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Posts Tagged ‘Duomo di San Giovanni Turin’

I’m staring at Christianity’s holiest relic–a superb replica, actually–and I have to admit that all I see is a piece of very old cloth, 14 feet long. The real Shroud of Turin,  said to have been wrapped around Jesus’ body after his crucifixion, is stored in the city’s cathedral and rarely taken out for display.  The replica is in the Museum of the Shroud, on Via San Domenica, a short distance from the cathedral.

Believers have revered the Shroud (La Sindone) for centuries because it holds the faint imprint of what might be a crucified man, as well as blood stains, traces of wounds, and marks that could have been made by thorns. Whether you believe this is the real thing or not, the exhibition is one of Turin’s most intriguing places to visit. The Shroud replica lies in a clear case, and other displays explain the  travels, history and mystery of La Sindone. The cloth, Egyptian linen of a type used long ago, was apparently taken to Constantinople (today’s Istanbul, Turkey), disappeared during the Crusades, and showed up in 1353 in France.  Eventually it was owned by the Savoy rulers who brought it to Italy in the 16th century and finally gave it to the church on condition that it remain in Turin. And so it rests now in the cathedral, Duomo di San Giovanni, in a custom-built, airtight, bullet-proof, bacteria-proof case.

Over the years various scientific tests have been performed on the fabric. Every finding, on either side, is challenged. Nothing guarantees its authenticity–and nothing explains the imprint of the image.  It remains shrouded in mystery. My eyes still see only an ancient, stained cloth, but the enlargements and displays in the museum point it out clearly. If it’s a fake, it’s impressive. Even more impressive is its effect on the millions who hold it sacred.

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