Olds Publishes Book On Spanish Jesuit Who Forged Histories

by Daniel Morgan

Katrina B. Olds has published a book about Spain’s infamous “false chronicles”, Forging the Past: Invented Histories in Counter-Reformation Spain, with Yale University Press, in which she explores the history, author, and legacy of one of the world’s most compelling and consequential frauds.

The “false chronicles” refer to a set of forged historical texts that a Spanish Jesuit named Jerónimo Román de la Higuera claimed to have discovered at the end of the sixteenth century.
Transforming the religious landscape in Counter-Reformation Spain, these documents were not definitively exposed as forgeries until centuries later.

"The forgeries were books that Higuera — a teacher of Latin and humanities at Jesuit schools in Spain — worked on in his spare time,” Olds said. "This was during the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and Higuera hoped his texts would encourage people to venerate the saints more actively, and thereby prove Protestant critics of Catholicism wrong."

Olds is an Associate Professor in the History department. She also teaches for the Honors Program in the Humanities and the Saint Ignatius Institute.