Pilgrims flock to see Shroud of Turin

Sun Apr 11, 2010 11:05am EDT
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By Roberto Rossi

TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Thousands of pilgrims and tourists flocked to northern Italy at the weekend for a rare chance to see the Shroud of Turin, the mysterious yellowing linen which some Christians believe was Christ's burial cloth.

The cloth, which bears the inexplicable image -- eerily reversed like a photographic negative -- of a crucified man, went on display Saturday evening for the first time in 10 years.

Measuring 4.4 by 1.2 meters (14.5 by 3.9 feet), it shows the back and front of a bearded man with long hair, his arms crossed on his chest, while the entire cloth is marked by what appears to be rivulets of blood from wounds in the wrists, feet and side.

"Looking at the Shroud you think this man on the cross really did live," said pilgrim Paolo Moroni, who had made the journey from the south of Italy to see the cloth. "This is a man who has been barbarically slain and reduced to a pitiful condition," he said.

Skeptics argue the Shroud is a medieval hoax, possibly made to attract the profitable pilgrimage business.

Carbon dating tests by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, Arizona in 1988 caused a sensation by dating it from between 1260 and 1390 -- implying it was a fake and could not be Christ's burial cloth.

But scientists have been at a loss to explain how the image was left on the cloth. Most agree it could not have been painted or printed and some have said the 1988 tests may have been faulty and results corrupted by bacteria encrusted over the centuries.

Then last year an Italian scientist reproduced the full-sized Shroud using materials and techniques he said were available in the Middle Ages -- a feat that in his view proved definitively that the linen is a fake.   Continued...

<p>A man shows souvenirs of the Holy Shroud in the official bookstore during the first day of its exhibition in Turin April 10, 2010. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino</p>