imageDid you notice this in the announcement of the planned exhibition of the Shroud in 2015? The words are those of Cesare Nosiglia, the Archbishop of Turin and Papal Custodian of the Shroud

We also ask our brothers and sisters of other christian denominations to join our prayer so that this event can promote a common understanding of the faith in the christian kerygma of the death and resurrection of the Lord that all we profess. We respectfully invite the faithful of other religions to accompany us with their friendship and goodwill during the time of the Shroud exhibition. With all of them we want to start a real dialogue to find out what resources we can put together for the success of an event which, I know, has a clear ecclesial nature but has also became an important opportunity to promote and offer everyone the great values of welcoming, respect, solidarity and love that Turin and its surroundings have as foundation of their religious and social life experience.

imageThis brings to mind the 1997 paper by The Rev. Albert  (Kim) Dreisbach, ‘The Shroud of Turin:  Its Ecumenical Implications’ wherein we read:

When I first began to lecture on the Shroud of Turin, I had very real reservations as to how  it would be received by the larger ecumenical community. What I have discovered in the intervening years is that the Shroud needs no such apologist.  It is now, as it was on that very first Easter morning, self- authenticating.  In presentations ranging from the Salvation Army to the Syrian Orthodox, from the Bible Belt to the Biretta Belt, Christians of all persuasions are beginning to acknowledge not only that the Shroud is Christianity’s most precious artifact; but that it is also "the" most significant visual aid available to the religious educator for teaching about our lord’s Passion. Death and Resurrection.

. . . [I]t  became very evident to me on the night of August 16, 1983, when local judicatory leaders offered their corporate blessing to the TURIN SHROUD EXHIBIT  and participated in the Evening Office of the Holy Shroud.  The Greek Archbishop, the Roman Catholic Archbishop, the Episcopal Bishop and the Presiding Bishop of the AME Church gathered before the world’s first full size, backlit transparency of the Shroud and joined clergy representing the Assemblies of God, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians in an amazing witness to ecumenical unity.  At the conclusion of the service, His Grace Bishop John of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Atlanta, turned to me and said: "Thank you very much for picking our day."  I didn’t fully understand the significance of his remark until he explained to me that August 16th is the Feast of the Holy Mandylion commemorating the occasion in 944 A.D. when the Shroud was first shown to the public in Byzantium following its arrival the previous day from Edessa in southeastern Turkey.  What made things all the more amazing was that those who had scheduled the dedication had no idea of the significance of the date. It just happened to be the one night that all the various clergy had free on their busy calendars.  Was it merely coincidence, or was it yet another sign of God’s larger purpose for his Son’s burial cloth?

The planned exhibition is for August16, but for a different reason. It is the bicentennial of the birth of St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesians Society and the Patron saint of Christian apprentices, editors, publishers, school children and young people (the official feast day for Don Bosco, the  is January 31).

imageFrom the PDF Version of the Announcement Addendum on the Salesians and the Shroud:

In the 1840s don Giovanni Bosco wrote for the young boys that followed him the Sacred History (first published in1847 and then re-published several times). Its first paragraph, “Jesus into the Sepulchre”, says: “Joseph of Arimathea helped by Nicodemus, another secret disciple, lowered Jesus’ body from the cross. Then, he put oil on it, and, after wrapping it in a cloth, put it inside a new sepulchre carved into the rocks. Nobody had ever been put there before him”. This passage is accompanied by a note saying “This cloth, after many prodigious events, was brought to Torino. It is still preserved into the Royal Chapel of the Shroud, next to the Cathedral of this city”. Through this text and through many other of texts and books, Don Bosco proves that he knows the Shroud and, most of all, he is aware of how important the Shroud is for the Church in Torino. He proves also that he is very much aware of its value in religious education and of the particular role that it may have played for the youth.  

Don Bosco’s participation to the Public Display of the Shroud set up for the wedding of the future king Vittorio Emanuele II is documented in 1842. Don Bosco was there together with the kids of the “Oratorio” (the place inside the parish where young people could gather to pray and spend time together). Lemoyne, in his Biographic Memories,remembers that: “Don Bosco joined it and all the young people of the “Oratorio” were with him. He was very sensitive to the pain felt by the Saviour and his Hholy Mother. Thorugh this touching episode Don Bosco encouraged his young people to hate the sin deeply and love Jesus the Redeemer ardently. And this is what he did for his whole life, anytime he had the chance to speak about the Lord’s Passion e the pain of his Holy Mother. The young people of the “Oratorio” joined also in the Public Display of 1868, set up for Umberto II’s marriage.   

Following its founder, the Salesian Congregation, also because of its roots in Torino’s diocese, has always been very close to the Shroud. This originated a Salesian “school” of the Shroud at the time the first photograph of the Shroud was taken, in 1898. Don Noël Noguier de Malijay (1861-1930), through his studies and conferences, was somehow the founder of such school. Its characteristic was to support spirituality and catechetical education with rigorous scientific research. Its promoting centre was the Collegio Valsalice, where don Bosco wanted to establish the Seminary for Foreign Missions. Noguier was a Chemistry, Sciences and Physics teacher there. The seminarians trained there spread the message and the awareness of the Shroud throughout the whole world. The rights to the photographic images of the Shroud, generously refused by their author Secondo Pia, were given not accidentally to Salesian missions. This was written in the “Bollettino salesiano” (the Salesian Bulletin) in April 1900: “We would like to inform you that, according to previously signed agreements, the office for the Holy Shroud Charity Activities, moved to our “Oratorio” by the “Magazzino Somministranze Salesiane” on 1st April. . . .

[ . . .]

Don Antonio Tonelli  (1877-1938), was Noguier’s pupil and was also a researcher, apostle and author of important publications about the Shroud. The study about the folding method of the cloth explaining the origin of the assymmetric burns of the fire of 1532 belonged to him. One should remind, among the many – and this is just a short list- don Alberto Caviglia (1868-1943) for historic research, the tireless researcher and propagator don Antonio Cojazzi (1880-1953); the precious work of don Pietro Scotti (1899-1982) and his translations which took to Italy the fundamental studies of the French medician Pierre Barbet; don Giovanni Calova (1905-2003); don Eugenio Valentini (1905-1992); don José-Luis Carreño Etxeandía (1905-1986); don Geremia Dalla Nora (1915-1987); don Pietro Rinaldi (1910-1993), who significantly contributed to raise awareness of the Shroud in the United States and to carry out the examinations of 1978; the historic and bibliographic studies of don Luigi Fossati (1920-2007).  

This is still very much part of the Salesian tradition, as proved by the activities of don Gaetano Compri, apostle of the Shroud in Japan, following don Vincenzo Cimatti (1879- 1965), and those of don Giuseppe Terzuolo, certainly the greatest scholar of the Shroud iconography today.  One should also remember those generations of young people, and not only, that discovered the Shroud through the so called “filmine” (short films) and the collections of slides with the comments of some of the scholars mentioned above published by salesiana LDC. 

What a wonderful day this might be in 2015 to add a mass or liturgy that is shared with Eastern Orthodox traditions.