Skip to comments.Pope:Shroud of Turin is the icon of “God’s death” [Full Text]
Posted on 05/03/2010 6:08:46 AM PDT by NYer
Turin (AsiaNews) – Towards the end of his visit to Turin, Benedict XVI went in the afternoon to the city’s cathedral to silently venerate the Shroud, which is currently on special display (10 April-23 May). The event’s theme is Passio Christi – Passio hominis.
After standing for a few minutes in silence in front of the Shroud, the Pontiff addressed his meditation to a group of cloistered nuns from some of the monasteries of the diocese. Here is his meditation in full.
This is a much-awaited moment for me. In another occasion, I found myself before the Holy Shroud, but this time I am living this pilgrimage and stop with special intensity. Perhaps, it is because the passing of years is making me understand even more the message of this extraordinary icon; perhaps, or I should say especially because I am here as the successor of Peter, I carry in my heart the entire Church, indeed the whole of humanity. I thank God for the gift of this pilgrimage, and for the opportunity of sharing this brief mediation with you, which was suggested to me by this solemn display, namely “The mystery of Holy Saturday”.
It is possible to say that the Shroud is the icon of that mystery, the Icon of Holy Saturday. It is a burial linen that was wrapped around the body of a crucified man. It matches what the Gospels say about Jesus, who was crucified around noon and passed away at about 3 pm. In the evening, since it was the Parasceve, the eve of the solemn Sabbath of Passover, Joseph of Arimathea, a man of wealth, and a distinguished member of the Sanhedrin, courageously went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus to bury in a new sepulchre that he had hewn out of the rock not far from Golgotha. After he got the permission and having bought a linen cloth, he took him down, wrapped him in the linen cloth and laid him in the tomb (see Mk, 15:42-46). This is what the Gospel of Mark says, which finds support in the other Evangelists. After that, Jesus remained in the sepulchre until the dawn of the day after the Sabbath. The Shroud of Turin offers us the picture of his body, laying in the tomb during this period, short in time (a day and half) but long and infinite in value and meaning.
Holy Saturday is the day of God’s concealment. As an ancient homily says, “Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. [. . .] God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has risen up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear” (Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday, PG 43, 439). In the Creed, we also profess that Jesus Christ “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again."
Dear brothers, in our times, especially in the last century, humanity has become especially sensitive to the mystery of the Holy Saturday. God’s concealment is part of the spirituality of today’s mankind, in an existential and almost subconscious way, as the heart’s emptiness has grown ever more. Towards the end of the 19th century, Nietzsche wrote, “God is dead. [. . .] And we have killed him.” Christian tradition almost fulfils this well-known statement to the letter. We often repeat this during the Way of the Cross perhaps not fully realising what we are saying. After two world wars, Nazi and Communist death camps, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our age has become more like Holy Saturday. However, the Shroud is also a source that whispers in silence, and we can hear it and listen to it in the silence of Holy Saturday. The darkness of this day represents a question mark for all those who ask questions about life, especially believers. We too must cope with such darkness.
Yet the death of the Son of God, of Jesus of Nazareth, has an opposite effect and is totally positive, a source of consolation and hope. For this reason, it makes me think that the Shroud is like a “photographic” document, with its “positive” and “negative” side. It is exactly like that, the darkest mystery of faith is at the same time the brightest sign of boundless hope. Holy Saturday is like a “no-man’s land” between death and resurrection. The One and Only has entered this “no-man’s land”, crossing it with the marks of his Passion for man: Passio Christi. Passio hominis. The Shroud speaks to us about that moment, witness to that unique and unrepeatable in-between moment in the history of humanity and the universe when God, through Jesus Christ, shared not only our death, but also our staying in death. This is the most radical form of solidarity.
During this “time-beyond-time”, Jesus Christ “descended into Hell”. What does this mean? It means that God, as man, reached a point where he could find his way into the extreme and absolute solitude of mankind, a place untouched by any ray of love, where total neglect reigned and where no words of comfort could be heard, a place called Hell. Jesus Christ, by staying in death, crossed the threshold into the ultimate solitude in order to lead us into transcending it with Him. All of us have occasionally experienced a dreadful feeling of being neglected; this is what scares us the most about death. As children we are afraid of being left alone in the dark, and only the presence of someone who loves us can reassure us. This is precisely what happened on Holy Saturday. In the reign of death, God’s voice rang out. The unthinkable happened: Love penetrated “Hell”. Thus, even at the darkest moment, when human solitude was at its most absolute, we could hear a voice call us, see a hand reach out towards us, taking and leading us out. Human beings live to love and be loved. If love could penetrate the realm of death, life could thus reach into it. In the hour of extreme solitude, we shall never be alone: Passio Christi. Passio hominis.
