With the slogan “The Way of the Holy Grail European Cultural Itinerary” representatives from more than 16 nations have met in person this week.  At the 2nd International Congress of ‘Dissemination and Journalism The Way of the Holy Grail’ on 3 and 4 October 2022, the base for the creation of a European Cultural Itinerary The Way of the Holy Grail were discussed and proposed by the Cultural Association ‘The Way of the Holy Grail’, which this year celebrates two decades of tireless work.

The Cultural Centre of Massamagrell hosted the official opening with a welcome speech by Mr. Francisco Gómez Laserna, Mayor of Massamagrell, Mrs. María Ruiz, Head of the Cultural Tourism Unit – Grail Route, Canon Mr. Álvaro Almenar Picayo, Warden of the Holy Chalice of the Cathedral of Valencia and in charge of protocol, and Dr. Ana Mafé García, President of the Cultural Association The Way of the Holy Grail.

Afterwards, a table was offered where the importance of the International Scientific Commission for Holy Grail Studies was explained by its president, Dr. Mafé. This was followed by the words of Ms. Paz Navarro García, CEO of Grupo Editorial Sargantana SL, who said how fundamental the publication of the book ‘The Holy Grail” is for the dissemination of the Way, which, despite having been launched at the beginning of the pandemic, is now in its third edition.

Mr. Bartolomé Nofuentes, President of the EUMAHS European Affairs Commission, explained that it is necessary to create a public-private consortium (including the Provincial Councils and the Cultural Association The Way of the Holy Grail) to attract European funds.

Dr. Jorge Manuel Rodríguez Almenar, President of the Spanish Centre of Sindonology, spoke about his life experience as a disseminator of relics, especially the Holy Shroud, and the importance of this.

And Mr. Leopoldo López Máñez, in his capacity as Dean of the Consular Corps of Valencia, kindly presented the importance of supporting the candidacy of Valencia as the focal point of this path.

The first session began with the presentation “France and the Way of the Holy Grail: from the beginnings of Chrétien de Troyes in the 12th century to the current pilgrimages to Lourdes”. On behalf of Mrs. Karin Liv Joelle Nylund, Honorary Consul of the French Republic, Mr. Vicente Riera Balbastre gave the lecture.

The second session dealt with the theme “Valencia, focal point of the European Cultural Itinerary on the Way of the Holy Grail. Sanctuaries and pilgrimages in Eastern and Central Europe”. The speakers were Mr. Ramón Sentis Durán, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland and Mr. Andrés Goerlich Lledó, Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Hungary. Both commented on the different places of pilgrimage and religious interest that exist in their respective countries, connecting this with the possibility of making a pilgrimage to Valencia.

In the third session, the round table discussion “The search for the Divine from a global vision: Asia, America, Europe and Africa” underlined a more global perspective. Mr. Manuel Carrión Sánchez, Honorary Consul of the Philippines explained the Hispanic cultural background in relation to the large number of Catholics in the country. Mrs. Minister Marcela Velasteguí Herrera, Consul of Ecuador kindly invited the highest Catholic authority of her country, His Excellency Monsignor Alfredo José Espinosa Mateo, Archbishop Primate of Ecuador… who blessed all those present and confirmed the explanations of the Marian places of Ecuador.

Don Carlos Flores Juberias, Honorary Consul of the Republic of North Macedonia, began by quoting the Old Testament where “the Macedonians” are mentioned and how the profession of different religious creeds is developing today. Finally, Ms. Carmen Luisa Trullenque Dicenta, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Seychelles gave details of the different beliefs that exist on the islands and how the peaceful coexistence between believers is worthy of admiration.

The fourth session discussed the following point: “Different forms of pilgrimages in Eurasia, Europe and Africa”. Mr. Adolfo Porcar Rodilla, Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Turkey explained the very long history of his country recently named “Turquillé” and emphasised that it is a largely Muslim but non-religious country, technically-speaking. Mr. Jose Blom-Dahl Vicente-Arche, Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Norway focused on the St. Olav Way. We apologise for the absence of Mr. José María Tena Franco, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Mali who, for scheduling reasons, was unable to attend.

