primo libro di Janice
Sacred Blood, Sacred Image: The Sudarium of Oviedo,
si è stato uno studio storico, culturale e biblico sul Sudario
di Oviedo, l'antico tessuto che si crede aver coperto la testa
di Cristo dopo la crocifissione. Il suo testo più recente
prodotta dalla studiosa è invece
St. Laurence and The Holy Grail: The Story of The Holy Chalice
of Valencia, che costituisce un esame esaustivo e
provocativo della storia del Santo Calice di Valencia, ritenuto
nel mondo cristiano essere la coppa che Cristo usò durante
IgnatiusInsight.com ha parlato con Janice sulla sua ricerca del
Santo Calice di Valencia, su cosa ha scoperto e su che cosa
crede oggi riguardo al Calice.
IgnatiusInsight.com: Ci parli un po' del suo background,
della sua istruzione e del Suo interesse per la vita e la
cultura spagnola .
Janice Bennett: I was educated in Catholic grade and high
schools, and then studied graphic design and journalism at
Northern Illinois University. I married shortly after graduation,
and our son was born nine and a half months later, in July of
1974. My husband and I moved to Colorado a year later. I worked
in graphic design and typesetting for many years, until the
rapidly changing industry made it difficult to continue without
major reeducation in computer design. Our daughter was born in
1982, and by 1988 I had made the decision to close my small
The following year I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with
a Hispanic group and fell in love with the Spanish language. I
felt called to study it, and almost immediately began to take
classes at a local community college. I thought that I would
continue as long as I did well, and ended up receiving my
Masters Degree in Spanish Literature from the University of
Colorado in Boulder in 1997. I wanted to go on for a Doctorate,
but I think that God had other plans for me. My father was very
ill and passed away the following year, which made it impossible
for me to enter the program.
Not long afterwards I found the publications of the Spanish
Center for Sindonology, began to translate them, and started to
think about writing a book about the Sudarium of Oviedo, a cloth
that is believed to have covered the head of Jesus after the
Crucifixion. That pretty much ended any thoughts of continuing
my education in Spanish. If I had been able to continue, my
books wouldn't exist, so it has really turned out to be an act
of Divine Providence. I've also completed four years of study
with the Catholic Biblical School of Denver, and eighteen hours
toward a Masters Degree in Theology with the Institute of
Pastoral Theology, formerly affiliated with Ave Maria
University. I hope to return to my studies with them next fall.
My husband and I started traveling to Spain in 1991, shortly
after I began to study the language. On one of our first trips
we visited the Cathedral of Valencia, and I remember very
clearly seeing the little Chapel of the Holy Grail to the right
of the main entrance. It seemed rather strange to me that I had
never heard of the Holy Grail being located in Valencia, Spain.
After all, it is such an important and transcendental relic for
Christianity. I looked for more information in the small
bookstore next to the chapel, but aside from a few books written
in Spanish, which were still difficult for me, there was only a
very small leaflet, written in very poor English. It briefly
described the history of the Holy Chalice that is now in the
Cathedral, mentioning that it was given to St. Laurence by St.
Sixtus II in 258 A.D. Many years later, while researching the
Sudarium and other relics in the National Library of Madrid, I
remembered that small leaflet. I did a search on St. Laurence
and found the translation of St. Donato's manuscript.
My interest in Spanish life and culture began when I began to
study Spanish. I've also studied French and Latin, but never
experienced the same passion for those languages. The more I
studied Spanish literature and culture in my classes, the more I
wanted to go to Spain. I ended up doing a considerable amount of
foreign study programs in Spain, as well as in Costa Rica,
Guatemala and Peru. Spain has always held a special attraction
for me, however — I believe it is a combination of its
fascinating history that has involved fighting for Catholicism,
its wealth of relics, monasteries, cathedrals and other
treasures, great geographical diversity, and literature that
deeply reflects the importance of religion for Spaniards. Not to
mention their cordero asado, or roast lamb, chorizo,
pimentón, olives, turrón, polverones, and all the other
delicacies that I've come to love so much.
IgnatiusInsight.com: How and when did you first become
interested in the Holy Grail?
Bennett: As mentioned, I started studying Spanish in
1990, and shortly after that we began traveling to Spain. I
first discovered the Grail Chapel on one of our first trips. As
time went on, the number of visits to Spain increased, along
with my knowledge of the language. I started to work on my
Master's Degree in Spanish in 1994. By this time I was now
familiar with Oviedo, where the Sudarium of the Lord, the cloth
believed to have covered his head after the Crucifixion, is
supposedly kept in the Cathedral.
In December of 1993 I happened to read an article in the popular
Spanish magazine ¡Hola! about how the relic was being
studied by a group of scientists based in Valencia. I had never
even heard of the Sudarium before, and I was completely
fascinated. It is not the Shroud of Turin, but a companion cloth,
mentioned in the Gospel of John. I searched for more information,
but without success, so the following year we visited the
Cathedral of Oviedo. I was so disappointed when the guide told
me in Spanish about all of the relics in the Holy Chamber, but
didn't even mention the Sudarium. I couldn't imagine how I had
made such a mistake. When he finished, I politely asked him
where the Sudarium was being kept, and was surprised when he
replied that it was in this very room. It seemed unfathomable to
me that he didn't see fit to even mention it.
I finished my degree in 1997, which had involved considerable
sacrifices for my family. It also made me feel rather guilty
that we were able to travel so often to Spain, and I hoped that
perhaps there was some way I could use my travels and study for
the benefit of the Church. I had been praying for this intention
for quite some time. My father was very ill that year, and his
declining health occupied much of my attention until he finally
passed away in June of 1998. The estate was divided among the
four children (my mother had passed away from cancer in 1994),
leaving me with enough money to publish.
I had been thinking of trying to write a book about some of the
many relics in Spain. Toward the end of the year, after my
parent's house had been sold, I began to start thinking about
this more seriously, and decided to look once again for
information on the Sudarium. This time I immediately found the
website of the Spanish Center for Sindonology. By now they had
published two books on the Sudarium. The first was a large
volume of scientific studies, published in 1994, and the second
was a collection of scholarly articles that had been published
earlier that year. After translating most of the two books, I
began to do my own research.
As I told friends about the relic, I realized how much interest
there would be for a book that would explain the work in terms
that a lay person could understand. The history of this relic is
absolutely amazing, and the scientific studies support it
On a trip to Spain in June, 1999, I decided to spend several
days in the National Library of Madrid while my husband went on
to England, in order to look for information on the Sudarium, as
well as other relics. I confidently marched up to the entrance,
where I was greeted by metal detectors and security officers.
Since I couldn't produce a library card, I was directed to a
small room for interrogation. They told me that this is a
private research library, and that I should go to the public
library instead. I knew that I wouldn't find anything there
because the sources I was looking for were too old.
I panicked, because I had no idea what I would do in Madrid for
three days if I couldn't get into the library. So, I prayed. At
that very moment, the man looked at me and asked what I wanted
to research, and if I had any identification. I didn't have
anything other than my passport, but I did have a list of
sources from a bibliography I had found in the Auraria library
here in Denver. He examined it, and replied that I wouldn't find
any of these sources in the public library, so he agreed to
issue a temporary card.
That experience was only the first hurdle. The library was being
renovated, so nothing was in the right place, and I had no idea
of the procedures used to request books. Many of the employees
weren't at all helpful, perhaps because they thought I should
know what I was doing. Somehow, I managed to survive as I made
my way down dark corridors covered with scaffolding. I found
nothing on the Sudarium, and exhausted my other sources by the
end of the second day.
The final day, I happened to find a room containing the manual
card catalogues. I remembered the story of St. Laurence and the
Holy Chalice of Valencia, and decided to look for more
information. I found the booklet explaining the incredible story
of the Chalice during the Spanish Civil War, and then started
flipping through the cards for Lorenzo. I wrote down a few
references, and went to the Cervantes Room to find the first
source on the list. I didn't even realized how old the source
was, or I probably wouldn't have done it.
