A decade-old grilled cheese sandwich bearing what could be the image of the Virgin Mary is garnering intense interest on an internet auction site.

The sandwich went up for sale on eBay last week, drawing bids of as much as $22,000 US before the auction site pulled the item down on Sunday. Nearly 100,000 page views had been recorded before the auction was ended.

The company e-mailed Diana Duyser to tell her that the sandwich listing was against its policy, which "does not allow listings that are intended as jokes."

But Duyser insisted she was serious, and on Tuesday, eBay allowed the bidding to resume. The auction closes on Nov. 22.

As of midday on Wednesday, bidding had reached $69,000 US, though the bids could not be verified as serious ones.

The top bid was later reduced to as low as $18,000.

Several other items mocking the sandwich have now sprung up on eBay, including Virgin Mary grilled cheese makers, and a picture of a grilled cheese sandwich with an image of teen stars Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Those listings will likely have a short shelf life because of eBay's no-joke policy.

In her description of the sandwich, Duyser said she made the sandwich 10 years ago, and when taking a bite, saw the face of the Virgin Mary looking back at her.

At first, she was scared, she said. However, after winning $70,000 US at a local casino, Duyser said she realized the sandwich was special and decided to share it with the world.

The sandwich was made on plain white bread with American cheese and cooked with no oil or butter.

Duyser said the 10-year-old sandwich shows no sign of mould or crumbling, though it has been stored only in a clear plastic box with cotton balls. She considers that part of the miracle.