A piece of cloth scientifically proven to have no connection to Biblical times has gone on display in Italy, with millions expected to make the pilgrimage to see the medieval forgery. The infamous Shroud of Turin -- a 14 foot piece of linen once believed to be Christ’s burial cloth -- went on public display on Sunday after a 5-year hiatus, with Pope Francis reportedly planning to see the “sacred” garb in June.
The linen boasts a faded image of a bearded man, which for centuries was said to be an imprint of the face of Christ. However, in 1988 researchers dated the shroud with Carbon 14 testing, the results placing the garment's creation within the period 1260-1390. Still, many members of the clergy dismissed the facts, with one Archbishop even decrying the findings as an "overseas Masonic plot" designed to discredit the Roman Catholic Church.
Recent Popes have been careful to avoid pronouncing on the issue, unwilling to reject the shroud while opting to highlight its more symbolic resonance. Yet despite its inauthenticity, the relic remains a big draw for tourists -- believers and non-believers. "It's an occasion that brings everybody together and aims to give a precise response to the violence in this world. It tells us that the way to build a fairer world is not violence, but love," Cesare Nosiglia, Turin’s current archbishop, told the Associated Press.
The shroud will remain on display in the Cathedral of Turin until June 24.