"Not All Who Wander Are Lost"

Adventure Pilgrimage: The Holy Grail

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Another amazing adventure occurred this summer – I had the privilege of an adventurous pilgrimage to see the Holy Grail. Many people think that the Holy Grail is lost forever to history and time. But, there is a Cathedral in Valencia Spain, which claims to have the Real Sangreal. Popes have visited the Cathedral  of Valencia to venerate this holy relic, including Pope John Paul II in 1982 and most recently, Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. Many people also have travel from faraway places around the world to visit and venerate this holy relic. The actual history behind the Holy Grail is more grandiose than the version in the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie.

The story line of this most amazing holy relic is beyond what I can write in this communiqué. But, there is a magnificent history book that has traced the timeline of the Holy Grail from Jerusalem, to Rome, to Spain. The author, Janice Bennett has done a great feat in tracing the timeline of the Holy Grail. The book is a must read for anyone interested in this holy relic. According to the publishers of the book:

“Many scholars are convinced that The Holy Chalice of Valencia is the Holy Grail, celebrated in medieval legends as it was venerated by monks in the secluded Monastery of San Juan de la Pena, built into a rocky outcropping of the Spanish Pyrenees. The tradition of Aragon has always insisted that the flaming agate cup of the Holy Chalice was sent to Spain by St. Laurence, the glorious Spaniard martyred on a gridiron during the Valerian persecution in Rome in 258 AD. Now there is new evidence: A sixth-century manuscript written in Latin by St. Donato, an Augustinian monk who founded a monastery in the area of Valencia, provides never-before-published details about Laurence, born in Valencia but destined for Italy, where he became treasurer and deacon of the Catholic Church under Pope Sixtus II. It explicitly mentions the details surrounding the transfer of the Holy Cup of the Last Supper to Spain. Janice Bennett acquaints the reader with the enthralling story of the Holy Chalice, the renowned relic that embarked from the Last Supper on an amazing pilgrimage that providentially ended in the Cathedral of Valencia, a miraculous odyssey that has been characterized by danger, greed, martyrdom and fire. It is a fascinating and captivating account that will dispel forever the erroneous notion that the famous relic was ever lost. The mythical Quest for the Holy Grail is now over.”

In 2006, the CNS reported the following interesting article:

At Mass in Valencia, Pope Benedict uses what tradition says is Holy Grail

VALENCIA, Spain – King Arthur and his knights and Indiana Jones looked for it, and most recently Dan Brown’s sleuth, Robert Langdon, hunted it down in The Da Vinci Code.

But these legendary and fictional characters might have saved a lot of trouble in their hunt for the Holy Grail by just going to Valencia.

The host city of Pope Benedict XVI’s third pastoral journey abroad July 8-9 is home to what tradition says is the cup Jesus used during the Last Supper.

The custodian of the “Santo Caliz,” or Holy Grail, said the age of the stone chalice and documents tracing its history back to 1071 make it “absolutely likely that this beautiful cup was in the hands of the Lord” during the Last Supper.

Msgr. Jaime Sancho Andreu, head of the Valencia Archdiocese’s liturgy commission and curator of the Holy Grail, wrote a full-page article in the July 5 edition of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, describing the chalice, its history and the likelihood of its being authentic, although at least one Vatican art official challenged the notion.

Pope Benedict admired the holy vessel during his July 8 visit to Valencia’s cathedral, where the chalice has been kept since 1437, and church officials also gave him a replica as a gift.

The pope used the Grail to consecrate the wine during a July 9 outdoor Mass to close the Fifth World Meeting of Families, just as Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass with the holy chalice during his visit to the city in 1982.

Valencia’s sacred chalice is made up of two parts. The polished stone vessel on top is supposed to be the cup of the Last Supper. It is made of dark brown agate and measures 6.5 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide. Archeologists say it dates back to the first century B.C. and is of eastern origin, from Antioch, Turkey, or Alexandria, Egypt.

The part of the chalice that the cup rests upon was made during the medieval period. The chalice’s stem and handles are made of fine gold, and its alabaster base is decorated with pearls and other precious gems.

Msgr. Sancho wrote in the Vatican paper that tradition says after Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper St. Peter took the cup to Rome, where it was protected by successive popes.

The cup then made its way to Spain during the Christian persecutions in Rome by Emperor Valerian in the third century. The grail has a paper trail spanning the 11th-15th centuries that supports its origins, the Spanish monsignor said.

However, Umberto Utro, head of the Vatican Museums’ department of early Christian art, told Catholic News Service that Valencia’s grail was not the cup used during the Last Supper.

“It’s impossible Jesus drank from it; that there were such rich and fine vessels used at the Last Supper was nonsensical,” he said, especially since Jesus and most of the apostles came from humble or poor backgrounds.

“He most probably used a cup made from glass like everybody else,” he said.

Utro also said preserving relics was not part of the Jewish culture.

The Holy Grail, like most other Christian relics, represents the pilgrims’ “pious desire” to have a material or physical connection to one’s spiritual roots, he said. Like the Shroud of Turin or Veronica’s veil, people do not base their faith in Christ on the existence of such objects, he said, but the relics do help people recall the real past events that make up the Christian faith.

 

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One response

  1. I love that on your blog there’s a sense that right here you’re unravelling some of the time-honored mysteries of the world. Kudos to you!

    July 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm

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