The Order has diplomatic relations with more than 110 states on all continents and has permanent observer status at the United Nations. Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP < p>A Spaniard who tore pages from a church record book in a desperate attempt to rise into the ranks of the Knights of Malta has been sentenced to two years in prison.
A man from Valencia, identified only as OAP, destroyed the archive to hide evidence of low-born ancestors who blocked his path to becoming a “knight of honor and devotion in obedience” in the centuries-old Catholic community.
To obtain this position, applicants must pass a test of “nobility, descent and Christianity”.
OAP was already a lower-class knight in the Knightly Order of Malta, consisting of 13,500 knights, dames and chaplains.< /p>
To improve his status, the OAP removed some ancestors from the 18th and 19th century parish records in the diocesan archive of Teruel in order to position himself as the more direct successor of a high-ranking knight in his family history.< /p>
He also removed records of marriage and baptism.
The OAP's statement was met with suspicion in Rome, where the order is based, and a representative was sent to Teruel to check the documentary sources.
Police were called to investigate after missing pages were discovered in the volumes.
Shortly after the damage was reported, the archives received some missing pages of mail along with a note stating that a person had given them under secret confession to a priest.
The court concluded that the OAP ordered delivery, trying to cover his tracks.
In 2021, a court in Teruel found the OAP guilty of crimes against historical heritage and sentenced him to two years in prison. and a fine of €12,000 (£10,300) for the damage caused.
On Friday, Spain's Supreme Court upheld the verdict, which could still be suspended.
Dedicated to humanitarian causes assistance, the Order has diplomatic relations with more than 110 states on all continents and has permanent observer status with the UN.