New scientific tests on the Shroud of Turin, which was on display Saturday in a special TV appearance introduced by the Pope, dates the cloth to ancient times, challenging earlier experiments dating it only to the Middle Ages..The Shroud of Turin, shown in 1979, is a 14-foot linen revered by some as the burial cloth of Jesus.The Vatican, tiptoeing carefully, has never claimed that the 14-foot linen cloth was, as some believers claim, used to cover Christ after he was taken from the cross 2,000 years ago.Francis, reflecting that careful Vatican policy, on Saturday called the cloth, which is kept in a climate-controlled case, an "icon" -- not a relic.
He believes natural chemical reactions caused by a decomposing body and annoiting oils could have created the body imprint on the shroud, which may have then been used as evidence of Christ's resurrection.
But Cesare Nosiglia, the Archbishop of Turin and "pontifical custodian of the shroud," said the special display on Holy Saturday "means that it represents a very important testimony to the Passion and the resurrection of the Lord," The Telegraph reported.
The burial shroud purports to show the imprint of the face and body of a bearded man.
The shroud bears markings that appear to be front and back impressions of a crucified man.
Apparently, the cloth was folded over itself, one half above the man, the other half below.