A Suspicious Appearing Relic That Turned Out Genuine

The document to the left at first glance appears very suspicious. The name printed on the document has been crossed out and replaced by another hand written name. It seems as if someone might be tampering with the document to make the relic and wax seal fit the verification. However, both the document and the relic are genuine and a matching set.

This was one of two relics this ministry obtained from Mr. F. J. Haffmans, a dealer in church antiquities in the Netherlands. He had recently come into possession of numerous items from the estate of a deceased bishop. He graciously provided our ministry with the complete provenance of the relic and document.

The relic of St. Joseph was accompanied by two documents and one letter. The first document was issued by Mgr. Petrus de Brabandere, bishop of the diocese of Brugge (Bruges, Belgium) from 1894 until 1895, of whom it carries a printed and a blind stamped crest. It is subsequently signed by his vicar general V. Waffelaert. It is dated March, 13, 1895, and confirms the authenticity of the relic.

The relic and its authentication document eventually ended under in the care of Father Joseph Baeten of the Diocese of Breda in the Netherlands. When Father Baeten was appointed as Bishop of that disocese in 1952 a friend presented him with a beautiful, hand crafted reliquary to display his relic. Either the older theca was in a shabby condition or it would not fit in the new reliquary. For which ever reason now-Bishop Baeten transfered the relic to a new theca to display the relic in the new reliquary. In doing so he created a new document of authenticity. As he had just recently assumed the position of bishop, no documents with his name had yet been printed. He , therefore, used a blank document of the previous bishop, crossing out that name and penning in his own. Also, these were the post war years and many things, including paper, were still in short supply in Europe. Nothing was wasted.

To the right is the third document which is a handwritten letter, dated January, 6, 1953, from Bishop Baeten to a Dutch lady, Mrs. Hoelen- Coebergh, who had gifted him with the new reliquary. On official printed letter paper of his diocese, Mgr Baeten thanks his benefactor for the gift. It is accompanied by its stamped envelope and cancel marks of the Dutch postal system.

For All The Saints Ministry has had a number of transactions with Mr. Haffmans and has found him to be a dealer of antiquities of the highest moral charcter. He is always friendly and prompt to reply to any inquiries concerning items he sells and comes highly recommended by this apostolate.

When Is A Relic Not A Relic

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