Others define the Grail as nothing more than a personal quest, or an
exploration of self, or link it with all sorts of ancient legends
and fertility rites, leading to a great deal of confusion about what
it actually is
Most scholars believe that the Cenacle -- the room where the Last
Supper took place -- and the Holy Cup were the property of the
family of St. Mark. It is further believed that St. Mark gave the
chalice to St. Peter because he was thought to be head of the
Church. Spanish tradition claims that St. Peter took the Holy Cup
with him to Rome, where it was passed on to his successors until the
Valerian persecution of 258.
Over the centuries Many have claimed to possess the authentic Holy
Grail, which goes well with the old saying that if all the supposed
relics of the True Cross were gathered together, there would be
enough wood for a dozen crosses. The facts are sometimes mixed with
false claims and legendary material in such a way that it casts
doubt on the possibility of ever knowing the truth.
It is true that by the 16th century there were about 20 cups that
claimed the honor of being the authentic cup used by Jesus at the
Last Supper. But today none of these are considered authentic by the
Catholic Church -- with the exception of the Holy Chalice of
Valencia and the silver cup of Antioch.
The cup of Antioch has a two-liter capacity and is much too large to
have been passed around the table of the Last Supper for the
Eucharist. What is interesting, however, is the fact that St. Jerome
mentions that there were two cups on the table of the Last Supper, a
silver cup that held the wine for the meal, and one of stone that
was used for the institution of the Eucharist.
Only the Holy Chalice of Valencia, with its upper cup of agate
stone, fits St. Jerome's description of the cup used by Christ for
the consecration. When one examines its tradition and history in
detail, it is quite evident that everything makes perfect sense. I
don't believe that anything could ever disprove the theory that the
Holy Grail is indeed the Holy Chalice of Valencia, Spain.
One serious rival in popular opinion, is the legend that
Joseph of Arimathea brought the Holy Grail to England. This belief
is based on the poem Joseph of Arimathea by the poet Robert
de Boron, who confirms an apocryphal legend of Nicodemus, adding
that Joseph brought the Grail to Glastonbury, thus joining
Christianity to the bones of the legendary Arthur that are
supposedly buried there.
The story relates that Joseph collected the blood of Christ in a
vessel that had served as a dish for the bread and the paschal lamb
at the Last Supper, and later gave it to the Celtic god Bron who
took it to the West as a talisman of immortality.
Currently, the de facto winner of the claim to authenticity is the
chalice at Valencia.
Pope St Sixtus II celebrated Mass using the Valencia cup, a cup of
dark reddish brown agate, which recent archaeological studies have
claimed dates from 100-50 BC. Over the years the chalice has been
embellished with engraved gold handles and has an alabaster base
which is Islamic in style.
It is claimed that the grail was taken to Rome by St Peter and kept
by other popes until St Sixtus II who gave the cup to his deacon, St
Lawrence. St Lawrence took the chalice to his homeland for
safekeeping. During the Islamic invasion in 713AD the cup was
reported to have been hidden in the Pyrenees for safekeeping. It was
not until 1399 that the chalice was handed over to the King of
Aragon who kept it in his royal palaces.
In 1424 the royal reliquary was moved to Valencia Palace and this
collection was later presented to the Cathedral in 1437.
The Church in Spain went to great lengths to protect the vessel from
the Muslim invasion in the eighth century, and years later we see
the same respect and heroic courage in those who saved the cup from
destruction during Spain's War of Independence and Civil War.
In 1982 the Pope Francis became the very first Pope to say Mass with
the relic since St. Sixtus II in the third century, and today
Christians worldwide venerate this very special cup.