Vatican warns against relics sales on eBay

February 13, 2008

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins at Vatican City, 14 April 2005/Tony GentileThe Vatican’s top official for issues dealing with saints, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, has denounced the sale of saints’ relics on eBay. Unauthorised sales of relics are forbidden by the Catholic Church, he told the Italian daily La Stampa, and the objects could be used by satanic sects.

The Milan daily reported that the Internet auction site was offering a reliquary of St. Vincent de Paul for 1,600 euros ($2,380), a “special offer” of bone fragments of six saints going for 430 euros ($625) and a lock of hair from St. Thérèse of Lisieux for 30 euros ($44). Shreds of cloaks belonging to St. Francis of Assisi and St. Rita of Cascia are up for auction, it said.

Saraiva Martins told La Stampa:

It is absolutely wrong to sell sacred relics.

“Without a written certificate, a relic is considered false as I consider most of those sold on the Internet.

“If used improperly, they could favour superstition, or satanic sects could buy them to destroy them or change their significance in blasphemous ceremonies.”

Here are English-language reports on the story from Adnkronos and Catholic News Agency.

La Stampa said eBay has a task force of experts to block the trade but “it only takes a click to have the relics kit sent to you.”

P.S.: I have a confession to make: An eBay newbie, I couldn’t find any of them, neither on the U.S. nor the Italian site. Did you have any better luck?


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Is this the kind of thing they’re decrying?

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

Yes, that looks like one. Did you notice at the bottom of the description of its contents, it says: “As per the new Ebay rules this item is allowed, since it contains no human body parts but objects of devotion.” I wonder if these rules specify whether the human body part is dead or alive…

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

My organization has been on the frontlines for close to 10 years fighting eBay and trying to educate the faithful and curious alike on this sacrilege.

They hide relics in a section under “reliquaries”. Try also typing in some of the other banned items, they’re listed also. Be creative in your choice of words, you’ll be shocked at the disgusting racism and antisemitism.

Posted by Thomas Serafin | Report as abusive

Here’s a different opinion

Posted by Ben D. | Report as abusive

Vatican II surpressed the devotion and display of relics, also most novus ordo churches have no altar stone containing relics. Why should not the faithful be allowed to have these treasured items that the modern “Catholic” church does not uphold or respect? Better the relics are in the hands of traditional Catholics who treat them with nothing but respect and veneration. The post Vatican II church has seen fit to dispose of them over the last 45 years how else have they found their way to ebay???????????

Posted by Chris Ives | Report as abusive