The Cervantes Room houses old manuscripts, and I was already
quite intimidated by the whole experience of being in the
library. I ordered the document, and waited at a small desk
until it was delivered. It was a tiny book, a copy of an
original that is in Valencia. I was dismayed at first to find
that it was in old Spanish manuscript type with a rather obscure
vocabulary, but as I began to read, I found that it wasn't too
Two things made me literally shiver: the detailed description of
Laurence's childhood, which I had never heard of before, and the
reference to the Holy Grail. I knew that there supposedly were
no written references to verify the tradition that Pope Sixtus
II entrusted the Holy Grail to St. Laurence, but here it was
stated explicitly. I didn't fail to notice that the translator
never took credit for any of the biographical information, which
he claimed came from St. Donato, who lived near Valencia during
the time of King Leovigild, where he claimed that St. Laurence
had been born. His information on St. Laurence's early life is
not found in any of the traditional sources, and it made sense
that Donato would have known these details, because he regularly
went to Valencia, where the details of Laurence's life were
still being kept alive, thanks to oral tradition.
The translator obviously didn't let his personal bias enter into
it — he was a professor from Huesca, and the people there are
absolutely convinced that St. Laurence was born in their city,
not Valencia, that his parents died there, and that he had a
twin brother. I ordered copies so that I could study the entire
document at my leisure once I got back home, and found that I
was the first to do so. I started to translate it that summer,
but found it to be much more difficult than I had originally
thought it would be. I finished the book on the Sudarium, and in
January of the following year began the work again in earnest. I
started translating the books written by Spanish authors on the
Chalice, and my husband and I visited all of the monasteries
believed to have sheltered the relic over the years. The more I
read about this relic, the more captivated I became.
I knew that I had to find more information on St. Donato, and
didn't have a clue where to look for it. I went back to the
National Library to do more research. Among other things I
wanted to find the complete description of the Holy Grail from
an old source that had been mentioned by one of the Spanish
authors. I just happened to open the large, ancient manuscript
book to three chapters describing the life of St. Donato!
Working on this project has been a wonderful experience, from
start to finish. I really believe that the hand of God has been
behind it all, as I couldn't possibly have known about the
renewed interest in this relic in the last few years — the
timing has been incredible.
IgnatiusInsight.com: What is the central story and purpose of
your book, St. Laurence and the Holy Grail? How did you
go about writing it?
Bennett: I think I described writing the book as working
on a jigsaw puzzle, but I hope it doesn't come across that way.
I translated the books written in Spanish by many of the priests
who have been involved with the custody of the relic over the
years, as well as the sixteenth-century Spanish translation of
St. Donato's Latin manuscript.
I found so many other interesting documents and books in the
National Library, such as the history of the relic during the
Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), which is one of the stories that
impressed me most. I remember feeling absolutely amazed when I
saw the photos of the sofa where the Holy Chalice had been
hidden under the cushions, and the wardrobe with the secret
compartment. I think that I pretty much pieced things together
as I found them, and I was amazed at the result.
I also visited all of the old monasteries and hermitages where
the relic had been kept throughout the years — it was an awesome
experience. We just returned to San Adrián de Sasabe in
September, the small hermitage in the Pyrenees where the Holy
Grail was hidden for some time. It has already changed so much —
there is reconstruction work going on, and there are now signs
clearly explaining how it safeguarded the Holy Grail. The narrow
road has even been paved.
I think the central story of the book is the importance that
this relic has had for the Church, beginning with the first
popes who used it to say Mass because it was the very cup that
Jesus had held in his hands to institute the Eucharist.
I had heard the basic story of St. Laurence before, but it took
on new meaning when I learned that one of the treasures that he
refused to hand over to the Romans was this very cup, which led
to his terrible martyrdom by fire. The Holy Grail went to his
homeland, Spain, where it has suffered so many threats to its
very existence: the invasion of the Moors, the War of
Independence when it was nearly melted for coins, and the
burning of the Cathedral of Valencia, to mention only a few.
