Sarras

Sir Galahad Beholds the Sangreal Uncovered

Sarras

PlacesBackground Essay Author: Alan Lupack
In the thirteenth-century Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal, Sarras is said to be the city from which the first Saracens came. It is also the name of the kingdom ruled by Evalach (who later takes the Christian name Mordrain). In the Queste and in Malory’s Morte d'Arthur, Galahad, Perceval, and Bors travel in a ship with the Grail to Sarras. Eventually, Galahad is made king of Sarras; but after a year he prays to leave the world, has a vision of the Grail, and dies; his soul is borne to heaven by angels. At the same time, the Grail and Longinus’s spear are taken from Sarras to heaven. Perceval remains in Sarras until his death, at which time Bors buries him with his (Perceval’s) sister and with Galahad and then returns to Arthur’s court.
            According to the Victorian poem "The Romaunt of Sir Floris" (1870) by John Payne, Sarras was located within the gates of Paradise before Adam and Eve fell. Sarras is also the subject of a poem by British poet Sally Purcell (in The Holly Queen, 1971), in which it is called an "echoing shell / of the hermit’s tranquil clarity."