eBay and Internet Sales Concerns

isidore-7770496Saint Isidore Catholic Sales Guild

A Catholic Consortium for Ethics in Internet Sales

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On This Page – Keeping An Eye on eBayeBay Policy on First Class RelicsHow to Report the Sale of First Class Relics

Questionable Buyers  – Some Areas of ConcernHow to Take A Closer Look –  An Example of Why We Must Exercise Caution

Keeping an eye on eBay

eBay has provided a valid marketplace for those who legitimately buy and sell Catholic artifacts for continued devotional use in the Catholic faith.

Unfortunately, many abuses exist, like the notorious attempt to sell the Eucharist and the continuance of sellers who offer First Class relics.  Each of us has a moral obligation to report these abuses as we find them.  There are two areas of concern to Catholic sellers and buyers alike.

First, there is the sale of First Class Relics, which, to a large extent is prohibited by eBay’s own policy on Human Remains. Two step by step procedures for reporting these sales can be found at the right. 

The second has to do with sellers who are indiscriminate about the buyers of sacred objects once used in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or in Catholic devotions. 

Although it is shocking to many, there is a significant number of individuals who acquire these objects for unholy purposes, and sadly it is not unusual to find a decommissioned altar put into use as an elegant sideboard or bar.  Some of these sellers are engaged in the liquidation of sacred objects from Catholic Churches that have closed or forced to sell their surplus to raise funds.  We offer optional guidelines below and urge everyone to know their buyers.

eBay’s Policy on the

Sale of First Class Relics

The sale of the Blood and Bones of Catholic Saints is prohibited by eBay’s own rules under the heading of “Human Remains.” 

The policy states:

Humans, the human body, or any human body parts are not permitted on eBay. Items that contain human hair (such as lockets) as well as skulls and skeletons that are used for medical purposes may be listed on eBay. eBay does not permit the sale of Native American skulls, bones or other Native American grave-related items, as the sale of such items may violate federal law

Read the above carefully.

Hair in “lockets” is permitted. This is unfortunate, as the hair of Saints is often contained in reliquaries.

However, if you carefully examine the listings, you will find many that contain the Blood and Bones of Saints.

These can be reported, as they are not to be used for medical purposes.

It is unfortunate that Native American body parts are protected, but the remains of the Saints who have won the ultimate battle are not. Native American grave items are prohibited, but the sale of Relics of the Passion of the Savior are permitted.

This is a battle for another day. For now, it is enough to report the tremendous trade in the blood and bones of the Saints.

Two Step by Step Methods to Report

1. Go to the page on Prohibited Items – Human Remains

At the bottom of the page you will find a little envelope marked Report Listing Violations.

When you click on it, you will be able to report up to ten item numbers. As we have done among our members, we recommend that you copy item numbers into a document, separating them with commas, and then paste them into the box to report them. We encourage you to share this method with others. You’ll find updated lists on our weekly reports page.

Remember – There is power in numbers. Ask other buyers and sellers to report these sales.

With enough pressure, maybe eBay will remove the category entirely one day.

Before You Report.  In all charity we should  give sellers the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they are unaware of what they are selling.  Many people aren’t familiar with the terminology used to describe different types of relics.  You’ll have a good idea of who is a regular relic seller and who isn’t when you read their ads.

Write a gentle note first –

Hi, I saw your listing for (RELIC) and noticed that it is labeled Ex. Oss. Did you know this means it is an actual bone of the Saint? 

You may find that you are able to educate and change someone’s heart. Of course, you may get a nasty note back as we have on many occasions.

Please visit the eBay Weekly Report

Questionable Buyers

This is an area where we have to be very careful. And, of course, we have to be careful in what we disclose in this section to avoid legal difficulties.

  Each seller must determine his         or her  own policy and personal  level  of vigilance in this regard. 

Over the years several Catholic sellers have cancelled sales to individuals who clearly intend to utilize sacred objects for a variety of unsavory purposes.  Prior to the establishment of the Saint Isidore Guild, several of these sellers maintained a network and shared the identities of buyers with illicit or questionable intent in order to place them on their blocked bidders list. 

We cannot list these here, but Supporting Members of the Saint Isidore Guild are granted access to an area of this website that provides an updated listing of these individuals and their alternate IDs. Inquire about membership here.

