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The Holy Grail?

This remarkable ancient chalice was discovered in Antioch in 1910 and was believed by many to be the Holy Grail. It fits many of the traditional specs: it was found in a city where apostles were living shortly after Christ's death, and it has a plan silver interior bowl decorated by an elaborate shell.The Antioch Chalice was reportedly found in Antioch in 1910. After being restored in Paris in 1913, it was displayed as the Holy Grail by its owners, Kouchakji Freres, at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. It was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Cloisters in 1950, where it is still displayed today. The inner silver bowl is enclosed by an elaborate gold, rinceau patterned, footed shell. Inhabiting the fruited grapevine are birds, including an eagle with wings spread; animals, including a lamb and a rabbit; and 12 human figures holding scrolls and seated on thrones. Two of the figures are thought to be images of Christ. The other figures have been variously identified as 10 of the 12 apostles or perhaps classical philosophers who, like the prophets of the Old Testament, foretold the coming of Christ. The identification of the Antioch Chalice has the Holy Grail has not been accepted by experts, and it is generally considered a sixth-century chalice meant to be used in the Eucharist. Most recently, its shape has been recognized as closely resembling that of sixth-century standing lamps, a similarity that may have been inspired by Christ's words, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). The original owners claimed the chalice was found in Antioch, but some scholars have argued that it, along with the rest of the "Antioch Treasure" of liturgical objects, belonged to the church of St. Sergius in the tower of Kaper Koraon, southeast of Antioch. If this is true, though, the church's members may have purchased the chalice from Antioch. Whatever its date and provenance, the Antioch Chalice remains a remarkable work of early Christian art and intriguing in its mysterious origins.c.500-550 AD, Antioch or Kaper Koraon. Silver and silver gilt, height 7-3/4 in., diamter of cup rim 7-1/8 in., diameter of foot rim 2-7/8 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1950, inv. 50.4.

Photo © Unknown.