March 23, 2012

Shroud of Turin exhibit on display at St. Monica Parish during Holy Week

By Natalie Hoefer (Special to The Criterion)

“And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth”(Mt 27:59).

“And so Simon Peter … entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there” (Jn 20:6).

Thus begins the story of what is known as the Shroud of Turin, the purported burial cloth of Jesus Christ, which bears the front and back image of what appears to be a scourged and crucified man.

While the Catholic Church has not taken an official stance on the shroud’s authenticity, it is worthy to note that Pope Benedict XVI viewed the shroud while it was temporarily on display in Turin, Italy, in May 2010.

According to a BBC news article, the pope said that, “The holy shroud eloquently reminds us of Christ’s suffering.”

The cloth’s connection to the suffering of Christ’s Passion makes Holy Week the perfect time to contemplate the shroud. St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis is providing such an opportunity.

A traveling exhibit on the Shroud of Turin, including a life-size replica of the cloth, will be on display at St. Monica Parish, 6131 N. Michigan Road, during Holy Week from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on April 2-6. The exhibit will conclude with a speaker discussing the history and studies of the shroud at 5:30 p.m. on April 6.

The highlight of the exhibit, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Father Solanus Casey Council #11276 of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne, Ind., in the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, is an approximately 14 foot by 4 foot digitized photo of the shroud, encased and back-lit for easier viewing.

The exhibit also contains informational display boards, replicas of the nails and scourge used by Romans during Christ’s time, a video about the shroud, a replica of St. Juan Diego’s tilma, which bears the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and other items.

Books, videos and informational material are also available for purchase. All proceeds are applied to maintain and display the exhibit.

The concept of the traveling exhibit came to the Fort Wayne Knights of Columbus members after a local parish hosted a similar but larger exhibit from California in 1996.

“It was tremendous,” said Alex Fiato, a member of the Father Solanus Casey Council that is sponsoring the exhibit, “but it was big and bulky. We thought it would be a fabulous evangelization tool, but we wanted something that was easy to set up and rapidly deployed.”

The tour of the traveling exhibit is a testimony to its success. From Michigan to New York, from New Jersey to Louisiana, and even as far as the Philippines and India, the exhibit has had an impact on people.

In India, “it brought Muslims and Hindus to tears,” said Fiato.

The exhibit had an impact on someone much closer to home as well—Fiato’s daughter, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was an eighth-grade student questioning her Catholic faith when she visited the large exhibit from California.

“I kept watching the video over and over,” she recalled. “I’m a ‘why’ girl, and there were just too many things on that cloth that science couldn’t explain for me not to see the shroud as a gift from God.”

Now an adult and member of St. Monica Parish, she continues to be fascinated by the shroud. She is serving as the contact person for coordinating the exhibit’s display in Indianapolis.

She will speak at 5:30 p.m. on April 6, the last day of the exhibit at St. Monica Parish, to discuss the history of the shroud and the evidence that points to its authenticity as the burial cloth of Christ. A Spanish translator will be available for the presentation.

The exhibit is open to everyone, regardless of their parish affiliation or faith tradition. There is no charge, although donations are welcome to help cover expenses.

People who wish to view the exhibit while it is at St. Monica Parish should park in the north parking lot, which is closest to St. Augustine Hall where the exhibit will be displayed.

The Shroud of Turin exhibit will also be on display at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford during the week before Holy Week.

Elizabeth Fiato encouraged everyone to see the shroud exhibit, especially the “doubting Thomases.”

“For someone to get all the things to line up—the blood type, the location of the scourge marks, the pollen and all these other things—there’s no way someone could have masterminded all that,” she said. “The science just takes my breath away, and science can’t contradict the truth.”

(If your parish or organization is interested in displaying the traveling Shroud of Turin exhibit and is in the Indianapolis area, contact Elizabeth Fiato at 504-251-8242. Interested parishes or organizations outside the Indianapolis area should contact Alex Fiato at 260-432-9702.)

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