Monday, June 26, 2006
Pope Benedict and the Holy Grail
Father "Z", Minnesota's permanent ambassador to Rome, via St Agnes, blogger at W.D.T.P.R.S?, an expert in many things, is also an expert, it seems on the Holy Grail. Not on the Knights of the Round Table, though.
When His Holiness Pope Benedict visits Valencia in Spain, he will surely visit the Chapel where people venerate what well might be the actual Holy Grail.
An interesting book by Janice Bennett entitled St. Laurence and the Holy Grail: the story of the Holy Chalice of Valencia (Ignatius, 2004) argues that the 1st century cup of agate, now mounted on a medieval base of gold and precious stones is the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper for the consecration of His Most Precious Blood, “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Please understand that this book has big holes, uneven writing and research, and is open to serious skepticism on some aspects. However, it also relates truly fascinating information about this amazing relic held in Valencia and gives the reader a glimpse into the story of St. Lawrence and translations of various manuscripts of interest. Take this with a grain of salt, but it is a great read.
The cup itself is of a kind of agate, like chalcedony or sardonyx. It is like other cups found in Egypt, Syria and Palestine at the time of Christ. In the British Museum there are stone cups of the same style as that in Valencia dating to A.D. 1-50. It is of an odd color, reddish, “like a live coal”, and it is hard to say exactly what the stone is. The ancient naturalist Pliny describes that stone cups were submerged in oil until the stone absorbed some, and then boiled in acid which modified the organic material and changed the colors of the veins in the stone. The cup was very finely and accurately crafted and lacks ornament other than a fine band around the lip. It was broken through the middle on 3 April 1744, Good Friday, when it was dropped. The break was repaired and only a tiny chip is missing. The cup can hold about 10 ounces. [snip] More