The head of Saint Vitalis of Assisi, the patron saint of genital diseases, sold for well above its reserve price at an auction in Dublin on Sunday.
An unnamed bidder from Los Angeles paid €3,500 for the item, which some have called morbid. In the end it sold for well above the reserve price of €800 when the unnamed bidder from the USA outbid everyone else in the room, including a couple in their 30's who gave it up for an elephant's foot instead.
Auctioneer, Damien Matthews told the Irish Independent the ghoulish head was probably the most unusual item he would ever sell. It's sudden availability had provoked interest from what he called all kinds of crackpots and oddballs.
The skull sits behind glass inside a wooden reliquary, garlanded with dead flowers. Matthews told the press he had received over 100 enquiries including a "well-known Irish rock star" and several Hollywood celebrities.
"I was a little repelled and shocked at first, but it's an object of beauty as well as being sad and macabre," Matthews said.
There are no official documents verifying that the cracked skull belongs to Vitalis of Assisi. Reverend Doctor Vincent Twomey, a theologian at the Divine Word missionaries in Maynooth, told the press that it is forbidden under canon law to sell sacred relics. "I'm quite a bit upset by this," Twomey said.