Some Areas of Concern

To be reasonable, any legitimate Catholic seller cannot and should not investigate every single buyer, but there are some that stand out.

  Buyers who have an ID or email address that indicates a fascination with the occult.   The reality is that there are quite a few individuals who are engaged in Satanic and Wicca worship who would use sacred Catholic objects for their ceremonies.

  If you are a seller, you may wish to consider placing a proviso in the terms of your auction that will allow you to cancel a sale. In these very strange days, you may have to indicate that you are selling objects with the intention that they remain in use within the faith of origin.

  Unless a buyer is known to you as being involved in this type of activity, give them the benefit of the doubt. Ask about the meaning of their ID or email. Sometimes you will find that it is a misguided and innocent reason — such as a fascination with Harry Potter or something else quite silly

Sadly, with Churches closing in some dioceses, the buildings are sometimes   purchased by groups who run illicit “Churches.

They may be churches that are run by married men who were formerly Roman Catholic Priests, women who have decided that they are priests, or they may be groups that were specifically organized to offer “Roman Catholic” marriages to same sex couples.

And then there are groups of men who just like to play “dress up” in sacred vestments.

Again, we urge caution and vigilance along with the institution of your own personal policy.

A fairly innocuous statement that gets the point across is:

Many of the sacred objects we offer for sale have been acquired with the express understanding that they will remain in service within the Faith of Origin. We reserve the right to cancel any sale that would violate that trust.

   As an additional precaution, we recommend that for the sale of particularly sensitive items, an additional proviso be added to disallow bids by individuals with feedback less than 10 or who have made their feedback private.

Another Way to Look at Your Buyer 

If you are selling something particularly sacred, you may want to take a close look at who you’re selling to.

Click on the bidder’s feedback number and you can take a look at the items that the person has bought and sold over the last 30 days.

Usually you will find nothing to cause alarm. At other times, you may wish to cancel your sale or at least contact the buyer to make an inquiry.

Using this technique our members have turned up some rather alarming patterns. 

One word of prudence – if you cancel a bid because of an unusual history, don’t be surprised to find the same bidder with a new ID – usually one with 0 feedback.

It’s up to you to decide how you handle things, but most of our members would much prefer to lose a couple of dollars than have sacred artifacts profaned.

What If My Bidder’s Feedback is Private?

You can still take a look at what they’ve been buying unless it is a private auction. Here’s how.

Go to the top right of your eBay page and under the search box, click on Advanced Search. This will bring you to a new page.

On the left there is a menu. You may click on “Search by Bidder” or “Search by Seller.” 

Type in the ID of the buyer you are concerned about, being sure to click the boxes for Completed Auctions. You will find a history for the last 30 days.

This technique has been used by several of our members to keep tabs on buyers who purchase a great many sacred objects as well as items that might be considered disturbing to Catholic sensibilities.

The new eBay Feedback system offers a great deal of transparency and we commend them on it.

One Example – A Catholic seller of long standing, with an excellent reputation, offered a beautiful Crucifix and Candlestick set on behalf of a group of Carmelite nuns.  You can imagine that person’s horror when she learned that one of her bidders had a long history of purchasing items related to Satanic ritual. Here is a small sampling of what her buyer typically purchases — some of the photos of that person’s purchases are too graphic to show here.



Home ~ Welcome ~ The Need for a Guild / Background  ~ Who Is Saint Isidore?

Learn About Relics and Catholic Artifacts ~ Concerns About eBay and Internet Sales ~ Weekly Report ~

Member Code of Conduct ~ Members ~ Press Room ~ Contact

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Christine Hirschfeld

I never intended to run a Catholic antiquities and book business. Not in a million years. As a cradle Catholic, I grew up in a house that was filled with Catholic images and sacramentals not to mention an abundance of excellent books provided by family members who worked in publishing houses famous for their Catholic catalogues. The beautiful images and concepts presented in those books certainly had their effect in enhancing my identity as a Catholic. As the years passed, even in the midst of very un-Catholic settings, I became a repository for my friends’ Catholic “found objects.” Eventually, I had a family of my own. We’re a small family. There are just three of us. And two of us were born with the “junk collecting gene.” Garage sales attracted us like a magnet.
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