Thursday 7 May 2015

A Meeting with the Holy Shroud 1

On Wednesday of last week, 29th April, I had the great privilege of standing before the Holy Shroud exposed in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin. My immediate impression was of the sheer physicality- the enormous presence- of the object presented, as it was, within its large frame. Having pored over photographs- both positives and negatives- over many years, and accustomed to coping with- or attempting to see past the" visual noise" or interference resulting from the process of mechanical reproduction it was a moment of real insight when I was able to view, unmediated, the Shroud itself. No longer interpreting, I was seeing for myself. The visit itself being a gift (for my earlier birthday), I had come to the experience as one unseeking. True, the Holy Shroud had, indeed has, been a subject of abiding interest for the greater part of my life- at least since I acquired the CTS booklet by the Rev. Langton Fox in 1968. Ten years later, in 1978, I bought and devoured the Penguin edition of Ian Wilson's masterly tome and, following that, many less worthy publications. (The Shroud numbers a fair quantity of nutters among its devotees). Most written accounts stress that it was only with the first photographs that the image on the Shroud began to give up its secrets and, on that account, I saw no reason to seek out an actual view of the cloth. Shortly after 11a.m. on the appointed day I realised that there was indeed no substitute for a real sight of it. Whether authentic or not, it is in my, view, a most holy icon of Our Lord's Passion.  I found myself profoundly moved and I hope, in due course, to share some of the insights granted to me. For the present the above image is given as a gentle warning to any other would-be pilgrims to Turin: photographs are not allowed and expect a lengthy journey into the exposition. There is nothing quite like seeing for oneself.