It has survived thanks to the courage of all those who like St.
Laurence were willing to risk martyrdom and death to save it,
and its crowning glory seems to have been when the Holy Father,
John Paul II, said Mass with it, the first Pope to do so since
St. Sixtus II so many centuries earlier. And now its story is
finally being told!
The purpose of St. Laurence and The Holy Grail: The Story of
the Holy Chalice of Valencía is to let people know that the
Holy Grail does exist, that it has a long and fascinating
history, and that it has always had great importance for the
Church. It was not merely discarded after the Last Supper, as if
it were a worthless old piece of china, or handed over to those
who would have loved to destroy it in order to eradicate any
tangible evidence of the mysteries of our faith. It is certainly
not a deep dark secret that denies the divinity of Christ, as so
many authors claim today. The Holy Grail is the cup used by
Jesus at the Last Supper to institute the Sacrament of the
Eucharist, which in the words of Vatican II is the source and
summit of life in the Church. This cup is the visible sign and
symbol of the Bread of Life, and for this reason it has been
saved, protected and venerated. It should be well noted that of
all the priceless objects in the Cathedral of Valencia, it was
the Holy Chalice that was chosen to be spared destruction at the
hands of the Marxists, not because of its monetary worth, but
because of what it represents for Christianity.
IgnatiusInsight.com: What are some of the common legends
about the Holy Grail and how did they develop?
Bennett: I'm not really very knowledgeable concerning
Grail legends, so I can't really answer this question with any
degree of confidence or expertise. Although familiar with the
stories of King Arthur, I certainly haven't read them all — for
some reason, I never found them very captivating.
Rosslyn Chapel is often connected with the Holy Grail, and I did
find a book about it, but it hardly seemed worth the effort to
read it because it follows the general vein of so many other
books now in print, none of them credible in my opinion. I am
familiar, of course, with the legend that claims that Joseph of
Arimathea took the cup to England, but I haven't read much that
substantiates it. Andrew Sinclair largely bases his information
on what is provided by the Burgundian poet Robert de Boron, but
when I read that he appeared to borrow from the Perceval
of Chrétien de Troyes and claimed that Joseph of Arimathea
provided the lineage of the Fisher King and the heroic knights,
I could no longer take it seriously. For me, literature is not a
credible source for historical events.
Laurence was the deacon and treasurer of the Church when Sixtus
II was Pope. He was born in Valencia, Spain, but spent most of
his life in Italy during the Roman persecutions of Valerian and
Decius, who decreed that the Church could not have property or
possessions of any kind because they were jealous of her wealth,
which came from her many Christian benefactors. The Romans
claimed to be tolerant of all religions, but demanded that
everyone worship the Roman gods, in addition to their own,
because they believed these gods could prevent droughts and
other calamities. This, of course, was unacceptable to the
Christians, who were promptly declared intolerant and a danger
to public well-being.
St. Laurence was a young and idealistic Christian, the only son
of parents who have also been canonized by the Church. After
Sixtus II refused to hand over the treasures of the Church and
was beheaded, the Romans quickly discovered that they were now
in the hands of Laurence, his deacon and treasurer. When he not
only refused to turn them over, but declared that the poor were
the real treasures of the Church, they were outraged, as anyone
can imagine, especially because he was young and the only
surviving deacon. He certainly knew that he would be put to
death, and it angered the pagan Romans that he actually wanted
to die as a martyr because he believed so strongly in the
eternal life promised by Christ.
In obedience to the request of Pope Sixtus II, he had already
turned the Holy Cup over to a Spaniard in Rome at the time, with
instructions to take it to Spain, where Laurence knew that his
family would care for it. St. Laurence was burned on a gridiron
for his noncompliance to the Romans’ request. Although this form
of death was rare at the time, I believe they not only wanted to
make an example of him, but they also hoped to make the
martyrdom that he desired so much as painful as possible.
IgnatiusInsight.com: You note in the book that Americans have
paid little, if any, attention to the Holy Chalice of Valencia.
Why is that?
