When you see the bones of a saint displayed in a cathedral, there's no way to know for certain that they are those of who they are said to be. But that might not matter because they give comfort to people based on what they represent. It is faith or belief that gives them power.
Umberto Eco tackles this in his new novel, "Baudolino," something he calls "a game of ambiguity about truth and lies." Eco explored the suppression and celebration of history and religion in his 1980 bestseller "The Name of The Rose," and this latest novel continues the twisting of history, of dates and identities, crafting an epic from the tale of a rascal storyteller and interpreter by the name of Baudolino.
Umberto Eco, something of a rascal storyteller himself, on truth and history.
Audio: Eco talk at UC Berkeley (1982): "From Aristotle to Sherlock Holmes" (online audio recording)