The 1998 Exposition
Click on the links below to select the articles you wish to read:
- 1998 Exposition - Dates and General Information
- Pope Visits Shroud
- A Report From Turin by Website Viewers Steve and Gail Pignatiello
- Bravo To The Italians! - A Report From Turin by Richard Orareo
- Shroud Exhibition Opens - A Report from Turin by Emanuela & Maurizio Marinelli
- A Report From Turin by Richard Orareo - April 1998
- Live Internet Feed From Turin Cathedral
- Reservations Needed to Visit Shroud in 1998
- Update on the 1998 Exposition as of July 1997
Shroud of Turin Expositions Scheduled for 1998 and 2000
Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini, Archbishop of Turin, announced recently that the Shroud of Turin will be publicly displayed in Turin for eight weeks in 1998, and again in the year 2000. This is an unusual event in the history of the controversial 14 1/2 foot long linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man. Unusual because the cloth has rarely been displayed publicly more than one or two times each century. A recent fire (April 11-12, 1997) severely damaged the Cathedral and Chapel where the Shroud is normally stored and where the cloth was to be displayed during the upcoming exposition. The Archbishop of Turin has officially stated that the exposition will go on as planned, although the location of the exhibit has yet to be announced.
The 1998 exhibition marks the 500th anniversary of the consecration of the Turin Cathedral. It also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the exhibition of 1898, when Italian amateur photographer Secundo Pia took the first photograph ever of the Shroud of Turin. That photograph is significant to Shroud research because it revealed for the first time that the image on the Shroud was a negative. That knowledge helped pave the way for modern scientific research on the linen cloth. The centuries old relic will be exhibited from April 18 to June 14, 1998 .
The year 1998 also marks the 20th anniversary of the most recent public exhibition of the Shroud, in October 1978 (see photo above). At that time, the first ever, in-depth scientific examination of the cloth was completed by an international group of scientists including the Shroud of Turin Research Project, Inc., (STURP). An International Congress on the Shroud of Turin is also being held in Turin from June 5 to 7, 1998. Organized by the Centro Internazionale di Sindonologia di Torino (International Center for the Turin Shroud), its primary focus will be on conservation of the cloth. See the "Shroud Conferences and Symposia" page of this website for more information about this event.
The exhibition scheduled for the year 2000 will commemorate the Jubilee anniversary of the birth of Jesus. Saturday, August 26, to Sunday, October 22, 2000 are the planned dates for that exhibition.
Pope Visits The Shroud
The following article was excerpted from an AP wire service story dated May 25, 1998:
Pope John II knelt in silent prayer yesterday (May 24, 1998) before the Shroud of Turin, and encouraged scientists to keep testing the linen many believe wrapped the body of the crucified Christ. John Paul last saw the Shroud in a private viewing in 1980, two years after the previous public showing.Following the footsteps of more than 1 million pilgrims who have seen the cloth since it went on display last month, John Paul paused before the linen enveloped in a bulletproof glass case and what he called "mysterious fascination.""Since we're not dealing with a matter of faith, the church can't pronounce itself on such questions," the pope said. "It entrusts to scientists the tasks of continuing to investigate, to reach adequate answers to the questions connected to this shroud."But the pope urged scientists to respect both "scientific methodology and the sensibility of the faithful." Whatever its origin, the shroud is "the icon of the suffering of the innocent of all times," the 78-year-old pontiff said.
It is interesting to note that the pope's visit occurred on the exact day that Secondo Pia made the first photograph of the Shroud of Turin 100 years earlier, on May 24, 1898.
A Report From Turin by Website Viewers Steve and Gail Pignatiello
We were planning to take a day trip to Turin (from France) to see the Shroud. Even though we speak French fluently, we speak very little Italian. Contacted you through your excellent web page before our trip to Europe. Appreciated your response back...and now have answers to most of the logistics questions. Hope you find the info helpful.
The Italians have done themselves proud in this exhibition of the Shroud. As we approached Turin by car, there were signs for "Sindone parking". We followed one of these sign trails to a large parking area on the outskirts of the city. Parking was free. There was an information booth at the parking area. We gave the lady our reservation number. By computer, she printed out our tickets, which delineated our visit date/time as well as the number in our party.
Then she directed us to some other ladies just outside the booth, who sold us tickets for either the bus or cable car. Tickets were 1000 Lira each; so it cost us about 50 cents each for all-day access to the bus/cable car system in Turin. Both the cable cars and the buses stopped right at the parking area. They then let us off directly in front off the cathedral.
