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Well-intentioned, but uninformed Catholics are advised to know that bidding and posting of relics on Internet auction sites are prohibited. When the practice of venerating small pieces of bone fragments of the bodies of the saints became widespread as early as the fourth century, abuses often accompanied this devotion in the form of simony, that is, the buying and selling of sacred things. Church authority did what it could to assist the faithful against deception and thwart those who were profiting from the sale of fraudulent relics. In medieval times, those who created or wittingly sold, disseminated or displayed false relics for veneration were subject to immediate excommunication reserved to the bishops. Nevertheless, even relics of which the validity is certain,  the revised 1983 Code of Canon Law declares in the strongest language possible," "It is absolutely forbidden to sell sacred relics" (Canon #1190).  This strong language only appears elsewhere in the Code to describe sins against the Blessed Sacrament, forced ordination and priests breaking the seal of confession.

While it is true that a relic may not be sold, the Church does allow a contribution to cover expenses, such as for the relic case (theca) and mailing charges. These contributions help support the ministry and/or canonization causes of holy persons who have been officially declared Blessed by the Church. The trade of these sacred items on Internet auction sites is all the more questionable when the seller's identity is unknown and when the relic's documentation of authenticity is missing. It is not safe to assume in cyberspace that only good Catholics bid on relics for noble reasons.

Catholics who, for whatever reason, have acquired a first class relic, such as through the estate of a deceased relative, and do not find it useful in their own spiritual life, would do well to consider a few options:

Offer it freely to another family member, friend or person of faith who would benefit from its intended purpose to strengthen one's faith and aid one's spirit of prayer and devotion. Recall that a reason first class relics became so esteemed in our tradition to those who were fortunate enough to possess them was due to the belief that the saint's intercessory power permeated their every bone and marrow.

Offer it to the local church or return it, for example, to the religious community to whom the particular saint belonged. As rightful proprietors of these sacred items, they find it distasteful and reprehensible to see a member of their own "religious family" for sale to the highest bidder on the Internet. Be aware that in some instances actual family members or descendants of the recently canonized are still living and would react in the way to see such bidding. 

As a concerned Catholic, write to the corporate owners of Internet auction sites to express displeasure with the specific trade of first class relics. While public outcry caused Internet auction sites to prohibit the sale of vital human organs for transplant purposes to the highest bidder, pressure from Catholics who find the relic trade offensive may result in a similar ban.

Specifically bequeath relics in verbal and/or written form to loved ones so there is no uncertainty regarding their disposition after you are called from this life. The survivors are apt to cherish these keepsakes, not only because of their sacred nature, but also because of your care and concern in determining who will inherit them.

Handle relics sensibly and reverently, without abuse. Also resist the temptation to rationalize the disposal of these sacred items: "The bidders are Catholics and I want these relics to have a good home."  All justifications aside, involvement with the trade of first class relics to bidders on Internet auction sites gives the Church's good intention for relics a bad name overall.

Father Byron Miller, C.Ss.R. Director, National Shrine of Blessed Francis X. Seelos  

Why are complimentary first class reliquaries not readily offered? Why are complimentary first class replacement reliquaries not available when mine gets lost or damaged?

We regret that we are not able to offer complimentary reliquaries and complimentary replacements. These sacred items are crafted in Rome by a group of nuns – the quality of their work, the costs associated with their labor and materials in this ministry, and the shipping/customs to get them from Rome to us at the shrine in New Orleans, are all factors primarily beyond our control.  It may surprise many people to know that our asking donation is essentially a recoup of what we have already paid to Rome (along with the additional cost of the padded envelope and postage for us to mail them to those who request them). We offer relics to the faithful for their intended devotional benefit, but to honor the numerous requests received on a monthly basis for a complimentary first class relic and/or a complimentary replacement would not be feasible. Some choose to place their relic in a reliquary for veneration and others use it in a more active way; either approach is acceptable, however, we regret that we cannot be responsible when accidents or loss occurs after they are in the hands of the recipient.






In the New Testament we read about Second Class relics of the Apostle Paul and the wonders the Lord worked through them:  "... God worked extraordinary miracles at the hands of Paul.  When handkerchiefs or cloths which had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases were cured and evil spirits departed from them" (Acts 19:11-12).  

Father Seelos died on October 4, 1867.  His body was first exhumed in 1902 when the diocesan inquiry was made into his heroic life.  On February 26, 1999, Redemptorist Postulator-General Father Antonio Marrazzo was in New Orleans to conduct another exhumation of the earthly remains of Father Seelos.  This private ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Francis B. Schulte of New Orleans.  The examination of Father Seelos' remains was made by the Vatican officials as a necessary part of the beatification process.

Second Class relics of the cloth that bound the bones of Blessed Francis Seelos during this examination are available in a 2"x3" special paper pouch/envelope for the purpose of carrying in a wallet, purse, glove compartment, etc.  They are complimentary; we welcome a freewill offering of $2.50 each to help defray the cost of printing the envelopes and the increased cost of postage to mail them to you.  


Third Class relics (also known as Seelos Mementos or Scapulars) of Blessed Francis Seelos, have been a labor of love by volunteer needle-workers for decades.  Volunteers from several states have been faithful to this dying art since the 1960s, and have quietly contributed to the scapular supply-and-demand out of their love for God, Church, and Father Seelos.  

Third class relics are COMPLIMENTARY as well. Again we ask a $2.50 donation for each to help defray the cost of the materials used in making them and their postage.

Please send request to THE SEELOS CENTER 919 Josephine Street New Orleans, LA 70130 or call 504-525-2495 or 504-525-2499.  Please note that these reliquaries are NOT available on the website shopping cart. The staff will mail your sacred item, soon after we hear from you.