False Svampa Relics

Original Italian - Originale Italiano

August 3, 2008 - Last summer we exposed the fake relics being sold with counterfeit documents under the Benevento Diocese of Italy (see page for background) and, although they were being sold by a number of noted dealers in Europe, the origin of the fake relics was unknow. The fakes were ingenious but a few minor flaws in the authentication documents ended up as the evidence needed to expose the scam. These fraudulent relics quickly disappeared from the market once exposed. At the time we included another group of fakes under the Benevento class. These relics were similar to the Beneventos but came stamped with a genuine seal of a cardinal. At the time we could not identify the particular prelate but knew that the relics could not be genuine as the type of seal had been discontinued early in the 20th Century. The thecas, however, were of very modern production - after 1990.

Thanks to one of our least favorite simoniacs we have been able to identify the original owner of the seal used to produce the fakes. The seal originated with Monsignor Domenico Svampa , Cardinal archbishop of Bologna from 1894 to 1907, and is of the square design common to the era. Some criminal had managed to procure his seal of office and has been using it to produce counterfeits (without documents) purportedly originating in his office, However, with thecas of modern production and a cardinal long dead, this would be a historical impossibility. At any rate, we will now separated out these fakes from the Benevento classification and give them their own classification of Svampa Fakes.

One of the relics featured with the seal of the cardinal who passed from the scene in 1907 is a "relic" of St. Gemma Galgani who died in 1907 and was not canonized until 1940. Had Cardinal Svampa been resurrected from the dead to produce relics of St. Gemma in 1940 using a seal that was obsolete after 1910? And how was the good cardinal able to obtain thecas that were not produced for many decades in the future? Ahhhhhhh! Time Travel!

All of these recent fakes seem to originate within Tuscany region of Italy This person selling a number of these latest fakes on both the American and Italian eBay sites may also be the person responsible for their production. If not, he surely knows the identity of the responsible party.

Below are photos of the thecas (front and back) of just a few of the fradulent relics.

Please note the seal on the wax. The two examples shown are apparently a genuine ecclesiastical seal of a cardinal. The counterfeiter evidently was able to find one in an antique shop somewhere in Italy from a deceased cardinal. However, the square design on the impression was used ONLY between the 1850s and 1910. The thecas, however, are of recent manufacture - sometime after 1980. Guido has also advised us that the wax used to seal the thecas does not appear to be genuine sealing wax but regular candle wax or even faux sealing wax used in glue guns. Genuine relics are sealed only with genuine red sealing wax.

Next note the relic description on the inside of the thecas. The criminal seems to have a rudementary knowledge of the Latin language. However, he has made some serious grammatical errors that would not be made by a genuine ecclesiastical authority. This writer chooses to not publish these errors on the Internet at this time as it would tip off the counterfeiter and provide him with the information he would need to correct this deficiency in his counterfeit productions. If you would like more information on these errors, please contact us.

It did not take long for the counterfeiter to remove his fakes from aBay once we exposed him. However, in a few days his fakes were back in a revised state. What has our counterfeiter done to make his "relics" more saleable? He has removed the square frame from the wax seal, exposing the red threads. If one looks closely, the square design of the seal is still visible. The scrape marks from removing the square border are visible as are flakes of the scraped wax. The wax itself is candle wax, not sealing wax. Sealing wax is opaque, not traslucent and quite hard. It could not have been treated in such a manner. and no ecclesiastical authority would use candle wax for this function. This type of seal was discontinued by 1910, long before these thecas were produced. He has revised the Latin labels inside the thecas. However, they are still grammatically in error and not according to standard eclessiastical format. You can not fool our Latin expert who probably knows that language better then Julius Caesar did.

We have a saying in English; "If it walks like and duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck!"
In other words, Caveat emptor!

Here is more information about Cardinal Svampa

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