To avoid long lines, the exhibition trail actually starts in the large piazza located at the back right of the cathedral. It's not well marked, but pedestrian traffic flow makes it fairly obvious where to start the visit. The trail then leads back through the gardens where various people check your tickets and show you how to continue. During this pleasant walk, you receive a pamphlet which highlights various significant parts of the Shroud. You also see many oversized pictures of the Shroud and previous exhibitions.
Eventually, you enter into a makeshift theater just behind the cathedral and see a very moving and well-done presentation of the Shroud. After that, you enter the cathedral from one side and shortly thereafter find yourself directly in front of the real sindone. We were in a group of about 75-100 people who got to look up at the Shroud for about 2-3 minutes before they wisked us along and let the next group enter. It was pretty awesome, actually.
Then, after spending the day in Turin, we took the cable car back to our parking area and drove away. It was all very smooth and painless (for us).
One of the great things that the Italians have done is to arrange the normal front entry into the cathedral as another viewing point for the Shroud. In other words, if people DON'T have reservations, they can still view the Shroud hanging over the altar. All they have to do is enter the front of the cathedral and walk as far forward as possible. It's the same view that people with reservations have, but just a little farther back. Frankly, we did this too. And while we were there, there was no crowd to see the Shroud from this entry point; so we were able to stand there as long as we desired. It would have been sufficient if we didn't have reservations. The reservations just got us a little closer, which of course, was worth it.
Well, we thank you again for your web site. We have been following the Shroud for about 20 years now and it was great to finally be able to see it in person. Your info helped. We hope the info in this message is enlightening to you and anybody with whom you share it.Peace of Christ! Steve and Gail Pignatiello
Bravo to the Italians! - A Report From Turin by Richard Orareo
What has been accomplished in the 1998 Exposition of the Holy Shroud is a marvel of planning, design and realization of an amazing placement of the Holy Shroud within the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The four additional complimentary Exhibitions that have been made available will complete your pilgrimage to Turin and convince you of the importance of this experience in the formation and expansion of your faith.
As you follow the path of the visitors through the gardens of the Royal Palace under covered walkways, you will see very large reproductions of engravings commemorating the earliest expositions of the Shroud in Chambery and Turin. Within the structure of the Palace you will experience a brief video presentation of what to look for when you see the actual Shroud. This ultra simple, yet ultimately logical presentation is masterfully produced and gives the unknowing eye the areas of the Shroud upon which to focus.
As one approaches the front doors of the Cathedral, there is background music of organ, cello and oboe selections that will transport you to a mood of reverence and contemplation. As you enter the Cathedral and pass before the Baroque side altars, one wonders about the highest quality of restoration that was accomplished.
The crowd of people is then divided into three levels before turning right in order to pass before the Holy Shroud. What you see is breathtaking! The Shroud is suspended above in a simple black case with subtle but superb lighting. Elegantly surrounded by yards of purple drapery, the eye is drawn first to the face, serene yet majestic. The power of this vague, shadowy imprint brings me to tears with each viewing. Next the eye is drawn to the wound in the side with the vividness of the blood still vibrant in its color. As you view the rest of the frontal image, the soft lyrical voice of a nun tells you, "This is the Holy Shroud" in Italian. As she goes on to describe various aspects, your eye scans the dorsal image with its blood flows across the small of the back and the traces of blood at the feet. You stand there mystified with each viewing, whether 20 years ago in 1978 or today. After several minutes of viewing time the crowd just moves on before the other side altars and out onto the street. If you feel the need for further time for prayer or meditation, the main doors of the Cathedral are open at all times to kneel or sit before the Shroud and feel its impact.
Within a block of the Cathedral is the first of four major complimentary exhibits concerning the Shroud. The combined holdings of the State Archives and the Royal Library are on display in the Archives Building next to the Opera House. This exhibit is called "L'Immagine Rivelata," the work of Secondo Pia.
Pia's original photographs are displayed in natural size and huge enlargements with some of his camera equipment. But for me, the most significant artifact presented here is the very tiny pilgrim's medallion found in the River Seine and kept in the National Museum in Paris. Its significance is recorded in all of the Shroud history books as it portrays the De Charny coat of arms. This exhibit also contains very beautiful engravings, paintings and other renderings from the history of the Shroud's many expositions. It is well worth seeing.
