Day 17 – Finding The Grail
A Rest Day in Leon
The Holy Grail
Enter a sixteenth century cathedral museum.
You’ve beat the rush to this morning and are the first in the museum.
You pay the cashier your entrance fee (discounted because you are a Pilgrim).
She quietly escorts you to a small inconspicuous door, opens it and says go there and nods to the staircase, which is dimly lit.
It is a circular staircase and rises into the bell tower.
Up, up, up you climb. You’ve probably gone up 20 or 25 feet, wondering how high you’ll have to climb with each step, before entering a room filled with frescos and ancient church treasures.
The room is glorious. The frescos are bright. Well maintained. A few have faded. But many are breathtaking. You marvel at the work, but you’re here for one reason, and it is hard to concentrate on anything else.
Where is the Grail?
The Spanish escort, another woman about 50, then quietly points through a door.
“That way,” she says, nodding at an open door.
She’s done that hundreds of times. It shows in the lack of expression on her face. But, she knows that is why everyone comes.
She then lets you enter the perfect room alone to see the prize—the Holy Grail.
There is only one item, displayed in a glass case, in this 20 foot by 30 foot room—the room is built of stone, one level below the bells, a rounded, cylinder shaped ceiling, also stone.
It is really a breathtaking morning.
Jackie and friends stand before the bell tower at the Basilica de San Isidore, which houses the Holy Grail.
What a way to start a day.
We experienced the visit to the Holy Grail before 9:30 this morning and it really was cool—unbelievably cool.
Now, whether or not this is the Grail, we don’t know, but the idea that it may indeed be the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper is really quite a notion that is difficult to wrap your head around.
We had at least 15 minutes alone in that stone room in the bell tower to view the Grail……………………. Alone with the Grail.
There were many security cameras and alarms and unseen measures in place, we know. But having that alone time with the goblet was not expected.
It really was amazing and unmatched by any other experience that we can remember.
Our Pilgrim Passports with stamps from along the Camino. At right are admission tickets to see the Grail.
No Photos Allowed
In some of the past museums we have visited, Jim has taken photographs even when it is forbidden. He couldn’t pull the trigger on the Grail.
Too sacred, he decided, and kept his camera holstered.
We are showing a photograph that is distributed by the museum, just so you get the feel for what we were viewing.
Here’s The History
The onyx chalice, that Jesus supposedly used, was concealed within another antique vessel known as the Chalice of Doña Urruca, which we saw, located in León’s basilica of Saint Isidore.
Historians said it has been there since the 11th century.
Recently, two historians, who were working on other ancient artifacts, researched the history of this piece after finding documents that purported to tell its history.
Those parchments told a tale of how Muslims took the sacred cup from the Christian community in Jerusalem to Cairo.
It was then given to an emir on Spain’s Mediterranean coast in return for help he gave to Egyptians who were suffering a famine.
The historians’ research has been backed up by scientific dating, which estimates that the cup was made between 200 BC and 100 AD.
The scientists admit the first 400 years of the cup’s history remain a mystery, and they can’t prove the chalice ever actually touched Christ’s lips.
But they insist there is no doubt that this is the cup that early Christians revered as the chalice used at the Last Supper.
Back On The Road
We will hit the road in the morniing and continue our march to Santiago.
We're adding a few photos unrelated to the Grail, just to include some of the cool things we experienced in this beautiful city.