Friday, January 21, 2005

The Shroud - More Evidence

This article which I saw first at Open Book (Amy Welborn) reminds me of my Jubilee visit to Turin and my pilgrimage to venerate the Shroud.

The Holy Shroud is purported to be the burial cloth of Christ. A life-size image of a victim of crucifixion in the manner prescribed in the Gospels is contained on the cloth. The origin of the Holy Shroud is controversial as some scientific evidence, most notably the Carbon-14 dating results of 1988, have ‘disproved’ the ancient origin of this cloth. Of course the news today linked about lays great doubt on those test results. Other scientific evidence supports a 1st century origin of this cloth; and theories and evidence which refute the Carbon-14 date of 1260-1390 AD suggest further tests should be performed - as does the news this morning. Investigations conducted on the Holy Shroud with state-of-the-art technology have failed to show definitively how the image on the cloth was formed. The image of the crucified man is not a painted image and resides only on the topmost layer of fibers in the cloth; while human, male, blood stains at the side, hands, feet, and head of the image penetrate the cloth. Remarkably, the photographic negatives of the image, are actually a positive image, which reveal a more detailed view of the crucified man and his torture.

Exposition of the Holy Shroud normally occurs only during Jubilee years. However there was also an Exposition in 1998 to commemorate the anniversary of the Holy Shroud’s arrival in Turin. Our Holy Father, John Paul II venerated the Holy Shroud during the 1998 Exposition.

Fortunately I was in Italy on business during the Jubilee year Exposition and made reservations to venerate the Holy Shroud for the morning of September 6th in San Giovanni de Baptiste Cathedral. I have been an avid follower of the scientific and historical studies concerning the Holy Shroud since graduate school and have read numerous books and scientific papers studying the historical and scientific origin of this cloth.

The pilgrimage began with a walk through palace gardens, which called the pilgrims to silence and prayer. A short video presentation in 5 languages ensued which detailed the major features of the Holy Shroud. The pilgrims then proceeded past a raised image of the Holy Shroud especially prepared for the blind. As we approached the Cathedral, numerous prints commemorating past Expositions were displayed. Finally we entered the Cathedral and were led to the Holy Shroud. I knelt 6-10 feet from the Holy Shroud and prayed for the wisdom to understand more fully the sacrifice and suffering of God for man.

We were allowed approximately 5 minutes per group of pilgrims at this proximity to the Holy Shroud. However as my group and the following several groups were very small, I managed to remain for some time after my allotted 5 minutes elapsed.

Exiting the Cathedral we were allowed to reenter the Church in the rear and venerate the Shroud at some distance for as long as we wanted. There I prayed for the soul of my Dad and all my departed loved ones.

At the end of the pilgrimage, two temporary chapels had been set up – one for Eucharistic Adoration and one for the Sacrament of Penance, available in any of 12 languages. I availed myself the opportunity for both.

I then proceeded to the Holy Shroud museum several blocks away, where I was able to see some of the original photographic plates and the camera from the first photograph of the Shroud – when the remarkable ‘negative’ discovery was made. Also, replicas of the scourging instruments used by Romans in the 1st Century and matched to the wounds on the Shroud were displayed. Many other items relating to the known and speculative history and the scientific studies concerning the Holy Shroud were exhibited.

I was drawn back to the Cathedral to pray in front of the Holy Shroud again. Making my way back to my hotel, I made visits at some 7 Jubilee Churches, including St. Therese, St. Lawrence, and The Church of the Holy Martyrs. These churches, though small, were more magnificent in d├ęcor than any Church I have found in America.

The true origin of the Holy Shroud may never be definitively proven or known. However, regardless of what science proves, the message of the Holy Shroud remains spiritual. I knelt in awe of this portrayal of the sacrificial love of the God-Man. What Love has been given us – what love do we return?

For further information I recommend:

A Doctor at Calvary”, by Pierre Barbet
The Blood and the Shroud”, by Ian Wilson
The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence”, by John Iannone
“The Silent Witness” (Video - Ignatius Press)

From the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

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