On Monday 20th March 47 members of the Vall del Pop U3A left Jalon at 8am on an expedition in search of the Holy Grail, the cup supposedly used by Jesus at the last supper. We were led through the story of the grail by David Rohl, who was supported by local guides at each of the principal sites we visited, as he put the mystery of the grail, and its arrival in Spain into context.
The story, put together from various ancient texts [including the stories of Perceval and Wolfram von Eschenbach] show the cup, which is made of agate stone, initially carried to Rome with St. Peter, when he left the Holy Land to spread the word of god after the crucifixion of Jesus. In the 3rd century AD the cup was carried to Huesca by St. Lawrence for safe keeping, when it was feared it was at risk in Rome. It remained in a remote farmhouse outside Huesca until the invasion by the Moors again threatened its safety. It was then moved to a remote hermitage in the Pyrenees, beyond the reach of Moorish occupation, before being moved to the monastery of San Juan de la Pena.
The agate cup was mounted, around the 12th Century, on a stone base [purportedly the Philosopher’s Stone] with elaborate byzantine gold and pearl mountings and a replica of the chalice, now displayed in Valencia cathedral, remains on display at the monastery of San Juan where it can be examined more closely than in Valencia cathedral.
After the Moors had been driven out of Spain the cup was moved to Huesca and Zaragoza cathedrals before being taken by the Princes of Barcelona to that city, from where it was given to Valencia Cathedral and remains on display. The Santo Caliz de Valencia, the Holy Grail, is recognised by the Vatican as a holy relic, and has recently been visited by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Whether it is truly the cup of the Last Supper is still under debate, David set out very convincing arguments of why this is the true Holy Grail. After 5 days of exploration and travelling we all returned safely to Jalon, thanks to the skills of our driver Pepe on the mountain roads, much wiser and with our own thoughts on the veracity of the story.
More photographs of the visited locations hopefully to follow,
Vall del Pop U3A is a very active group, visit our website for more information [http://u3avalldelpop.com] and come to join us at our next general meeting at the Centre Polivalent, Murla on first Thursday of each month.