The Turin Shroud went on display yesterday for the first time in five years. The 14ft cloth, which is protected by a climate-controlled case, will be on display at Turin Cathedral until June 24.
Pope Francis, whose family hails from Piedmont, the Italian region where Turin is situated, will visit the shroud on June 21 during a private viewing alongside a number of his relatives.
Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin said on Saturday: “Many pilgrims who had already seen the shroud in past showings come back, even though some saw it just five years ago.
“That’s not a long time. And yet many of the bookings we have are people who have already seen the shroud. That means there is a fundamental need in people’s hearts to renew this incredible experience that they had the first time they saw it.”
Viewing the cloth, traditionally regarded as being the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, is free but booking is mandatory. More than one million people have booked to see it so far, according to the city’s mayor.
In 1988 radiocarbon dating suggested that the shroud dated from between 1260 and 1390. However, this has been disputed by some scientists.
Pope Francis will spend two days in Turin from June 21 to 22, and, as well as venerate the shroud, he will meet juvenile prisoners, immigrants and the sick.
The papal visit will also commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of St John Bosco, a 19th-century priest from the Turin region who was a pioneer in vocational education, worked with poor and abandoned children and founded the Salesians, a religious order specialising in youth work.