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The Grail Movement is an organization which originated in Germany in the late 1940s, inspired by the work of Oskar Ernst Bernhardt (also known by his pen name Abd-ru-shin), principally In the Light of Truth: The Grail Message. Abd-ru-shin did not establish the organization, the Movement as it exists today was formally organized by followers.
The Grail Movement has been erroneously described as a new religious movement -- it is not a religious movement, but simply an organisation for the dissemination and spread of the work In the Light of Truth: The Grail Message by Abd-ru-shin. Most members reside in Western Europe, primarily Germany and France, and the group claims to have hundreds of members in Britain and in the USA. It can also be found in Canada, Brazil and in some West African countries such as Nigeria, Zaire (DR Congo) and Côte d'Ivoire, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand amongst others.
Worldwide, there are about 10,000 members of the Grail Movement. A declaration of the personal commitment to adhere to the principles of the Grail Message can be made by a request for the "Sealing", a Grail Act (ceremony) that takes place during one of three annual festivals. This, however, is a personal decision on the part of the individual and leads neither to commitment to an organisation nor to formal links with other adherents.
The Grail Movement had its beginnings when Oskar Ernst Bernhardt took up residence in Vomperberg, Tyrol (Austria) in 1928, in order to focus on the writing of his major work "In the Light of Truth" - The Grail Message (as Abd Ru Shin), which was then followed by other works.
The establishment of the Grail Settlement on Vomperberg come about when groups of readers of The Grail Message, wishing to live and work in his immediate vicinity, took up residence there. The Settlement developed gradually; adding residences, work and administration buildings and then a small hall with seating for about 300 people. This hall was used by Abd-ru-shin for Sunday Hours of Worship and for the three annual Grail Festivals, Easter Festival etc., to which adherents of the Grail Message also journeyed.
This development was interrupted in 1938 when the Nazi regime annexed Austria and expropriated the Grail Settlement. Abd-ru-shin was arrested on the first day of the annexation and taken to Innsbruck prison. All residents were expelled so that the Settlement could be used as a Nazi training camp. Abd-ru-shin was eventually released but kept under house arrest and surveillance until he died in 1941 in Kipsdorf, Germany.
It was not until late in 1945 when the Allies returned the Settlement to his widow Maria Bernhardt that, under her direction, new development began. During this time the term "Grail Movement" was in common use, as a group designation for adherents of the Grail Message. Over the years national Grail Movements have formed in many countries, some of which, (e.g., Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Congo (Zaire) and Nigeria) have built their own Halls of Worship although Abd-ru-shin had explicitly stated in his writings that he had not come to establish a new religion.