Shroud visitors expected to hit 2 million

By Jerome R. Corsi


Negative of image on front of Shroud of Turin

TURIN, Italy – In the first two weeks of the Exposition of the Shroud, more than half a million pilgrims have traveled to Turin, Italy, to see what millions around the world believe is the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

By Friday, April 30, the number of reserved tickets to view the Shroud had increased to 1,727,996, with 121,827 – just over 7 percent of the total – coming from outside Italy.

The Archdiocese of Turin expects well over 2 million pilgrims to book reservations on the exposition’s official website at Sindone.org.

Additionally, another half million reservations will be allocated to pilgrims who arrive in Turin without having secured on the Internet a specific time and date to view the Shroud.

The next exposition of the Shroud is scheduled for 2025, a full 15 years from the close of this year’s public showing.

This is the first time the Shroud has been shown to the public since the 2002 restoration, which removed patches placed on the Shroud by the Poor Clare Nuns in 1534 to repair damage from a fire in 1532 that nearly destroyed the Shroud.

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The appearance of the Shroud in the current exposition differs dramatically from the appearance of the Shroud when last shown to the public in 1998 and again in 2000.

Encased in bullet-proof glass that for the first time is illuminated from the back, the Shroud has a distinctly pale white color highlighted with red-maroon tones, which tend to wash out the straw-yellow color of the linen fabric so familiar to previous pilgrims and students from photographs.

Also removed was the previous backing cloth, known as the Holland cloth, sewn onto the Shroud in 1534.

The new, lighter-colored backing cloth is more translucent in the current backlit display case.

The observer who has seen the Shroud in person in previous expositions is immediately struck, not only by the distinctively different color of the Shroud seen today, but also by the now clearly visible segments of the Shroud that were destroyed in the 1532 fire, as well as the surprisingly large rectangle that was cut from the Shroud in 1988 to permit the carbon-14 testing done at that time.

In the restoration, carbonized material around the burn holes was scraped clean, making the holes now appear even larger than they did when covered by the patches placed on the Shroud in 1534.

Weights applied to the edges of the Shroud flattened out creases in the fabrid, so that in the current display case, the Shroud appears almost as if it were a photograph of the original, rather than the Shroud itself.

Many shroud experts, termed “Sindologists” after “Il Sindone,” the Italian name for the Shroud, argue that the restoration failed to preserve scientifically important material from the Shroud and may have damaged the long-term preservation of the fragile cloth.

The restoration “set off a firestorm of controversy, criticism, debate and recrimination that ultimately engulfs, polarizes and divides the Shroud research community,” said Barrie Schwortz, the official photographer from the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project.

To accommodate the record number of pilgrims expected to travel to Turin to see the Shroud in person, the Shroud committee organized by the Archdiocese has arranged for pilgrims to enter the exhibit not at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, where the Shroud is on display, but in the Royal Gardens of the previously ruling Savoy Family, adjoining the Royal Square and the Piazza San Giovanni in front of the Cathedral.

Those wishing to see the Shroud are led along a long, winding pathway that generally requires walking for more than an hour before entering the Cathedral for the few minutes visitors are permitted to remain in front of the Shroud.

Led into three, tiered pathways directly in front of the Shroud, those who arrive in Turin and brave the hour-long walk required to enter the Cathedral are ushered in groups of about 25 persons on each tier to stand quietly before the Shroud while a prayer of veneration is read in Italian.

After a few minutes viewing time directly in front of the Shroud, the visitors standing on the three tiers directly in front of the Shroud are ushered out, so the next group of pilgrims can spend their few minutes of viewing time before the sacred cloth.

Pews in the back of the Cathedral – with a distant and somewhat obstructed view – are held for those without reservations. Visitors in the pews are permitted to enter the Cathedral directly from the Piazza San Giovanni and are allowed to stay in the church to pray quietly as long as they wish.

WorldNetDaily Senior Staff Reporter Jerome R. Corsi viewed the Shroud of Turin in person during the 1998 exposition. Dr. Corsi is the author of “The Shroud Codex,” a novel based on the Shroud of Turin, published in April by Simon and Schuster.