In the next weeks Cardinal Poletto will show the restorations carried out on the Sacred Linen. Removed the patches and replaced the “Holland cloth” which acted as a backing.
Shroud - New image
In the next weeks the interventions will be shown in detail by the papal custodian of the Shroud, the Archbishop of Turin Poletto, and will be equipped with a series of the new images of the Cloth. For the moment, we know that the patches have been removed and the “Holland cloth,” which acted as the backing of the Shroud linen, has been replaced. The operation has been carried through by Dr. Mechtild Flury Lemberg, former director of the Bern Abegg Museum and a textile expert. The patches had been sewn on the Sheet by the Clare nuns of Chambéry, after the fire that in 1532 had destroyed the Sainte Chapelle, in which the Shroud was kept.
Why removing the patches? For two good reasons: the seams, more than
450 years old, were a permanent factor of tension in the Cloth, and therefore
they contributed to the forming of folds (which make the image less “readable”
and end by damaging cloth). It happened, instead, that the preservation
of the spread Shroud (it has not been rolled up anymore after the 1997
fire) has remarkably contributed to improve the relaxation of the cloth.
Another reason to intervene is due to the fact that, during the centuries, in the seams between the cloths debris of various kinds have accumulated (hems and fragments of cloth burnt in the 1532 fire, the dusts, etc): dirt which compromises the optimal preservation of the Cloth.
The restorations are part of the plan drawn by the Commission for the preservation (the international group of scientists that in these years has studied the better conditions to preserve the Cloth, indicating, for example, the “spread” preservation and the various interventions of seam settlement carried out by Prof. Flury Lemberg in occasion of the 1998 and 2000 exhibitions). The Commission’s indications have been submitted to the Custodian and the Holy See (owner of the Cloth after its testamentary donation to the Pope by the last king of Italy, Humbert II of Savoy).
Besides the interventions on the patches and the substitution of the
backing cloth, it has been possible to complete the “digital mapping”
of the Shroud, with a scanning of the entire Shroud Linen, on both the
sides (in November 2000, in occasion of a previous intervention, a scanner
had explored, for the first time after 400 years, the back of the Cloth,
but only in the central part and for half its length, just because the
movements of the scanner were prevented by the seams).
The scanning has been carried through by the team of Prof. Paolo Soardo, from the National Electro-technical Institute “Galileo Ferraris” of Turin.
Therefore, now there is a complete digital visualization of the Shroud: a map that will be of much profit for the scholars of the various disciplines which study this “impossible object.” It is important to remember, in fact, that little is still known about the Shroud, above all as far as the formation of the image on the Linen is concerned (the tests carried out in the past have always had disappointing results).
The digital map of the Shroud goes in the “right” direction for the new researches, the direction which is to favor “non-invasive” studies that will enable to widen the knowledge without having to intervene on the Cloth materially or, worse, to remove parts of it. Moreover, the series of images on computer will be able to favor the development of new researches more directly connected to the digital technologies.
When the new researches? In the Symposium that, in March of 2000, re-united in Turin for the first time a group of about forty scholars from all over the world, hypotheses and proposals for further series of tests on the Cloth were put forward (the Proceedings were published in the autumn of the same year). All the proposals have been given to the Custodian, while waiting for the Holy See to express its own final opinion.