Aide: Pope's Turin Visit Clarifies Shroud's Value

Says Pilgrims Seek God in Christ’s Face

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By Jesús Colina

VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2010 ( Faith in the Resurrection certainly does not depend on the Shroud of Turin, and yet Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to see the cloth thought to have enwrapped Christ’s body can help Christians understand the value of the image.

This was affirmed by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, who spoke on Vatican Television’s «Octava Dies» of the Pope’s visit to Turin on Sunday.

The spokesman noted how the Holy Father did not refer to the Shroud as a «relic,» nor make reference to the scientific studies on the fabric’s date. He did, however, call it an «icon written in blood» and spoke of how the markings on the cloth correspond to the Gospel description of what happened to Jesus.

In any case, as Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, clarified on the eve of the papal visit, the faith of Christians in the resurrection of Jesus does not depend on this cloth.

Father Lombardi suggested why the Pope presented the cloth as an «icon.»

«More than the mysterious origin of this image, what attracts is the impressive way in which it corresponds, in very numerous details, with the account of the passion of Christ in the Gospels: the wounds, the bloodshed, the wounds of the crown of thorns, the beatings of the flagellation,» he said. «And, in the center, the solemn face of the crucified, a face that corresponds with the most ancient sketches of Christian iconography, which in turn confirms and inspires it.»

When Pope John Paul II visited the Shroud in 1998, he also did not refer to it as a «relic.» He spoke of the cloth as a challenge to the intellect because of the questions it poses to researchers. He also referred to it as a «mirror of the Gospel,» because of its reflection of the visible signs of the passion and death of Christ.
The meditations of the two Pontiffs offer the millions of pilgrims visiting the Holy Shroud during this exposition (which ends May 23) a reflection on its value, regardless of the studies with which some experts claim to continue clarifying doubts.
In this way believers can understand better what they are seeking upon venerating the Holy Shroud, Father Lombardi said: «We want to know God and we can know him through the face of Christ.»

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