will be publicly exposed next September for the first time in 40 years. Archbishop Anastasio Ballestrero of Turin has agreed to the exposition in one of the city's piazzas. Umberto of Savoy, head of Italy's former royal family, which is the legal owner of the shroud, has also agreed to the exposition.
The shroud is traditionally considered the burial shroud of Jesus. It bears an imprint of a human figure remarkably like a photographic negative. The shroud, which the Savoy family kept in their ancestral city of Chambery, now in France, was first brought to Turin in 1578 to shorten the trip of St Charles Borromeo, then Archbishop of Milan, who had started on a pilgrimage to see it.
Enclosed in a silver casket in a chapel of Turin's Cathedral of San Giovanni, the shroud has been exposed only a few times. The exposition 40 years ago was for only five minutes in the cathedral square.
In November, 1973, Turin archdiocesan authorities allowed the shroud to be viewed on a television programme. Although
the Church does not officially recognise the Holy Shroud as a sacred relic, Pope Paul at that time called on "all people, believers and non-believers alike," to know the "fascination of this face — so true, so profound, so human, so divine."
The Holy Shroud is a long, narrow piece of yellowed linen measuring some 14 ft by 4 ft and bearing what appears to be the negative image of the back and front of a man. The face is long, sensitive and Semitic, and the head and body bear marks in the places where Scripture and tradition say Christ was wounded. During the television broadcast there were close-up shots of the shroud in its casket.
In March, 1976, the Swiss criminologist Max Frei said his research indicated that pollen samples taken from the shroud showed that it originated in Palestine about 2,000 years ago and came to Europe via Constantinople. But later that month, a special commission set up In 1969 by Cardinal Michele Pellegrino, then Archbishop of Turin, reported that it had been able neither to date the shroud with any certainty nor to prove the presence of dried blood on the linen.