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22 June 2024

Shroud of Turin goes on public display

A large area around the Turin cathedral has been cordoned off and scores of volunteers were on hand. (SUPPLIED)


The Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, went on public display yesterday for the first time in a decade.

Some two million people are expected to view one of the most revered relics in Christendom – and among the most disputed – over the next six weeks in this northern Italian city.

Hundreds of journalists and photographers were offered a first chance to view the cloth as the city finalised preparations for the onslaught of visitors.

A large area around the Turin cathedral has been cordoned off and scores of volunteers were on hand.

A nearby tent city offers ice cream and specialities of Turin's Piedmont region, as well as emergency services.

Special parking areas have been designated for coaches bringing pilgrims for their chance to spend three to five minutes before the relic.

The Shroud of Turin, which was painstakingly restored in 2002, measures 4.4 by 1.1 metres and is said to have been imprinted with an image of Christ's body, notably his face.

It was discovered in the French city of Troyes, southeast of Paris, in the mid-14th century.

Radiocarbon dating analysis in 1988 determined that the fibres in the cloth date from the Middle Ages, sometime between 1260 and 1390, but those findings have in turn been challenged.

Pope Benedict XVI will pay homage to the shroud on May 2.

The relic last went on public display in 2000 on the occasion of the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Days, held that year in the Italian capital.

Benedict said his visit would be "a propitious occasion to contemplate this mysterious visage that speaks silently to the heart of men, inviting them to recognise the face of God."

The Vatican has never pronounced on the authenticity of the shroud.

Monsignor Giuseppe Ghiberti, President of the Turin archdiocese's Commission on the Shroud, has called it an "instrument of evangelisation". The viewing runs through May 23.