History of the Holy Chalice
facts, testimonies of the tradition and documents support
the theory that this beautiful cup was in the Lord's
hands on the eve of his Passion, took bread with his
holy and venerable hands and looking up the sky, to
You, God, Almighty Father, giving thanks, blessed you,
broke the bread and gave it to his disciples saying:
this, all of you, and eat it, this is my Body which
will be given up for you”. When supper was ended he
took this glorious chalice into his holy and venerable
hands, giving thanks, blessed you and gave it to his
disciples saying: “Take this, all of you, and drink
from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the
new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you
and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in
memory of me”
prayer I, Roman Canon. Cf. Matthew 26-29; Mark 14, 22-25,
Luke 22, 1520 and I Corinthian 11, 23-25)
Holy Chalice of Valencia arouses feelings of admiration
and scepticism at the same time. The visitor feels captivated
by the beauty of the Grail, its perfect and exceptional
shape, the details in gold, the pearls and the precious
gems. The observer comes with the mind full of legends,
films, even warned by the novels and pseudo-scientific
literature of “Grail-like” themes.
also with scepticism: Is this Chalice of medieval appearance
the grail of the Last Supper? Why is it in Valencia?
Or is it maybe one of the many supposed Grails? Why
isn't it so famous like the Shroud of Turin or the Tunic
of Treveris? And many more questions we still hear at
appearance mustn't confuse us. Indeed, the relic is
the upper part, which is a cup of dark brown agate finely
polished. It is an “Alexandrian vessel” that archaeologists
believe it to have an oriental origin (100 - 50 BC).
This is the conclusion of Professor Antonio Beltrán,
published in 1960 under the name of “El Santo
Cáliz de la Catedral de Valencia” (“The Holy Chalice
of the Valencia Cathedral”). It was never refuted and
is the base of the increasing respect and knowledge
of the Holy Chalice.
handles came later as well as the chalice's stem made
of exquisitely engraved gold. Its alabaster base of
Islamic art is different from the vessel. All of it,
together with the jewels decorating the stem belong
to the medieval period. It is 17 cm. high and 9 cm.
wide, and the elliptical base measures 14,5 x 9,7 cm.
and other places keep chalices with semiprecious stones
of Byzantine origin. In Spain there are similar replicas
(11th and 12th century) but they are liturgical cups,
wrapped in gold and silver with an interior side in
metal. However, the goldsmiths emphasized the vessel,
without adornment, but with big handles so as to take
it without touching the valuable and delicate chalice
of translucent stone.
Tradition of the First Centuries
tradition tells us that it is the same cup that was
used by the Lord in the last Supper for the Eucharist,
then was taken to Rome by Saint Peter and was kept by
the following Popes up to Saint Sixtus II. Through his
Spanish deacon, Saint Lawrence, Saint Sixtus II was
sent to Huesca (Saint Lawrence's homeland) in the 3rd
century so as to save him from the persecution of Emperor
Valerian. The presence of the Holy Chalice in Rome is
evidenced by the phrase in the Roman Canon previously
mentioned: “He took this glorious chalice” hoc praeclarum
calicem, venerated expression that is not found in other
old anaphoras and we cannot forget that the Roman Eucharistic
prayer is the Latin translation from another Greek language,
since this was the language of the Church of Rome till
Pope Saint Damasus in the 5th century.
History of the Holy Chalice in Spain
the Muslim invasion, since 713 AD, the chalice was hidden
in the Pyrenees region, after having been in Yebra,
Siresa, Santa María de Sasabe (today San Adrián), Bailio
and finally in the monastery of San Juan de la Peña
(Huesca), where a document (1071) refers to a
precious chalice made of stone.
relic was handed over in 1399 to the King of Aragon,
Martin “The Human” who kept it in the Aljaferia Royal
Palace of Saragossa and then in the Royal Palace of
Barcelona in 1410 when he died. The Holy Chalice is
mentioned in the inventory of his properties (Manuscript
136 of Martin “The Human”. Archive of the Aragon Crown.
Barcelona, where the history of the sacred cup is described).
Towards 1424, the second successor of Mr. Martín, King
Alfonso the Magnanimous handed over the royal reliquary
to the Valencia Palace. Because of his stay in Naples,
it was given with the rest of the relics to the Valencia
Cathedral in 1437 (Volume 3.532, fol. 36, v. Cathedral's
Holy Chalice in Valencia
was kept and venerated during many centuries among the
relics of the Cathedral and it was used to keep the
consecrated form in the float of the Holy Thursday up
to the 18th century. During the Independence War, between
1809 and 1813, the chalice was taken to Alicante, Ibiza
and Palma de Mallorca, escaping from Napoleonic invaders.
