Not everybody knows that Spain is home to one of the most important relics of Christianity and that there is a pilgrimage route that takes you to it.
The Holy Grail, the chalice that Jesus used to consecrate the wine for the Last Supper with the apostles, has been guarded and venerated in many parts of the Spanish geography until it reached his current location in the cathedral of Valencia. From there starts the Camino de Levante and there it finishes the Way to the Holy Grail (Camino del Santo Grial) that starts the monastery of San Juan de la Peña. To enjoy the places in the Aragon region that are related to the Holy Grail we can walk Camino Francés from Somport, or the Trans-Iberian Route that starts in Barcelona and traverses Aragón.
Probably this legend of El Camino de Santiago is the one with the best historical chance of being true.
The legend of the Holy Grail
Pope Sixtus II was captured and suffered martyrdom during the Christian persecution under Emperor Valerian. One of the Pope´s deacons, Lawrence of Rome, before he joined him in his martyrdom, had the task to distribute the possessions of the church amongst the poor of the city. Amongst all these treasures Lawrence gave the most valuable to a Roman legionary soldier and asked him to take it to his birth town in Huesca, where his parents still lived. This is how Orencio and Paciencia, his parents learned of the death of their son, and how the city of Huesca had the responsibility to guard the Holy Grail in the Romanesque church of Saint Peter.
When the Muslim invasion of the peninsula started the relic was changing place in order to escape from the hands of the infidel. In its travels it went through Yebra, Siresa, Balboa and San Adrián de Sasabe, until the danger from falling in Muslims´ hands passed, King Ramiro I of Aragon commission the building in its honour in Jaca, city that would become the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon
Later, in the year 1071 and with the occasion of the mass that was taking place in the monastery of San Juan de la Peña, following the Roman liturgy, the Holy Grail was brought here to give more authority to the ceremony. Despite the petition of the cathedral of Jaca for the return of the relic, the monks did not oblige and the relic rested there for centuries until the year 1399, when king Martin the Humane persuaded the monks to accept an exchange. He gave them a materially valuable chalice and they returned the Holy Grail to the Aljafería in Zaragoza first, then to the Royal Chapel of Barcelona. In 1437 it was given to the city of Valencia for its custody and there is where it rests today.
With the occasion of the Holy Grail, Pope Francis gave in 2015 a perpetually holy year to Valencia, so as it happens in Santiago de Compostela, one can gain indulgence from sins every five years. That should be a bonus reason to decide to do el Camino del Levante.
Fotografía de Cabecera: Wikipedia