ROME Italian police have confiscated about three,500 counterfeit parchments bearing blessings by Pope Francis and becoming sold to pilgrims in Rome, authorities mentioned on Monday.
The bogus parchments, with elaborate lettering and pictures of the pope, had been identified in the printing shop of a souvenir retailer near the Vatican, and the proprietor was charged with generating counterfeit goods, a police statement said.
It mentioned the parchments had been printed in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English and had an all round worth of about 70,000 euros ($ 77,168).
The Vatican’s Apostolic Almonry, or distributor of papal charities, sells authentic parchments bearing words of blessing from the pope. The proceeds go to fund a variety of projects to help the poor and needy of Rome.
They are adorned with elaborate gothic calligraphy and usually include words of excellent wishes and a papal blessing for occasions such as births, weddings and anniversaries. Several are hand-produced.
Last year, the Vatican stopped outsourcing the production of the parchments and returned to the ancient practice of creating them all in-residence. The Vatican stated at the time that this was so all the proceeds would go straight to charities.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella Editing by Mark Heinrich)