In 1916, it was finally housed in the old Chapter House,
later called the Holy Chalice Chapel. This continual
public exhibition of the sacred relic resulted in a
world-wide knowledge of its existence, since there was
little information about it while it was kept in the
reliquary of the Cathedral.
the Civil War (1936-1939), it was hidden in Carlet.
Pope John XXIII granted plenary indulgence on the day
of its annual feast;
John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist with the Holy
Chalice during his visit to Valencia on 8 November 1982
just as Pope Benedict XVI did when he visited Valencia
on 8 July.
is it the real Holy Chalice?
have said that the negative criticism tells us that
already in Jesus' times, it was a valuable antique and
there is an Israelite tradition which gives us an important
fact, indeed, nowadays each Jewish family keep “the
cup of blessing” for the Passover and sabbatical suppers.
The Gospels says that Jesus celebrated the Easter rite
in a decorated room, furniture with divans (Mark 14,
15). Would it be strange that the family that welcomed
Him didn't put the precious familiar cup before the
Lord so as to pronounce the ritual blessings, which
became in the first Eucharistic consecration of the
wine into the Redeemer's blood? We have seen many “poor”
scenes of the Last Supper, with the disciples sitting
on the floor and Jesus taking a humble clay cup ...but
it was not like that
the Apostles and the first Christians could identify
the cup of the first Eucharist and keep it in spite
of its fragility. How could it be preserved intact the
first crucial thousand of years if not for the memory
of a sacred mystery?
Legends of the Grail
theme of the search for the Grail, beautiful object
and a source of life, is key in the German-French literature
of the middle ages, and its origin is mainly described
in the works of Chretien de Troyes, being one of them
“Perceval, The Story of the Grail” (1190) but left unfinished.
Here it is not explained the origin of this jewel. Wolfram
von Eschenbach was the poet who gave it the shape of
a chalice in his poem “Perceval the Welsh”. It is believed
that he began his “Parsifal” at the beginning of the
13th century, at Wartburg, mythical castle, the birthplace
of poets and troubadours, and finished it in 1215. There
Wolfram wrote his masterpiece, where those romantic
artists had three main rules which were the source of
their inspiration, God, their lord and their beloved
women. Wolfram von Eschenbach was the prince of the
troubadours, together with Walter von der Vogelweide
and Heinrich Tannhäuser.
researchers like Michael Hesemann (“Die Entdeckung des
Heiligen Grals. Das Ende einer Suche”, Ed. Pattloch
2003), place the origin of these legends in Spain and
the lower part of the Chalice made of agate stone of
San Juan de la Peña and we cannot forget that they were
the source of inspiration for the great poetical, musical
works by Richard Wagner, “Tannhäuser”, “Parsifal” and
the Holy Grail literature of the middle ages found in
the sacred cup a symbol of purification and renunciation
to get personal perfection and eternal salvation, we
have encountered supposedly historical novels and an
esoteric literature that turn the Grail into a dark
object or a secret tradition along the centuries that
would keep the real essence of Christianity or the true
history of Jesus of Nazareth. It seems that what the
liberal criticism and the anti-religious materialism
couldn't get would be possible to accomplish with this
pseudo-spreading to destroy the pure faith in Jesus
Christ, our Lord. Consequently, the suspicion and falseness
aim to tarnish what was and should continue to be an
icon of the Christian culture.
is why the Chalice of Valencia, sends us to Jesus' period
due to its archaeological authenticity and its tradition
free from wonderful elements, and reminds us of the
institution of the Eucharist like historical moments
that go beyond time and reach us as a mystery of salvation.
We live it that way when the sacred relic is taken from
its precious chapel, the old Chapter House (14th century),
to the high altar in the celebration of the Holy Thursday
Mass of the Lord's Supper, and in the solemn feast of
the last Thursday of October.
is the message proclaimed from the Valencia Cathedral,
with the support of the distinguished associations like
the Royal Brotherhood of the Holy Chalice and the Fraternity
of the Holy Chalice, which work with the Metropolitan
Chapter to keep the worship and the spreading of the
devotion to the Holy Chalice, expressed in the pilgrimage
around the parishes and religious and civic entities,
every week in the “Holy Chalice Thursday” celebration.
del Santo Grial :
(Jaca) S.Juan de la Peña-Valencia
The Camino del Santo Grial travels the path of the relic identified as the Holy Chalice of the Last Supper, from Aragón
to Valencia, passing through Huesca, Zaragoza
and Teruel .
at wanadoo.fr - 08/08/2016