Home Australia The woman who saved the Holy Grail by stuffing it down a sofa – defying MI6 agents who wanted to steal it away to Britain

The woman who saved the Holy Grail by stuffing it down a sofa – defying MI6 agents who wanted to steal it away to Britain

by Elijah
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María Sabina Suey's quick thinking saved the Holy Grail

The Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus Christ drank during the Last Supper, is the most revered relic in the Christian faith.

Over the centuries, it has been a focus of interest and intrigue. She was moved from country to country, city to city, church to church, but ended her journey in the Cathedral of Valencia in Spain, in 1437.

A host of Popes have drunk it (and at least four, including Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI) have insisted that it’s the real deal; not only the cup of Jesus, but also the container used to collect his blood at the Crucifixion.

Numerous criminals, including Nazi war looters, have attempted to steal it, and art dealers and museums have attempted to acquire it and hide it in their deepest vaults.

It was the greatest quest of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; It has inspired books, poems, myths, plays, art and, of course, the comedy film Monty Python And The Holy Grail and an Indiana Jones blockbuster starring Harrison Ford.

María Sabina Suey's quick thinking saved the Holy Grail

María Sabina Suey’s quick thinking saved the Holy Grail

Today, the Holy Grail stands in splendid solitude in its own dedicated chapel in Valencia’s 13th-century Gothic cathedral. It turns out that it’s all thanks to a very unlikely protector: an extremely determined middle-aged pianist named María Sabina Suey.

During the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939, he not only hid the grail in a variety of places (inside a sofa, under a closet, and deep in a window frame) to keep it hidden from threatening militias, but he later rejected an offer. of seven million pesetas in gold, which is believed to have come from the Nazis. And this week it emerged that Sabina even tricked a group of MI6 officers who went to claim the grail for Britain.

Researcher Dr. Ana Mafe García, president of the International Scientific Committee for Holy Grail Studies, has unearthed new documents and photographs, along with memories of what happened to Sabina’s niece.

The precious chalice remains today in the Cathedral of Valencia, thanks to the efforts of Sabina

The precious chalice remains today in the Cathedral of Valencia, thanks to the efforts of Sabina

The precious chalice remains today in the Cathedral of Valencia, thanks to the efforts of Sabina

They reveal that Sabina was strongly pressured by British secret service officers to hand over the chalice in exchange for safe passage for herself and her family to the United Kingdom.

As Dr. Mafe says: ‘[She] The secret services were literally chasing her to travel by boat to England with her family.

“However, she was a woman very advanced for her time. She didn’t trust them and rejected the offer. She was very, very firm.

At the time, Spain was in crisis and local militias looted churches for anything of value before razing some just for fun. The country was inundated with anarchists, international spies and art looters working for Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler.

The story of Sabina’s involvement begins early on the morning of July 21, 1936, when she and two priests were the only people in the large cathedral. She had always been very interested in the chalice (known in Spanish as the Holy Chalice) and she was feeling apprehensive.

Franco's assault infantry devastated the entire country during the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.

Franco's assault infantry devastated the entire country during the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.

Franco’s assault infantry devastated the entire country during the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.

The day before, four churches in the area had been burned and a crowd had gathered that morning, shouting and booing. At exactly nine in the morning, the priests closed the doors and Sabina took the grail from her chapel, wrapped it in silk and then in newspapers, put it in her bag and, flanked by the costumed priests, left through a side exit.

He walked quickly back to the nearby house he shared with his widowed mother and sister, where he hid it under a closet. Sabina’s quick thinking has long been celebrated in Spain, where she is considered the “cleaning lady who saved the Holy Grail.”

However, Dr. Mafe wishes to make it clear that Sabina, who was around 40 years old at the time, was not a cleaning lady, but one of the most talented and successful women of her time: a pianist, writer and historian. . “She lived in a time when women couldn’t even vote,” says Dr. Mafe. “But she was talented, brave, very intelligent and she was not afraid.”

Their actions were undoubtedly timely because, just three hours later, the cathedral was in flames. The militia quickly discovered that the grail was missing, and as rumors abounded that Sabina was guarding it, a dozen men armed with weapons and threats made their first visit to her home, demanding that she hand it over to them. Over the next few months, they continued to visit us. Later, they visited her brother’s house, where she had put him inside the couch for a while.

READ MORE: How the Spanish Civil War brought out the idealism of aristocrats and literary figures, from Jessica Mitford to Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway

Sabina was also contacted by art dealers, including someone who was supposedly acting for an American museum; Three years earlier, the Chicago Museum had purchased what she thought was the Holy Grail, only to discover it was a fake, so “Grail fever” was raging. And then there was a Nazi agent who offered seven million pesetas in exchange.

The answer was always the same. ‘I know nothing. Nothing. Nothing,’ Sabina told them.

He gave the same response to an MI6 agent who touched him on the back one day while he was walking down a busy street in Valencia. He turned to face a man who told him: ‘Sabina, if you want, we can put you and your family in a safe place. We have a boat in Valencia and we can take you to London. But only on the condition that the Holy Grail also arrived.

Sabina didn’t give it much importance and said: ‘I don’t have it. You can go to my house and look for it. I don’t have anything. I don’t know where, but he is hiding.

This wasn’t too difficult because the Holy Grail is quite small. It’s disappointing, according to some visitors. Partly because the top, the simple cup of rich reddish-brown agate, measures just 5.5cm by 9.5cm. The pure gold base, decorated with 28 pearls, two red gemstones and two emeralds, was added centuries later.

But despite being small, if it really is the grail (and, admittedly, not all academics are convinced, and many other contenders claim to be the true grail), it is priceless. The only item in the world that has probably been handled by Jesus Christ.

At first, after the crucifixion, the apostles kept it safe, before Saint Peter took it to Rome, where it was used by the first popes.

Then, in the year 258 AD. C., worried that the Romans would plunder it in their persecution of Christians, Pope Sixtus II entrusted it to his deacon Lorenzo, who sent it to hide it in his parents’ house in Spain.

Finally, through a local bishop, it reached the Spanish Royal Family. In 1437, he was given by King Alfonso The Magnanimous to the Cathedral of Valencia as collateral for a loan to finance his war against Italy.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones discovers the Holy Grail in the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones discovers the Holy Grail in the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones discovers the Holy Grail in the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

And there it remained, safe and secure, except for an unfortunate incident on Good Friday 1744, when Canon Vicente Frigola dropped it and broke it during an Easter service. He died of remorse two weeks later.

Since then, there are only two occasions on which it has not been displayed in its dedicated chapel.

First, in 1812, during the Napoleonic siege of Valencia, when, along with 200 other pieces of treasure belonging to the Crown of Aragon, it was taken by ship to Palma, Mallorca, and hidden in the house of a priest, until peace . resumed.

And again in 1936, when Marina Sabina Suey put it in her bag and smuggled it out to safety.

There is no doubt that he risked his life. And, in Dr. Mafe’s opinion, he saved the grail. “She was a woman in a man’s world, she stood up to everyone for something she believed in,” she says.

Dr. Mafe is now planning an exhibition of her new material in Valencia in October. But perhaps most importantly, she is asking that Sabina, who never married or had children, be properly honored for her extraordinary role in history.

The grail’s final resting place in its escape from the Nazis, militias and MI6 was the window sill of her family’s country house, 45 miles from Valencia, where Sabina hid it on June 20, 1937. .

He remained there for almost two years until the end of the Civil War. And, on March 30, 1939, the day of the liberation of Valencia, Sabina traveled to her family home, dug deep into the wall, recovered the Holy Chalice, put it in her bag and, that same day, returned it. To place. her exhibition in her chapel.

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