31 Mar 2013

Shroud of Turin shown on modern media

1:51 pm on 31 March 2013

The Shroud of Turin, which has traditionally been revered by many Christians as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, has made its debut on modern media platforms.

A 90-minute broadcast on Italian state television channel RAI showed live pictures of the linen cloth bearing a faint brownish image of what appears to be a man's body for the first time.

A smartphone app was also created to show digital images of the cloth and the images were also streamed on various websites, the BBC reports.

Pope Francis contributed a message to the broadcast, shortly before he was to celebrate his first Easter vigil.

The Argentine pontiff, who was elected earlier in March, will preside over a vigil at St Peter's Basilica on Saturday evening - ahead of the main Easter Sunday celebrations. Thousands of people from all over the world are expected at Sunday's Mass.

In the video message, Pope Francis described the cloth as an "icon" or an image, but was careful not to authenticate it as a genuine relic. Pope Francis' predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict, also recorded a video message.

The shroud, which is displayed in Turin's cathedral, has never been officially recognised as authentic by the Vatican.

Rigorous scientific testing seems to indicate that it was woven between 700 and 800 years ago. But diehard believers say other tests prove that it could have been made at the time of the crucifixion - give or take a couple of hundred years.