The Holy Grail Found in Spain?

imageDateline: Tues, April 1, 2014, Mark Piggott for the International Business Times (IBTimes). Headline: After Two Thousand Years – Has Holy Grail Been Found? (note the question mark):

Two historians claim they have proof that the ‘Holy Grail‘ – the onyx goblet from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper – has been discovered at a little museum in Leon, northern Spain. Ironically for such a mystical object, whose very name has become synonymous with impossible searches, it was on public display the whole time – right under the public’s nose.

Covered in emeralds, pearls, sapphires and amethysts, the mediaeval chalice has sat on display at the Basilica of San Isidoro in Leon for a thousand years. In a new book, ‘Kings of the Grail’, historians Margarita Torres and Jose Ortiza del Rio say there is ‘no doubt’ that hidden inside the chalice is the very cup that touched the lips of Jesus – and they claim to have unearthed two "ancient scrolls" from Egypt to prove it.

The story had legs; the usual: The Daily Mirror, the New York Daily News, Yahoo (the paragraphs above are in Yahoo echo-land. Did you also note the date, April Fools Day? Some people did.

Sachin Trivedl, also IBTimes writes:

Both "Indana Jones" and Dan Brown may be wrong. A church in Spain reportedly had to remove a precious cup on display after some historians claimed that it was in fact the Holy Grail. Sceptics however are not convinced and wonder if it’s a coincidence that it was found on April Fools’ Day.

According to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald, the church which had the cup is located in San Isidro basilica, northwestern city of Leon in Spain. People flocked to the small room to get a glimpse of the cup and the curators later decided to remove the cup from the small room as they search for a bigger place for the display.

The buzz around the cup was created after two historians Margarita Torres and Jose Manuel Ortega del Rio claimed that the cup was the Holy Grail in their book "Kings of the Grail." The book was published last week.

People who came to know about it on April 1 wonder if this was some coincidence that the Holy Grail may have been found on April Fools’ Day. Many still remain sceptical about it while believers continue to flock to the church to get a glimpse.

The cup is made of agate, gold and onyx. It also has precious stones encrusted on it. The cup has been made by joining two goblets together. One of the goblets was known to belong to the Infanta Dona Urraca, daughter of Fernando I, King of Leon.

Reactions are pouring in from the social media about the news. Some have pointed out that Dan Brown may have got it wrong in book "The Da Vinci Code" and the Holy Grail may be real. . . .

That would make Dan Scavone wrong, too. He (sort of) thinks that the Shroud of Turin may be the Holy Grail and that it never was a cup. See: Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail and the Turin Shroud

In 1978, Ian Wilson published a surprising break-through in the history of the Turin Shroud: that the Edessa icon was in fact unfolded to reveal the Shroud still in Turin today. It was the latter that "disappeared," according to Robert of Clari, after the fall of Constantinople in 1204, the same that reappeared in Lirey about 1355 in possession of Geoffroy de Charny.

The present hypothesis reinforces Wilson’s discovery, and it tentatively identifies the Turin Shroud as the real object that inspired the romances of the Holy Grail.

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11 thoughts on “The Holy Grail Found in Spain?”

  1. The Irish Dominican biblical scholar Father Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, an expert in Jerusalem, who died recently, felt that the cup used by Jesus was like the clay cups used by the Essenes. It appears in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”, available on youtube.

  2. Dan and everyone:

    Haven’t you seen this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Chalice ?

    There is a publication by Janice Bennett, Saint Laurence and the Holy Grail, which is on my long list of books to be read in the (hopefully nerby) future. Also today in a bookstore I have seen the new book by Górny&Rosikoń duo, about the same topic.

    1. To be honest, I don’t think either did. I don’t think Indy chose poorly. One can make the case that a fine cup would have been used for such an important occasion as the Passover supper, but I’m inclined to believe it was a simple cup. A seemingly ordinary vessel containing something extraordinary, like Jesus’ human body, the symbolism is perfect. In the end it matters little, for each of us is called to be a holy grail — of greater worth than any ornate goblet.

  3. Further to #4, it is important to note that the legends begin to appear only from the late 12th century onwards.

    1. Louis: The Irish Dominican biblical scholar Father Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, an expert in Jerusalem, who died recently, felt that the cup used by Jesus was like the clay cups used by the Essenes. It appears in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”, available on youtube

      And that’s wrong. According to Hesemann and others, clay is ritually unclean, and couldn’t have been used during Passover meal. Instead, stone chalice was probably used -which likely is now in Valencia.

      Further to #4, it is important to note that the legends begin to appear only from the late 12th century onwards.

      The legend, yes. But the cup as a material object existed independently of legend.

  4. OK in # 7. answering #1:
    “And that’s wrong. According to Hesemann and others, clay is ritually unclean, and couldn’t have been used during Passover meal. Instead, stone chalice was probably used -which likely is now in Valencia.”

