"But choose wisely. For as the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail shall take it from you."―Grail Knight to Walter Donovan[src]
A large drinking vessel, made of gold, and encrusted with jewels, was taken from Constantinople by the Knights Templar and eventually ended up in the Grail sanctuary of the Temple of the Sun, where it sat near the Holy Grail, along with dozens of other false grails that sat upon the altar, all guarded by the Grail Knight.
The final test to prove one's worthiness to find the Holy Grail was to be able to correctly identify the real Holy Grail among the collection of other chalices and bowls set out as decoys. Once a seeker selected a grail, they would have to fill it from a font in the chamber and then drink from it. Water from any of the false grails would cause death to the poor crusader, while water from the true cup would grant eternal life.
In 1938, Indiana Jones was forced to enter the Temple to find the Grail in order to save his father, shot by Walter Donovan. Jones made it past the assorted traps and tests to enter the inner sanctum where he encountered the Grail Knight. After making it through, Donovan and Elsa Schneider followed into the chamber. Donovan asked the Austrian doctor which vessel was the true Holy Grail and Schneider purposely selected the most beautiful, bright and princely false grail for him.
After assuring himself that the false Grail was in fact the cup of the King of Kings, Donovan filled it with water and took a drink, expecting eternal life. But to his horror, he instead began to age instantly; even his clothing began to disintegrate. Dropping the chalice, he raised his arms and, decomposing before her eyes, tried to attack Schneider. Jones shoved him away and Donovan shattered against a wall, leaving nothing but bones, dust, and his Nazi pin. The Knight then observed that Donovan had chosen poorly.
Recognizing that the true Grail would be the cup of a carpenter, Jones then selected the most humble of chalices and proved its authenticity by drinking from it and surviving. Needing the real Grail to save his dying father, Jones and Schneider ignored the golden chalice cast off to the side and returned to the entrance area of the temple.
Behind the scenes
The false grail prop measured roughly 15 x 15 x 21 cm.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade comic
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (Non-canonical appearance) (As 'Fake Holy Grail')
- From Star Wars To Indiana Jones - The Best of the Lucasfilm Archives
- Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
- Indiana Jones Action Figures