Why was the Shroud hidden in a monastery during WWII?

imageYesterday, I came across this in Matzoh and Meatballs: Grandma said you can outgrow being Chinese.

In the relatively recent past, my father, his brother, and the same aunt waiting for her adopted niece to outgrow Chineseness took a heritage trip to Calitri, Italy, to find our distant family. The trip was a success. They met first cousins, learned we are related to the man who hid the questionably mystical Shroud of Turin from the Nazis. . .

I thought the shroud was hidden during WWII to protect it from Allied bombing. So I did a bit of research and came across this in ABC News filed on April 10, 2010:

According to an Italian monk, the real reason the Holy Shroud was hidden in a remote monastery in southern Italy during World War II was to protect it from the thieving hands of the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

Officially the famous linen cloth, also known as the Shroud of Turin and believed to have wrapped the dead body of Christ, was secretly sent south by its owners, the Savoy royal family of Turin, to keep it safe from wartime bombings.

Now, on the eve of a rare public display of the Shroud, the Rev. Andrea Davide Cardin, the librarian at the Montevergine Abbey where the Shroud was concealed from 1939 to 1946, says it appears there was another reason to hide the holy relic: to keep it out of the hands of Hitler, who was said to be interested in the esoteric and the occult.

Cardin, a Benedictine monk, told the Italian paper La Stampa that he was preparing an exhibit on the Shroud in his library when he came across a document that he believes shows the Shroud was actually hidden from Hitler.

I missed that. Then, again, maybe both reasons are valid.

5 thoughts on “Why was the Shroud hidden in a monastery during WWII?”

  1. I always thought this story would make a fantastic book. Think Indiana Jones beating the Nazis to the Ark of the Covenant. I read an article that told how Hitler’s storm troopers came to this monastery looking for the Shroud…no doubt after applying some enhanced interrogation techniques on authorities in Turin. The story goes that the Shroud was kept in a special space hidden inside the altar. When the troops arrived, all the monks gathered around the altar to pray. The troops ransacked the monestary but decided not to bother the monks praying around the altar…the exact place where the Shroud was hiding covered by the altar and the prayers of the monks. Somebody please turn this into a book!

  2. Haha yes! maybe into a movie also; “Indiana Jones and the quest for the Shroud”, lol….

    Anyways, I have seen a documentary on the History channel on the Spear of Destiny. The Nazis actually confiscated it from the museum in Vienna during the war and because so, the Shroud had been moved and hidden for that specific reason mostly, and most likely also for protection from bombing. I wish I could remember the name of the documentary as it was very interesting and went pretty deep into scientific studies on the spear, which apparently has a nail (presumably from the cross) incorporated into it. But more intriquing; they found at the base of the lance the Christian fish symbol etched into it. Unfortunately no c14 dating was allowed and the museum unbelievably had cleaned the lance in the early 70’s basically making it impossible to actually study it in more depth.

  3. The Shroud was sent south to the monastery of Montevergine at Avellino on the outbreak of hostilities as early as September 1939. Only four of the monks at the monastery knew the identity of the artifact they were hiding.

    The Allied landing on mainland Italy occurred in September 1943. The American forces went up the main highways 6-7 on the west coast from Napoli to Rome; Freyberg’s British forces went up on the Adriatic coast, but soon came to a halt because of the difficult terrain. The Americans came to a halt at the Gustav line, the Axis winter defence position. The Germans had announced that they would not occupy the monastery at Monte Cassino, despite its excellent strategic position. However from Allied aerial reconnaissance reports, it seemed that there was some German occupation of the Cassino monastery. On the basis of these reports, the American air force bombarded and destroyed. this monastery which had been founded by St Benedict in the 6th c, The destruction of this historic monastery became hotly debated in the aftermath of the war, but was said to have been justified because of the potential German threat that the monastery posed. As it was, the Germans were able to take advantage of better cover in the ruins than they had before the bombardment.

    I recall discussing the issue many years ago with a NZ war veteran who had been at the Cassino engagement. He was insistent that new tyre marks would appear overnight connecting the monastery with the known German positions, and he obviously considered the action justified.

    It is most fortuitous that the decision was made to send the Shroud much further south to Avellino, than the fortress-like monastery of Cassino.

  4. Dave, Thanks for that bit of history and perspective. I found the original articles online but would love to read the entire interview given to Diva e Donna magazine by Rev. Andrea Davide Cardin, the librarian at the Abbey. He was also interviewed by Le Stompa newspaper around that same time. The online articles are all published around April 8, 2010.

  5. It wouldn’t be a surprise that Hitler wanted it. He was an embarrassment to Germans everywhere, and my family is half German and had a truly sick obsession with these things to try to increase his power and rule. Thanks daveb for the short history lesson.

Comments are closed.