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The Holy Grail - A Mystery resolved?
Catching up with my interest in the Valencia Grail that arouse as a result of a conversation with two old friends, I curiously followed the findings of Michael Hesemann as described in his book "The Discovery of the Grail (Die Entdeckung des Heiligen Gral, 2003)." It points out similarities between the attributes used by Grail lyric and miracles accredited to the Eucharist itself. Stunningly, the Roman rite of consecration used to speak of "this excellent cup" (in Latin "hunc praeclarum calicem"), as if the same cup Christ himself had used was in possession of the Popes then.
Just as Wolfram von Eschenbach had mentioned Toledo as origin of his story, the author explains that "el grial" is the old Spanish word for chalice, still used in the Galician region when drinking wine. During a stay in Barcelona asking a Galician born colleague after work about it, he mentioned that they would order "una taza Ribeiro," local wine served in a cup formed like a chalice, while recommending Albarino as the better wine from Galicia though. Following the Spanish Grail tradition, the original cup of the Last Supper had been around 63 AD brought by St. Peter to Rome and during a persecution of Christians under Emperor Valerian in 258 AD by St. Lawrence sent to his homeland Spain, where it was kept in the newly built Cathedral of Huesca since 556 AD. Hidden after the Moorish invasion in 711, it was since 1071 kept in the cavern monastery San Juan de la Pena, the grail fortress at the foot of the Pyrenee mountain Pico de San Salvador (or Mont Salvage, pronounced Munsalvaesche). Alfonso de Aragon (in local Occitan language called Anforts) has been identified as fisher king Anfortas and his cousin Rotrou II, Count of Val de Pershe (or PersheVal) as the archetype of the legendary knight Perseval even. In 1410 the chalice was listed in the inventory of the Barcelona residence of the late Aragon King Martin I "el Humano," a stop on its way from Saragossa to Valencia. Since 1437 the agate cup known as the Holy Grail is housed by the Cathedral of Valencia. An onyx dish, possibly the same worshipped until the 6th century in the Jerusalem Church of the Holy Grave as the plate of the Last Supper, was (re-) united with the cup in the 12th century, serving as the base of its new golden stem. The dish's Arabic inscription was read as "al-labsit as-silis," mirroring Eschenbach's words "lapsit exsillis." After so many correlations it appears that the Valencia Grail is authentic, at least the same medieval Grail legends are based on. A riddle resolved and a centuries' old quest completed?
The legendary Holy Grail, between mystery and reality. Fought for and searched for over centuries. One of the strongest symbols of medieval Christianity besides the sword, which when turned over provided the sign of the cross, idealized in the legend of Excalibur, the Sword in the Stone. One of the big riddles like the Philosopher's Stone and the Fountain of Youth. Is the agate bowl Santo Caliz kept in the Cathedral of Valencia the very cup from the Last Supper? Is the Pyrenean monastery San Juan de la Pena the grail fortress Munsalvaesche described by Wolfram von Eschenbach? Has Perseval's quest been completed?
"Mystery" was an interesting choice as title of this page. The expression can describe a secret or a riddle. It can be used in a very positive context such as with the "mystery of salvation," but also in connection with the dark phrase to describe things that are "wrapped in a mystery." A standing matter often used in context with criticism of religion is the old saying: "To believe is to not know!" On the other hand belief can also be a rock-solid conviction, as the Latin name of the apostle "Petrus" implies.
Dealing with these "Backgrounds" can be helpful, up to essential. To ask questions until the real motivation behind some actions comes to light. Take the quest for the grail, a parable for the striving for things in life, achieving more and most of all inner contentment. These days we face an increase of psychiatric treatment compensating a decrease of pastoral care. Taking time to just think things over may be a response to consuming tendencies of megalomania, backed by numerous commercial advertisements to spark the demand of something we would never have needed, if we wouldn't have known that it existed. So many of us have preserved the old hunter-gather mentality in another context, as part of consumption and collection of more and more goods they don't need. Including too much food, sometimes eating to compensate frustration even. Possibly we can find out what is really good for us. And then go for it, search for it, reach for it, a chip, an atom, just an idea of our own grail. Whatever it may be.
The art of "Questioning" is a key factor to find the right path, the right balance in life, between progress and taking some time to review, question and reflect on the necessities. This is about taking responsibility, also for family, in a more egocentric society, as a side effect of wealth, which after achievement not too many want to share with others any more. Double-Income-No-Kids situations are rather "in" for their financial advantage and additional leeway in comparison to those that take care of the small, their promising offspring (while gaining so much, also emotionally, in return for it). And then some wonder why there is no more familiar safety net when care for the elderly becomes necessary. We should give it a second thought before complaining about foreigners, when immigration becomes necessary to balance population in an otherwise dying society. Being available when help is needed, calling back when someone tried to reach us, taking responsibility for actions in our life with their consequences is what we are here for. Following a long term strategy of cooperation, coexistence, living together (or however to translate this best), rather than proud isolation.
"Afterwards" is when a definite conclusion is best made. Just as there are possible interpretations, why all these clever statements are made around here, in form of a blog, not bleat. Whether they may appear too smarty-pants, know-it-all, or can be taken as the honest opinion they are meant to be, possibly even some kind of self therapy? Is there need for treatment of early tendencies to become a lone wolf, book worm or individualist, or do we over-rate non-standard or non-average behaviour, try to make things too equal, as a reaction to escalation in a more and more aggressive environment? And let us not just compare ourselves with those in seemingly better positions, but also not always forget those having less. Just as we had to work ourselves up to a certain standard of living and may be a little proud of things we didn't get for free, inherited, obtained, but instead have achieved on our own, as we had the chance to. So let's be careful when wishing to rather trade or switch places with someone, for we may only have seen the surface of his or her life. In the end there are things you only know afterwards (as whether this article was worth reading or not).
In the very center of above picture the Valencia chalice represents the Holy Grail, illustrating our Quest in Life. Standing in for values is where the sword comes in, to be understood purely as a symbol while remembering that "He who lives by the sword, shall die by the sword." (Mt 26:52) Or in a modernized version: "Only a man who carries a gun ever needs one." (Angel and the Badman, 1947) Ultimately, the flash expresses the hope that in the end we shall begin to see daylight.