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The Shroud of Turin and the Popes: Francis

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

On this occasion, we present three messages of Pope Francis on the Shroud: the message of 2013, the Angelus of 2015 and the letter of 2020. In each of them he offers us an idea for meditation. They are small texts, but valuable in themselves and can be read as a unit. Texts that offer us the possibility of carrying out three small meditations in a time of prayer. Ideal for the visits to the Monuments of Good Friday.



Holy Saturday, 30 March 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I join all of you gathered before the Holy Shroud, and I thank the Lord who, through modern technology, offers us this possibility.

Even if it takes place in this way, we do not merely “look”, but rather we venerate by a prayerful gaze. I would go further: we are in fact looked upon upon ourselves. This face has eyes that are closed, it is the face of one who is dead, and yet mysteriously he is watching us, and in silence he speaks to us. How is this possible? How is it that the faithful, like you, pause before this icon of a man scourged and crucified? It is because the Man of the Shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth. This image, impressed upon the cloth, speaks to our heart and moves us to climb the hill of Calvary, to look upon the wood of the Cross, and to immerse ourselves in the eloquent silence of love.

Let us therefore allow ourselves to be reached by this look, which is directed not to our eyes but to our heart. In silence, let us listen to what he has to say to us from beyond death itself. By means of the Holy Shroud, the unique and supreme Word of God comes to us: Love made man, incarnate in our history; the merciful love of God who has taken upon himself all the evil of the world to free us from its power. This disfigured face resembles all those faces of men and women marred by a life which does not respect their dignity, by war and violence which afflict the weakest… And yet, at the same time, the face in the Shroud conveys a great peace; this tortured body expresses a sovereign majesty. It is as if it let a restrained but powerful energy within it shine through, as if to say: have faith, do not lose hope; the power of the love of God, the power of the Risen One overcomes all things.

So, looking upon the Man of the Shroud, I make my own the prayer which Saint Francis of Assisi prayed before the Crucifix:

Most High, glorious God, enlighten the shadows of my heart, and grant me a right faith, a certain hope and perfect charity, sense and understanding, Lord, so that I may accomplish your holy and true command. Amen.


Piazza Vittorio Sunday, 21 June 2015

At the end of this celebration, our thoughts go to the Virgin Mary, a loving, caring mother towards all her children, whom Jesus entrusted to her as he offered Himself on the Cross in the greatest act of love. An icon of this love is the Shroud, which has again drawn so many people to Turin. The Shroud attracts people to the face and tortured body of Jesus and, at the same time, urges us on toward every person who is suffering and unjustly persecuted. It urges us on in the same direction as Jesus’ gift of love. “The love us Christ urges us on”: these words of St Paul were the motto of Joseph Benedict Cottolengo.

Recalling the apostolic fervour of so many holy priests of this region, starting with Don Bosco, the bicentennial of whose birth we commemorate, with gratitude I greet you, priests and religious. You dedicate yourselves with commitment to pastoral work, and you are close to the people and their problems. I encourage you to carry forward your ministry with joy, always focusing on what is essential to the proclamation of the Gospel. And as I thank you for your presence, Brother Bishops of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, I urge you to stay close to your priests with paternal affection and warm closeness.

To the Holy Virgin, I entrust this city and the surrounding area and those who live therein, that they may be enabled to live in justice, peace and fraternity. In particular, I entrust to her the families, young people, elderly, inmates and all those who suffer, with a special thought for leukaemia patients on today’s National Day Against Leukaemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma. May Mary the Consolatrix, Queen of Turin and Piedmont, make firm your faith, make sure your hope, and make fruitful your charity, that you may be the “salt and light” of this blessed land, of which I am a grandson.


[Turin, Holy Saturday, 11 April 2020]

To His Reverend Excellency Msgr. CESARE NOSIGLIA Archbishop of Turin and Bishop of Susa

I have learned, dear brother, that this coming Saturday you will preside at a celebration in the chapel that holds the Holy Shroud, which, will be made specially visit to all those who participate in prayer through the means of social communication.

I wish to express to you my warm appreciation of this gesture, which responds to the request of God’s faithful people, sorely tried by the coronavirus pandemic

I too join in your supplication, turning my gaze to the Man of the Shroud, in whom we recognise the features of the Servant of the Lord, that Jesus realised in His Passion: “A man of suffering, and familiar with pain… Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering … But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Is 53, 3. 4-5).

In the face of the Man of the Shroud we also see the faces of so many sick brothers and sisters, especially of those who are most alone and least cared for; but also all the victims of wars and violence, of slavery and persecution.

As Christians, in the light of the Scriptures, we contemplate in this cloth the icon of the Lord Jesus crucified, dead and risen again. To He we entrust ourselves, in Him we confide. 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 to Him, and saves them.

Dear confrere, and all of you, dear brothers and sisters who participate through the media in the prayer before the Holy Shroud, let us live these days in intimate union with the Passion of Christ, to experience the grace and the joy of His Resurrection. I bless Your Excellency, the Church of Turin and all of you, especially the sick and the suffering, and those who care for them. May the Lord grant you all peace and mercy. Happy Easter!

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 9 April 2020



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