Exhibitions of the 20th Century (part 3)

After just two years, from September 24th to October 15th, 1933, the Shroud was shown again to the desire of Pope Pius XI who intended to celebrate a Jubilee on the occasion of the 19th centenary of Redemption: it was, in fact, an exposition due to the express will of a Pope: a not exactly common fact, since Vittorio Emanuele III, king of Italy, welcomed the expectations of the Pius XI granting the permission to exhibit the Shroud but pointed out to Cardinal Fossati that he would no longer authorize exhibitions unrelated to dynastic events, such as the wedding of his first grandson (Nicolotti 2015, p. 238).

The Shroud exposed for veneration in the churchyard of the Cathedral of Turin during the 1933 exhibition.
The Shroud exposed for veneration in the churchyard of the Cathedral of Turin during the 1933 exhibition.

During the opening and closing ceremony the Shroud was exposed in the churchyard; October 15th 1933 was the last time that such an action was repeated.

The crowd in the square outside the Turin cathedral (1933).
The crowd in the square outside the Turin Cathedral (1933).

During the 1933 Exhibition pilgrims could also visit a great “Sacred Diorama,” i.e. a reconstruction of the Passion of Christ with statues (some of which were sculpted by Michelangelo Monti) and paintings.
An account of the entire exposition was published in a small book (L’Ostensione della SS. Sindone. Torino 1933, ‘The Exposition of the Most Holy Shroud. Turin 1933’, Giachino, Torino 1933, edited by G. Pozzi). However, this is a commemorative publication (full of advertising inserts) and a completely different volume from as the one published two years earlier. The two photos shown in this post come from this 1933 book.


L’ostensione della SS. Sindone. Torino 1933 (a cura di G. Pozzi), Giachino, Torino 1933.

Nicolotti 2015 = Andrea Nicolotti, Sindone. Storia e leggende di una reliquia controversa, Einaudi, Torino 2015.


Exhibitions of the 20th Century (part 2)

The 1931 Exhibition itself
On May 3rd, 1931 the Shroud was extracted from the altar of the Guarini chapel in the presence of no less than 5 cardinals and 45 archbishops and bishops, then it was carried in procession and placed in the display case that can now be seen in the S. Sudario church, at the Museum of the Shroud. As far as we know, five cardinals and bishops should have repeated the traditional rite of the exposition performed by presenting the Shroud to the faithful holding it with their own hands. The purpose was to bring the Shroud outside, in the churchyard, to show it to the crowd that filled the square, but in the opening ceremony of this could not be done because it poured with rain (see La stampa, May 3, 1931, p. 1: the photographs of the event will therefore refer to the closing ceremony ).
On two occasions, in the night between May 3rd and 4th and, before the closing ceremony, between May 22nd and 23rd, Turin photographer Giuseppe Enrie took a new series of photos up to twelve orthochromatic plates that were particularly successful due to this particular technique, which emphasize details and contrast (Pugno 1961, p. 325; Fossati 2000, pp. 240-241). Enrie later published a book of success: The Shroud Revealed by Photography (La Santa Sindone rivelata dalla fotografia, Turin 1933). Mainly on these pics were based, in the following years, many of the studies that claim to have found on the Shroud written texts, coins or traces of flowers.

Giuseppe Enrie's Book on th Shroud (1933)
Giuseppe Enrie’s Book on the Shroud (1933)

The presence of the House of Savoy was evident. Prince Humebert attended all the important ceremonies and he is recognizable in most photographic evidence.

Popular participation, during the twenty days of exhibition, was great: contemporary sources speak of over a million and a half of overall attendance. An art exhibition allowed pilgrims to admire the most significant pieces of the collection of objects dedicated to the Shroud collected by Prince Humebert himself. A huge limited edition book was published as official account of the exhibition and contained the catalog of this exhibition, (L’Ostensione della Sindone MCMXXXI,The Exposition of the Shroud 1931′, Bona, Torino 1931).

A ceremony in the Cathedral of Turin during the 1931 Exhibition. The officer in uniform on the left, with the candle in his hand, is Prince Humbert of Savoy.
A ceremony in the Cathedral of Turin during the 1931 Exhibition. The officer in uniform on the left, with a long candle in his hand, is Prince Humbert of Savoy.

On the closing day, May 24th, the archbishop of Turin Fossati with four other prelates including those of Biella and Vercelli had the honor to hold with his own hands, following the Chambéry tradition, the Shroud in front of Turin Cathedral of Turin. Some photos, due mostly to Mr. Gherlone of Turin, show the event.

The Shroud shown to the crowd during the closing ceremony of the 1931 exhibition.
The Shroud shown to the crowd during the closing ceremony of the 1931 exhibition.


Ostensione 1931 = L’Ostensione della S. Sindone MCMXXXI, Bona, Torino 1931.

Giuseppe Enrie, La Santa Sindone rivelata dalla fotografia, Torino 1933.

Pugno 1961 = Giuseppe Maria Pugno, La Santa Sindone che si venera a Torino, SEI, Torino 1961.

Fossati 2000 = Luigi Fossati s.d.b., La Sacra Sindone. Storia documentata di una secolare venerazione, Elledici, Torino 2000.

Shroud and Sindonology

While a new Exposition of the Turin Shroud is held from April 19th to June 24th 2015 this blog starts to discuss, without prejudice, some aspects of the history and nature of the object that for many – except a pugnacious (and well documented) group of opponents – was the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

The seventeenth-century fresco on so-called
The seventeenth-century fresco on the wall of the so-called “Shroud house” in Biella (Piedmont, Italy).

The goal of this blog is not to prove nor to deny authenticity: in the coming months, trying not to give up updates after the end of the 2015 Exhibition, some interventions will be posted about positively acquired fact on the question. It is sometimes difficult to deal with the publications of the so-called “specialists”, sometimes riddled with errors and beliefs that cannot be proved. On the other hand, papers and books of those who deny the authenticity of the Shroud are sometimes more interested in distinguishing a “good science” (i.e. their science) from the “bad one” of all the others.

This blog deals with a particular category which we will try to explain in all its aspects: what we’ll call the devotional authenticity of the Turin Shroud. Through the history of the House of Savoy and more generally of Italy and of Christianity itself, for at least five centuries, the Turin Linen was considered the real burial cloth of Christ. This conviction has inspired devotion and worship, historical research, art, and, to some extent, at least in recent years, even the investigation by exact sciences. Sindonology, as it is presented here, is the historical development of the passionate attention that the Shroud has aroused in this perspective. We are interested in the books, the works of art or religion that developed around it, whether the palynological analysis of the 1978 or the 1984 radiocarbon dating are reliable or not. That said, welcome to everybody.

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