Mysterious Shroud of Turin Is On View for First Time in Five Years

The Shroud of Turn. Photo: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Turin, Italy,

The Shroud of Turin, one of the world’s most contested art objects/religious relics, is back on display for the first time in five years.

The cloth bears a ghostly image of a man that many believe is Jesus Christ. Christian tradition says the shroud was used to bury Jesus following his crucifixion, before his resurrection from the dead three days later. (See The Most Controversial Depictions of Jesus in Art.)

Intriguingly, scientists have been unable to determine how the image was transferred to the cloth. While carbon dating tests seem to prove that the shroud was created during the medieval ages, and could not be a relic from Jesus’s burial, the cloth still has its devotees.

No less than 2.5 million eager visitors turned out in 2010, when it was last on display, and over a million people have already made reservations to see the mysterious shroud this go around. Tickets are free, and the shroud will be on view 12 hours a day in a climate-controlled case.

Even Pope Francis will pay a visit when he comes to Turin on June 21 during a busy summer of travels (see Muslim Artist Carves Chair for Pope Francis’s Visit to Bosnia). The exhibition of the relic was arranged by decree of the pontiff, in honor of the 200th birthday of St. John Bosco, who worked to educate the poor children in newly industrialized Turin during the 19th century.

Although it is on view at the Turin cathedral, the Catholic Church has not taken an official position on whether or not the cloth truly served as Jesus’s burial shroud.

“What counts the most is that this shroud…reflects in a clear and precise manner how the gospels describe the passion and death of Jesus,” Archbishop of Turin Cesare Nosiglia told AFP. “It is not a profession of faith because it is not an object of faith, nor of devotion, but it can help faith.”

The Shroud of Turin is on view at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, April 19–June 24, 2015. 

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