Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Shroud, A Bun & A Chip

 The Faux Shroud of Turin on display at the Duomo

"Most of what has lived on earth
has left behind no record at all."
~ Bill Bryson

"What do you want to do in Turin?" Mike asked me while were on the marathon train ride here the other day.

"I don't care what we do as long as we go to see the Shroud of Turin," I said.  To be to be perfectly honest, I didn't even really care if we saw that, although I didn't say it.

"You know you probably won't see it," he replied. 

"You mean like I couldn't see Mother Theresa in the cinnamon bun or Jesus in the potato chip?"  I was serious.  We lived in Nashville when a local coffee shop, Bongo Java, became famous for having baked a cinnamon bun that supposedly bore an eery resemblance to Mother Theresa.  The "NunBun" brought them so much attention that they started selling items with the image on them.  Mother Theresa's lawyers (Who knew the nun had lawyers?) eventually wrote and asked BJ to stop making money from the bun. (It's a long story.)  I saw photos of the thing and eventually saw it in person, but I never could see Mother Theresa in that thing.  Maybe it's because I was not a believer, if you get my drift.

At any rate, Mike answered, "Nooo.  I mean the shroud is probably so faded you won't be able to see it."

"Well, I still want to see it."  I still don't know why, but I did.  Unfortunately, when we got to the hotel and I started looking for information on the Shroud, I found out that the public can't see it, anyway.   Due to its very advanced and age fragile condition, the Church keeps it under lock and key except for special events (the last being 2007).  A "faux" representative of the Shroud sits behind glass in a chapel in the duomo in Turin.

I don't want to bore you with the details about the history of the Shroud which you can find easily by Googling it.  It's been in the news recently as scientists at a university in Padova (Padua) did more research on its age and found it to be older than originally thought.  You can read a little about that here if you're interested.  Suffice to say, though, that I was still interested in seeing the church.

After going through four museums and taking a ride on the tourist bus, we finally headed for the duomo late in the afternoon.  Located near the Royal Palace, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (the duomo) is a rather small church considering its prominence in the city.  There are a number of side altars and chapels, one of which holds the faux Shroud.

Main altar in the Duomo

There weren't a lot of people in the cathedral when we walked in, so we were able to sit and watch a little film about the Shroud uninterrupted by throngs of moving tourists.  We then walked over to the side altar where the enlarged piece of the Shroud is.  I took one photo (the first one above) and lifted the camera to take a second.

"No, signora. No."  A guard waved his hand at me. "No foto."

"Oops. Sorry. Mi dispiace. (Excuse me.)" I apologized.  "Sorry."

We sat a few more minutes and then walked out of the duomo.

"Did that guy just stop me from taking a non-flash photo of a fake Shroud?" I asked Mike as we walked down the duomo steps?  "Am I missing something here?

"I didn't get it." Mike was as confused as I.  "It wasn't even the whole thing or the right size or anything."

"Unless they want to make sure you buy a postcard or holy card or poster with the image, it makes no sense to me."  I shook my head.  "He didn't say anything when I took the first one."

"He didn't see you."

"Not my fault.  He should have been more vigilant."

So, I got to see the faux Shroud, and I guess I see the image in the faux linen.  

By the way, if you're interested in the NunBun story, you can read it here.  Believe me, though, that in person, that thing doesn't look like Mother Theresa at all.

We're out of here in the morning.... another train ride through Roma to Spoleto.  I'll see you on the when we hit Umbria.

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