The Pope and the Tramps

imageTom Kingston, from Rome, writes in The Times (of London) under the headline, Pope sends 120 tramps to see Turin shroud (behind a pay wall):

The Pope has cleaned up Rome’s tramps with free showers and haircuts, given them a taste of culture with a guided tour of the Sistine chapel. Now he is offering to take 120 of them to the north of the country for a sneak preview of the Turin shroud.

In keeping with his aim of providing “a poor Church for the poor”, he has paid for a first coachload of vagrants to set off from Rome to see the cloth that many Roman Catholics believe covered Christ’s corpse.

If you want a Shroud of Turin story to resonate around the world, this is it. Not lasers or carbon dating or Rube Goldberg-like methods of creating the image. 

The current exposition has been particularly interesting. The focus is not science. It’s not history. It’s not even particularly religious, either. Church authorities have focused almost completely on the people who come to see, not what they come to see. There was Muslim delegation, a renowned Atheists, countless youth groups from all over Italy and elsewhere, nuns from nunneries in far away places, plane loads of church congregants from as far away as the Philippine Islands. Particularly special are the special needs and very ill pilgrims. For them special viewing times, accommodations and guest-facilities that have been created.

The pope is coming. This is special, of course. Shroud enthusiasts – and they are not all Catholic, something most journalists don’t understand – will listen carefully to what he says about the shroud for clues about his take on it. But that isn’t his style, is it?  What will be remembered from this exposition is what he has already said by his actions. He sent a delegation of homeless pilgrims that The Stuffy Times calls tramps and vagrants. 

Maybe something was lost in translation from British to English.

See the Shroud Encounter Facebook  page and Homeless From Rome Visit Shroud of Turin and

9 thoughts on “The Pope and the Tramps”

  1. Likely the Times is caught in a time warp, has yet to catch up with the loss of the colonies, the inevitable devolution of Scotland, with Wales to follow, England to be renamed New Asia, a minor appendage to the EEC. Old Rome had a similar problem with the Goth invasions. Plus ca change, plus la meme chose!

  2. I was in Turin last week, providentially, and was able to view the Shroud (my first time to do so). It was nice to finally see in person what is our topic of passionate discussion here. I was struck by the rather meager tourist industry presence. Yes, I did see school trips and many other bus loads of pilgrims coming to see the Shroud, but apart from a few souvenir stalls and the official Shroud library presence, the overall environment was one of quiet reflection. Some commenters here have implied that the Church has no interest in retesting the Shroud as it is a relic/cash cow. I’m sure the Shroud when displayed does pump the tourism industry in Turin but this is not Lourdes, Fatima or Medjegorie — the vibe is very much different. As a pilgrimage site it is, like the icon itself, enigmatic.

  3. I have arrived in Turin today (Monday), see the Shroud on Wednesday, and leave on Saturday. Is anyone else who reads this blog here?

  4. Thank you Louis for the article. I really enjoy reading articles on Parapsycology.

  5. Hi Sampath
    It is not really about Parapsychology and has more to do with existential issues. The following link will take you to a paper on Parapsychology:
    I was happy that both Ian Wilson and myself agreed during an interview that the Shroud image formation process had nothing to do with the imprinting process on the mattress.
    True Parapsychology is neutral, nothing to do with Spiritualism or magic. That was the reason it did not come under attack from Abraham Thomas Kovoor, who edited the “Ceylon Rationalist Ambassador” and attacked “god-men” in Sri Lanka and India.

  6. I think Kovoor’s Father is a Methodist Priest and I was told that at the time of Kovoor’s death he changed his views (I may be wrong).

    Hi Louis – image on the shroud is a negative one whereas the image on the Jospice Mattress is a positive one.

  7. It could be, but he did not reach the level of C.T. K. Chari, who taught at Madras Christian College, and challenged Ian Stevenson, at the University of Virginia, when it came to the reincarnation theories, which he did not approve. Kovoor was more suited to tackle people like Sai Baba.

    As for the mattress, yes, that is just one difference. It shows something like the Kirlian effect.

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