Pope travels to Turin to visit Shroud
Up to 25,000 people gathered in the northern Italian city of Turin on Sunday to greet Pope Benedict who arrived in the city to visit the Shroud of Turin.
The Pontiff is spending the day celebrating Mass, meeting young people and the infirm, and then praying before the Shroud, one of the most important relics in Christianity.
“The Holy Shroud eloquently reminds us always of Jesus’ suffering”, the Pope said in his homily, adding that it “mirrors our suffering in the suffering of Christ”.
The 14-foot-long, 3.5-foot-wide (4.3-meter-long, 1 meter-wide) cloth has gone on public display for the first time since the 2000 Millennium celebrations and a subsequent 2002 restoration.
The linen with an image of a man on it is believed by some to be Christ’s burial cloth while others dismiss it as a medieval fake.
The cloth shows the faint image of a man whose wounds appear consistent with those suffered by someone who was crucified.
However, carbon-dating of fragments of the cloth have suggested the linen was made in the 13th or 14th century, but experts disagree on the validity of the scientific tests or how the image was formed.
A Vatican researcher said late last year that faint writing on the linen, which she studied through computer-enhanced images, proves the cloth was used to wrap Jesus’ body after his crucifixion.
French crusader Robert of Clari mentioned seeing the cloth in 1203 in Constantinople at the imperial palace, but the first actual records trace it only to Lirey in France in 1354.
The Vatican has declined to take a definitive stance on the cloth’s authenticity, but has allowed the faithful to venerate it as a symbol of Christ’s suffering.
The shroud is kept in a bullet-proof, climate-controlled case in Turin’s cathedral.
Up to 1.5 million people have made reservations to spend three to five minutes viewing it.
The president of the Turin archdiocese’s commission on the Shroud, Mgr Giuseppe Ghiberti, has said the Vatican, which owns the cloth, is considering a new round of scientific tests after the public display ends on 23 May.
A new radiocarbon dating method was unveiled this year that may lay to rest the crucial question of the shroud’s age.
The new process does not require samples but instead exposes the object to an electrically charged gas.