An academic exposé on the famed cup of Christ.
Torres Sevilla (Medieval History/Univ. of León) and Ortega del Río claim to have proven the identity of the true grail, the cup with which Jesus Christ and his Apostles shared wine at the Last Supper. This highly sought-after relic has captured the imaginations of Christians for nearly two millennia, spawning a wealth of art, literature, and, in recent decades, film. Though the authors couch their findings in the fanfare befitting such a unique artifact, in reality, the story of the grail is rather bland. If the authors are correct, then the grail spent its first millennium in Jerusalem and its second in Spain, only occasionally coming out of the shadows. The authors begin with an unreasonably lengthy introduction to early Christianity before finally noting, “We have to wait until 400 CE to find the first direct reference [to the chalice].” Readers are left to wonder what, aside from tradition, points to this particular cup as being the genuine grail. The authors appear to accept this on faith, and they take up the story from there: “The Cup physically resided in the Holy Sepulchre from the fifth century, where it would remain until the eleventh century.” The authors then move on to a dizzying examination of Muslim dynasties that both threatened and trumpeted the grail, until it was given as a gift to the Emir of Dénia, in southeastern Spain, who eventually presented it to the King of León in the 1050s. It remains in León to this day. A shard cut off the cup and used by Saladin as a curative for his daughter provides one of the few other twists to this tale. A detailed description of the cup, now bedecked with an outer chalice of gold and jewels, and a refutation of other contenders for the title of the true grail, round out the book.
An occasionally long-winded but intriguing glimpse at one of Christianity’s great treasures.