Thursday, January 05, 2006


What if you discovered that your parish priest -- the trusted soul with whom you celebrated Sunday mass, the baptism of your children or your own wedding -- wasn't a priest at all?

Such is the case in one Austrian village, where the community's friendly Father Axel is actually Gerhard the carpenter. Apparently, the priestly masquerade continued for some 25 years.

The Independent is on the story, which chronicles the carpenter's priestly journey through parishes in Germany and Austria. Early in his "career", Gerhard Vilsmeier impressed many parishioners with his works, and caused a few to call his credentials into question.
A popular figure, worshippers recalled how good he was with children. But when one parishioner watched him "blessing trees in a highly theatrical manner", she became suspicious. On a visit to the Vatican, she asked to check Fr Axel's records. There were none.
No charges have been filed.


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