Sign for our times
Julia A. Lewandowska
We witnessed the next public exposition of the Shroud of Turin. During his latest visit to Turin on 2 May 2010 Pope Benedict XVI said that ‘our epoch has become increasingly a Holy Saturday: this day's darkness challenges all who are wondering about life.’ He said the Shroud is ‘the Icon of this mystery, the Icon of Holy Saturday’ and a sign for out hard times since although the process of the impressing the image on the cloth is still a mystery for scientists one cannot deny that ‘it is a winding-sheet that was wrapped round the body of a man who was crucified, corresponding in every way to what the Gospels tell us of Jesus... How does the Shroud speak? It speaks with blood, and blood is life! The Image impressed upon the Shroud is that of a dead man, but the blood speaks of his life. The Shroud is an Icon written in blood; the blood of a man who was scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified and whose right side was pierced (from the speech of Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Turin).
The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth (4.36 x 1.10 m) in which according to the Tradition the body of the crucified Christ was wrapped. The cloth was woven in the workshop near Damascus in Syria. The weave let scientists define that such cloths were produced from 200 BC till 100 AD. One could see the image of the front and back of the body of a white man, aged 30-35 and height of 1.82. Using photography the extraordinary image was made visible in the 19th century. It turned out that the shroud is as if photographic negatives since the parts we usually see as darker are brighter on the Shroud whereas the convex places that we can see as bright are darker on the cloth. The negatives showed a real picture of the man of the Shroud; extraordinary and shocking. Photography let scientists discover many other important details of the relic. The opinions concerning the Shroud will vary and so will man’s sensitiveness and faith because ‘we will always reach such a moment in life where only faith or nothing can be.’ When I was 7 years old the Shroud fascinated me for the first time. And this fascination has remained. So have questions, some without any answers. During his visit to Turin Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in St Charles Square; he had a meeting with young people and the sick. In his homily he appealed not to lose hope that ‘comes from the Resurrected Christ, from God’s victory over sin and death.’
Two years ago, when he announced the exposition of the Holy Shroud he stressed that only Jesus could meet the deepest needs of human spirit, asking people not to weaken their faith in Jesus’ Gospel by any obstacle. The Pope asked people to revive their bonds with the Lord through prayer and frequent use of the sacraments. And this year he spoke to the inhabitants of Piedmont to encounter Christ’s love in the strong personal relationship with him, especially in the sacraments. ‘May each one of you feel "a living part" of the Church, engaging without fear in her work of evangelization, in a spirit of sincere harmony with your brothers and sisters in the faith and in communion with your Pastors, leaving behind every individualistic tendency, also in living out faith, in order to breathe deeply the beauty of being part of the great mosaic of Christ's Church’, the Pope told the young people.
Being in Turin in 1998 the Servant of God John Paul II said that ‘the Shroud is a challenge to our intelligence’ and ‘the Church has no specific competence to pronounce on these questions. She entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate… The Church urges that the Shroud be studied without pre-established positions that take for granted results that are not such; she invites them to act with interior freedom and attentive respect for both scientific methodology and the sensibilities of believers.’