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Pope visits Turin shroud in Italy

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday venerated the Shroud of Turin, which some believe to be Jesus' burial cloth and others say is a perfect fake. The shroud is on display in Turin for the first time since 2000.

The Shroud of Turin

Scientists have so far failed to explain the Turin Shroud markings

Pope Benedict called the contentious linen that is on display in Turin "an icon written in blood."

"Every trace of blood speaks of love and life," after a meditation in front of the shroud.

The so-called Shroud of Turin, which many believers insist is the cloth Jesus was buried in, will be on display in the Guarini chapel of the Northern Italian city for several months and is expected to attract two million visitors.

In a service attended by 25,000 pilgrims, he said the mysterious linen "mirrors our suffering in the suffering of Christ."

But Benedict stopped short of calling it a relic, as its authenticity has never been pronounced by the Catholic Church.

Mysterious markings

The shroud shows the back and front of a bearded man with long hair, with the entire cloth marked by what appears to be rivulets of blood from wounds in the wrists, feet and side.

Carbon dating tests from 1988 dated the cloth to between 1260 and 1390, but critics say the findings are inconclusive, because the cloth is likely to have been contaminated over the years.

The Shroud of Turin was discovered in the French city of Troyes, south east of Paris, in the mid 14th century. No one has come up with a scientific explanation for the image, and no one has managed to replicate it.

ng/Reuters/AFP
Editor: Nigel Tandy

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