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One of Christianity's most famous artefacts is to be put on public display on television and social media – for a few hours only.
The Turin Shroud – said to be the most studied artefact in human history – is a 14 foot long length of linen cloth showing the outline and image of a man.
For centuries some have believed it depicts Jesus and the fabric is the burial shroud he was wrapped in after the crucifixion.
However, in 1988 carbon dating suggested the shroud only dated back to the Middle Ages, but believers have disputed the accuracy of the tests.
They claim the fact it was on public display for centuries means the cloth will have been contaminated and the tests could have been corrupted.
The shroud's authenticity has been the subject of hot debate which has rumbled on since the 14th century, while the Catholic Church itself has stayed neutral in the row.
The current Pope, Francis, has said “The shroud is an icon of love. It draws people to the tormented face and body of Jesus and, at the same time, directs people toward the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person.”
The shroud will take pride of place in a special service to mark Holy Saturday on April 3 – and it will be the first time the shroud has been seen for a year.
The Archbishop of Turin Cathedral – where the shroud is kept in a special bulletproof, humidity and temperature-controlled casket – said: "In these troubled times we need to nurture and communicate our hope.
"And for us believers the most effective way to increase the hope of the whole world is through common prayer, by kneeling before the Lord.
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"For this reason we celebrate, on Holy Saturday, a special liturgy in front of the Shroud that reminds us of this event, the living centre of our faith and our hope.
"The prayer in front of the Shroud in 2021 is not a simple repetition of the one celebrated in 2020.
"Last year we were in a completely unknown emergency situation; today we are more aware of the difficulties we face and the commitments we can make.
"Above all, we have understood that our first strength lies in continuing life with courage and helping those who are in difficulty and need."
The broadcast will start at 3.30pm (UK time) before the shroud is shown at 4pm on the official shroud website at www.sindone.org, on Vatican TV, Italian channel TV2000 and on the Facebook page of the Archdiocese of Turin.
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