Nearly every week for the last two years one seller on eBay with his base in Holland has been placing for sale on eBay thecas made of cardboard, cheap cloth and glass. All have similar interior trim - "paperolles" several false trimmings and glass gems. All are very simlar and vary little in appearance.
Although clearly produced by the same hand, they are marked by three different types of seals which appear to be from French congregations of nuns.
The thecas are made to resemble reliquaries produced by cloistered nuns in the late part of the 19th century for private veneraton that were given to benefactors, friends and family. This ended abruptly in 1917 when the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law which made clear once and for all that the power to authenticate
relics, marking seals and provide their letters of authentication, was reserved solely for cardinals or to those ordinary diocesans or other church officials explicitly authorized by papal decree. The manufacture of these thecas, for all practical purposes, ended before World War I.
All these thecas contain a number of inconsistancies. If production of these true artifacts ceased in 1917 why do we now have thecas with labels clearly marked "saint" for people not cannonized until well after 1917? Why do many of the thecas show the use of polyvinyl acetate glue ("Elmer's") which did not come on the scene until the 1950s? How did these nuns prior to 1917 have access to dot matrix or ink jet printer? The list of anachronisms goes on and on.
Are the relics genuine? Are we to believe that somewhere in Europe there is a monastery of renegade nuns who continue produce these outlawed thecas? Not likely!
What gives these thecas away as fraudulent is the almost laughable fact that they are consistently grossly in error. One theca contains a "relic" of St. Joan of Arc. Now Joan was burned at the stake and her executioners then dumped the ashes into a river to make sure they could not be recovered by her followers for veneration. Another theca includes a bone "relic" of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Any even poorly educated Catholic knows that Mary was taken into Heaven "body and soul" and no relics of her body exist..
This ministry uncovered and reported on these fakes over two years ago. Unfortunatly, their production continues and all still originate with the same dealer in the Netherlands.