The events linked to the Shroud Exhibition have been presented
by Chiara SANTOMIERO
ROME - 963,639 from Italy and 63.836 from abroad, among them, 12 from Burkina Faso, 8 from Arctic Lands, 497 from Argentina, 145 from Japan and 2605 from the Russian Federation: one million pilgrims have already booked their visit for the Solemn Shroud Exhibition, which is going to begin on April 10 in the Turin Cathedral and finish on May 23, but about two million pilgrims more are expected.
These are some of the data given during the press conference introducing the event, held last Wednesday in Rome at the Foreign Press Association.
93% of the pilgrims have booked the visit – completely free – on the Internet site http://www.sindone.org/, the others by calling the Freefone number 008000SINDONE or one of the other numbers of the “Centro Prenotazioni Sindone 2010” (“Booking Centre for the Shroud 2010”).
All the reception “engine” is based on about 4.500 volunteers. “Those who contribute to this event, points out Maurizio Bardello, director of the Exhibition Commitee, do it completely for free.”
Moreover, the organization “has been based on moderation criteria, with reasonable costs and avoiding any kind of waste. In fact, a wide use of recyclable products is expected and a part of the works being carried out will be permanent, such as the interventions in Palazzo Chiablese, where pilgrims will be able to stop for the Eucharist Adoration and to confess.”
Besides the economic aspects, a particular attention has been given to the environmental protection by employing environmentally friendly materials and solutions with a low environmental impact.
“Just in order to reduce the effect on the town given by the arrival of the about 20,000 expected, Bardello said, each of them will be asked a money contribution of 30 euros, only aimed at planting new trees.”
“The path pilgrims will follow to reach the Cathedral, explained Fiorenzo Alfieri, president of the Committee for the Shroud Exhibition 2010 and councillor responsible for the Culture in Turin, will let them pass through the Low Royal Gardens and the New Wing of the Royal Palace, then it will lead them arrive into the area of the Roman Theatre and go up again to the square of the Cathedral Tower. Here there will be the “pre-reading” pavilion, that is, a path with images and explanations, preparing pilgrims to see the Shroud; at the end of this path, they will enter the cathedral.”
“The path, Alfieri has added, will have a single entrance, will be based on platforms, and will be protected, covered and without architectural barriers. You will be able to enter with the booking ticket, but in the reception point for pilgrims and tourists of Piazza Castello “immediate” bookings will be also given, according to the place availability.” Inside the Cathedral, “the path will develop on three levels to allow as many people as possibile to see the Shroud in an optimal way.”
What are pilgrims coming in Turin from all over the world going to see? “An atypical linen sheet, explained Mgr Giuseppe Ghiberti, president of the Diocesan Committee for the Shroud, about 4.41mt long and 1.13 mt high, which contains the figure of a man, who died because of the crucifixion torture.”
According to the tradition, it is the sheet used to wrap Jesus’ body in the tomb; sure, “there is a very faithful correspondence, a “mirror” of the Gospel literary account regarding Jesus’ death.” So the shroud is a “poor sign”, which refers to “a unique event in history, for those who believe.”
If regarding the dating of the find there are “two opinions about its coming from the Roman or the Medieval Age, no serious scientist can state with certainty that he knows ‘how’ the image formed on the cloth: there have been a lot of attempts, but no precise answers.”
Why is the Church interested in it? “As it is an echo of the Gospel message, Mgr Ghiberti explained, it becomes an instrument of evangelization, and so, in this sense, a responsibility for the Church itself.”
In the 2010 Exhibition (the last ones were in 1998 and in 2000), the Shroud will be exhibited for the faithful after the preservation intervention, which in 2002 removed some organic remains left on the cloth after the fire in Chambery (where it was kept before arriving in Italy) in 1532.
When also the “patches” put by the Chambery Poor Clares were removed and the Shroud was mended with natural threads, the backing cloth it had been fixed to since 1534 was detatched and the Shroud was placed in the new preservation case made by the Alenia Aeronautica of Turin.
“It cannot be left to the faithful veneration forever, Mgr Ghiberti explained, because the exposure to the light causes the oxidation, which makes the cloth darker and the image edges faded. But it is necessary to do it in some occasions, otherwise, which sense would this sign have?”
“There is a message coming from the Shroud, Mgr Ghiberti concluded, which helps ask some questions on one’s own faith. For our part, we must offer all the explanations and then let the reflection to everybody’s heart.”