Benedict XVI's decision to allow a TV broadcast of the Shroud of Turin on March 30, Holy Saturday, has been lauded by experts for highlighting the link between the Shroud and death of Christ.
“Pope Benedict XVI, when he visited the shroud on pilgrimage in 2010, spoke about the Shroud in terms of Holy Saturday,” John Jackson, co-founder of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, told CNA March 7.
“From that vantage point, that all his remarks were made relative to Holy Saturday, it is fitting that the broadcast happens on Holy Saturday.”
The Shroud is venerated as the burial cloth of Christ, and bears a mysterious image of a man who suffered in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, and is rarely available for viewing.
The extremely limited access to seeing the shroud gives the TV broadcast particular significance. It will be shown internationally by the Italian public service broadcaster Rai 1.
On March 1, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin announced that as part of the Year of Faith, he had gotten the consent of Benedict XVI, prior to his resignation, to have a worldwide TV exhibition of the Shroud.
“The Shroud of course reminds us of the passion, death and burial of the Lord and then to Holy Friday, the day in which the Church remembers and celebrates the passion of Christ,” reflected Archbishop Nosiglia.
“Holy Saturday is a day of silent prayer and meditation on the Lord's death, but it is also a day of joyful waiting of the light of the resurrection that will explode in the great celebration of the Easter Vigil.”
The Shroud, he noted, “is a witness of this double mystery: it brings us back to the darkness of the tomb, but it also opens the way to receive the light that from it will emerge, in the event of the resurrection.”
The Holy Saturday broadcast of the Shroud images is only the second-ever, with the other occurrence taking place in 1973. “This is in honor of the 40th anniversary of the first TV exposition,” Jackson explained.
In his March 1 statement, Archbishop Nosiglia said that “the Shroud is not a sign of defeat, but of victory, of life over death, of love over hatred and violence, hope over despair...the face of the Man of Sorrows, which is the face of every man on the earth, represents his suffering, his death, it speaks to us of love and gift, of grace and forgiveness.”
He added that the Shroud is a reminder that “the proclamation of Christ dead, buried and risen again,” which is at the center of the Christian mystery.
The TV exhibition will last about an hour, and will be part of a celebration led by Archbishop Nosiglia.
Holy Saturday, the archbishop observed, is “a day of silence, prayer, contemplation of the mystery of the passion and death of the Lord, but also a day of expectation and openness of heart and life in the light of the resurrection.”
Archbishop Nosiglia voiced his hope “that this worldwide event will lead, in the hearts of many people who will see it, a little light and peace in these complex times and give strength and hope to many sick and poor, but also families and people in need.”