No, They Didn’t Find the Holy Grail

It’s easy to discredit some things.

Two researchers have decided that a certain gold chalice is surely The Holy Grail. If you’re anything like me then the first time you heard about the Holy Grail was from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. (Which just might be my favorite movie.)

I saw that flick when I was a kid and wondered about this cup. Was it real? Did Jesus drink from a cool, magical chalice? Could I find it, some day? The answer to those questions was disappointing (but it probably did help me start a hobby in medieval history), because there is no mention of The Grail until the second half of the Middle Ages where it shows up in fiction. It was only a plot device and was never meant to be taken seriously. No such Holy Grail is mentioned in the Bible, and it has never been a part of Christian teaching.

So what did these scholars find? The 12th-century Chalice of Doña Urraca, a cup from Spain (over there on the right) that does not date back to Jesus’ time. Not even close. Furthermore, it’s polychrome inlaying does not bear resemblance to ancient Roman designs or Middle-Eastern art of the first century. Note the very Latin lettering surrounding the base; it ought to be Greek if Jesus had used it. There is also a small cross in the middle that appears to be medieval heraldry. It’s possible that only the inner marble part of the cup is what is claimed to have belonged to Jesus and that the gold and jewels were added later, but that doesn’t explain why the cup exists at all.

How do we know this cup is not the Holy Grail? Because there’s no such thing as the Holy Grail. That would be like spelunking in Peru and finding Indy’s whip next to a huge boulder. The Grail is a wonderful fictional story but nothing more.

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