The Holy Grail As the Cup of the Last Supper

   Adamnan's 'De Locis Sanctis', describes, on the basis of the testimony of Arculf, a Gaulish bishop who had visited Palestine in approx 680CE and who was later shipwrecked on Iona. Chapter 7 of Book 1 describes what was clearly being venerated in the 7th century as the cup of the last supper:

'inter illam quoque Golgothanam basilicam et martirium quaedam inext exedra, in qua calix Domini, quem a se benedictum propria manu in caena pridie quam pateretur ipse conviva apostolis tradidit conviviantibus; qui argenteus calix sextarii Gallici mensuram habens duasque in se ansulas ex utraque parte altrinsecus contenens compositas. In quo utique calice illa inest spungia quam aceto plenam hisopo circumponentes Dominum crucifigentes obtulerunt ori eius. De hoc eodem calice, ut fertur, Dominus post resurrectionem cum apostolis convivans bibit. Quem sanctus Arculfus vidit, et per illius scrinioli ubi reconditus habetur operculi foramen pertusi manu tetigit propria osculatus. Quem videlicet calicem universus civitatis populus cum ingenti veneratione frequentat.'
   Translated by Denis Meehan in his edition of Adamnan (Dublin, 1958):
'Also, between the basilica of Golgotha and the Martirium, there is a chapel in which is the chalice of the Lord, which he himself blessed with his own hand and gave to the apostles when reclining with them at supper the day before he suffered. The chalice is silver, has the measure of a Gaulish pint, and has two handles fashioned on either side. It contains the sponge which was soaked in vinegar, placed on hyssop by those who crucified the Lord, and put to his lips. After the resurrection the Lord drank from this same chalice, according to the story, when supping with the apostles. The holy Arculf saw it, and through an opening of the perforated lid of the reliquary where it reposes, he touched it with his own hand which he had kissed. All the people of the city flock to it with great veneration.'
   As Nicholas Graham points out, 'Adamnan's text was widely circulated, so this suggests that by the late 7th century, the Christians of north-western Europe had a pretty good idea of what the believers of the Greek east venerated as the cup of the last supper, the material it was made of and what it looked like.'