MOUNT ZION — The Shroud of Turin is thought by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
Although the artifact has been the subject of curiosity and faith for many centuries, few will have the opportunity to see the real thing in Italy. A traveling exhibit stands in as the next best thing.
The free exhibit featuring an exact replica of the 14-foot long Shroud of Turin and other information will be on display until Jan. 22, at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Mount Zion.
Groups are invited to view the exhibit from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The public can visit from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit is also open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Bud Walsh, a member of the Knights of Columbus, greets many of the visitors as they arrive at the church, providing information about the original shroud and the exhibit.
The original exhibit has 95 panels explaining the importance of the Shroud of Turin. The traveling display has 72 panels.
“They cut it back because it was too big to get in most churches,” Walsh said.
The exhibit was created through the Conventual Franciscans of Marytown-National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Libertyville.
The highlight of the exhibit features the replica of the Shroud of Turin. “The actual shroud is still in Turin, Italy,” said curator Serina Cefaratti.
According to the shrine, the shroud is one of the most scientifically studied religious icons in history. As science progressed, the desire to study the shroud grew, and the exhibit includes researchers' findings. It is the subject of much debate among theologians, historians and researchers.
The shroud has been damaged through the years, including water stains, burn marks from a fire and torn pieces. However, researchers were able to find various particles associated with the area and the era in which Jesus lived, including dirt, flowers and impressions of coins, the exhibit notes.
The photographic replica of the shroud also shows dirt and blood stains outlining a man in a burial position who has been bloodied with marks in his hands and feet.
“These are the things that prove the dateline,” Cefaratti said. “The image is like an X-ray.”
The exhibit panels explain not only the scientific evidence supporting the claim of Jesus’ shroud, it also educates the public about crucifiction, biblical comparisons, history and traditions and the story of Jesus’ death.
“The exhibit takes you through his last hours,” Cefaratti said. “It shows the suffering.”
Since the exhibit first came to Our Lady of the Holy Spirit on Jan. 8, Walsh has greeted an average of 50 visitors a day. After the mobile exhibit leaves the area, it will be displayed at St. Mary Immaculate Church in Plainfield.
Walsh traveled to the previous church to retrieve the exhibit, which is stored in its own trailer, which promotes the shroud.
“It had come from Missouri before this,” Walsh said.