|Antiques Digest||Browse Auctions||Appraisal||Antiques And Arts News||Home|
The Story of the Holy Grail
( Orginally published 1962 )
It is the year 1910, near the world-famous city of Antioch in Syria. Workmen labor at the digging of a well, and, as the work proceeds, the piles of dirt taken out of the ground grow higher and higher.
Suddenly the work stops, as one of the workmen spots a gleam of metal shining in the sunlight. Carefully he and his companions remove it from the surrounding dirt.
As they scrape away the centuries-old crusty residue, they find that they have unearthed two cups, one set within the other. The inner cup is very plain and unprepossessing, but the outer cup is made of silver.
The cups pass out of their hands and into the possession of the experts. Slowly the word spreads, and museum curators and historians from all over turn their eyes toward the two cups, for now the word is out that perhaps here, near the city of Antioch, in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ten, the greatest treasure of them all has been found. For it is believed that the inner cup might be that most fabulous of all treasures-the Holy Grail!
The experts argued and examined and tested, and for a long time the only thing upon which they agreed at all was to disagree. Certainly the legends of the Holy Grail bore out the possibility of the finding of the cup somewhere near Antioch, for almost immediately after the Last Supper the cup had passed out of the hands of Christ and into the possession of Joseph of Arimathea.,/p>
It is said that Joseph caught in this cup the blood that flowed from Christ's wounds as he was dying. The legend goes on to tell of the miraculous transportation of Joseph to England-and with him went the Grail, which ever after was miraculously filled with food and drink for Joseph.
Then for many centuries the stories of the Grail are concerned mainly with men's attempt to find it. The Knights of the Round Table made the search for the Grail a part of their chivalric code. Everyone knows the story of Galahad, the pure in heart, who saw the Grail.
Certainly, aside from these legends, there seems to be a good foundation for the idea that the Grail was taken to England by Joseph of Arimathea. The legend of the Grail was known in West Britain even before the days when the inhabitants were converted to Christianity.
But after Galahad? What happened to it then? According to the legend, the Crusaders actually had the Grail. With it in their possession they marched toward the Holy Land, and one of their purposes was to once more replace the Grail in the land from whence it originally came.Yet their hopes were greater than their fortunes, because they were both outnumbered and outfought. But even in defeat their thought was of the Grail. Rather than let it fall into the hands of the enemy they buried it-near Antioch.
And it was here that the workmen dug their well and unearthed the cup that for a while excited every museum curator in the world. It was a lovely cup, too, even though when cleaned it was found to be damaged by corrosion. It was cleaned by the finest experts in the field, and today it is a lovely object. The inner cup is very plain, but the outer cup is of chased silver portraying vines and figures and grapes, all of them woven into an artistic setting which is still lovely even after all the centuries it lay in dust and dirt.
Today, this cup is in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and it can be seen there at any time. It is called the "Antioch Chalice," because, unfortunately for the world but fortunately for the treasure hunter, it has been finally decided that this cup is not the Holy Grail.
It took exhaustive tests, a great deal of research, and the varied opinions of many many experts before this decision was finally reached, but today the authorities of the Metropolitan Museum of Art reject the theory that it is the Grail.
They list the age of the Antioch Chalice as being of the fourth or possibly fifth century, very early Christian work certainly, but they deny that the inner cup is the one out of which Jesus actually drank.
If this then is not the Holy Grail, then the Grail is still among the missing treasures of the world. One cannot imagine the price which men could ask for this holiest of all the drinking cups of the ages!
Yet, certainly, the finding of the Grail would have much more farreaching effects than the monetary reward it might bring, for this is the cup to which the knights of the Middle Ages dedicated their whole lives, the cup for which the crusaders gave their lives.
This is the cup which, if found, would bring into actuality the legends which have followed its existence for almost two thousand years.
For this is the cup out of which Christ drank at the Last Supper. It stood on the same table where Christ broke bread with his Apostles. This is the cup that has been searched for by more people than any other lost treasure in the world.
There is no museum curator, no expert, no historian who could turn his back on it-if you could find it.
For now, after the original excitement of the finding of the Antioch Chalice, after the disappointment when it was finally determined that it was not the Holy Grail, the experts are more aware than ever that someday the Grail may still be found.
And until the day comes, the Holy Grail must remain the most important lost treasure in the world.