This is the mystery of Holy Saturday. The light of a new hope appeared out of the darkness of the death of the Son of God: the light of the Resurrection. I think that looking at this sacred linen through the eyes of faith we can perceive something of this light. Indeed, the Shroud is immersed in that deep darkness, but it is also bright. I think that if thousands and thousands of people come to venerate it, not to mention those who contemplate at it in pictures, it is because they do not only see its darkness but also see its light. They do not see the defeat of life and love, but rather their victory, the victory of life over death and love over hatred. They see Jesus’ death but also catch a glimpse of his Resurrection. Within death, the pulsating beat of life can be felt because it is inhabited by love. This is the power of the Shroud. From the face of this “Suffering Man” —bearing the passion of mankind in every age and place, including our passions, suffering, difficulties and sins, i.e. the Passio Christi. Passio hominis—comes a solemn majesty and a paradoxical power. This face, these hands and these feet, this chest, all this body speaks. It is a word that we can listen in silence. How does the Shroud speak? It speaks with blood, the blood of life. The shroud is an icon written in blood, the blood of a man who was whipped, crowned with thorns, crucified and wounded on the right side of his chest. The image imprinted on the Shroud is that of a dead man, but the blood speaks of his life. Every trace of blood speaks of love and life, especially the large spot in the chest area, which marks where much blood and water flowed after being pierced by a Roman spear. Such blood and water speak of life. It is a source that whispers in silence. We can hear it and listen to it in the silence of Holy Saturday.
Dear friends, let us praise the Lord for his faithful and merciful love. Starting from this holy place, let us behold in our eyes the image of the shroud, let us bear this word of love in our heart, and let us praise the Lord through a life full of faith, hope and charity. Thank you.
I hope you all had the opportunity to watch this meditation on EWTN. If not, here is the full text of an absolutely beautiful introspective view of the shroud.
OK, Pope Benedict’s opinion aside, what is the SCIENTIFIC verdict on the shroud today ?
The scientific verdict is that, if anyone says/posts one word doubting the authenticity of the Shroud (such as saying that Jesus must have glowed in the dark after his death), it proves they're an anti-Catholic.
I am not Catholic but I believe the Shroud to be authentic. Anyone who watched “The Face of Jesus” on the History Channel recently could not come to any other conclusion. The scientific evidence presented on that program was overwhelming in verifying its authenticity.
But on the other hand, icons, by faith (of the writer and the viewer), acquire something more than mere representation. The traditional Orthodox view is that they are windows into the Eternal.
As usual, BXVI is apparently simple but actually profound.
My impression, from reading all the FR posts, is that the science is debatable and will be for some time.
It’s like a court case there there are “your experts” and “their experts”. The jury of lay people has to decide whose experts are more relevant and credible.
The jury also has to decide how much science matters for the shroud’s usefulness. (It might also have some value, though not as much, as a non-scientific, yet compelling, invitation to contemplate the spiritual truth of Christ’s death and resurrection.)
For one thing, around the time it first surfaced it was condemned by a bishop as a forgery. Modern apologists for authenticity have explained this as part of a "turf war" for custody, but the fact remains that the contemporary record describes it as a produced work of art.
But belief in the Shroud is not necessary for salvation. If it's a help to somebody's faith, that is a beneficial thing. And think of the miracles attributed to icons!
I like BXVI's approach; it makes sense.
Thank you, NYer!
The Shroud, if it is indeed authentic, would have been witness to an event which is unprecedented in the annals of science and human history; the resurrection of a dead body. What happens in such a circumstance? Is light given out? Heat? Other forms of radiation? We have no conclusive answers to any of these questions.
Science, in order to be effective, depends on the existence of the normal laws of nature. The Resurrection, is by definition, an event which is outside the normal laws of nature. Carbon dating, for example, depends on the normal processes of isotopic decay to be operative. Throw a completely scientifically uncharacterized event into the process and dogmatic conclusions become very tenuous, IMHO.
In the end, this will continue to come down to a question of faith.
Is it against Catholic laws or something fro cardinals and popes to ever be seen with their arms straight down at their sides?
You seem to be trolling to start the argument you’re complaining about.
The majority of people I know, pray with their hands clasped. The press photographers tend to prefer that pose.
Photographers like their subjects to be doing something, though, even if it's only shaking hands or waving.
Why do you ask this question?
Have you information about the “Orans” position?
so NOT a 'fact" -
I wish people would at least do some in depth research before pontificating.
I've been following, for 50 years, researching and communicating with a scientist who has actually touched and examined and studied the Shroud - and kept up with the plethora of books, articles, web site and documentaries on the Shroud.
Any sort of paint or 'work of art' has been ruled out long ago.
If you're going to opine on the Shroud, may I suggest you, at minimum, watch the latest documentary aired this spring?
LIVE LINKS NEXT POST
Thanks for the ping.
I was wondering what the Pope would say about the Shroud, and now I think his statement is beautiful, reasonable and reverent.
I'm not "pontificating", I'm making an observation on the contemporary record.
It is a fact that the contemporary record describes it as a forgery. It is also a fact that the bishop said he knew whodunnit.