Bennett: I believe that most Americans have never heard
of the Holy Chalice of Valencia, for the simple reason that
until now there has been next to nothing written about it in
English. On the other hand, it seems to be common knowledge in
Spain — no one even questions the fact that the Holy Chalice of
Valencia is the Holy Grail. As I mentioned in the book, I saw a
documentary on television about the Holy Grail, and I was
shocked at the superficial treatment it was given. The Holy
Chalice of Valencia was not even mentioned, but a perfume bottle
found in an attic in England was featured as a strong
possibility of being the authentic Holy Grail. Sir Galahad and
Percival, who are clearly literary figures, were discussed as if
they were real, historical people.
And now, of course, we have all the nonsense about how Mary
Magdalene is the Holy Grail. It keeps getting more and
more absurd. Like Don Quixote, the popular Spanish literary
figure who read so many books about the Knights of the Round
Table that he could no longer distinguish between reality and
fiction, modern man in the so-called Age of Reason finds himself
in the very same situation. As an example, Andrew Sinclair, in
his book The Discovery of the Grail [London: Arrow Books
Limited, 1999] has a chapter entitled "The Grail in Spain." He
intertwines erroneous historical details about the Holy Chalice
and the relics of Oviedo with Galahad and Don Quixote, and even
claims that "Saint Theresa of Avila continued these beatific
visions [of Saint Gertrude of Helfetha] of a holy chalice and a
jeweled Grail Castle into the sixteenth century, before
Cervantes in Don Quixote struck them down" (p. 192). It
is incredible that someone would interpret St. Teresa’s The
Interior Castle in such a manner, and then claim that
Cervantes somehow "struck down" her visions of a castle that
serves as a metaphor for union with God!
I can’t tell you how many people have remarked to me that they
thought the Holy Grail was lost — it must have been, because Sir
Galahad and Percival embarked on a quest to find it. Likewise,
thousands read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code as a
scholarly work. Who can blame them, based on the claims made on
the dust jacket: "An astonishing truth concealed for centuries.
. .unveiled at last," "perfect for history buffs," "pure
genius," "intelligent," and "intricately layered with remarkable
research and detail." Brown’s book contains such a mixture of
distorted facts and fiction that at least ten authors have
written books to debunk it. It becomes more and more difficult
for the average person to separate the nonsense from history and
truth, so they tend to walk around in a fog of unreason that
makes the Middle Ages seem like the Age of Enlightenment by
IgnatiusInsight.com: What sorts of misunderstandings exist
about relics and their place in the Church, and how do they
affect people’s view of authentic relics?
Bennett: I am now working on my third book, this one on
the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, which includes
a discussion of the authenticity of the relics of St. James,
believed to be safeguarded in the crypt of the Cathedral of
Santiago de Compostela. The evidence for authenticity is
compelling, but unfortunately it is not presented in a single
book in English about the Camino.
Instead, authors like Edwin Mullins, who wrote the classic
account entitled The Pilgrimage to Santiago [New York:
Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., 1974, 2001], refers to the
veneration of relics as a "morbid mediaeval cult" and calls the
Santiago legend nothing more than "folk-lore brushed up for the
tourist industry," given official recognition by Pope Leo XIII
in 1884 as a political move to sugar a legend that is "so
improbable, so flawed, so disreputable," that it is "amazing and
ironical" that this legend "should have trodden a path through
the history of western Europe that is flagged by some of the
brightest achievements of our civilization" (p. 16). He even
suggests that pious scribes, due to a psychological longing,
created "the foundations of a useful Christian legend where
those foundations were unfortunately lacking" (p. 8-9).
Another example is Spanish Steps by Tim Moore [London:
Jonathan Cape, 2004] about a man and his donkey on the Pilgrim
Way to Santiago. If you’re looking for any useful information
about the Camino, don’t buy this book — it contains 328 pages of
donkey jokes intertwined with misinformation, among them disdain
for relics, and the absurd claim that the Compostela (the
certificate in Latin given to pilgrims at the end of their
journey) is a sort of "Get out of hell free" card, followed by
the snide comment that he didn’t make the rules.
