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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Vatican warning over pope 'relic'
Pope John Paul II
The former Pope is on track to become a saint in record time
The Vatican has warned Roman Catholics that buying relics is sacrilege, after reports that pieces of former Pope John Paul II's clothes were for sale online.

The website of the Holy Diocese of Rome has been offering small pieces of John Paul II's white cassock as part of the campaign to beatify him.

But the site was inundated with requests after reports suggested pieces of the robe were available to buy.

John Paul II died in April 2005. He was the third-longest serving pope.

Unlimited edition

The website has been offering a relic featuring a prayer on one side and a "ex indumentis" - a piece from the clothing - of the former pope since early 2006.

We don't intend to let these objects have a collectors' value. It's only a devotional object
Monsignor Marco Fibbi
Diocese of Rome

But it has recently been swamped with requests for the tiny relics after it was reported in Italian media that they were for sale.

Anyone who clicks on the link to request the relic is now sent to an article in which diocese spokesman Monsignor Marco Frisina warns that it is sacrilegious to buy or sell relics.

The Italian version of the website also specifies that the relic is free, and requests only an optional small donation to cover postage costs.

The diocese would be able to send a relic to anyone who asked for one, director of social communications Monsignor Marco Fibbi told the BBC News website.

"We don't intend to let these objects have a collectors' value," he said.

Pope John Paul II
Several of John Paul II's robes are being used for the relics

"It's only a devotional object. It's useless to try to collect it or sell it on the internet because we will satisfy any request for this object."

John Paul II - born in Poland as Karol Jozef Wojtyla - is being considered for beatification, the first step to sainthood.

The much-loved late pontiff travelled the world extensively and was internationally renowned.

And he is on track to become a saint in record time, after Pope Benedict XVI waived the traditional five-year waiting period before the beatification campaign could begin.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Vatican
18 Jan 07 |  Country profiles

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