Gabriel, by way of a comment to another posting, informs us, “. . . today’s VATICAN INSIDER includes very interesting article by Gian Maria Zaccone Scientific director of the Museum of the Holy Shroud of Turin, Vice-director of the International Center of Sindonology of Turin and member of the Archdiocese of Turin’s Diocesan Commission for the Shroud.”
Human Science, I like the ring of it. Indeed the article is very interesting. Take the time to read it. This will give you a sense:
. . . the scientific research into the Shroud, begun at the start of the century, has contributed to making today’s debate even more fascinating and more heated. This is because although most of this research has not led to any concrete conclusions about how the figure on the Shroud was formed, all studies seem to exclude the possibility of a man-made image, given that the Shroud has been dated back to the medieval period.
Until the end of the Nineteenth century, research into the Holy Shroud had focused above all on the historical and to some extent theological aspects of the relic, but the problem of its so-called “authenticity” – which has been the main focus of scientific research – was limited to scholarly debates which were not of much interest to the wider public.
Historically, it was the devotional aspect of the Shroud that emerged as most important, attracting the interest of ordinary people who travel for miles to attend solemn ostentations. It is not intellectual curiosity in the Shroud’s origins, or their search for material grace that attracts the masses but their drive to search for something – a face, a figure – and their anxiousness to find out something that forms part of the deepest, innermost feelings of the human soul. Mgr. Ghiberti rightly underlined the fact that man’s encounter with the Shroud (especially if he or she is a faithful) is pre-scientific. Surveys carried out on pilgrims who attended the ostensions which took place between 1978 and today reveal that very few of them were drawn to Turin because of the question of the Shroud’s “authenticity”. So this is not a core part of their relationship with the relic. Instead, many were interested in the Shroud as a “sign” that becomes a “mystery” and “speak of violence and injustice,” “an image of peace, a sign of suffering.” But a suffering that goes beyond mere suffering: for believers, meditating on Christ’s death cannot be separated from the joy of Easter and vice versa: the Shroud therefore becomes a “symbol of life and resurrection.”
This is why the Holy Father and the Church in Turin wanted to give all the people of the world the chance to come face to face with the painful image imprinted on the Shroud, leaving the scientific question aside for once; the chance to set their eyes on "the one they have pierced” (John, 19:37), on Holy Saturday, the day of great silence of which the Shroud is an icon. An icon which illustrates the deep reflections of Benedict XVI, who was among the pilgrims to visit the Shroud in 2010.