Though the Shroud of Turin has long been the subject of debate and controversy among theologians, scientists and historians, an exhibit of the shroud in Jerusalem enables believers and non-believers alike to connect with Jesus in a deeper way.
While the exhibit at Notre Dame doesn’t claim conclusively that the shroud, a linen cloth revered by some as the one that covered Jesus after his death on the cross, belonged to Jesus, it shows the suffering of a man tortured and crucified in the same manner as Christ, according to Gospel accounts.
The 14- by 4-foot cloth carries evidence of a man tortured and killed by methods similar to those used by the Romans during Jesus’ time. Scientific and historical evidence suggests that it could be Jesus whose image appears to be recorded on the cloth, but no conclusive explanations.
“What matters for the believer, is that the shroud is a mirror of the Gospel,” the late Pope John Paul II said in 1998. “The image it presents has such a profound relationship with what the Gospels tell of Jesus’ passion and death that every sensitive person feels inwardly touched and moved at beholding it.”
In a tour, Father Eamon Kelly of Notre Dame enthusiastically points out the details that lend credence to the shroud’s origins in Jerusalem and its possible journey to Turin (Torino) in Italy. Jerusalem is on the map because of the images of coins and flowers found claimed to be found imprinted on the cloth, remnants of which have been scientifically and historically analyzed. For example, the coins were minted by Pilate. The flowers intersect only in the Jerusalem region as Professor Avinoam Danin has concluded from his botanical research (http://flora.huji.ac.il).
“One of the reasons why even atheists and agnostics are intrigued is the encounter between scientific and historical investigation and themes of faith, which meet so rarely well as at the Shroud of Turin,” Kelly told Travelujah, the only Christian social network about travel to the Holy Land. “It is truly a challenge for our intelligence, as Pope John Paul put it.”
The cloth that originated in Jerusalem has been lost and hidden over the centuries, but was it the same one rediscovered as the Shroud of Turin? Is it the same cloth whisked from Jerusalem to Armenia that is now in Turin? Evidence exits that can connect the shroud, but the exhibit raises questions and lets the viewers decide.
“The Shroud is for everybody, of course it is particularly meaningful for all Christians, but Mormons are also interested. In fact it is intriguing for all people and particularly Jewish people, especially secular Jews show great interest in it and we often have groups here on Shabbat,” Kelly said. “I have taken all kinds of believers and non-believers through the Shroud Museum and never have I noticed anyone who felt it was less than rewarding experience and time well spent.“
The exhibit contains an actual-size copy of the shroud plus vast information on it history and the scientific research done on the material and the sufferings evidenced on it. Two holograms show a three-dimensional image of the body seen on the shroud, bringing to life the markings that are visible in one dimension.
Other forms of Roman torture including the crown of thorns, nails of crucifixion and whips are on display, and regardless of how viewers feel about the Shroud, they can become better acquainted with the suffering Jesus went through in this very city. A knowledgeable guide explains the history of crucifixions in Roman times.
With displays like this, the exhibit is engaging for all Christians.
“We’re not Catholic, but we still believe in Jesus Christ,” Faith Quick of Georgia said during a visit to the exhibit. “It is similar to a lot of things in Jerusalem: There’s not always proof, but that is where faith comes in.”
The Shroud of Turin exhibit is free and open to the public all day Monday through Saturday. Groups may also visit at various hours, even evening, by appointment and guided tours can be prearranged by calling +972.2.627.9111. For more information, go to www.notredamecenter.org.
By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah
Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.