The fifth and final session of the first day focused on “Pilgrimages in America”. The speakers gave a masterly explanation of the different religious festivals that mark the annual calendar. These are very numerous and particularly long in their celebrations. Ms. Nely Mamani Escobar, Consul of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, delighted us with images of religious buildings as pilgrimage destinations in her country. Don Leopoldo Ernesto López Máñez, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Chile focused on the most emblematic places in Chile. Mr. Antonio Mariano Torrico Obando, Consul General of the Republic of Peru highlighted some of the coincidences with the cult of the Virgin Mary and Mr. Ernesto Bonet Peiró, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Guatemala showed how Christianity has blended with Mayan indigenous syncretism, resulting in rich and varied ritual celebrations.

In the afternoon, the magnificent exhibition of the artist Carlos Montesinos was inaugurated, focusing on a look at the Mediterranean and the migrations made by the most disadvantaged people from Africa. However, the way of presenting the protagonists of these terrible journeys shows a unique artistic sensibility. The composition of the elements and characters on the canvases, the gazes of the protagonists and the small details reveal an exquisite quality of line and use of colour.

On Tuesday 4 October 2022 at 10:00h., the sixth session began with a round table discussion with Cristina Monzón Martí, head of Event-Planner, Tourism Technician, travel writer and co-founder of the digital agency Tam Tam Click together with the Argentinian Alejandro Martínez Notte. Filmmaker, photographer, travel journalist, youtuber and also co-founder of the digital agency Tam Tam Click. With the title “Pilgrims on the Way of the Holy Grail tell their experience in PR” they explained the reasons why they made part of the journey and, above all, they presented two world firsts related to heritage discoveries related to the Holy Grail.

In the seventh session, Ms. Silvia Soria, journalist CV RADIO and director of the programme El Forcat, commented exclusively on the promotional events that are going to be carried out soon… from the Fallas world… to promote the knowledge of the Way of the Holy Grail.

The eighth session included several speakers who develop their work of dissemination in different parts of the Spanish geography. The open debate “Can  ‘mystery’ be a good way to promote the Way of the Holy Grail?” began with a recorded voice-over by Mr. Fernando Mullor, who directs and presents the science and mystery radio programme El Candelabro from Murcia. Mr. Will McCarthy from the United Kingdom, who edits the digital magazine ‘24/7 Valencia’, presented a video so that we could see the diffusion of the relic in the English Speaking world. The contribution of Jesús Mª Sánchez, writer, populariser and collaborator of Cuarto Milenio was complemented by the contributions of Dr. Mafé and by the vision given by Chema Ferrer, also a writer and populariser who explained that, in Europe, the word esoteric does not have the negative character that is given to it in Spain.

The Valencian local television forum “An image of the Way of the Holy Grail is worth more than a thousand words” was carried out by Mr. Vicente Climent, News Director of La 8 Mediterráneo TV, Ms. Carmen Bort, journalist and presenter À Punt and Mr. José González, director of the programme Vive las fiestas 7 Televalencia. All of them explained from their life experience how they are going to collaborate actively in the positioning on television of this story, which is so fundamental for our land. Dr. Mafé took the opportunity to take stock of all the progress that has been made in this regard since the first call of the congress in 2020 at media level and showed an image of Javier Sierra wearing the pin of the Cultural Association The Way of the Holy Grail in the programme of Cuarto Milenio, just the week before the celebration of the congress as a sign of complicity and support for the Way of the Holy Grail. The work being carried out by the Federation of Friends of the Way of the Holy Grail, Grail Route and Territory was also shown, with the city of Valencia as the focal point from different parts of the Peninsula.

The tenth session “Radio Forum and new technologies at the service of the dissemination of the Way of the Holy Grail: European Cultural Itinerary” had a very varied participation with regard to the speakers. Rebeca Ruiz, director of Jacetania Express in Jaca, Huesca and vice-president of the Asociación Cultural el Camino del Santo Grial, presented a paper based on the successes achieved since 2020 in La Jacetania, showing the first pilgrimage in the year 58 of the last century. Mr. Miquel Font, radio broadcaster and news editor, presented three pilgrimage routes that can help to develop the Route of Salvation to Alicante through monasteries. Mr. José Lepervanche Valencia, founder of TEDxSaguntoStudio from the USA is creating a portal geolocating the main resources of the Way of the Holy Grail among other dissemination actions that he is carrying out. Finally, José Luis Pichardo, journalist Radio Intereconomía Valencia recalled the magnificent trajectory of the Cultural Association The Way of the Holy Grail in recent years.

