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Spanish city begins jubilee year with the Holy Grail

chalice of valencia

Stanislavskyi | Shutterstock

John Burger - published on 10/28/20

Valencia, Spain, celebrates the "Chalice of the Passion" with its special relic of the Last Supper.

A year-long celebration has begun in a Spanish city that claims to have the chalice used by Jesus at the Last Supper, often referred to as the Holy Grail.

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, Archbishop of Valencia, Spain, opened the Eucharistic Jubilee Year of the “Chalice of the Passion” in his cathedral on Sunday. It is the second jubilee year for Valencia since 2015, when Pope Francis granted permission for such a celebration every five years to renew and revitalize the local Church.

The celebration “should help us to be compassionate and to assume as our own the sufferings and shortcomings of men, of immigrants, of the homeless, of the orphans and give to those who need financial help,” Cardinal Cañizares said during the solemn opening that he presided over, according to the Archdiocese of Valencia’s website.

“We cannot have the charity of Christ if we do not build the Christian community on the Eucharist,” the cardinal said. “This is what we are going to live in a special way in this new year.” The cardinal said the local Church would strive to “live with renewed vigor the Eucharistic mystery with all that it means as a source of love and renewal of our society.”

Cañizares invited the faithful to make a pilgrimage to the Chapel of the Holy Chalice in the cathedral and share in the celebrations around it, especially now, in a time of pandemic. It is a time to remember “the sufferings that Jesus assumed in his Passion,” the cardinal said. 

Pilgrims to Valencia during the Holy Year are able to gain an indulgence. The cardinal reminded listeners that the Cathedral of Valencia has other relics related to the Passion of Christ as well: a thorn from the crown of Jesus, one of the largest pieces of wood from the cross, and a small piece of the sponge that was soaked in wine for Christ to drink while he was dying on the cross.

In 2015-2016, the first Jubilee Year in Valencia was celebrated in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the Holy Grail was called the “Chalice of Mercy.”

The Holy Grail has been the subject of legends, artistic and literary works. It is said that St. Peter took the Grail to Rome to use it for the Eucharist. In 257 it was  transferred to Huesca in Spain, to protect it during the time of Valerian’s persecution of Christians. During the Islamic conquest of Spain in the 8th century, it was transferred to the monastery of San Juan de la Peña in northern Spain.

In 1399, the relic was handed over to the King of Aragon, Martin the Humane, who kept it until 1410. In 1424, the second successor of King Martin, King Alfonso the Magnanimous, handed the chalice over to the reliquary of Valencia Palace, and it was later transferred to Valencia Cathedral in 1437. It was removed to safer locations during times of war but eventually made its way back to the cathedral in 1939. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI officiated masses with the Holy Chalice of the Cathedral in their respective visits to Valencia in 1982 and 2006.

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