Italian officials estimate that up to two million visitors will view the Shroud of Turin – Christ’s purported burial cloth – when it goes on display in the spring for the first time for ten years.
A million people have already reserved their chance to spend a maximum of five minutes observing the relic in Turin from April 10th to May 23rd. Pope Benedict XVI will visit on May 2nd.
The large rectangular piece of cloth is said to have been imprinted with an image of Christ’s body, notably his face. It’s kept in a bullet-proof, climate-controlled case in Turin Cathedral.
It was discovered in the French city of Troyes, south-east of Paris, in the mid-14th century. Radio-carbon dating analysis in 1988 determined that the fibres in the cloth dated from the Middle Ages – sometime between 1260 and 1390 – but those findings have, in turn, been challenged.
The Vatican has tiptoed around the issue, making no claim about the authenticity but calling it a powerful symbol of Christ’s suffering.
by Andy Moreton
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