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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 16:01 GMT
Woman 'blessed by the holy toast'
A piece of cheese on toast purportedly showing the Virgin Mary
Mrs Duyser took a bite from the toast 10 years ago
A half-eaten slice of elderly cheese on toast purportedly showing the image of the Virgin Mary has attracted 100,000 hits on the eBay auction website.

A Florida woman put the sandwich up for sale, saying it has brought her great luck since she found it 10 years ago.

eBay originally withdrew the item, suspecting it might be a joke. But it has now apparently been reassured that the offering is genuine.

The snack has attracted a bid - thought to be a hoax - of $99.9m.

Diana Duyser, 52, of Hollywood, Florida, set a starting price of $3,000, and pleaded with people not to post hoax bids.

'Total shock'

She described how she came across the mysterious morsel.

"I made this sandwich 10 years ago. When I took a bite out of it, I saw a face looking up at me - it was Virgin Mary starring (sic) back at me. I was in total shock," she explained.

Mrs Duyser has since kept the toastie surrounded by cotton wool, in a plastic container on a stand.

A piece of cheese on toast purportedly showing the Virgin Mary
I do believe that this is the Virgin Mary Mother Of God
Diana Duyser

She says a decade on from its conception, it has not shown any sign of mould or crumbling - which she considers "a miracle".

She also believes its mystical properties have brought her blessings, including $70,000 won in a nearby casino.

Other visitors to the website were sceptical, however.

Mocking imitators posted pictures of Elvis and a "burnt George Bush" depicted on slices of toast.

Another tried to sell T-shirts showing Mrs Duyser's sandwich, while a budding artist posted a watercolour based on the image. There were no bids.

Mr Duyser dismissed the naysayers.

"I do believe that this is the Virgin Mary Mother Of God," she proclaimed.

eBay spokesman Hani Durzy said the company had decided to allow the auction to continue.

"There's nothing to indicate that the seller isn't willing to give up this cheese sandwich to the highest bidder," he said.

But Mrs Duyser added a note for any misguided bidder who might consider paying thousands - or millions - of dollars for a blessed breakfast snack.

"I would like all bidders to know that this item is not intended for consumption," she made clear.

Virgin Mary 'seen in US hospital'
17 Jun 03 |  Americas

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