Unfortunately for him, the Church didn’t make that rule either.
Pilgrims who walk the entire route don’t even get the plenary
indulgence unless they receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation
and Eucharist at the end, while those who simply visit the
Cathedral and fulfill these conditions do. One doesn’t have to
walk a single step along the Camino to be saved. This author
reflects the incredible misinformation floating around about the
Catholic Church, among them relics, indulgences, and pilgrimages.
It is not surprising that he shows no respect for the Eucharist
either, saying that when "a queue began to form for the bread
and wine, a sudden exhaustion had pinned me to my seat, and I’m
glad it did…" (p. 323).
The prevalent attitude seems to be that the veneration of relics
was a morbid mania that prevailed in a climate of pious unreason,
leading to widespread trafficking as well as the multiplication
of thorns, sweat cloths, grails, fragments of the True Cross,
bones of the saints, and other relics. If this went on, they
reason, all relics must be false, and if not, who cares, because
the veneration of relics is little more than a morbid
fascination anyway, practiced by simple, illiterate people in
the Middle Ages who were indoctrinated by a Church that was
obsessed with the Last Judgment.
Someone once suggested to me that my books were a "waste of
time," because the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper would
not have been preserved by the early Christians, nor would the
cloth containing His blood, without offering a bit of evidence
for his strong opinions. Ironically, this same person also gave
me a relic of a saint before my surgery, and this has always
been at the heart of their veneration — the belief in divine
intervention and miracles. Some Christians, usually non Catholic,
remark that relics have nothing to do with their faith, and
while this is true, what is wrong with knowing more about them?
No one objects to the study of ancient artifacts and burial
sites, but for some reason the mention of relics brings on some
rather strong opinions that seem to have been formed by the
attitude of non-Christian authors toward the Catholic Church.
I recently translated the story of the Christ of Burgos, a
life-like crucified Christ that is kept in the Cathedral of
Burgos. It is not even a relic, really, although legend claims
that it was made by Nicodemus at the foot of the cross. It has
been venerated by pilgrims on their way to Santiago. Recent
studies confirm that it dates to the Middle Ages, but the
remarkable thing is the extensive documentation pointing to
miracles worked through the veneration and faith of the pilgrims.
The story is so inspiring and interesting that it is given an
entire chapter in my next book.
IgnatiusInsight.com: What miraculous events, if any, have
been connected to the Holy Chalice of Valencia?
Bennett: Unfortunately, I didn’t investigate any
miraculous events that may have been connected to the Holy
Chalice. It is possible that the Cathedral of Valencia has a
record of these, but they weren’t mentioned in any of the books
by the Spanish priests connected with the Cathedral, nor in any
of my other sources.
The only miracle I know of was mentioned briefly by Elias Olmos
Canalda, the Archivist Canon of the Cathedral who was
responsible for saving the Holy Chalice at the start of the
Spanish Civil War. He mentions that part of the cotton with
which the Holy Chalice was wrapped when it was hidden in a stone
wall at Carlet was divided among several young men who were
marching in the front lines. They were told to have faith in
what was being given to them because it had covered a relic. Not
one suffered the least mishap or injury. I think the greatest
miracle, however, is that this relic has survived to the present
day. The odds were obviously against it.
IgnatiusInsight.com: What has been the reaction to your book
among scholars and students of the Holy Grail?
Bennett: I haven’t really received all that much
feedback, but the reaction so far has been excellent. One woman,
who has a doctorate in Romance and Germanic Languages and
Literatures, said that the book was a joy to read and a "great
contribution to scholarship," and remarked that it should keep
other writers from misidentifying Orencio and Paciencia as "two
priests of the Church of Huesca" as did Mark Amaru Pinkham in
Guardians of the Holy Grail [Kempton, IL: Adventures
Unlimited, 2004], p. 31.
