It’s not hard to find information about this case, for who wants to know more. It is one of the most peculiar cases of displacement of a soul, to be replaced by somebody else’s in the vacant body.

I’m talking about the 16 year old Hungarian teenager Iris Farczady, who became severely ill in 1933. If she fell into a coma or really died for a very short moment nobody knows. Fact is that she woke up the next morning as a Spanish woman, and never became Iris again.

We regularly hear about people waking up with a strange accent, or speaking a foreign language they never spoke fluently before. Psychologists say this is a brain thing, although they can’t explain it either.

In parapsychological literature there are all kinds of cases of people who become temporarily someone else, suffering from Multiple Personality Syndrome, or undergoing an exchange for days, weeks or even months. But  there is always a return to the original. People can become ‘occupied’ during a trance, or willingly make room for a temporary lodger, like some mediums do. Of all these strange states of the mind we still have no real explanation, more so because the existence of a spiritworld is unacceptable for most Western scientists.

Among all these paranomal cases Iris Farczady is truly unique , because she never became herself again. So where did she go?

The Spanish woman who occupied her body was Lucia Altarez de Salvio, who died at 40, leaving a husband, Carlos, and 14 children. She had a very hard life, and finding herself in the body of a 16 year old was a – not entirely unpleasant – shock. As it was for the family of Iris, her parents, two brothers and one sister.

Iris, a bright girl with a sunny future, didn’t recognise her family and classmates, lost all commend of her mother tongue, and couldn’t make herself understandable in any other language but Spanish, which no one of her family spoke. In due course she learned to express herself in German, and she learned some Hungarian as well, with difficulty. Her personality had changed. From an introvert and bright teenager, she became an extroverted person with a Mediterranean temperament, fond of song and dance, but with a keen and melancholic memory of her own large family she had to leave when she died.

The most interesting story is to be found in the book of journalist Cornelius Tabori, ‘My Occult Diary’ (1951) Tabori, some years later murdered by the Nazi’s in Auschwitz, visited the family in 1935, two years after the change happened, and spoke at length with Iris’ mother, her sister and father and the girl herself, who by that time was fluent in German.

This story had a follow up, which is wonderful, for most strange stories can’t be verified many years later. Fortean Times 220 of March 2007 placed a long article about the case, which was a report of a visit by three parapsychologists, members of the SPR: Mary Rose Barrington, Peter Mulacs and Titus Rivas.

Rivas, Dutch but of Spanish descent,  was able to understand and verify many things Lucia, at that time an old woman of 80, told the researchers. It was clear that Iris never came back in the body occupied for so long by Lucia, who still retained the memory of her former life in Madrid, and sang Spanish songs for Rivas.

The 2007 report on the case mentions an involvement in Spiritualism and being part of séances, before the take-over took place. That is not what the 1935 interviews of Cornelius Tabori came up with. Mrs Farczady was interested in Spiritualism, but such involvement of the 16 year old Iris is not mentioned. Which, of course, doesn’t prove anything.

There were extensive searches done in Madrid to verify the information about Lucia and her family, but without success. Which can’t surprise us, as there is always something lacking when proof is required.

Lucia de Salvio most likely isn’t among us anymore. We would like to know what happened when she arrived in the afterlife and was met by Iris Farczady, the girl who made room for her so many years ago.

The original report by the three SPR members can be found here: