The Holy Grail Jubilee in Valencia
The Holy Grail in Valencia was the reason for Pope Francis naming the Cathedral of Valencia as a Holy Place of Pilgrimage and perpetual jubilee year beginning in 2015-2016. This has been the most mysterious and admired relic in the Catholic Church, with books and movies speculating and dramatizing its whereabouts. Just how did this artifact end up in Valencia?
Various documents used by historians have been able to trace the relic throughout the centuries to its current home. The tradition goes the chalice was taken to Rome by Saint Peter and was kept by the succeeding Bishops of Rome (later recognized as Popes) up to Sixtus II. With the increase of Christian persecution in Rome under Emperor Valerian in the 3rd century, Sixtus II through his Spanish deacon, Saint Lawrence, sent the chalice to Huesca (Saint Lawrence’s homeland) to save it from the persecution of Emperor Valerian.
During the Muslim invasion in 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.
The 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 described in the inventory of his properties as the sacred chalice. 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, where it has been housed since.
It has only left the Valencia Cathedral twice since then, during times of war: during the Independence War, between 1809 and 1813, the chalice was taken to Alicante, Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca, escaping from Napoleonic invaders; and during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), it was hidden in Carlet.
The top part of the cup and the true artifact, is made from polished brown agate stone dating approximately to the period of Christ. It is an “Alexandrian vessel” and archaeologists believe it to have an oriental origin (100 – 50 BC). The handles and stem of the cup were added much later and are covered in gold and precious gems.
Between the archeological data and the archival documentation, historians from across the world agree that this chalice is the authentic cup that was used by Jesus in the Last Supper. To add weight to the claim, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have both held Mass in Valencia with the chalice, and the Holy See has officially named Valencia as the city of the Holy Grail.
The cup resides in the Chapel of the Holy Grail behind a protected glass and thousands of visitors come to Valencia each year to marvel at its beauty.
The Holy Grail Jubilee Year recognized by the Vatican, commemorated in October 2015 and will run through October 2016. Valencia will be allowed to celebrate the Jubilee every five years. This first commemoration was celebrated with a series of festive events held around this date, with the Cathedral and its surroundings as the central point.