There have been human beings in and outside of the Church who have been easily corrupted. To say that there was never a person who has been disobedient to the ban by the Church of selling relics, or (as we see in the New Testament when Simon the magician tried to purchase from the Apostles the ability to do what the Apostles could do, giving us the term Simony) bought or sold any sacred office would be covering up the truth. Ask me about Chained Bibles next.
During the middle ages there where many corrupt people who manufactured false or forged relics and sold them to Churches and people. Even today you can find on e-bay people who sell relics, included among them are modern-day forged relics. There are several that are known as Ferrante Relics on ebay. Fr. Ferrante was the postulator of the case of St. John Neumann, the bishop of Philidelphia. As Postulator he was able to certify relics of (then) Bl. John, and later St. John Neumann. Someone got ahold of the document that accompanies relics and copied the seal for making the wax seal on the back of the relics, and forged thousands of relics from everything from the True Cross to the Apostles and just about any saint you could think of. The forgeries are very impressive. However whenever anyone sees a seal or document that seems to be signed by Fr. Ferrante for anyone who is not St. John Neumann, or outside of the dates (which I don’t recall now) that he was Postulator, they have a forged or fake relic. The fact that there where and remain in this world crooks who try to pull something over on people does not mean that honest relics are wrong.
Another issue with the selling of relics (today) on e-bay, and I have seen in antique stores in the USA and Europe, is that some dealers know that there are those who will pay high prices to “rescue” relics. I saw a Pope St. Pius X (Ferrante) relic on sale on the internet for $500.00 once (before I knew they where fakes) I asked the guy in an email why I should send him $500.00 when in Rome one could obtain first class relics for a donation of $10.00. His reply was, that he was not a Catholic and did not really care what happened to the relic as long as he got at least $500.00 for it. He also made a silly statement, that if he did not get what he wanted, he would give the relic to someone who could extract the DNA and clone the relic, “What did I think of that?”. My reply was, if the clone was half as holy as St. Pius X I would not mind. Funny he never responded to me.
By Canon Law (Church Law) a relic can never be sold, it is an excommunicatable offence to buy or sell relics or religious offices. A donation is permitted and that is not for the relic itself, but rather the cost of the metal case (called a theca) and to support a convent of nuns who decorate the thecas, and prepair the relics to be certified by a bishop, print the certificates etc. The good nuns who also do other artistic work, (lace making, vestment making etc) support themselves keeping food on the table, paying the day to day expenses from the dollar or two above the expenses of buying the thecas and everything that goes into preparation of the relics. One also needs a letter from his or her local bishop in order to qualify to obtain the relics, so not just anyone can go and get an authentic relic or a dozen or hundred etc, and sell them for a profit.
BTW any comments or questions on the Tetzel posting?