Pope Pius XII stated, A precious treasure, the Holy Shroud, which displays, both to move and comfort us, the image of the lifeless body and tortured face of Christ.” And Pope John XXIII declared, “Digits Dei est hic” (“The finger of God is here.”)However, to believe that the Shroud is the actual burial cloth of the Lord is not a matter of faith. As Cardinal Saldarini of Turin stated, “It’s not Christ, but something that brings us back to him.
Salvation is not in the Shroud, even if it truly wrapped the martyred body of Jesus, even if it was mysteriously given by God to His Church.
The Holy Father has visited the Shroud both in 1978 and most recently this past June 1998.
His predecessors have also viewed the Shroud favorably.
Although some gaps appear in its historical whereabouts, the Shroud has maintained a consistent presence.
After Robert de Clari’s testimony, the next historical citing places the Shroud in France, having passed to the possession of the De Charny family of Lirey.
In 1983, the Savoy family willed the Shroud to the Holy Father with the Archbishop of Turin serving as the Pontifical Guardian for the Conservation and Veneration of the Holy Shroud Of course, the Shroud is believed to be the burial cloth used by Joseph of Arimathaea to wrap the body of Jesus for burial.
Documentation shows that the Shroud indeed was displayed in the cities of Jerusalem, Edessa (500) and Constantinople (1092).
Without declaring its authenticity, Pope John Paul II has clearly attested to the value of the Shroud.
For instance, in 1980, the Holy Father stated, “The Holy Shroud, the most splendid relic of the passion and the resurrection.” Almost ten years later, in April 1989, he was asked by reporters during an in-flight press conference on the way to Madagascar about the Shroud, and he responded, “It certainly is a relic.” Again, almost ten years later, when asked if the Shroud was genuine, the Pope said, I think it is.” (as reported in Columbia, 1998).