and tokens of the Lady.[3]

The Lady is a humble goddess or so her pilgrims claim. She is happiest among the wilds of Bretonnia, in the rivers and lakes rather than confined to temples like the brutish warrior gods of the Empire. As such, her shrines are usually rustic affairs or even hidden groves of great beauty, where the pious can pray in peace.[3]

Cathedrals of the Lady

The largest shrines can be found in major cities, yet the pious claim that the Lady is absent from such self-acclaimed edifices.[3]

Over the years, kings and Lords, to show their devotion, have built grand cathedrals to venerate the Lady. However, her most pious followers believe these structures to be little more than vanity projects that shun the Lady's teachings and that she is more likely to be found in a humble grove than an opulent temple. Yet there are those that beg to differ, those who think grand statements imbue the Lady with power and enable her relics to be kept safe from despoilers. Indeed, the Lady's Cathedrals are often protected by a several Grail Guardians.[3]

Famous Grail Chapels

The First Chapel

The holiest Grail Chapel in Bretonnia is the First Chapel, in the castle of Bordeleaux. Founded by Marcus of Bordeleaux, one of the Grail Companions, in the great hall where he was visited by the Lady, it set the architectural pattern for all future Chapels, but is unusual in facing west; the hall already existed. This Chapel is attended by a Grail Prophetess, at least three Grail Damsels, and at least two Grail Knights at all times. All of the greatest nobles of Bretonnia pay towards its upkeep, but the Duke of Bordeleaux willingly pays the largest share.[1b]

The Humble Chapel

The Humble Chapel has stood for over a thousand years, by far the oldest Grail Chapel established by and maintained by peasants. It is found a couple of days west of Castle Bastonne, just outside a village that caters almost entirely to visiting pilgrims. Despite its name, the structure is spectacular. Built of decorated brick, carved wooden beams, brilliant stained glass windows, bronze, silver, and even gold statues, and roofed in glass, it looks more splendid than almost any other Grail Chapel in the land. Over the centuries, almost all the gifts made by peasants to the Lady have come to this Chapel, and it shows. Popular legend claims the Lady of the Lake appeared on this spot to a brave, loyal, and obedient peasant named Gademar. She praised his fine service to his lord and allowed him to touch the foot of the Grail with the very tips of his fingers. Most nobles reject this story as patent fabrication; the Lady would never deign to speak to a mere peasant, and she certainly would not let him so sully the Grail. Only a handful of Grail Knights have ever visited the Chapel, but from time to time Damsels and Prophetesses of the Lady come and speak at the services, and the contents of these speeches have great import.[1]

The Chapel of the Enchantress

Just to the west of the eastern border road of Castle Quenelles, stands a Grail Chapel unique in Bretonnia. Called the Chapel of the Enchantress, its windows depict the Fay Enchantress rather than the Lady of the Lake. There are always at least two Grail Knights keeping the place, though few do the job for more than a year. Rumours speak of treasures under the chapel or claim the Fay Enchantress herself visits at least once per year.[1]

The Chapel of Bastonne

Also known as the Cathedral of Bastonne, it famously holds the very codes of chivalry created by Louis the Rash, son of Gilles and second King of Bretonnia. It was also the centre of great celebration when King Baudoin slew the mighty Dragon Mergaste.[2]

Abbey of the Grail Companions

After the first of his series of great victories, Gilles le Breton (then Gilles le 'Bastonne') received the first recorded blessing of the Lady. Incensed by this newfound glory, he travelled the dukedoms, continuing to slaughter Greenskins by the score. The stalwart dukes who fought alongside him came to be known as the Grail Companions, and together they rode to twelve mighty victories over the Greenskin hordes. Such was the magnitude of the massacre that they say the piles of corpses burned so bright that night appeared as day, and upon this shining beacon was Bretonnia the kingdom founded. So majestic was the Companions' victory that the Abbey was erected in their honour, that all Bretonnians may worship and remember, aspiring to their heroic deeds; for it is the doom of the realm to forget...[3]

Gallery

  • A humble Grail Chapel
  • A Grail Chapel of Couronne

Miniature

  • Grail Chapel Miniature

Sources

  • 1 Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Knights of the Grail
    • 1a: pg. 37
    • 1b: pg. 38
  • 2: Guardians of the Forest, By Graham McNeill
  • 3: Total War: Warhammer

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