The second Exhibition is at the Palazzo Barolo just a few blocks from the Cathedral. In this we see the personal collection of Shroud renderings gathered by (King) Umberto himself over a forty year period. This collection of engravings and original oil paintings range from 1578 to 1931 and are masterfully displayed in an exquisite array of Baroque decorated rooms. The present collection was gathered together following the destruction of the first collection of the Savoy family in the bombing of Monte Cassino during the Second World War. The highlight of this collection is the presence of the Lier Shroud, the oldest copy of the Holy Shroud, dated 1516. It shows burn marks predating the 1532 fire in Chambery. This too, I had never seen before.
The third and most important exhibit is that of the Museum of the Holy Shroud within the Royal Church of the Shroud, again a short distance away. Here in the main Church is a beautiful full-size, full color, never-before-seen photograph of the Shroud displayed in the original 1931 frame and altar piece so familiar in all of the Enrie photographs. This Church is beautifully restored with elegant fresco and oil paintings of the Shroud. The lower level of the Church houses the Museum of the Holy Shroud. Here, very dramatically presented are just a small number of the vast holdings of the museum: the box that held the Shroud during its journey from Chambery to Turin, the original Pia camera, many engravings and photographic images. But here we also have a modern, high tech, high quality museum presentation of unbelievable sophistication. Flashing images are projected on the vaulted ceilings and on the floors. Computer images on screens are in sharp contrast to the 17th century engravings . Here the highlight is the silver reliquary that held the Shroud in the Guarini Chapel for 400 years. The very reliquary that was rescued from the burning Cathedral (April 12, 1997) by the heroic efforts of firefighter and philosopher Mario Trematore. To see the silver reliquary for the first time was a thrill, but to meet Mario and his family, personal human contact with a modern day, unpretentious hero of the Shroud was, yet again, another thrill. The "Shroudies" of the world toast you and thank you, Mario. Salute!
The fourth and final exhibit of Shroud images is at the Basilica of Maria Ansiliatrice, world headquarters of the Salesian Fathers. This unique display includes hundreds of artistic renderings of the Shroud that devotees would have had as a rememberance from recent and ancient expositions. This demonstrates the depth of devotion that the faithful have in this sacred relic.
Once again, my thanks to the Italians, custodians of the Holy Shroud for all of the world. The faithful, the curious, the skeptics, the non-believers, they are all here from countries all over the world. The Shroud has that captivating quality that can both test and confirm ones faith. Seeing the Shroud this year, once again brings me to tears, flooding my being with emotion. My personal encounter with my personal Saviour. Come and share the experience.
Turin, April 22, 1998
A Report on the Opening of the 1998 Shroud Exhibition by Emanuela & Maurizio Marinelli
Photographs © 1998 Maurizio Marinelli
On Wednesday, April 15, at 5.29 a.m., the Shroud was secretly transferred to the temporary sacristy of the Turin Cathedral, from a secret place (some press articles talk about a Monastery in the hills around Turin), in the presence of Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini, Archbishop of Turin. There, the textile expert Mrs. Mechtild Flury-Lemberg (shown in photo below) and Sister Maria Clara worked for about three days to stitch the Shroud on a white cloth and a thick flannel after having removed the old blue satin border.
Photo Courtesy of "Gente"
On the evening of Friday, April 17, the Shroud was inserted in its new case, realized by the workshop "Bodini" of Turin. The cost of 800 millions liras to produce the case was sponsored by "Italgas." The case weighs three tons (sizes 4.64 x 1.38 m) and is formed of two 5 mm bulletproof steel plates separated by a thin inner tube, while the inside part is of stainless steel. The Shroud is covered by a special glass, 7 cm thick, bulletproof and UV protected. Inside the case there is a mixture of inert gas (argon) and steam; the quantity of oxygen is continuously controlled since it mustn't exceed 0.01÷0.1%. The temperature is controlled at around 18°C. The case was placed in the cathedral at almost the same position in which the Shroud was shown in 1978, contrary to earlier announcements claiming that the cathedral is practicable only to the transept.
On Saturday morning, April 18, the first visitors were allowed: Cardinal Saldarini, Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy and her daughter Elisabetta, who was viewing the Shroud for the first time. At 9:00 a.m., more than 800 qualified journalists from all over the world were allowed to see the Shroud.
