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Pope sees Shroud of Turin as powerful icon for our time

Catholic World News - May 03, 2010

As he venerated the Shroud of Turin on Sunday, May 3, Pope Benedict XVI said that the cloth is a reminder of Holy Saturday, when the body of Jesus lay in the tomb, in "the no-man's-land between death and resurrection."

During that time, the Pope remarked, the Lord descended into hell. "Jesus Christ, by dwelling in death, crossed the threshold of this ultimate solitude in order to lead us to cross it with Him."

In the meditation that he delivered at the Turin cathedral, where the Shroud is exposed for public veneration, the Holy Father said that the Shroud is a powerful icon for the 21st century. The Shroud, he explained, forces believers to think about Christ in the tomb, having suffered death. On Holy Saturday the Incarnate God is invisible to the world. There is a great emptiness-- like the emptiness of heart that so many feel in modern society.

"The concealment of God is part of the spirituality of modern man," the Pope continued. "Following the two world Wars, the concentration camps, the gulags, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our age has increasingly become an Easter Saturday. The darkness of that day is a call to everyone who questions themselves about life, particularly to us as believers. We too are involved in this darkness."

But the darkness of Holy Saturday is prelude to the blinding light of the Resurrection, the Pope reminded his listeners. "And I feel that, looking at this sacred cloth with the eyes of faith, something of this light is perceptible." The crucified Christ, "who bears on himself the passion of men of all times and places, including our passions, sufferings, difficulties and sins," rises up with a" solemn majesty, a paradoxical lordship."

The Pope had begun his visit to Turin by celebrating an outdoor Mass, with about 25,000 people in the congregation. After his visit to the cathedral he returned to the Piazza San Carlo, where the Mass had been held, for a meeting with the young Catholics of the city. Later in the afternoon he visited the Little House of Divine Providence and spoke to the sick there, encouraging them to unite their suffering to the Cross of Christ and telling them that in their illness "you participate in the mystery of His suffering for the salvation of the world."

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