QUAERITUR: a blessed object as a raffle prize

From a reader:

We recently had a bingo at our parish and the main prize for a raffle was a beautiful portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Prior to the bingo, the portrait was blessed by a priest. I know sacramentals can’t be sold (that’s why they are blessed after the item is sold), would the same rationale apply for a raffled item? Thanks.


I suspect that there was no intention on the part of the priest to cause confusion.  The fact that he wanted people to know that the image was blessed is a clue that he has a good understanding that blessings are important.

I cannot tell the difference between a direct sale of a blessed image, and, on the other hand, an auction or a raffle.

We may not sell objects which are in themselves holy things (the Blessed Sacrament, relics) or things which have been consecrated or blessed (sacramentals, etc.).   The sale of things which are in themselves holy is the sin of sacrilege.  In the case of the sale of the Blessed Sacrament there is an automatic excommunication and the sin falls in the category of graviora delicta, more serious crimes, which have been in the spotlight recently.  The sale of blessed objects causes them to lose their blessing and gives the impression that holy objects are for those who can afford them, or that holy things can be the objects of commerce.

I recommend that the person who obtained the painting take it to be blessed again.   Also, in the future, should there be such a raffle, the priest should bless the objects after people have taken possession of them.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ASK FATHER Question Box and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Elly says:

    I remember reading from a couple people here a while ago that if they were at a garage sale or a store that sells used items they would buy any Catholic objects, such as rosaries, so that they would not be thrown away. Also they could give them away to people who might want them. I thought that was a good idea and I’ve been looking out for them when I go into these type of stores. I haven’t found any yet. But now I’m wondering if it would be wrong to buy them since I wouldn’t know if the object was blessed or not.

    Any ideas?


  2. I suppose one could argue that it was the chances they sold, not the blessed item. But even if that be so, it still looks and feels disrespectful, even though, clearly, no disrespect was intended. It’s better to be safe than simoniacal.

  3. prairie says:

    I second Elly’s question.

  4. Jane says:

    It seems to me that the priest should have said, that when the raffle is drawn, that he would be happy to bless the prize for the person who wins it.

    I was once at a meeting, where I brought many medals for the people to purchase if they wished too. There was no profit in this for me. I was just the organiser. A lady came up to me and purchased one of the medals, and then she asked me if the medals were blessed and I answered no. After that I was busy selling the books etc. I turned around to see the priest with his hand in the air ready to bless all the medals. I blurted out “Don’t do that Father!” He looked startled and I felt very embarrassed. The lady did not ask him to bless her medal, but my whole stock of medals! They had cost a fair bit. Had I not stopped the priest from blessing them, I would have had to carry the cost of the whole stock of medals. I had only brought them as a service to the people at the meeting. I think that the lady did not understand the matter, nor did the priest.

    I will keep a note of where the link is to this section. This is an important topic.

Comments are closed.