ROME – On Saturday, the Archbishop of Turin announced that after receiving several requests, he would display what is believed to be Jesus’s burial shroud during Holy Week amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
In his March 4 announcement, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia said that over the past few weeks, “thousands and thousands are the messages I have received from the people, elderly and adults and young people, healthy and sick, who ask me that, in the moment of great difficulty we are living, if they can pray during Holy Week in front of the Shroud, to implore Christ, who died and was Risen.”
Welcoming these requests, he authorized that from April 11 – Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday – until April 17, the Shroud will be on display for people to venerate from all over the world through television and social media.
The Shroud, Nosiglia said, “presents to us in such a true and concrete way, the grace of overcoming evil as He did, trusting in the goodness and mercy of God.”
A 14-foot-long linen cloth depicting the negative image of a person thought by many to be Jesus Christ, the Shroud has been traced back to at least the 1300s.
Authorities in the Catholic Church have not formally declared it to be authentic, and several scholars have claimed it is a medieval forgery; however, several popes have venerated it, including Pope Francis during a 2015 daytrip to Turin, when the Shroud was displayed from April-June of that year.
The Shroud has played a role in the Church’s historic response to plagues.
Tradition holds that when a plague epidemic broke out in Milan in 1576, St. Charles Borromeo, who served as Archbishop of Milan from 1564-1584, pledged to make a pilgrimage the Shroud on foot as a thanksgiving to God for stopping the outbreak. At the time, the Shroud was in Chambéry, France, but because of Borromeo’s poor health, the Duke of Savoy, Emanuele Filiberto, decided to transfer the Shroud to Turin, where it can still be found to this day.
“Thanks to television and social media the time of contemplation makes available to everyone, in the whole world, the image of the Holy Cloth, which reminds us of the Passion and death of the Lord, but which also opens our hearts to the faith in his Resurrection,” Nosiglia said in his statement.
He stressed that love is stronger than death, and that the image believed to be Jesus’s face in the Shroud “is stronger than any suffering, any disease, any contagion, any trial and discouragement.”
“Nothing and no one can separate us from this love, because it is faithful forever and unites us to him with an indissoluble bond,” he said, adding that the face in the Shroud “speaks to the heart and communicates a great peace to us as if it were telling us: Have faith, do not lose hope, the strength of the love of God and the Risen One overcome everything.”
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