Casual museum-goers and theology enthusiasts rejoice – the legendary shroud of Turin is now on display in Turin, Italy, for the next six weeks. The shroud, which has recently been restored after some damage it sustained since it was last refurbished by sixteenth-century Catholic nuns, is anticipated to draw crowds from around the world as its influence reached all interested in the history of the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ.
If anything, ‘crowds’ is a drastic understatement. Over two million people are expected to come view the shroud in the Turin Cathedral, from the average Italian to the Pope himself. For the last eight years, the shroud has been meticulously restored and strengthened to make it ready to face exhibition lights, and the countless camera flashes that will undoubtedly accompany it’s entrance in the public eye.
The shroud is said to be an imprint of Jesus’ face, one that resulted when the shroud in question was placed over his face seconds after his death. Like many other artifacts and relics, the shroud’s legitimacy has often come into question. Historians say that carbon-dating, a method of determining an object’s age, has yielded results inconsistent with most claims of it dating from several thousand years ago, and that the shroud was instead woven in the late middle-ages.
Many have come to the conclusion that the shroud is a forgery, and even the Pope in power when the shroud was first discovered believed that it was simply an object made to draw attention. These conclusions have not stopped the Catholic church from promoting this new display, however. Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th and current Pope, is expected to fly out May 2nd to view the shroud for himself.
Not all who feel the shroud is not entirely genuine write it off as a worthless piece of cloth, however. Many have proclaimed that the shroud is to be viewed with the heart, not with the mind, and that the message behind it, that is, Jesus’ suffering in the name of the greater good, is the message to keep in mind when observing this ancient relic.