About This Site
HUNTERS of the Holy Tub is purely a work of fiction. It began an affectionate satire of archeological adventures like Indiana Jones and grew to include everything from religious manias to treasure hunts, conspiracy theories, fandom, and the cult of celebrity.
In other words, Hunters is intended as a huge joke, and the Vaults of the Maundy Grail are there to explain certain parts and extend the mythos even further. However, the overall purpose is not to mock any faith or cherished religious figures, but rather to gently poke fun at the very human need for miracles and divine connection and the strange ways that often manifests.
Sadly, however, just like the Holy Grail, the Maundy Grail remains undiscovered. No church proudly claims the Pelluvium Sanctissimum Christi, no potsherd of the Sacred Basin appears in any museum case anywhere. But unlike the wonderful cup, the Holy Tub never acquired a glimmering halo of pious stories nor was the subject of any fabulous chivalric quests. Nary a whisper on the wind has ever been uttered of the Maundy Grail.
So, just to make it absolutely clear: There is no trace of the “Holy Tub” in legend or history as far as I have ever been able to determine.
That means this entire site is fiction, including all documents, save for the Gospel According to John. About that, you will ultimately have to decide for yourself.
Alas, there is no Scolding Madonna nor wizards named Heronimo. The town and marvels of Bellegraal do not exist any more than the Clan MacLantis, either. And there is no tubby fandom (yet).
All dates and actual historical events, however, in the novel and background, are as accurate as can be determined. The proper citations of the day of the week they fell upon, and criticially, all astronomical alignments and aspects are also exact, checked and rechecked. The overall procession of great events is quite unchanged – this is not that kind of wildly-divergent alternative history. The world here is nearly identical to our own.
Most cited historical events and major elements are real, like Charlemagne and the Great Schism, and a few others borrowed from literature. Some have been added undisguised, others changed. I leave it all as an exercise to the curious reader to determine which is which.
Please do not mistake religious and historical satire for fraud. The purpose here is only to entertain, not deceive. That’s why there’s a tiny disclaimer at the bottom of each webpage. But it is necessary to try to preserve the necessary suspension of disbelief that all works of fiction, but especially alternative and secret histories, require.
Everywhere else on this site the reality of the Sacred Basin is treated as a controversial but generally accepted historical and religious fact. Only here in this introductory section is the imaginary nature of all this fully admitted.
The Truth Behind the Story
Yet, the Holy Tub really did exist at one time, if you believe John. His Gospel tells how Jesus used a basin to wash the Apostles’ feet at the Last Supper, ordering them to do the same in the future. Which is why the ritual observance is called the “Mandatum” or “Commandment”. The ancient foot-bathing ceremony is still formally observed by the Pope and millions of Catholics and Orthodox Christians, even High Church Anglicans and Lutherans, each and every Holy or Maundy Thursday (hence the term, “Maundy Grail”).
Usually reserved for candidates about to be ordained as priests, Pope Francis has caused controversy by washing the feet of people in jail, women, and even Muslims instead. This may indicate that if the Holy Tub was ever discovered, it would be considered as significant and venerable as the True Cross or the Shroud of Turin. And might have been powerfully used in socially symbolic ways.
So what if the Sacred Basin had survived?
How could such a relic have endured? What would the Sacred Basin’s alleged sacred powers become through the centuries? To whom it would have represented a fantastic hope or a terrible threat? Two thousand years of history affords plenty of opportunities where the Holy Tub might have decisively affected important events behind the scenes, too.
How it came about
This project has dominated my life for well over a decade. It began as a historical piece on the medieval Inquisition that I planned to write. To my surprise, I instead wound up with a feature-length screenplay for a historical comedy, Once Upon An Inquisition.
I had discovered that the inquisitors relied entirely on the towns they terrorized to supply the scribes to record their horrific activities. So I was inspired to write about the worst summer job in history...
The story almost wrote itself between fits of laughter. But, unable to do anything with it, I put it up online and moved on to other projects. Eventually, an editor at a bigshot publisher noticed the script and asked if I’d ever thought of writing it as a novel. That sounded great but by then, I was deeply involved in tracking down a historical papal secret which, if proven, would have been quite significant.
A year later, after locating, deciphering, and paying for a first-class translation of a section of an obscure sixteenth-century canon law textbook, I realized I had smoke, but no smoking gun. And by then I’d lost the editor’s email address. However, my original idea had grown enormously in the meantime.
A Grail quest and vision was incidental to the original screenplay but central in the new concept – except that I really did not want to use the Holy Grail. That poor old thing’s completely worn out, described in a myriad of different ways from a cup to a bloodline or the Philosopher’s Stone – and that even before the Middle Ages were over!
Symbolically, much as I love the Grail myth, I fear that the Holy Grail itself is now a dead battery. By becoming anything, it’s become nothing, reduced to a shapeless lump completely drained of its awesome original sacred power.
Like a potter, I have shaped a new vessel from that lump to contain the holy energy.
My tale required a macguffin with a completely clean slate, an object that did not exist – not even in legend. But still, it would have to be tremendously powerful if a claimant actually had been known.
Origin of the Holy Tub
The outlook wasn’t hopeful. Religious con-men were very enterprising in the Age of Faith. Few things that could be associated with Christ and the saints avoided discovery when gold could be made. The “pros” were always willing to deliver the desired goods to the “fans”, no matter how dubious their origin story or physical quality.
Yet, to my everlasting delight, after the Biblical account, I could find nothing else on the basin used that night. No Holy Tub anywhere – in history, literature, or legend.
Setting the story in the present as a contemporary quest gave an added bonus. Seven hundred more years of history and legend to play with – not to mention modern pretensions to poke fun at. The lure was irresistible.
Along with history, archeology, and religion, I have been blessed with the opportunity to utilize subjects that have interested me ranging from archeoastronomy to stained glass and Spanish mine traps. All of which enabled me to concoct scientifically-based fake “wonders” for my heroes to solve, and devilish hazards for them to overcome as well.
The Maundy Grail has not yet been found; but maybe it should. These strange pre-apocalyptic days almost seem to require it. I’ve done what I could to bring it back to Earth, in literary form, anyway.
The Sacred Basin would doubtless have left a trail of documents in its wake of bloody struggles for possession recording tremendous acts of faith and betrayal, violence, and greed. Seekers great and small, fanatics and frauds, would scheme to control it; emperors and popes hotly contesting mastery. The Maundy Grail’s popular appeal could challenge conventional theology; its attendant miracles, science.
It all sounded like a recipe for enormous fun to me anyway. When you see the results, I hope you will enjoy them, too.
The story, epic in both scale and scope, of the final search and its dramatic outcome is told in Hunters of the Holy Tub.
The whole comic saga is here online for your enjoyment, along with much of the background material I have concocted. There are still plenty of blank spaces to fill in.
I fondly hope that eventually interest will grow to the point where I can share not only the enjoyment of the universe of the Holy Tub with others, but the creation of it as well.
Join the adventure here
Also in paperback at Amazon.com
and on Kindle
Thanks for visiting and happy trails,
Ask me anything at
Tony is a freethinking hermit and Christian mystic dwelling in the desert with his cats, where he contemplates the sublime mysteries of the cosmos.
Much of the literary inspiration for the background came from the elegant adult fantasies of James Branch Cabell.
In closing, thanks are due to J. E. Nelson, whom I credit with all the design and technical work. Please address any of those concerns involving the book or website to: