Which is a bigger deal – the celebration of Easter or the search for the Holy Grail which plays a big part in the lead-up to it? This year, the BBC decided bring some focus back to the Grail with new arguments that the cup referred to in the biblical story of the Last Supper was real, the cup had a Jewish purpose which reveals where it was made, survived 2,000+ years and today resides in a church far from Jerusalem. Is it true or just another vessel like the many others claimed to be the real Holy Grail?
"I always say [the evidence] is like twigs from a tree. If you only have one stick, it breaks easily. But if you join 50 together, you can no longer break them. Here, there are many arguments together and it is no longer easy to break them."
José Verdeguer is Valencia Cathedral's Historical-Artistic Heritage Curator so he has a vested interest in wanting the public to believe his church has the authentic Grail. Many already do – every year on Holy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, the agate stone cup is carried in a procession through the church to be used in that day’s Catholic service … a service celebrated with this cup in the past by popes such as John Paul II and Benedict XVI. One of those “twigs” of evidence referred to by Verdeguer is the stone this particular cup is made from – agate.
“The primitive cup is only the upper vessel of what would be the current Holy Chalice. The Holy Chalice itself has a base of chalcedony, a type of stone similar to the agate on top. This base, together with the golden reliquary, was added to the crown of Aragon around the 11th century.”
Dr. Ana Mafe Garcia is the author of “The Holy Grail” (El Santo Grial) and explains that the object in question is actually three parts – a stone base from the 9th century, a gold stand from the 11th century and the agate cup she believes could have been used at the biblical dinner said to have take place in the house of the apostle Mark. Garcia says the cup is the proper size to be a traditional Jewish kiddush cup used for blessings – a proper vessel for such an occasion. A second “twig” comes from the agate stone itself – it has been dated to the 2nd or 1st century BCE when it was likely made by hand in a place between ancient Palestine and Egypt which is the only source of that type of agate. Garcia’s next twig is the gold stand – she claims it shows the stone cup was deemed special and restored with a proper pedestal.
The last twigs are the path Garcia claims the agate cup took from the supper to Valencia. After the dinner and the events that followed, apostle Mark allegedly kept the cup, taking it with him to Rome after fleeing Jerusalem in 70 CE when the Romans invaded. There it became the possession of a sequence of popes. Garcia and others believe Lawrence, a 3rd century deacon of Pope Sixtus II, was placed in charge of protecting the Church’s valuables and sent the cup to his brother in Spain. There, it changed hands and eventually ended up in the Cathedral of Valencia in the 1400s.
Need more twigs of evidence? Garcia tells rfi.com the volume of the agate cup is related to a Hebrew measure, the revi'it : “A revi'it (approximately two fingers) is the minimum amount of wine that must be consumed for a Hebrew to make his Passover.“ Also, the agate stone is sometimes linked to the tribe of Judah which Jesus belonged to.
Is that a sufficient bundle of evidential twigs to convince you the agate cup at the Cathedral of Valencia is the true Holy Grail? What about King Arthur and Indian Jones? What about all of the other cups around the world that are claimed to be the true Holy Grail?
Here’s one more “twig” – this is the only grail with a marathon named for it – the ‘Way Of The Holy Grail’ Marathon will be held In Valencia May 22nd, with a marathon, half-marathon, 10K and more. You don’t have to believe to participate!