At 11 a.m., a press conference was called for the opening of the exhibition. Because of the great number of journalists, it was organized outside, in the courtyard of the seminary on XX Settembre street. Beside Cardinal Saldarini, Father Giovanni Sangalli and Father Giuseppe Ghiberti were there to answer questions. Unfortunately there were many technical problems, such as the lack of translators for the foreign journalists, an inadequate public address amplification system that made most recordings unusable and the lack of specific experts on the Shroud able to answer the various questions. During this press conference there were some statements that raised many polemics. Above all, those relative to the meaning of the words "icon" and "relic" that are in contrast with the previous statements of the Pope favorable to the authenticity of the Shroud. In fact the Cardinal claimed that "It is not correct to call the Shroud 'relic'." Since it was persistently defined as an "icon," Emanuela Marinelli intervened, stating that, with the word "icon" one doesn't intend to define the Shroud as a painting since it was scientifically shown that it isn't. Father Ghiberti thanked her for this intervention, confirming that the word "icon" is used only in the sense of "image".
At 4 p.m. the solemn Mass for the opening of the exhibition was celebrated by Cardinal Saldarini with many Piedmontese Bishops.
As for what the pilgrims will see visiting the Shroud, here is a little information. The project to design the path that the pilgrims will follow to the Cathedral was realized by the Architect Pasquale Carbone and it runs along about 700 m without architectural barriers. The pilgrims enter from Piazzetta Reale, through the entrance of the Royal Palace Gardens, behind the Cathedral (from the Piazza Castello side).
There you can buy books, videos and other informative materials. Moreover, those who have no reservations can try to get one, if there are still available spaces for that day. Otherwise they have to be satisfied entering through the main door of the Cathedral and seeing the Shroud from a distance of at least 30 m, but without any time limits.
After the entrance, the pilgrims start their path under a beautiful portico about 50 m long, then they have to walk through part of the Royal Gardens in open air (one has to hope to avoid rainy days!) for about 50-100 m.
Then the covered path begins that winds inside the Gardens. It provides the pilgrims with reproductions of prints relative to the exhibitions, from the most ancient ones to the 1978 one. At the end of it one arrives at a room in which a short video "Tutti gli uomini vedranno la tua salvezza" (All the men will see your salvation) (3 minutes long) is shown about the Shroud, with captions in five languages and without audio comment. It shows the natural size color image, the enlargement of the frontal and dorsal image placed vertically, then the interesting areas are pointed out with enlargements (the wound of the wrist, the wound in the nape of the neck, the flagrum wounds on the back, the side wound with its flow of blood on the back, the face with the fracture of the nasal septum), positive-negative image and enlargements of the face in positive and negative.
Next starts a rather meandering path to reach the Cathedral during which three natural size photographs are shown (taken June 25, 1997 by Gian Durante). They are presented with graduated contrast to allow the pilgrims' eyes to accustom themselves to the real contrast they will see on the Shroud itself (about 600 m).
The whole path is without audio comments or information on panels about the history or the scientific research (as previously declared). In fact someone confused the last natural size photograph with the Shroud itself.
Finally one arrives at the left door of the Cathedral (when facing the Cathedral). At this point one can choose among three different platforms at various levels that allow viewing the Shroud from different heights (one goes from about 3 m from the Shroud of the first level to about 5 m of the third one). Flash photography is not allowed, however the lighting is perfect. The dominant violet color of the vestments gives something of a funeral or Lent sensation. However, the painting showing the Guarini Chapel as it looked before the 1997 fire, placed over the steel shield that separates the Cathedral from the rest of the Chapel, produces a beautiful scene behind the Shroud case. Viewers are permitted to stand before the Shroud for about 2 or 3 minutes, not more, then go out through the right door. No more than 4,000 persons per hour will be admitted.
A Report from Turin by Richard Orareo - Holy Week 1998
Everywhere in this most splendid of Baroque Italian cities, Turin is in the midst of a tremendous transformation in preparation for the Exposition of the Holy Shroud. From the vantage point of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, one can see reconstruction, renovation and refurbishment in every direction. The Cathedral, as well as the Royal Palace, and especially the Guarini Chapel of the Holy Shroud, are in the process of restoration. Construction cranes and scaffolding are in place with laborers securing the Dome of the Chapel. It is said it will be years before it can be restored to its original grandeur. The exterior of the Royal Palace seems to sparkle in the bright Italian sun. Where once it was painted a dull mustard yellow color, it now a pure bright white, with little evidence of the devastating fire of one year ago.
