Thursday, May 26, 2011

Saints Head under the Hammer


Photo: The Irish Times

It is not everyday that you come across an auction, that includes the "head of a saint".

The auction will take place in Annesbrook House, Duleek, Co. Meath this Sunday, May 29, at 3pm. Items will be on view on Friday and Saturday from 11am-6pm. I think I might see if I can drop by and have a look. I wonder if I could find some people to come with me and cause a little scene? Mind you I won't be buying, as the relic is expected to sell for around €1,000.

The head in question, is said to be that of  Saint Vitalis of Assisi, whose feast is on May 31st. So hopefully he will have a new home for the occasion. St Vitalis was originally a monk of Monte Subiaco, Italy, but he gave up the monastic life to become a hermit near Assisi.

This relic once held pride of place in the entrance hall of this house, then it was consigned to an outhouse. I pray that St Vitalis, or whoever it is finds a fitting home. But in my humble opinion, it is just not right to sell someones head, saint or not. Human remains should be treated with respect.

The sale of relics is strictly forbidden by the Church. The Code of Canon Law states:
§1190 §1 - "It is absolutely forbidden to sell sacred relics."
Selling relics ("simony") is wrong, but it is permissible to buy them if they will be marketed anyway and buying them would save them from desecration. I might phone up and have a little complain. Will you join me?

Annesbrook House
Telphone/Fax: +353 (0) 41 9823293


Matthews Auction Room
049 855 0055
086 841 4421

Update
I have contacted both Annesbrook House and the auctioneer. Annesbrook are not answering their phone, so I left a message. I could hear someone remarking as I left a message, "It's someone else about the head". The auctioneers line was "thank you for your concern", and "there's nothing I can do". Please contact them and express your concern.

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