With a lot of hope, and also with a little trepidation, I am happy to announce that a special exhibition of the Holy Shroud will be held in the Cathedral of Turin in 2015. In fact, I have recently received by the Secretary of State of the Holy See the communication of assent by the Holy Father, in such a public exhibition as part of the celebrations for the bicentenary of the birth of St. John Bosco, Father and Teacher of young people, whose fruitful charism is now more relevant and alive than ever, even in the works initiated by him and in the service that his sons and daughters of the Salesian congregation hold in favor of the universal Church.
The exhibition will be held in a period of about 45 days between the Easter season (from mid-April 2015) and the closing celebrations of the bicentenary (August 16th, 2015). We are confident that on this occasion Pope Francis may come to pray before the sacred Linen and to honor St. John Bosco, sealing an extraordinary year for our ecclesial and civil communities.
The opening of the exhibition in the Easter refers to the death and resurrection of the Lord, and with it the beginning of the Church's mission. The Shroud, Veil of death, for believers becomes a proof which recalls, with a great evocative effectiveness, the victory of the Lord of life. Yes, because the Shroud leads us into the darkness of the tomb of Christ, but it also leaves a glimpse of the light of his resurrection. It shows us the deep wounds caused to the Lord by his passion and death on the cross, announcing at the same time the victory of grace over sin, of forgiveness over hatred and violence, of trust in God over despair. The darkest mystery of faith that the Holy Saturday reminds us, is at the same time the brightest sign of a hope that goes beyond the death.
This is how Pope Francis invited us in his message on the occasion of the recent television exhibition of the Shroud: “The face in the Shroud reveals a restrained but powerful energy within it shine through, as if to say: have faith, do not lose hope; the power of the love of God, the power of the Risen One overcomes all things”.
If devastating is the sin that leads us away from him and deeper the sufferings which oppress us or the trial that we have to deal with, much bigger and more fruitful of joy and hope is the Easter victory that is given to us.
The Shroud in this time of crisis, therefore, can give strength and hope to so many persons, families and communities, to anyone who knows how to contemplate and worship it with faith and love and is committed in living it.
This exhibition is truly extraordinary, close in time to the last of 2010 because it connects to a special circumstance as the Salesian Jubilee: an anniversary full of meaning for Turin and its surroundings, because here are the roots of holiness and experience of the Don Bosco sons; and because here the Salesians, in all their components, offer also today a valuable service in many sectors, from education to sport and animation of the parish community, to the world of mass media. The exhibition of the Shroud is an event and an experience distinct from the Salesian celebrations, even if in the context of what will be held in 2015. I believe, however, that we can proceed in a climate of mutual and fraternal collaboration with the Salesian family.
I spoke of hope and concern. Hope because the exhibition is always a great occasion of pilgrimage and meditation that reaches the hearts of people and produces spiritual fruits also unexpected and unhoped for. Concern, trepidation because I know well, as my collaborators remember me and having followed the previous exhibitions, what it means to organize such a big event, which involves the city and the whole Region. Even for that I trust on from the collaboration with the people, communities and organizations that have actively and effectively collaborated in the organization of previous exhibitions and the active service of the media to help spread all the necessary information. In the coming weeks the organisms and the management that already worked on the previous exhibitions will be defined; of course the news of all these acts, such as the progress of work, will be promptly communicated.
I believe that the very difficult situation that we are experiencing requires the involvement of all the qualified parties in Turin and in Piedmont: first of all the parishes and ecclesial realities and each of the faithful, the local authorities like the State institutions, the bank foundations, the world of business and work. We also ask our brothers and sisters of other christian denominations to join our prayer so that this event can promote a common understanding of the faith in the christian kerygma of the death and resurrection of the Lord that all we profess. We respectfully invite the faithful of other religions to accompany us with their friendship and goodwill during the time of the Shroud exhibition. With all of them we want to start a real dialogue to find out what resources we can put together for the success of an event which, I know, has a clear ecclesial nature but has also became an important opportunity to promote and offer everyone the great values of welcoming, respect, solidarity and love that Turin and its surroundings have as foundation of their religious and social life experience.
I would like the Shroud exhibition of 2015 to excel also in terms of sobriety and simplicity. The exhibition of the Shroud is not the answer to the economic, social, ethical and cultural crisis we are fighting against. However, it shows that we want to get out of the crisis by using all our resources. The exhibition is therefore an opportunity that is given to us to prove - to ourselves first of all - that we are able to work together, on a concrete project that even on the level of resources provides an example of the poverty recalled by Pope Francis. The poor, the sick, the disabled, people in need, the elderly and families will be the most important for us.
There is another important word I want to say, and it is "welcome". We want the pilgrims and visitors to find a city that is "waiting for them", that wants to meet them. The Christian communities have experienced various forms of exchange and mutual understanding during the previous exhibitions using the great resource of volunteers. In all exhibitions of the postwar period, the volunteers proved to be the true wealth of these pilgrimages: the purple jackets of the Shroud, but also all those who belong to other organizations that have provided medical assistance and health care, that have attended the groups, and the endless service systems that must be activated on occasions like this. Not forgetting the many partners who have contributed with offers and services.
Prayer and faith, welcome, involvement, sober and essential organization of the resources are the keywords to organize together the exhibition of the Shroud, each one with its own role and its own powers and responsibilities.
+ Cesare Nosiglia
Archbishop of Turin
Papal Custodian of the Shroud