The Cathedral will be in full readiness to receive the Holy Shroud for the next week's inauguration of the solemn exposition. Although still closed to the public, it was my honor to be present at the first Mass to be celebrated in the Cathedral since the fire. Work continues, but renovation is nearly completed. When one enters the front doors, the stark white interior immediately draws your eye directly to the area of the Guarini Chapel high above the altar. The image is startling! Not the destruction and devastation resulting from the fire, but rather, the illusion of a restored altar and dome of the Chapel. A clever theatrical painting is in place at the juncture of the Cathedral and Chapel. It gives the impression of what is to come when restoration is complete.
The interior of the Cathedral shows no damage resulting from the fire. A beautifully patterned marble floor replaces that which was destroyed by water damage. Again, stark white painted walls and ceiling in the main body of the Cathedral are in sharp contrast to the carefully restored side altars. These are in high baroque style with marble columns and pilasters and vast amounts of gold leaf. All paintings and statues are repaired, cleaned and in place.
However, there are changes to report. The main altar has been moved to the center of the body of the Cathedral, reducing the area for seating by about one third. Thus giving much greater space for the permanent repository of the Shroud in the area that previously held the High Altar. A mock-up of the structure that will hold the Shroud during the exposition gives one the sense of a most dramatic presentation.
In order to avoid the endless lines of people waiting to view the Shroud, a new entrance procedure will be in place. The people will begin their journey at the juncture of the Opera House and the Royal Armery Museum behind the Palazza Madama. They will follow a path through the Royal Gardens behind the Palace and enter the Cathedral through the left front door under an especially constructed portico. They will then proceed through the Cathedral and pass before the Shroud, pausing for mere moments, then exiting through the right hand door, again under a portico and out to the street. In front of the Palazzo Madama, where once there was a heavily traveled street, streetcars running on tracks and endless lines of cars, there is now a lovely garden with lawns and banks of flowers and beautiful street lamps.
A few short blocks away is the Royal Church of the Holy Shroud, home of the Museum and the Confraternity of the Holy Shroud. This recently completed restored church features a never before seen full size, full color photo reproduction of the Shroud in the original 1931 frame and altar piece. Magnificent frescos and oil paintings adorn the walls and ceiling.
The lower church has been transformed into a grand museum space, replacing the overcrowded tiny room that was the previous museum. The treasured holdings of the museum are in place. One can view the actual carrying case that the brought the Shroud from France to Turin. Also on display is the Secondo Pia camera and the original photographic glass plates. High tech exhibit techniques will give visitors an understanding of the latest developments in the ongoing saga of the history and science of the Shroud. There are many historical artistic representations and documents on display, from the most ancient to the most recent.
Another interesting exhibit will be held at the Mother House of the Salesians of Don Bosco, again just a few blocks further from the museum. Also, at the Palazzo Barolo, over 60 representations of the Shroud from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries will be on display. These are on loan from the Royal Family's personal collection.
Cultural displays, exhibits and performances are already underway; there is much to experience in Turin. The many museums are equal in quality to best anywhere in the world. Be sure to see Leonardo's self-portrait, visit the Egyptian Museum (the largest collection outside of Cairo) and see a reconstructed medieval village. Explore this city of four rivers. Every square has rather incredible statuary and gardens.
Via Roma, with its portico covered sidewalks from the Railroad Station to the Royal Palace, rivals Rodeo Drive and Fifth Avenue for glamour and high prices. Via Garibaldi is more reasonable and exciting. Restaurants and coffee shops range from the reasonable corner tratoria to the ultra expensive restaurant with its five stars and five dollar tiny cup of expresso.
The people are warm and helpful and try hard to communicate, although English is little known here. Try speaking Italian. The effort is appreciated. Turin is thoroughly modern, very beautiful, quite safe and an adventure waiting to be discovered and explored. Come and enjoy!Richard Orareo
Live Internet Feed From Turin Cathedral
The live Internet feed from the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, where the Shroud is currently on display, can be reached on the Video Page of the Archdiocese of Turin Website. Available only in Italian, the page offers the viewer a number of visual choices. Click the photograph in the upper left hand corner and you go to the page that has the live feed from the Cathedral. Just click on the Shroud image to see the feed. The text states that the images are rather dark during the 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. visiting hours since the lights in the Cathedral are turned off and the Shroud is lit only via the optical fibers of the case. They suggest viewing between the hours of 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. when liturgical ceremonies are being held in the Cathedral and all of the lights are on.
