By Mattia Ferraresi
For a little more than $2,000, you can buy a small silver-plated case containing some hair of the Virgin Mary, a relic venerated by Catholic believers. Add a few hundred dollars, and you’ll get a wax-sealed reliquary carrying pieces of clothing worn by St. Peter and St. Paul, together with a yellowed record, handwritten in Latin, that supposedly attests to the relics’ authenticity.
A more significant investment, $16,750, will get you an austere multichambered reliquary with 50 of “the most important relics in Christendom,” including the remains of top-tier saints like St. John the Baptist and St. Benedict. But devotees on more of a budget can easily find scraps of the True Cross soaked in Jesus’ blood, ancient-looking nails containing iron filings of the nails used in the crucifixion, garments of martyrs, skullcaps worn by popes and the personal effects of revered mystics.
Most of the relics on sale online are counterfeit junk. Many of them even look fake in the pictures. The ads are carefully designed either to lure unsuspecting believers or to excite eccentric collectors. The whole business smells of scam. “Final sale with no returns due to the Sacredness of this item,” one online vendor warns, implying a peculiar moral system in which selling sacred articles is totally fine, but returning them is somehow sacrilegious.
Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.