Chicago World’s Fair 1933

Memories from the diary of Isabel Goodwin from the World’s Fair

Original sticker from 1933

Chalice of Antioch

A sixteen -year old girl visiting the great Chicago’s World Fair in 1933 took a few moments to write down her impressions of this adventure.  In her small diary are descriptions of several exhibits at the fair; the daughter of a Methodist minister, the Hall of Religions was a main attraction for the family, and garnered more than one visit.  The Chalice of Antioch, billed as a possible candidate for the Holy Grail, left an indelible memory with this visitor.

Unearthed near the city of Antioch, Syria in 1910, a city as important to the early Christians as Rome and Alexandria; museum curators and historians from all over turned their eyes toward the cups, hoping perhaps, the greatest treasure of them all has been found.  For a brief moment, it is believed that the inner cup might be that most fabulous of all treasures –the Holy Grail.  Experts argued, examined and tested, and the age of the Antioch Chalice is placed at the fourth or fifth century, very early Christian work certainly; but over time, the authenticity has been challenged; now considered a sixth century chalice resembling a standing lamp, the decorations possibly inspired by the words of Christ, “I am the light of the world.”

The intricate, fruited grapevine that forms the rinceau pattern of the gilded shell contains various fauna; birds, a rabbit, lamb and twelve human figures holding scrolls, seated in high-back chairs.  Two of the figures may be images of Christ, the other figures identified as ten of the twelve apostles, or philosophers of the classical age, like the prophets of the old- testament who foretold the coming of Christ.  The sixth-century chronicler Malalas of Antioch was among those who sought to make such links between Christianity and classical philosophy.

The chalice  currently resides in the Cloisters Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Chicago World’s Fair 1933

  1. commentater

    My mother arrived in the United States from Germany in June 1934 and her letters home over the next few months are full of references to the fun she had at the fair and her adventures there. I have begun a “blog” called Trudel’s Truth of her letters to her family. You can find them at http://lgrossman.com/trudel

  2. Thank you for sharing this! My mother’s diaries and notes on life from the 30’s and 40’s sit on my dresser until I find a moment to create a site for them. I look forward to reading your mother’s memories. What a brave woman to have come from Germany to an unknown place, and during such a difficult time.
    Cheer!
    Mary Jo

  3. Donovan Hedge

    Does anyone know if pewter likenesses of the Antioch Chalice were sold at the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair ? An old sand cast chalice exactly like the Antioch chalice but somewhat smaller has been handed down to me. It is made of pewter, sand cast in a three part mold. Helen Eveans, Curator of the Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, told me that five chalices like mine are in existence. She has been trying to find the origin of these chalices for nearly twenty years to no avail. I have nearly given up on finding a knowledgeable religious artifact authority who may be able to authenticate or discover the origin of these chalices. I have professional photos of my chalice.

  4. Debra

    Mr. Hedge, are you still available? I have one of these. Debra

  5. Donovan Hedge

    Yes Debra, I’m still available

  6. Donovan Hedge

    Please contact me via e-mail and I will be happy to give you my contact information. I nearly gave up when my wife mentioned the chalice today. Looking forward to exchanging information regarding these chalices.

  7. Donovan Hedge

    Debra, my e-mail address is d_hedge@msn.com if interested. Thank you.

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