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Sunday, June 21, Pope Francis visited the Shroud of Turin and executed a silent prayer. The Shroud of Turin has been visited by thousands of people since the exhibit was announced to run April 19 – June 24. The Shroud is believed by Christians to be the linen that was used during the burial of Jesus to cover his body after his crucifixion. However, some skeptics believe it is a medieval fake. Although the Pope said a prayer for several minutes before the linen, he did not state whether or not he believed it was the linen used to cover Jesus.
The shroud is kept in a protective glass case at the controlled climate Turin cathedral, and it exhibits a faint image of a man who died from a crucifixion on a 14-foot long cloth. Francis sat in silence in front of the case and lowered his head many times to look at his own reflection, then up at the linen. Once he completed his prayer he walked up to the case and placed his hand on the glass and then walked away in silence.
The Shroud of Turin has been visited by Francis and many other popes. The other popes described the shroud being an important artifact of faith and claimed that the linen is authentic. However, in 1988 Pope John Paul II visited the linen and he told sources, “the imprinted image on the linen raised a couple of questions about science and faith and needed it to be thoroughly analyzed.”
Francis attended a Mass celebration in the Turin square after his silent prayer with the shroud. During the celebration he told sources about his thoughts on the shroud by talking about Jesus’ love for people and stated,”the Shroud’s icon brings about a love that brings thousands of people together in Turin.” He also said, ” the Shroud pulls people together to embrace the expression of agony on the face and body of Jesus, while directing people to the suffering faces of those that have been wrongly persecuted.”
Turin is the Piedmont capital of the Italian region, and it is the heart of Italy’s auto industry. It is considered the blue-collar labor capital within the country. Although Francis was seen praying in front of the shroud his two-day visit was made to condemn exploitation of workers, particularly women, immigrants, and young people as victims.
Francis said in a speech held in the Turin square,” competition is increased by immigration, and migrants should not be victimized for being injustice in a throw-away economy of wars.” Following his argument he pointed out an obvious reference in northern Italian regions and European countries, which refused to take migrants that landed in southern Italian ports from the Mediterranean, after being rescued from overcrowded sailing of smuggler boats.
As the mass continued, Francis cited a poem from the local dialect that praised those that immigrated onto the region, like some of his ancestors who came to look for work. The Pope ran many errands while in Turin from visiting the Shroud of Turin, to fighting for immigration rights. He is heading back to Rome on Monday, June 22, after having lunch with his relatives that currently live in Piedmont.
By Krystle Mitchell
CBS News: Pope Francis visits Shroud Turin
Telegraph: Pope Francis prays at mysterious Turin Shroud
Sydney Morning Herald: Pope Francis venerates mysterious Shroud of Turin
Photo Courtesy of Raffaele Esposito’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License