Going once, twice, on saints’ relics

They say you can get anything on eBay.

But how about sacred “relics” — including pieces of bone from the bodies of long dead saints?

A group called the “International Crusade for Holy Relics,”:http://www.ichrusa.com/ which claims to represent Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Anglicans who believe in preserving relics, called today for a boycott of eBay.

The group says it has tried and failed to convince eBay to stop allowing the sale of relics on its website.

“Our saints should be enjoying their eternal reward in peace, not having their body parts sold like cheap trinkets,” said Tom Serafin, founder and president of the ICHR.

For centuries, more liturgical Christians (particularly Catholics) have practiced the veneration of relics — a form of spiritual inspiration in the presence of the mortal remains of saints or even objects that saints came in contact with.

Hinduism and Buddhism also have long histories of venerating relics.

Now they have eBay.

The Catholic Church’s canon law prohibits the sale of relics. So it’s no surprise that some don’t like seeing relics auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The ICHR noted yesterday that many of the relics for sale are of “dubious origin” and some are outright frauds.

I went on “eBay”:http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?from=R40&satitle=relic+saint just now to see what’s out there. An alleged piece of Saint Don Bosco’s hair has attracted 12 bids, topping out at $100. A supposed piece of a collar worn by Pope Piux X has 14 bids, the highest being $102.50.

The only piece of “bone” I saw was supposed to belong to Saint Ursule, “from the attic of an old convent in Portugal.” There were no bids as of 2:20 p.m.

Will calls for a boycott of eBay go anywhere? We’ll see.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.