That doesn't mean it's a fact that it is a forgery. It's just one piece of the puzzle. The contemporary record itself could conceivably be a forgery, or the bishop may have had the facts wrong, or the bishop may have not been - ahem - candid. But if we're really looking for the truth, we don't discard out of hand facts that we don't like.
Also, the vehemence of the defenders of authenticity can shade over into "true-believer" hostility. That sort of no-holds-barred advocacy does the opposite of convincing doubters.
Apologies for not pinging you to this thread earlier today.
Do you recall the name of the bishop and how he arrived at this determination? That was back in the 15th century. With today's technology, new facts emerge each year that dispel the possibility of it being a forgery.
Wonderful post, NYer. Thank you.
“I carry in my heart the entire Church, indeed the whole of humanity.”
And this is why the culture of death wants to take him down.
the Orans position.
Religious person: by definition, someone who needs to see something in order to have faith, contradictory to the Scriptures which clearly states that faith is the evidence of things NOT seen.
Forget the word “venerate.” They will worship it. In religion there is such a thin line between venerate and worship . . . just about no difference at all.
I carry in my heart the entire Church, indeed the whole of humanity.
Well, just to lighten the man’s load a little, he need not carry me in his heart. Too much of what he claims to believe doesn’t help me in the least.
And what do you know about the things he carries in his heart? Can you be more specific?
This all occurred within 50 years of the time the shroud first surfaced in Europe.
As my undergraduate degree was in history, I'm very cognizant of the value of original documents. Bearing in mind that it could have been a turf war, since the shroud was in the hands of a layman, I still don't think we can just ignore contemporary accounts. Especially since Bishop de Poitier said he knew who the artist was, and that the artist had acknowledged to him that he created the shroud. Maybe the bishop was a very venal and greedy man and a liar to boot. I don't know, but I don't think we should assume that.
I suggest you exclude yourself then.
Thanks for the ping!
I can certainly appreciate the value of original documents. Now that it has been established that the shroud is not a painted image, that would dispel the accounts in those documents. It would have taken a scientific genius to also match up the blood stains with another cloth to be discovered at a later date. Moreover, the 'artist' would also have to be familiar with botany. The combination of pollen spores lodged in the Shrouds surface, as well as floral images mysteriously imprinted on the face of the cloth, have been determined as only coming from plants growing in a restricted area around Jerusalem.
The negative image has apparently been duplicated by an Italian chemist using non-painting methods. So just the fact that the shroud isn't painted (pigments applied to the surface as opposed to soaked in) doesn't "dispel" the original documents.
I keep saying that moderns have this odd tendency to believe that our medieval ancestors were all benighted yahoos and knew nothing about science or technology. Leonardo alone ought to dispel that idea, but there were plenty of others too.
As for the matching bloodstains, since the shroud and photographic images of it have been around for years now, it wouldn't take a genius to match up the photographs with a not "later-discovered" but "later-created" sudarium.
Bit of devil's advocacy here, but this is by no means settled and there's no point in assuming that it is.
your posts don't even reach that level. At least a ‘devil's advocate’ would do some serious research - if you did, you'd see that your postulations have been debunked long ago.
I'm not answering your latest post to convince you of anything, as your many long posts show that you are dedicated to denying even the scientific evidence. You have your reasons for wanting to convince people it's a fraud - and you are welcome to them.
I post only to, hopefully, help others not to take your word on any of what you post...but to do their own research...even it's only to watch the History channels latest documentary “Is this the Face of Jesus” - link below - which will air again on the 10th.
It really is the best one I've seen so far - and I have been following for decades -
But for anyone who hasn't studied The Shroud, this documentary is a great place to start - and then there's Barrie M. Schwortz’s web site (He was one of the original scientists of the STURP team in 1978)
Barrie's Web site - decades of research:
This is what I mean when I say that some of the Shroud's defenders go over the line into attacking and denigrating people who are simply pointing out opposing points of view.
You completely misunderstood my earlier posts about the historical record, ignored my careful explanation, and you continue to adopt an aggressive, dismissive, hectoring tone.
Anybody who questions the 'received wisdom' is a trifling, ignorant person who has not bothered to read anything and has some concealed and no doubt evil reason for 'wanting to convince people it's a fraud.'
If you want to convince waverers or doubters, attributing evil motives is the surest way NOT to accomplish your goal.
The pollen spores are not visible to the unaided eye. So how would an enlightened medieval forger know to add them?
Luigi Garlaschelli used acid pigments, which were rubbed on, and then later washed off. Blood stains were added later. His image would show signs of directionality from the process, it would not be on the tips of the microfibrils, and the blood stains did not inhibit the image formation, as they were added later. On the Shroud, the image is inhibited by the blood stains, because the blood came in contact with the cloth first, and foiled the subsequent image formation that most likely occurred at the moment of the Resurrection. He never submitted his experiment in any peer reviewed publication, while the STURP commission did.
The provenience of the Sudarium of Oviedo is older than the Shroud, dating to the 11th century.