Catholics enraged by eBay relics sale

Relics from saints are being sold on the internet auction site eBay enraging Catholics who say it violates Canon Law.

Catholic News Agency reports recently strands of hair from the head of St. Therese of Liseux were put up for auction with bids starting at $40.

Another auction opening at $49.99 purported to be a fragment of bone from St. Philomena, a 13-year-old girl who is said to have been flogged, drowned, and beheaded for refusing marriage to the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

Recently, an alleged "splendid, rare, antique" reliquary containing bone fragments from six different saints from a dealer at Belgium was posted for auction at an opening price of $625.

A Catholic layman, Tom Serafin, has taken up the cause saying he has worked on having relics removed from eBay.

These items also apparently violate eBay's policies prohibiting the sale of human remains.

"As a dad and a Catholic, I just wonder where the heck is the accountability?" he said to Newsweek.

An eBay spokeswoman responded to Newsweek about the items, saying, "We have a team of 2,000 people working around the clock to identify and remove prohibited items."

Serafin himself collects relics, which he acquires not through purchases but through writing letters. Over 17 years he has collected 1,200 relics, keeping them in two large safes in his house and sometimes taking them on tour.

Later this month he is taking to Manila eight reputed relics from the Passion, including a piece of the True Cross and a shard from the Crown of Thorns.

The Archbishop of Manila expects 1.5 million people to come to venerate them.

Catholic protests listing of reputed relics for auction on eBay (Catholic News Agency 04/02/08)

5 Feb 2008