The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is a fictional weapon from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It bears a striking resemblance to the Sovereign's Orb of the United Kingdom, and seems to draw some inspiration from the Holy Spear of Antioch. It also made a brief appearance in the 1977 film Jabberwocky where it was being held by King Bruno the Questionable (The film was directed by Terry Gilliam, starred Michael Palin, and featured a cameo by Terry Jones, all members of Monty Python).
The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is a visual satire of a type of royal regalia known as a globus cruciger, specifically the Sovereign's Orb of the United Kingdom. The Sovereign's Orb similarly has a band of jewels running along the centre, and a half-band on the top hemisphere, with a cruciform at the crest.
The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is a reference to the mythical Holy Spear of Antioch. The supposed Holy Spear was unearthed from the floor of a Church during the Siege of Antioch (1098) by crusaders on the First Crusade, found by a poor and otherwise unknown monk named Peter Bartholomew. Its "discovery", during the darkest hours of the siege when all hope seemed lost, quickly became a source of contention between those crusaders who believed Bartholomew, and the more skeptical who did not; yet in the end its "discovery" was credited by the crusaders in inspiring them to overcome seemingly impossible odds in breaking through the siege to continue on their quest to Jerusalem.
The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch also appears to be made of a coconut, a running gag in the movie.
In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Holy Hand Grenade is described a "sacred relic" carried by Cistercian monk Brother Maynard (Eric Idle) and is used near the film's conclusion to destroy a killer rabbit that blocks the path of King Arthur and his hapless Knights Errant. Although unusually ornate in design, the Holy Hand Grenade functions like any other hand grenade.
Particularly important is the part of counting to three after the pulling of the triggering pin (the surmounted cross), complicated by King Arthur's mental block on counting. The instructions for its use can be found in the (fictitious) Book of Armaments, Chapter 2, verses 9-21, parodying the King James Bible and the "Athanasian Creed". http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Athanasian_Creed.
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