Author Philip Coppens: "The Valencia Cup is Not the Real Grail"
On November 7-9, 2008, a congress was held at the Catholic University of Valencia, titled “Valencia, City of the Holy Grail,” focusing on a chalice reputed by some to be the true Last Supper chalice. The congress was the latest attempt to cement the Valencia Cup’s claim as being the best contender for being the legendary Holy Grail. Philip Coppens argues the Cup cannot possibly be the genuine Holy Grail.
In Servants of the Grail, to be released on January 24, 2009, author Philip Coppens argues that the Valencia Cup is central to the Grail debate – but that it is not the true Grail. Coppens’ research has revealed that the Spanish San Juan de la Peña was indeed the Grail Castle, built by the Aragonese kings. Enlarging on the work of the Swiss scholar André de Mandach, Coppens shows that the characters of the Grail legend are, in fact, historical figures. The Fisher King Anfortas is Alfonso I, whose nickname was Anfortius, and king of Aragon. His cousin, Rotrou II de Perche, holds the key of his literary counterpart Perceval in his name, as “de Perche” was the “Valley of the Perche”, or… Perc(h)eval.
However, Coppens’ research also shows that the Valencia Cup only made its entry into historical accounts in 1399, and bears little or no resemblance to the accounts of the Grail held in San Juan de la Peña in the 12th century. Experts on the Valencia Cup try to gloss over these discrepancies, or explain them away. But it is a matter of fact that the original artefact in San Juan de la Peña was never identified as a cup, but as a precious stone – whereas the legend of the Valencia Cup was always depicted as a Cup, and specifically the Cup of the Last Supper.
Coppens comments: “Though there are reports from the keepers of the Grail in Valencia that date the relic as far back as 14 December 1134, the quoted documents themselves have not been found. A document of 1135 does mention a chalice being exchanged between San Juan de la Peña for a charter from the king, but this is nothing more than a customary transaction and is not a reference to the Valencia Cup.”
Suggestive evidence that San Juan de la Peña did not possess the Cup of the Last Supper can be seen earlier in the 14th century, when in 1322, Jaime II of Aragon sent a letter to the sultan of Egypt. In it, he asks the sultan to send him the chalice used by Christ at the Last Supper, which belonged to the sultan. If San Juan de la Peña indeed possessed the Cup of Christ, it meant that Jaime II already had it – and why would he ask the sultan of Egypt for it? It is a difficult to answer question. Though apparently nothing further seems to have come of this prospective acquisition, however, by 1399, the kings of Aragon apparently did possess the Holy Chalice.
Coppens concludes: “It suggests that the acquisition from the Sultan either did not leave traces in historical records, or that the transaction of 1399 is a fake. If, indeed, the kings of Aragon desperately wanted to have the Holy Chalice in their possession, and the sultan did not want to sell it, then perhaps they merely bought or manufactured another artefact, pretended to exchange it from the abbot of San Juan de la Peña, invented a prehistory for it, and the lie could be sold.”
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