Pope Francis has praised the decision to livestream the exposition of the Turin Shroud on Holy Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Archdiocese of Turin has invited Catholics around the world to pray virtually before the Shroud at 5pm local time April 11.
For centuries, the faithful have venerated the Shroud, which bears the image of a crucified man, as Christ’s burial cloth.
In a letter to Turin Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia dated April 9, the pope wrote: “I wish to express my warm appreciation to you for this gesture, which comes in response to the request of God's faithful people, harshly tried by the coronavirus pandemic.”
The pope said he wanted to echo the archbishop’s appeal to Catholics to contemplate “the Man of the Shroud” who bears the traits of the “man of sorrows” described in the Book of Isaiah (53:3,4-5).
He said: “As Christians, in the light of the Scriptures, we contemplate in this Cloth the icon of the Lord Jesus crucified, dead and risen. To Him we entrust ourselves, in Him we trust. Jesus gives us the strength to face every trial with faith, with hope and with love, in the certainty that the Father always listens to his children who cry out to Him, and saves them.”
“Dear Brother, and all of you, dear brothers and sisters, who will participate through the media in prayer before the Holy Shroud, let us live these days in intimate union with the Passion of Christ, to experience the grace and joy of his Resurrection.”
With the Vatican’s assistance, the ceremony will broadcast via satellite in South America and sub-Saharan Africa. Through Telepace, a Catholic network based in Italy, the exposition will also be available to viewers in North Africa, the Middle East and Australia.
The event has its own logo, an image of the face on the Shroud, accompanied by the words “Più forte è l’amore" (“Love is stronger”), chosen by Archbishop Nosiglia as the ceremony’s theme.
More than 102,000 people had died from COVID-19 worldwide as of April 11, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.