Visitor file out after viewing the Shroud of Turin at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy (Screen grab from WND video)

TURIN, Italy – While the New York Times describes the Shroud of Turin is a “faded relic of Christendom” the Catholic Church is using to divert attention from Pope Benedict XVI’s “past dealings with pedophile priests,” a steady stream of visitors continues to file into the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist for the rare chance to view in person what well may be the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

The Shroud committee established by the Archdiocese of Turin to oversee and manage the exposition granted WND press credentials to attend the 2010 Shroud Exposition that began April 10 and is scheduled to close on May 23.

In response to a WND request made in Turin, the Shroud committee further granted WND permission to record a video of the Shroud in the cathedral during visiting hours.

See WND’s video of the Shroud exhibit:

Visiting hours begin daily at 7 a.m., with the last group of visitors granted online reservations to enter the cathedral at 7:45 p.m.

Visitors are strictly prohibited from operating cell phones or taking photographs of the Shroud within the cathedral.

After what typically takes an hour of walking in line from the entrance in the Royal Gardens aligning the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, visitors are permitted to spend about three minutes standing in front of the Shroud in three observation tiers a few feet away.

For the exposition, the Shroud is displayed in a bulletproof illuminated case bordered on all sides by thick red drapery in front of the Cathedral’s central altar.

Once each group of visitors files into the viewing stands before the Shroud, a prayer in Italian is read from the podium positioned to the immediate right of one of two elaborately uniformed Italian Carabinieri national police guards stationed at either side of the Shroud display.


Entrance to Shroud of Turn exhibit at Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy (WND photo)

Translated into English, the prayer read to each group of visitors describes physically the faint image of the crucified man in the Shroud and offers a meditation on the meaning of the passion and death of Jesus Christ:

We Are In Front of the Shroud

Between the two dark lines are seen:

  • From the center toward the left: the face, the injuries: to the side, to the wrists and to the feet
  • From the center toward your right: the neck, the back and the legs with the signs of the scourging and the wounds to the feet.
    We pray:

    Lord Jesus,

    In the Holy Shroud we contemplate all the signs of your suffering seen in the Passion


    Entrance to Shroud of Turn exhibit at Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy (WND photo)

    You have taken upon yourself all the suffering and the crosses of all humanity, permitting us to feel through you sustained, consoled and pardoned.

    We desire to begin a new life because “through your wounds we are healed.”

    Amen

After a few minutes of silence, the lector instructs in Italian the following: “The pilgrims will now have the kindness to head toward the exit to make way for the following group.”

The only alteration to the procedure followed throughout visiting hours is the number of minutes allowed to remain silently before the Shroud. The time varies according to the number of visitors remaining in line, to accommodate as many as possible.


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