Jacobs said that the center was alerted to the sale of a reliquary – or special container holding a relic of the saint – through a discussion on Facebook, where users pointed to instances of relics and reliquaries that were being sold on the internet. According to the Code of Canon Law, it is "absolutely forbidden to sell sacred relics," although they may be transferred with permission from the Apostolic See.
Through the conversation, Jacobs was alerted of a holder who had come into possession of a reliquary containing what appears to be a first-class relic coming from the bone of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, nearly 4 inches long.
The also has accompanying paperwork and seals that appear to verify the authenticity of the relic inside. "I checked out the names and the dates of the certificates for who was the archbishop at the time, and they all check out," Jacobs said.
The current holder of the reliquary came across it when a religious order moved away and a number of their possessions were auctioned off together as a group. The thought of the reliquary – and relic inside – facing another auction pained Jacobs. "As a Catholic and as someone who loves St. Kateri – she's the patron saint of our organization – I just couldn't see it going up at another auction."
To help return the relic to the Church and make it available for popular devotion, Jacobs began a fundraiser to recover the funds that the current holder spent when the reliquary was obtained. The current hold has agreed not to make a profit but to cover their cost for the reliquary itself. The total cost of the reliquary is listed on the crowdfunding site as $3,675.
While it is forbidden to buy and sell relics, the "Code of Canon Law does not say anything about buying or selling reliquaries," explained Jeannine Marino, assistant director for the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.