History of religion

The chalice of Christ and the search for the Grail

(Published in GralsWelt 20/2001)
Has the fabulous bowl of the Lord's Supper really been found?

In the Grail Message from Abd-ru-shin it is stated that the life-giving "Holy Grail" is not to be found in the earthly, but in the highest spiritual heights. From the text, however, it can also be seen - see the quotation box - that in addition to this actual Grail, the Lord's Supper also actually exists as a “sacred reminder of the great redeeming work of the Son of God”. Researchers now claim to have discovered this vessel. 

It has its own reason for mythical traditions. For a long time, myths and legends were regarded as products of the imagination, whose truthfulness one does not even need to look for. Then Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) took the Iliad at its word and discovered Troy, which had hitherto been relegated to the realm of fantasy. Since then, there has been extensive research into myths, which repeatedly leads to surprising results. So could z. B. Heinz Ritter-Schaumburg (1902-1999) find a real event as the origin of the Nibelungenlied, which was later dramatized in the poetic transfiguration of the singers and elevated to a global political event.

“The Holy Grail does not mean the vessel that the Son of God used at the end of his earthly mission at the last meal with his disciples, in which his blood was then collected on the cross. This vessel is a sacred reminder of the great redeeming work of the Son of God, but it is not the Holy Grail that the poets of legends were blessed to sing about. "                        Abd-ru-shin

However, a legend handed down in different forms for a long time defied all attempts at explanation. It was entwined with so many mystical accessories that every viewer had to assume that no earthly event could have been the inspiration for it: Parzival and the search for the grail.

The myth of the sacred vessel

The myth of a sacred blessing vessel is old, very old. In Celtic mythology a magic cauldron, in ancient oriental sources or Christian apocrypha the inexhaustible cornucopia. At the turn of the 11th to the 12th century, novels of chivalry were created, which connect the traditions of the blessing Holy Grail with the saga of King Arthur, the British fairy tale king of the 5th century. Celtic sagas from the Druid era were intertwined with Christian ideas. This 12th century brought a time of upheaval. The crusades had failed, and Jerusalem was irretrievably lost. In the south of France, the church, which had been degenerated in many ways, felt threatened by the Cathars who lived exemplary, and the knighthood needed a new ideal, which perhaps the “search for the Grail” wanted to show.

The most important Grail Tales describe the Grail in different ways:

1. Chrétien de Troyes (before 1150- (approx.) 1190): His “Perceval”, created around 1190, depicts the Grail as a bowl made of pure gold, which is set with precious stones and is used to store the host.

2. Wolfram von Eschenbach (around 1170-1220): In his “Parzival” he describes the Grail as a stone of miraculous power.

3. Robert de Boron: In Robert's "Joseph of Arimathia" (around 1200) the grail is the chalice which Jesus used at the last supper and in which his blood was then collected on the cross. In later times this most precious relic of Christendom will be guarded by the "Fisher King".

 The cup of communion

The idea that the chalice that Jesus used at his farewell feast has actually been preserved has given rise to much speculation. In "Short, concise, curious" page 416 we have reported under the heading "The most mysterious of all relics" about the "Turin pall", and on this occasion also talked about the excesses of the veneration of relics. Accordingly, it seems unlikely that besides the shroud of Jesus also the communion cup could survive all the turmoil of two millennia.

The most common of the pious legends tells that Joseph of Arimathia provided the communion chalice, then collected the blood of the crucified Christ in it and finally fled with this relic via Rome to southern France and finally to Britain. There Joseph went ashore in the Bristol Channel and founded the oldest Christian congregation on English soil near Glastonbury. This is how this chalice should have ended up in the British Isles, where it is said that it has been searched for since Arthur's time. But could it really have happened that way?

Search for clues

Recent research gives rise to the assumption that the Communion chalice may actually have been preserved and that it has been venerated for centuries.

In England and France, where one would like to search for the origin of the Grail sagas, no traces were found, but in Spain. An old legend says that the bowl used by Jesus at his farewell meal came to Rome soon after the crucifixion. Then, towards the end of the 3rd century, when the persecution of Christians began, this chalice was brought from St. Lorenzo to the eastern Pyrenees. There it was first hidden in a cave, then kept in Huesca and in the 8th century brought to safety from the advancing Moors in a cave on the southern slope of the Pyrenees. Between 1076 and 1399 he was in the monastery of San Juan de la Pena (28 km southwest of Jaca on the old Way of St. James), then in the Alferia Royal Palace in Saragossa and later in the Royal Castle of Valenzia. This legendary chalice has been in the "Capilla del Santo Cáliz" (Chapel of the Holy Grail) of the Cathedral of Valencia since 1437. Just one more relic, never recognized by the Catholic Church, around which there are legends?