Clicking the photograph in the upper right hand corner takes you to a page with four different videos to view. By clicking on any of the four images on this page, you can choose to view the unfolding of the Shroud, the opening of the 1998 Exhibition, historic footage of the 1931 Exposition showing pilgrims entering the Cathedral and 1931 footage of the Shroud being shown outside the Cathedral.
My thanks to Maurizio Marinelli for getting this information for us. I attempted to view the feed and videos using my existing RealPlayer Version 4.0, but with no success. I then downloaded the free RealPlayer Version 5.0 from the link provided on the Video Page. Once this was downloaded and installed, I was able to immediately view the four videos. I was still unable to view the live feed however. This may just be a slight technical problem with the website or I may have an incorrect setting in the preferences of the RealPlayer itself. Rather than taking more time to figure it out, I am making the link available to the viewers of this site. Apparently, you must have RealPlayer Version 5.0 to see the videos.
Reservations Needed to Visit the Shroud in 1998
Admission is free but reservations are required for everyone planning to visit the Shroud of Turin during the upcoming public exhibition (April 18, 1998 to June 14, 1998). There are several ways that you may book your reservations. Depending on which country you reside in, you may dial either a toll-free or a long-distance (toll charge) telephone number. The operators are able to take reservations in Italian, English, French, German and Spanish. You may also make your reservations via the Internet. I am providing a direct link to the Italian Language Reservation Page of the site. Once there, click on the appropriate flag to select the Reservation Page in the language of your choice. The reservations themselves are completely free of charge, as is the reservation service. Also provided is a chart indicating the total number of reservations available for each day of the exposition along with the number of reservations already booked on that date.
When you book your reservations you will be given a code number and tickets will be mailed to you with which you will gain entrance to view the Shroud, hopefully without a long wait. Individuals or groups without tickets may still be able to view the Shroud, possibly using some form of locally purchased "instant ticket," but this is not advisable and will probably result in having to wait in a very long line. The telephone lines are open daily from 9:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 18:00, local Turin time. Here are the telephone numbers:
- Italy: 167-329329 (Toll Free)
- France: 0800907674 (Toll Free)
- Great Britain: 0800967951 (Toll Free)
- Spain: 900993943 (Toll Free)
- Switzerland: 1551129 (Toll Free)
- Argentina: 00393003034734 (Toll Free)
- All Other Countries: +39-11-4647999 (Long Distance Toll Charges Will Apply)
Update on the 1998 Exposition as of July 1997
The following article appeared in the July 1997 (Vol. 8, No. 7) issue of Catholic International on page 34:
SHROUD TO GO ON DISPLAY
The Shroud of Turin will go on public display next year despite a fire this spring that devastated the 15th century cathedral which housed it The shroud was rescued from a blaze that heavily damaged the cathedral chapel in Turin that housed the cloth. Firemen smashed through a bullet-proof glass screen with a sledgehammer to save the shroud. Examinations of it after the fire ruled out any damage or change in the cloth. Church officials have confirmed that despite the near-disaster, exhibitions of the shroud will go ahead as scheduled in 1998 and in 2000. Pope John Paul II has approved the displays as part of jubilee celebrations marking the new millennium.
The archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini, held a news conference in the Vatican to outline plans for the exhibitions, which in recent times have been organized every 20 years. The cloth was last on public display in 1978. The cardinal said the exhibitions, scheduled for April 18-June 14, 1998, and again in the year 2000 "have an exclusively pastoral aim and in no way imply taking a position" as to the cloth's authenticity.
The Shroud of Turin is venerated by many Christians as Christ's burial cloth. The 14-foot-long stretch of linen bears the image of a man brutally beaten and crucified. The Catholic Church has never claimed the cloth as a holy relic, but treats it with reverence. As with any devotional item, however, the Church is careful to instruct the faithful that the shroud is not to be worshipped and that it possesses no special significance other than to reinforce the faith of individual believers.
Evidence refuting its authenticity came in 1988, when results were published of radiocarbon analysis which dated fibers from the cloth as no more than 750 years old. Those tests said it was 95 percent certain that the cloth dated from between 1260 to 1390, suggesting the shroud was a medieval fraud. But those results have not been universally accepted by the scientific community. More recent research points to inaccuracies in the laboratory procedures of 1988, which many have thrown off the radiocarbon dating.
Cardinal Saldarini said the shroud will go on display in the main section of Turin's renaissance cathedral, which suffered less damage in the April fire. He also said the Church might be open in the future to new scientific methods to help determine the age of the shroud, but that he did not plan to seek new carbon dating tests.