Describing Turin wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of the very mysterious Shroud of Turin. I admit to a huge amount of skepticism before I visited Turin, I had seen pictures that looked like nothing other than a long cloth with a series of splotches, apparently from ancient folds in the fabric. A friend loaned me a CD about the shroud before my trip, on the CD, the speaker explains the torture Jesus endured and how it’s visible on the Shroud. I listened, but I still couldn’t conceive of how a lay person like myself could see anything except blotches and how could I be touched by it? And, the shroud is on public display something like every 20 years so there was no chance I’d see it.
As is my habit, I got lost from my hotel to the center of town and the Duomo, home of the Shroud. As I wandered up and down narrow roads, I came across a church in a commercial walkway. On both sides and across the street were shops, pharmacies and businesses and boom right in the middle is an ancient church. Sadly, I didn’t get the name of the church or even the address. I stepped inside and immediately felt something sacred; all of the churches that are filled with art and splendor do that to me, but this church was more modest, it was a chaotic blend of ancient and modern, I felt welcomed to come in and bring my burdens to Jesus, this church would become my favorite so far on my journey. As I sat in a pew praying I became more and more aware of the exact replica of the Shroud that was to my right. I walked over and knelt before the replica and began to study it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph the whole replica, but you might see the right side has the front of his head to his feet, the left side has the back of his head to his feet. It appears that a cloth was draped over his head and covered him front and back all the way to his feet. As I knelt before the image, the face and eyes grabbed my attention. The top of the above picture has a close up of the face from the shroud. The first thing I noticed was the serenity, he looked like he was sleeping peacefully after a pleasant day of wandering the hills of Galilee. Then, my eyes were drawn to his hands, his left hand is on top of his right, there is a very obvious wound on his right wrist with a great deal of blood coming from it. Then, I noticed the wounds on his head with blood still apparent, then, I was stunned to see the wounds from the scourging all over his back. The image of the back and legs is covered with wounds and blood, it looks as if every part of him had been whipped. I felt an amazing sense of awe to look at this replica of an item that has stood centuries of scientific tests, has tested positive for blood, the blood type is A/B the blood type of the universal donor. Most scientists who have examined it attest to its authenticity, even without necessarily agreeing that it’s Jesus. There are sores and blood everywhere, it is clearly the image of someone who suffered serious torture, yet, look at his face in the top of the picture, he’s completely serene, completely comfortable in his trust in his father. For me, spending time with the replica of the Shroud changed me somehow. It made Jesus more real and it made it impossible to question his kindness, his love, his gentleness. Jesus is the greatest gift mankind has ever known and the Shroud of Turin is the greatest miracle I’ve almost seen. What a treat it would be to see the actual shroud!! I wish everyone could have a chance to see what I saw, it’s not just a bunch of blurs caused by folding the cloth; it’s a clear picture of someone who suffered enormous torture and died from it.
Here’s a better picture of the image of his face.
The Church of San Lorenzo also has several images of the Shroud, here is a picture I took at that church. It saddens me that the images only show the front while the Shroud itself shows Jesus’ front and back.
This is a negative image because it makes the image stand out better. If you ever get a chance to see the Shroud or a replica, I earnestly recommend that you take that opportunity. It’s an intimate encounter with Jesus that’s hard to replicate. Imagine something like this lasting 2,000 years!! Imagine that.