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Ask the Register: What is the Shroud of Turin?

Q. What is the Shroud of Turin? What does it mean? Why does it matter?

A. The Shroud of Turin is an ancient linen burial cloth which bears the face and image of a man who was crucified— beaten, bloodied, and hung upon a cross. Since the 14th century, it has been venerated as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, and kept in the cathedral of Turin, Italy. 

The image on the shroud bears a remarkable likeness to a crucified, first-century man. Scientific testing on the shroud has been inconclusive: scientists have had great difficulty, and great disagreement, about the date of the shroud. Scientists do agree that the image on the shroud would be impossible to create using any known method of painting, dying, or etching. And the image does not seem to have been created with any identifiable form of paint or dye.

The Church does not require Catholics to believe or hold anything about the Shroud’s history. It may in fact be Christ’s burial cloth, and it might not be. But here’s what is remarkable—for centuries, it has reminded Catholics of the suffering Christ bore for our sins. It reminds us that Christ was a real person, who was beaten and crucified so that we might have eternal life.  The Shroud of Turin points the world—in remarkable, unexplainable ways—to Jesus Christ. There is grace in that.

Write to Ask the Register online or at 3700 Sheridan Blvd, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.

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