Papal message, Shroud of Turin in TV programme

'Intense spiritual scope' in second-ever showing of relic

Papal message, Shroud of Turin in TV programme

(By Sandra Cordon). Turin, March 29 - Pope Francis will bring a message of "intense spiritual scope" as the Catholic Church breaks with its tradition of a sombre Holy Saturday to instead broadcast rare images of the Shroud of Turin, says a senior clergyman. Pope Francis, elected just weeks ago, will deliver the opening message in the unusual broadcast Saturday afternoon showing one of the Catholic Church's most mysterious holy relics. The special, on state broadcaster RAI, marks only the second time the Church has permitted the Shroud to be filmed and broadcast, and with the appearance of the new pope, the programme may be even more closely followed. Frances will deliver "a message of intense spiritual scope, charged with positivity, which will help (people) never to lose hope," in the love of God, Turin Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia said in announcing final plans for the broadcast. "The display of the Shroud on a day as special as Holy Saturday means that it represents a very important testimony to the Passion and the resurrection of the Lord," he added. Believers say the linen shroud was used to cover the body of Christ after his crucifixion and countless scientific tests conducted over the years have revealed the outline of the body of a man embedded in the fabric. The timing of Saturday's broadcast was carefully planned, as many believe Christ cast off the Shroud, just before his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The broadcast - scheduled to run on RAI's first channel from 17:10 to 18:40 Saturday - will be transmitted from the northern Italian city of Turin. There, the Shroud is heavily guarded in a bullet-proof, climate controlled glass case within the city's most important cathedral. Relatively few people ever have an opportunity to see the Shroud, so permitting it to be video taped and broadcast to the world is especially significant. Only once before have images of the Shroud been broadcast, as ordered in November 1973 by then-pope Paul VI. But now, such images will not only be televised by RAI, but also beamed out to anyone with the correct application on almost any kind of communications device. Some sceptics maintain the Shroud is nothing more than an elaborate fake dating from the Middle Ages, triggering centuries of debate over whether image is truly that of Christ, or a very good forgery. Radiocarbon-dating tests conducted on the cloth in 1988 suggested it dated from between 1260 and 1390; however, other scientists have since claimed those results could have been distorted by centuries of contamination. That has led to calls for more testing, which the Vatican has consistently refused. Besides the televised broadcast of the Shroud event and down-loadable apps, a publication of a related book in Italian, English, Spanish, and Portuguese is planned, along with the release of a DVD.

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