Another man (Christian, but not Catholic) wrote: "We appreciate
the fine work that you are doing in the field of publishing. It
is encouraging that there are talented individuals who can make
a difference in so many ways to improve the lives of people in
our world." One young man from Tennessee, who happens to be a
big fan of the Holy Grail legends, thought that it was an
excellent book that "surpasses all the legends" he has ever read
and heard. He said that he had never heard of St. Laurence and
knew nothing of this tradition. He has "read many books on the
Holy Grail, some romantic and some really so fantastic as to be
easily recognizable as mere legend." He thought that my book on
the Sudarium of Oviedo was also excellent, and a great asset to
I doubt that some of those who have written about the Grail
being Mary Magdalene would find my book at all interesting, as
their agenda seems to be to deny the divinity of Christ and
discredit the Church. I still can’t bring myself to read Holy
Blood, Holy Grail in its entirety, which happened to
serve as inspiration for Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code,
although I did read Brown’s book, simply because so many people
were asking me what I thought of it. They weren’t really
satisfied when I would reply, "It’s fiction." Now I have a bit
more to say about it, none of it good.
Unlike Dan Brown, who hides his agenda under the cloak of
"fiction," Holy Blood, Holy Grail, [New York: Bantam Dell,
2004; first published by Delacorte Press in 1982], which happens
to be a New York Times bestseller, claims to be
more revealing than any fiction, and provides source material
for the many books being circulated today, even in Spain. Just
like Holy Blood, Holy Grail, nearly all claim that Christ
did not die on the cross, was married and a father, and that his
bloodline still exists in France. The trend these days is to
connect all of this with St. Mary Magdalene, and to make the
blasphemous and diabolical claim that she is the Holy
Grail, the "receptable" for Christ. These so-called scholars are
certainly not interested in the truth, but I’m sure that they
all hope to become rich by circulating a controversial and
illogical hypothesis that they claim is "probably" true,
although based on absolutely nothing substantial.
I should mention that there is a big difference between St.
Donato’s manuscript and this book’s claim that parchments found
in the South of France a century ago reveal one of the best-kept
secrets in Christendom. While I certainly can’t prove the
authenticity of Donato’s manuscript, it is included because it
does contain a written reference to the fact that St. Sixtus II
gave the Holy Grail to St. Laurence for safekeeping. It is
translated in its entirely because it provides new details about
Laurence’s early childhood that not only make sense, but do not
appear to have been taken from any other source. If it did
happen to be a fake, it is brilliantly done, but I seriously
doubt it because I’ve been able to support it with information
from many, many other sources.
The translator goes against the tradition of his place of birth,
Huesca, so he is obviously not trying to support his hometown.
St. Donato is a real person mentioned in ancient Spanish history
books, who also happened to be from the same Augustinian order
as the translator, and his explanation of how he came across the
work is quite logical. If, for some unknown and unforeseen
reason, it was fake — although I don’t believe that anyone could
ever prove that is was — it wouldn’t change any of the
evidence for the authenticity of the Holy Chalice of Valencia.
That is strongly based on the Canon of the Mass, Spanish
tradition concerning St. Laurence, the history of the relic in
Spain, archaeological studies, and the very fact that not very
long ago, some people were so convinced that it is the real Holy
Grail that they were willing to suffer martyrdom to save it.
It also happens to be the only possible Holy Grail in existence,
because it is a cup, and the Gospels state very
explicitly that Jesus took a cup of wine to institute the
Sacrament of the Eucharist, not a perfume bottle or a green
plate. The translation of Donato’s manuscript certainly exists,
because I have copies of every single page, I have translated
them, and one of these copies is included in the book. On the
other hand, how can anyone know for certain if these supposed
parchments even exist, let alone reveal some bizarre and
far-fetched secret about Christ that flies in the face of two
thousand years of Tradition? Yet, the book cover claims that it
is "meticulously researched."
Martyrs do indeed exist, and they certainly wouldn’t have given
their lives for a faith that doesn’t even offer eternal life,
because if Christ did not die on the cross, we are not saved.
Furthermore, a document can easily be faked, but it is
impossible to do that to tradition. Tradition is what it is, and
in the case of the Holy Chalice, it leaves no other possibility
than the fact that the relic is very likely authentic.