Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Shield of Joseph of Arimathea

Shield of Judas Maccabeus

The Shield of Joseph of Arimathea is a legendary artifact. While its origins and specific attributes can vary in different versions of the story, it is generally depicted as a powerful and mystical object with remarkable properties.

Role in Battles

One of the primary attributes of the Shield of Joseph of Arimathea is its ability to make its bearer invulnerable to attacks. It is often described as being impervious to any weapon, providing its wielder with unparalleled protection in battle.

When wielded in battle, the Shield of Joseph of Arimathea is depicted as a formidable asset, turning the tide of conflicts and ensuring victory for its bearer and their allies. Its protective qualities make it a prized possession among knights seeking to defend their kingdom and uphold the ideals of Camelot.

Divine Origin

The shield is sometimes said to have been created or blessed by divine or supernatural forces. In some versions of the legend, it is associated with biblical figures such as Joseph of Arimathea, who is said to have used the shield during his journeys.


Like many magical artifacts in Arthurian lore, the Shield of Joseph of Arimathea carries symbolic significance. It represents the ideals of chivalry, honor, and divine providence. Its impervious nature symbolizes the righteousness and protection granted to those who fight for noble causes.

Quests and Adventures

In certain Arthurian tales, knights embark on quests to seek out the Shield of Joseph of Arimathea. These quests often involve overcoming various obstacles and adversaries, testing the knights’ courage, virtue, and worthiness.

One of the notable stories involving the Shield of Joseph of Arimathea appears in the medieval romance Perlesvaus, also known as The High History of the Holy Grail. In this tale, the shield plays a significant role in the quest for the Holy Grail and the adventures of King Arthur and his knights.

In Perlesvaus, the Shield of Joseph of Arimathea is described as a sacred relic with divine powers. It is said to have been fashioned by Joseph himself and passed down through generations, eventually coming into the possession of King Pelles, the Grail King and father of Sir Galahad.

The story revolves around the Grail Quest, undertaken by knights of the Round Table to seek the Holy Grail, the sacred cup used by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper. Sir Galahad, renowned for his purity and virtue, is destined to achieve the ultimate quest of finding the Grail. As part of the quest, Sir Galahad is given the Shield of Joseph of Arimathea by his host, King Pelles. The shield is described as impervious to any weapon and bears a mystical emblem representing the Trinity. Sir Galahad carries the shield with him as he embarks on his journey, relying on its protection in battles and trials.

Throughout the quest, the Shield of Joseph of Arimathea serves as a symbol of divine favor and guidance for Sir Galahad. It helps him overcome obstacles and adversaries, leading him ever closer to the fulfillment of his destiny as the Grail Knight. In the climactic moments of the story, Sir Galahad finally achieves his quest and beholds the Holy Grail, bringing an end to the age of chivalry and ushering in a new era of spiritual enlightenment.

The Shield of Judas Maccabeus

Judas Maccabeus was a Jewish leader and warrior who played a significant role in the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE. He is celebrated for his military victories and his role in reclaiming the Temple in Jerusalem.

In some interpretations of the Arthurian legend, particularly in medieval romances and adaptations, the Shield of Joseph of Arimathea is alternatively referred to as the Shield of Judas Maccabeus. This designation may be influenced by the medieval blending of biblical narratives with Arthurian lore, as well as a desire to attribute the shield’s origins to a revered biblical figure known for his valor and prowess in battle.

While the specific reasons for the interchangeability of these names may vary depending on the source and context, both Joseph of Arimathea and Judas Maccabeus represent figures associated with righteousness, divine favor, and heroic deeds in their respective traditions. Thus, the Shield of Judas Maccabeus serves a similar symbolic function in Arthurian literature as a powerful and sacred artifact imbued with supernatural protection and significance.