Spain’s Valencia Cathedral houses a relic that may be the Holy Chalice used by Jesus at the Last Supper – it has the right size, material, and history.
“I always say [the evidence] is like twigs from a tree,” said José Verdeguer, Valencia Cathedral’s Historical-Artistic Heritage Curator. “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.”
Verdeguer was referring to a collection of evidence that some believe proves the authenticity of the chalice on view at the cathedral. The Grail itself is comprised of two parts: a cup made of reddish-brown agate stone, and a carved gold reliquary into which the cup is set. In the 1960s, an archaeological study concluded that the cup portion dated back to the 2nd or 1st Century BCE and was made by hand in a location between ancient Palestine and Egypt, the only place where that type of agate is found.
Via her research, art historian and author Dr Ana Mafé learned that the gold stand dated to the 11th Century, suggesting that the artisans of that time knew that the top cup was a special relic and wanted to showcase it. Dr Mafé’s research also determined that the chalice is the same size and volume as a traditional Jewish kiddush cup – a blessing cup – which is what Jesus would have used at the Last Supper.
To explain how the Grail made its way from Jerusalem to Valencia, Verdeguer refers to the Christian belief that the Last Supper took place in the house of St Mark, a disciple of St Peter. He posits that when St Mark had to flee Jerusalem in 70 CE due to the Roman invasion, he took the valuable cup with him. From there, St Mark settled in Rome where the cup was passed on to various Popes and eventually to St Lawrence, who sent it to Spain for safekeeping from further wars. Eventually, it ended up in Valencia, the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon in the 1400s.
Since then, the revered relic has had a place of honour in the Cathedral. And although it’s only been used to celebrate mass by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, it can be viewed by all visitors, along with the Cathedral’s other relics, which include a supposed thorn from Jesus’s crown and piece of the cross on which he was crucified.
“If there is any chalice that, according to tradition, was in the hands of Jesus, without a doubt, the only cup that fulfils all the requirements when subjected to a scientific analysis that can be replicated anywhere in the world with the same results is the Holy Chalice of the Valencia Cathedral,” said Dr Mafé.