If one follows Wolfram von Eschenbach and Chrétien des Troyes, surprising parallels emerge between their epics and historical events:

ALFONSO I (lat. Anfortius, with Wolfram Anfortas, 1073-1134), King of Aragon and Navarre, was seriously wounded and brought to the monastery castle of San Juan de la Pena, where he succumbed to his injuries. This castle is hidden in the forest, on an overhanging rock wall, below a lake. Above the monastery is the "Mont Salvador" (1546 m), in Occitan language "Mont Salvatge", with Wolfram "Munsalvaesche". Many of the details of the construction and location of the “Grail Castle” described by Wolfram fit perfectly with San Juan de la Pena.

ROTROU II, Count of the Val de Perche, or Perche-Val, was a cousin of Alfonso I, whom he often accompanied. Rotrou's mother loses her husband and at least one son. Rotrou hastily returns home after the death of his father (October 1100), but has to travel on immediately to go to battle with his royal cousin Alfonso I; so he leaves his mother, the inconsolable widow. Was Rotrou the model for Wolframs Parzival, his mother for Herzeloyde?

The name "KYOT der Provenzal" is given by Wolfram von Eschenbach as the source of the Parzival story. Philologists have been looking for this Kyot for a long time and may now have found its trace in Toledo: In the church archives of the cathedral there is a document from the 12th century, signed with “Guillelmus”. A sound relationship with Kyot can be established. This Guillelmus of Narbonne was the scribe of the wife of King Alfonso I, who was sick and died of his war wound in the monastery of San Juan de la Pena. As a follower of the queen well informed about the family history, he could be "Kyot", whose report on the suffering of Alfonso I Wolfram von Eschenbach and Chrétien de Troyes served as a model.

The Holy Grail

If one follows Abd-ru-shin (1), then through the “Holy Grail”, which has the shape of a bowl, the power is transmitted between the Creator and creation - it actually exists, but remains in the highest at all times intellectual - not earthly - heights. On earth, at best, images or replicas of this sacred vessel can be found, and it is certainly no coincidence that in many religions vessels, cauldrons, chalices are the focus of cult.

The relic kept in Valenzia in the “Chapel of the Holy Grail” is, if not the actual “Holy Grail”, nevertheless an extraordinary surprise.

This chalice consists of three parts:

1. The upper part is a bowl made of onyx which, according to archaeologists, was made in the Orient between the 4th century BC and the 1st century AD. So it could have come from the possession of a wealthy Jew like Joseph of Arimathia. If you turn this bowl, an interesting play of colors emerges, which Chrétien also reports. The cup of the sacrament used by Jesus?

2. a short, difficult to read Cufic-Arabic inscription is carved into the stone pedestal. It could not be deciphered yet. This detail also fits Wolfram's description of a stone on which an inscription appears from time to time.

3. The base and chalice are connected to a magnificent stem adorned with precious stones, which was probably not made until the 12th century.

Today's researchers, who have carefully studied the traditions, believe they now know the source for the Grail novels by Chrétien de Troyes and Wolfram von Eschenbach. And they believe it is possible that the three-part chalice kept in Valencia actually contains the bowl that Jesus used at his Last Supper.

(1) Abd-ru-shin “In the Light of Truth, Grail Message”, publisher of the Grail Message Foundation, Stuttgart, 1998.
(2) Behrend, Jens-Peter: “The Search for the Holy Grail”, ZDF film, November 2000.
(3) Godwin, Malcolm: “The Holy Grail”, Bechtermünz, Augsburg, 1996.
(4) Huf, Hans-Christian: "Sphinx: From the Holy Grail to the Treasure of the Tsars", Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach, 2000.
(5) Lampo, Hubert: "Artus and the Grail", Fourier, Wiesbaden, 1993.
(6) Mandach, André de: “In the footsteps of the holy grail”, Göppingen work on German studies, Göppingen, 1995.
(7) Ritter-Schaumburg, Heinz: “The Nibelungs moved northwards”, Herbig, Munich, 1981.