Last Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI visited the iconic Shroud of Turin, venerating Christianity's most famous relic, which went on display last month for the first time in 10 years.
The shroud, a centuries-old linen cloth, went on public display at the Turin Cathedral on April 10 for the first time since undergoing a major restoration in 2002. It was last on display in 2000.
The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy.
The origins of the shroud and its image are the subject of intense debate among scientists, theologians, historians and researchers. Some contend that the shroud is the cloth placed on the body of Jesus Christ at the time of his burial, and that the face image is the Holy Face of Jesus. Others contend that the artifact postdates the Crucifixion of Jesus by more than a millennium. Both sides of the argument use science and historical documents to make their case.
While the Vatican has not officially endorsed the shroud as a relic of Jesus, it has not discouraged popular devotion.
The shroud is currently associated with Catholic devotions to the Holy Face of Jesus when in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image.