The controversial Shroud of Turin is back on display for the first time in five years.
The ancient piece of linen now on public view at Turin Cathedral bears the outline of a crucified, bearded man.
Believers say it was used to wrap the body of Jesus after his crucifixion, but carbon dating tests say it is a medieval fake from the 13th century.
“In regards to the scientific aspect and research, where we still don’t see consensus, the Church has nothing against the continuation of the research,” says Archbishop of Turin Cesare Nosiglia. “What matters most, for the pilgrims and for the Church, is that when facing the shroud, people feel in their hearts an incessant and constant recollection of what Jesus has done.”
The Vatican makes no claim to the shroud’s authenticity but says it is a powerful symbol of Christ’s suffering.
Carmen Bonardi, a visitor at the press preview on Saturday, has no doubts.
“I’ve believed it’s authentic since the first time I saw it and continue to believe because every time it has such a strong effect on me,” she said as she made her way out of the cathedral after viewing the shroud.
The controversial cloth is rarely displayed in order to preserve the fabric and the cathedral is expecting around three million visitors of all faiths to take the opportunity to see it.
The short exhibition, which runs until June 24, is taking place amid extremely tight security.
Pope Francis will visit Turin to venerate the shroud on June 21.