Shroud of Turin on View for First Time in 2 Decades

CNN News

April 19, 1998

TURIN, Italy (CNN) -- More than 2 million people are
expected to visit Turin's cathedral for a rare glimpse of
the mysterious Shroud of Turin, which went on public display
Sunday for the first time in 20 years.

Many believe the Shroud of Turin was Jesus Christ's burial
cloth. Its haunting reverse image of a body, including
hands, wrists, hollowed eyes, and traces of blood, will be
enshrined in a new bulletproof glass case filled with inert

Princess Maria Gabriella, daughter of Umberto II, Italy's
last king, walked the path to the shroud that others will

"To see the shroud had an enormous effect on me," said the
princess. "I don't know how to describe it. That shroud is
truly a presence."

Scientists are divided over how to explain the 14-foot-long,
3 1/2-foot-wide linen, which bears the image of a man with
wounds consistent with Gospel accounts of Christ's

Carbon-dating tests carried out by experts in Oxford, Zurich
and Tucson, Arizona, in 1988 ignited controversy by
declaring that the shroud dated between 1260 and 1390 --
more than 700 years after Jesus' crucifixion in Jerusalem.

The city's archbishop, Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini, said the
church hails the shroud for stimulating "the gift of faith
and conversion."

But new research has given true believers cause for hope.

Two University of Texas microbiologists, Dr. Leoncio
Garza-Valdes and Professor Stephen Mattingly, suggest
bacteria embedded on the shroud over the centuries could
have distorted the carbon-dating result because the
micro-organisms may not have been removed by cleaning the
cloth before the tests.

Franco Testore, the only university professor of textile
technology in Italy and the man who selected the shroud
samples used in the 1988 carbon-dating tests, said the
research was highly interesting but not yet conclusive.

Theories aimed at refuting scientists' conclusions can be
found among the rash of new books timed for the shroud's
latest display -- one being that pollens found on the cloth
bolster arguments the linen might indeed date back to
Christ's days.

Cardinal Saldarini ruled out any further testing until at
least 2000, when the shroud will be displayed again. The
current display will continue through June 14.