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Relics of the Passion
Functions and Events
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As the story goes, a priest assigned to a poor parish in a poverty
stricken mountain community of northern Italy was approached by the town
council. The council wanted to improve the lives of the population by
bringing in tourist dollars. However, the town had nothing to attract
outsiders to the community for a visit. They thought that, perhaps, the
good father could obtain the relics of a major saint to place in the
church that would bring visitors who would spend their money in local
restaurants and hotels.
The priest agreed to give it a try and set off for Rome. After days of
visiting church after church he was approached by a rather swarthy looking
character who ask the father if he was searching for relics.
The priest responded, "Yes, my son, I am looking for the relics of an
important saint to take back to my village but have found nothing.
Tonight I must return home empty handed."
"Father, this is your lucky day!" responded the man. "It just so happens
that I have recently acquired the head of Saint John the Baptist and for a
moderate sum, to cover my expenses, the head is yours."
"But my good man, isn't the head of John the Baptist held at the church of
San Silvestro here in Rome?" inquired the priest.
"Ah, yes, Father, but the head in San Silvestro is the head of St. John
as an adult. I happen to have the head of St. John as a child."
Detecting Possible Fake Relics
While most fraudulent relics are not as obvious to spot as in the above story, there are
a few clues to guide the relic purchaser that will help prevent being sold
This ministry does not claim to be an expert on relics and most of what is
included here has been learned the hard way. However, we do have consultants in the United States and Europe who know relics and are experts in this field. We do NOT list a relic as a fake unless our expert correspondents concur.
Modern counterfeitors are becoming increasingly sophisticated in producing
fake relics. The advent of the modern computer and printers has made the
work of the deceiver much easier. However, with a bit of homework most of these
fake relics can be detected.
Here are a few clues:
Purchase your relic only from a reputable dealer who
specializes in relics or church antiquities. Even here one must be
careful as professionals can be duped.
Never purchase a relic that is not accompanied by an authentication
Examine the document and compare it with the relic. Is the impression
on the wax seal on the back of the relic the same as that which appears on
the document? Does the apparent age of the relic theca compare favorably
with the date shown on the document? New thecas accompanied by old
documents are highly suspect.
Investigate the name of the person appearing on the document. The
Internet has made this quite easy. If the name of the person who prepared
the relic belongs to a particular order of clergy, it is highly unlikely
he would be providing relics of saints that were not members of his order.
If the relic was prepared by a local bishop or even the Vicarate of
Rome, check the preparer out. If the preparer was the vicar general or
chancellor only during a certain time frame, any relics outside of that
era are fraudulent. A comprehensive list of all cardinals and their
biographies are available on the Internet and most diocese throughout the
world have websites. Through these sites one can contact someone who can
verify that the person named on the documet actually exisited and the
years he was in office.
If you still have doubts, do not puchase. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Beware of Bulgarian Fakes
For several years we have watched this criminal who sells his "relics" on both Etsy and eBay. We should probably have posted a warning earlier but thought he might quickly disappear. Unfortunately, he hasn't.
He produces fakes in the names of some of the more popular saints, such as JPII, Padre Pio, and Francis of Assisi. His documents have a convincing appearance but he was no Latin skills so what is written is
pseudo-Latin. All are fakes! Don't be drawn in by their convincing appearance.
There will be more to come in the near future. New information is received almost daily. If you have documented information on possible fake relics you have encountered, please
Send us an email.
For All The Saints ministry laments the fact that sacred relics are being openly sold and that so many of the church hierarchy turn a blind eye to this practice. Some of them are complicit in this violation of canon law by allowing the sale of relics from the estates of deceased clergy or allowing parishes, convents or monasteries to sell their precious assets. It is left to ministries such as ours to rescue these relics whenever possible to prevent these holy articles from falling into
the wrong hands.
It is even more horrifying that there are criminals who take advantage of this laxity and produce counterfeit relics that they foist upon the faithful who have a great devotion to the saints.. This ministry will do all it can to expose these criminals and make it difficult for them to continue their illegal trade.
These counterfeiters dishonor the saints and damage the names and reputations of the diosceses, clergy, religious orders and other
ministries by freely using their good names on their fake documents.