The Holy Grail is generally considered to
be the cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper and the one used by Joseph
of Arimathea to catch Christ's blood while interring Him and then took the
object to Britain where he founded a line of guardians to keep it safe. The term
"Grail" itself is believed to originate from the Latin 'gradale' meaning a dish
used during a meal.
According to the tradition, the Chalice of
the Last Supper was taken by St. Peter to Rome and became the Chalice of the
Popes. That's why the Roman Canon for the Holy Mass refers to "hunc praclarum
calicem", "this venerable Chalice" and not, as the original Canon, to "the
Chalice". In 258 AD, during a persecution of the Christian and the confiscation
of the treasures of the Church, after the killing of Pope Sixtus II, the young
Spanish deacon managed to sent this precious relic to his parents home in
Huesca/Spain for safeguarding. Three days later, he was tortured by the Emperor
Valerian and died on an iron grill.
The Holy Chalice ("Grial" means
"mortar-shaped chalice" in Old Spanish) was venerated in Huesca until the Muslim
Moors invaded the country in 713 AD. The Chalice was hidden in a mountain cave
in the Pyrenees, transferred to several Churches and eventually brought to the
fortified monastery of San Juan de la Pena high above the Camino, the pilgrim
path to Santiago de Compostela.
During the Spanish reconquista, the war
against the Moors, the Christian king Alfonso II ordered the troubadour Guiot de
Provins to write the first "Story of the Holy Grail". By putting it into an
Arthurian context, Guiots mission was to inspirethe Christian knights to follow
the example of the greatest knights of all times and go on a "Quest for the Holy
Grail" and serve in the Spanish Wars. The Pope assured them the same blessings
as the knights who head for the Holy Land and declared the reconquista
officially a crusade.
In 1399, king Martin el humano ordered the
transfer of the precious relic, which became a national symbol, to his royal
palace in Zaragoza. Since 1437, the Chalice of the Last Supper of Our Lord Jesus
Christ, the legendary "Holy Grail", is venerated in the Cathedral of Valencia,
In 1959 its veneration was officially
recognized as an authentic relic by Blessed Pope John XXIII. On November 8,
1982, Pope John Paul II, on his visit to Spain, venerated the Holy Chalice and
celebrating Holy Mass with it, again confirming its authenticity.
The Santo Caliz , as it is called in
Spain, consists of three parts: The original chalice, a cup of thin, translucent
Agate (its pattern gives it the appearance of flames under direct light),
identified by archaeologists and art historians as a Syrian work of the 2nd/1st
century BC (being of hellenistic style); a elliptical cup of chalcedony, bearing
a strange inscription, most probably original patena, the vessel for the bread
of the Last Supper, and, an addition of the 12th century, the golden
construction which holds both vessels together and gives it the shape of a
chalice (when, actually, during the time of Christ indeed cups were used for the
wine), set with 28 pearls (one missing), two balaxes and two emeralds. The whole
vessel is 17 cm or 7 inches in height.
This is a precise and very detailed
REPLICA of the Holy Grail in a 60 % format, being 10 cm or 4 inches in height,
officially released in a limited number by the Canons of the Cathedral of
Valencia. Although it is of course NOT of stone and gold, it is a very detailed
copy and, e.g., every little "pearl" is hand-fixed. Since it was touched to the
original, it is a 2nd class relic and indeed a spiritual treasure, symbolizing
the original gift of the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist, in the night of
the Last Supper in the Upper Room on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
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