The eleventh session “Digital press and writers: the Holy Grail is a literary construct born in Europe” began with a brilliant presentation by the French writer Natalie Kohl. A brilliant text that will undoubtedly serve to dress up the European Cultural Itinerary dossier that the Association is to present to the Council of Europe. Mr. Héctor González, President of the Professional Association of Valencian Journalists explained the work that journalists do to support this initiative and Mr. José Ángel Planillo, writer, Tourism Technician, Official Guide and researcher, editor of the blog Viveelaltopalancia in Castellón, recalled how since 2005 he has been accompanying different pilgrims and groups that follow the Way of the Holy Grail.

The twelfth session had as protagonists representatives of different media. For the written and digital press, Mr. Rafa Miñana, Director of Grupo Gaceta de Turismo, was unable to attend in person, although he showed his support for the congress organisers and this was conveyed to the audience. Mr. Vicente Alventosa, Director of Play Radio, conveyed to those present the importance of the figure of the protagonist of the Way of the Holy Grail, Jesus, since it is not in vain that he marks the annual calendar by which we are governed (2022 after Christ) and what this implies for the positioning of the city of Valencia. Finally, Mr. Ximo Rovira, Director of En Directe Levante TV moved us all with his words “I would have liked to walk this path with my father”. A declaration of intentions full of love for his land.

In the closing session there were words of gratitude to the work done selflessly by the ‘Cultural Association The Way of the Holy Grail’ by the Mayor of Massamagrell, Mr. Francisco Gómez Laserna and by the Hon. Mr. Francisco Molina Agulló, Territorial Director Presidency Generalitat Valenciana, with special emphasis on the work capacity shown by Dr. Ana Mafé García in the organization and dissemination of events related to the Way of the Holy Grail.

Ms. Montse Amorós, President of the 3rd Age University Alto Palancia, Castellón and member of the Board of Directors of AIUTA, made a review of the different presentations of the congress. Mr. Jesús Gimeno Peris, secretary and councillor of the Town Council of Massamagrell thanked the support of the council and the entire team. Ana Mafé García, President of the Asociación Cultural El Camino del Santo Grial, thanked Jesús Gimeno and Jose Cuñat for their work, as well as Blanca, Sorely, El King and Umu for their help in welcoming the more than one hundred and fifty people who attended in person. Meanwhile, he also thanked the repercussion in the international media,  the news of the congress has reached  over twenty countries.

This congress was sponsored by Massamagrell Town Council in collaboration with Centro Óptico Clínico Losan, the ENCUVA platform, the Valten Travel Agency, the Alto Palancia Third Age University, the World Organisation for Equestrian Tourism (OMTE), Editorial Sargantana – The Holy Grail, Valencia Grail City #verysentirlacultura, the association Locos por la Paella, the media: Valencia Gastronómica, Valencia Noticias, Jacetania Express, 24/7 Valencia, the international organisations IVI and IAUTA.

In this congress the principles of the Glasgow Declaration, the Code of Ethics of Valencian Tourism and the SDGs have been kept.

In conclusion, an international congress has been held in Massamagrell with a large number of participants representing a total of 16 countries and with a repercussion in the international press with news  about the congress that has reached over twenty countries that present the Way of the Holy Grail as a European Cultural Itinerary.

We highlight the presence of Don José Ribes Perea, Parish Priest of the Church of San Juan Evangelista de Massamagrell and Consiliary of the Cultural Association The Way of the Holy Grail, Indiana Tours (Jaco Müller), the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters, the brothers of the Capuchin Monastery of Massamagrell, the Cadets of the Way of the Holy Grail, the Guard of the Way of the Holy Grail, as well as dozens of neighbours of the municipalities of Valencia, the brothers of the Capuchin Monastery of Massamagrell, the Cadets of the Way of the Holy Grail, the Guard of the Way of the Holy Grail, as well as dozens of neighbours from the municipalities of Valencia, Massamagrell, Museros, Emperador, Sagunto and Alboraya.

Report by 24/7 Valencia team

Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’

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