    Answer: As far as I know Father Jerome Murphy-O’Connor was a world-renowned biblical scholar, which Hesemann isn’t, so how can such comparison arise? It seems that Hesemann hasn’t done important homework. I have taken photographs of the clay cups and jars used by the Essenes in Qumran and the Pharisees were liberal when compared to them even when it came to ritual purity. It is believed that these clay bowls and cups were meant for storing soup, even for medicinal purposes, in fact one scholar even thought that there was a pottery — not stone — factory in Qumran.
    This pottery was found by the French Dominican archaeologist Father Roland de Vaux, Qumran excavator and first editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    “The legend, yes. But the cup as a material object existed independently of legend.”

    Answer: There is no proof that the material object is the authentic one. Sooner or later more cups, chalices and what not will appear together with the claim to the title “true Holy Grail”. Ian Wilson has provided the best explanation for why the legend emerged and, particularly, why Joseph of Arimathea appears there.

    1. It is believed that these clay bowls and cups were meant for storing soup, even for medicinal purposes, in fact one scholar even thought that there was a pottery — not stone — factory in Qumran.

      Yes -there were meant for ordinary, everyday use. Not for use during holydays, like Passover.

      Louis, see this:

      http://books.google.pl/books?id=pR0GsQV9VWUC&pg=PP15&lpg=PP15&dq=Valencia++Indiana+%22grail%22&source=bl&ots=HB6eE_JHle&sig=Sz5wukiohQScR7xOvs1pYqZe03I&hl=pl&sa=X&ei=flo8U8nbFcKLtAb60oC4Ag&ved=0CEMQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Valencia%20%20Indiana%20%22grail%22&f=false

  5. OK: Sorry, I have no time to read the source you mentioned, however it is nice to see that you now do not disagree that the Essenes used clay jars even to store food. Passover? All they had to do was to use clay cups and jars that had never been used and these were available in abundance. I think the Essenes produced this pottery also to exchange it for other kinds of goods like clothes, footwear in Jerusalem and one of their cups may well have landed on the Last Supper table.

    Jesus did not bother about ritual purity, he stayed in the house of Simon the leper, in a leper colony, on the way to Jerusalem. The great Israeli scholar Yigael Yadin used this fact
    to buttress his contention that Jesus was anti-Essene and had to show them what he thought about ritual purity. It is the spirit that matters….

  6. The Holy Grail did attract attention in the 12th century, Chretien de Troyes’ Perceval, Eisenbach’s Parsival, various others, and eventually finding its way into Malory’s Arthurian romances.

    However Markwardt’s ‘Antioch and the Shroud’ 1998-99, also cites several early Syrian sources, and citing references, in discussing the distribution of Passion relics. Samples:

    “In 1910, local Arabs unearthed, at the traditional site of Antioch’s ancient cathedral,a silver chalice comprised of an unfinished inner cup and a finished outer holder, akin to a reliquary, exquisitely decorated with ten human figures, in two groups of five. Professor William Newbold has noted that only
    in the middle of the first century did two groups of five men each govern the respective Churches of Jerusalem and Antioch and only at such time would a Christian religious object have displayed such a depiction. Dated to the first century and considered genuine by many archeological and scientific
    authorities, the Great Chalice of Antioch has been called “a most sacred Cup, in all probability the one which once served the Lord and his disciples at the Last Supper, the most precious object in Christian history, legend and tradition”. [p.4]

    “In Syria itself, archeologists have discovered, in fourth-century tombs, amulets and molded figures connected with the life and passion of Christ, including a zigzag lance, the Cup of the Last Supper, and so called “objects from the resurrection of Lazarus”. Were such resurrection objects actually intended to
    represent the burial linens of Christ and not those of Lazarus, it could indicate that the lance, the cup, and the Shroud were all copied in Syria during the fourth century. After exhaustively studying the evidence for many years, Professor Gustavus Eisen concluded that these artifacts had, in fact, been modeled upon actual sacred objects that were once kept in seclusion for their safety and were later lost when concealed upon the approach of persecution or war.” [pp 8-9]

    “Hints of a lost Syrian sindonic history are to be found in the legends of the Holy Grail, an object which, in recent years, has been increasingly linked to the Shroud. Some seventy-five years ago, Professor Eisen concluded that the earliest Grail legends attempted to account for the loss of real sacred objects known in fourth-century Syria and that these stories reflected a passionate desire to locate and recover such objects from concealment.” [p.13]

    [daveb]: It would therefore seem that interest in the Grail considerably predates the 12th century, and that they merely reflect an earlier tradition of the loss of the Grail in the 4th century, possibly hidden by the Arian presbyter Theodorus at Antioch in 362AD to conceal them from confiscation under order by the emperor Julian the Apostate. Theodorus would not reveal the hiding places even under torture and eventual martyrdom. The 1910 discovery may in fact be the true cup used at the Last Supper.

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