2-May-2010 -- Vatican Information Service |

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Shroud of Turin: an Icon of the Mystery of Easter Saturday

VATICAN CITY, 2 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At the end of his meeting with some 20,000 young people, the Holy Father travelled by car to the cathedral of Turin where he venerated the Holy Shroud which is on public display from 10 April to 23 May.

The Pope was received by the pastor and the canons of the metropolitan chapter. He paused in adoration before the Eucharist in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament before moving on to the high altar where he venerated the Holy Shroud.

The Holy Father then read out a special mediation entitled "The Mystery of the Holy Shroud", which is the subtitle of the main theme of the exposition: "Passio Christi - Passio hominis".

"The Holy Shroud", said the Pope, "is the icon of this mystery. ... It is, in fact, a burial cloth which covered the body of crucified man, corresponding in every detail to what the Gospels tell us about Jesus. ... Easter Saturday is the day in which God is hidden. ... In our time, and especially having traversed the last century, humankind has become particularly receptive to the mystery of Easter Saturday. The concealment of God is part of the spirituality of modern man, essentially, almost unconsciously, like an ever-expanding emptiness in the heart. ... 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.

"Yet nonetheless the death of the Son of God, of Jesus of Nazareth, has an opposing aspect, one that is completely positive, a source of consolation and of hope", the Holy Father added. "And this leads me to think that the Holy Shroud is like a photograph, which has both a 'positive' and a 'negative'. This is, in fact, true: the darkest mystery of the faith is at the same time the brightest sign of a limitless hope. Easter Saturday is the 'no-man's-land' between death and resurrection, but then the One entered this 'no-man's-land', and crossed it with the signs of His Passion for mankind".

"In that 'time-beyond-time' Jesus Christ 'descended to Hades'. ... God-made-man reached the point of entering into the extreme and absolute solitude of man, where no ray of love reaches, where total abandonment reigns, where there is no word of comfort: 'Hades'. Jesus Christ, by dwelling in death, crossed the threshold of this ultimate solitude in order to lead us to cross it with Him. ... Human beings live because they are loved and can love. And if love has penetrated even into the place of death, then life has arrived there too. In the hour of extreme solitude we will never be alone: 'Passio Christi - Passio hominis'.

"This is the mystery of the Holy Shroud! It was from there, from the darkness of the death of the Son of God, that the light of a new hope shone forth: the light of the Resurrection. And I feel that, looking at this sacred cloth with the eyes of faith, something of this light is perceptible. ... The power of the Shroud is this: from the face of this 'Man of suffering' who bears on himself the passion of men of all times and places, including our passions, sufferings, difficulties and sins, ... there emerges a solemn majesty, a paradoxical lordship".

"How does the Holy Shroud speak?" Pope Benedict asked. "It speaks with blood, and blood is life. The Shroud is an icon written in blood; the blood of man who has been whipped, crowned with thorns, crucified and wounded in the right side. The image on the Shroud is that of a dead man, but the blood speaks of his life. Each trace of blood speaks of love and of life. ... It is like a spring murmuring in silence, and we can perceive it, hear it, in the silence of Easter Saturday".

Having concluded his meditation, Benedict XVI greeted cloistered nuns from various orders present in the diocese, and members of the committee of the Holy Shroud. He then moved on to the Little House of Divine Providence where, at 6.30 p.m. in the church of Cottolengo, he met with sick people.

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