VATICAN CITY, APR 24, 1997 (VIS) - Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini announced at a conference this morning in the Holy See Press Office that the "Santa Sindone" or Holy Shroud, housed in the Guarini Chapel of Turin's St. John Cathedral until the recent fire there, will go on display as scheduled in 1998, as well as the year 2000.

The archbishop of Turin and papal custodian of the Holy Shroud, was accompanied by Fr. Giuseppe Ghiberti, dean of the theological faculty of Turin and vice president of the Commission for the Display of the Shroud; Gian Maria Zaccone, vice president of the International Center of Sindonology; Ugo Perone, assessor for cultural resources and communications, city of Turin; Walter Giuliano, assessor for natural and cultural resources, province of Turin; Giampiero Leo, assessor for culture, Piedmont region.

The cardinal explained the damage which occurred to the Guarini Chapel, Turin Cathedral and part of the adjacent Royal Palace due to the fire which broke out during the night of April 11-12. "The Holy Shroud," he said, "which was kept in a casket in the cathedral choir, was saved from the blaze and taken to safety in the archbishop's house." He added that "a commission of inquiry is working to identify the causes of the fire." The cloth was previously damaged in a fire in France in 1532.

The Shroud is a 4.36 by 1.10 meter linen cloth, bearing the life-size imprint of a man and, according to tradition, is the burial cloth in which Jesus was wrapped after he was taken down from the cross. Ownership has changed hands over the centuries. The Savoys of Italy were its owners in 1578 when they brought it to Turin. In 1983, upon the death of Umberto II of Savoy, the ownership of the Shroud passed into the hands of the Holy See in accordance with his will.

The Shroud, in the Greek of the Gospels, as well as in Latin, is pronounced "sindon" and meant a piece of cloth or burial shroud.

Cardinal Saldarini remarked that today's press conference was called by the Holy See "to state how matters stand almost a fortnight after the fire and to make known the plans that the religious and civil authorities have drawn up for the next months."

"I have been asked about damage estimates," he went on, "how far the art treasures damaged by the blaze can be recovered, what has been lost, and above all about the exposition of the Holy Shroud, which had been planned for the Easter period next year. Will it still be held, or will it have to be postponed?"

"I would like to answer this question from my privileged position as Papal Custodian of the Holy Shroud," said Turin's archbishop. "It is the firm intention of all the authorities responsible to hold the solemn exposition of the Holy Shroud in Turin next year at the time and in the place previously planned, that is, between Sunday April 18 and Sunday June 14, 1998, in the cathedral church. ... This commitment is seen as a sign of faith in Divine Providence and a 'wager of hope'.

He said that "when Pope John Paul, the Shroud's owner, was asked whether the Shroud should go on exposition in 1998 or 2000, he replied, 'Why not do both'."

The cardinal mentioned that the last time the shroud was on display was August 26 to October 8, 1978, the fourth centenary of its presence in Turin, during which time an estimated 3 million pilgrims came.

"The solemn exposition of the Holy Shroud has an exclusively pastoral purpose and does not intend to take sides in any scientific discussion about this mysterious and haunting cloth," said Cardinal Saldarini in concluding remarks.

Afterwards Ugo Perone said that on the occasion of the exposition of the Holy Shroud, many churches in Turin will be restored and tourist and cultural itineraries will be organized in the city. There will be an exhibit on the image of the Shroud and another on its artistic iconography.

For his part, Walter Giuliano indicated that the expositions of 1998 and 2000 "will serve to accentuate a personal and collective examination of conscience, capable of individualizing and tracing a future of hope that will make it possible to build a project of society that will not be able to do without the values of solidarity and peace among men."

av Webmaster publisert 31.03.2006, sist endret 10.03.2011 - 02:39