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The Shroud of Turin, icon of salvation

On the first Sunday of Lent, like today, in the year 843, the icons were taken in solemn procession and returned to the churches, restoring their cult. It is a good day, then, to reflect on the image of the icon as an icon of Christ, leaving aside any scientific, artistic or archaeological theme.

The icon is more than a religious image. It is a sacred image, indeed, a sacramental. As the Second Council of Nicea affirms, "what the Gospel tells us through the Word, the icon announces to us through the colors and makes it present to us".

Precisely this is what we find in the image of the icon: a presence. A presence that challenges us and transcends us because it takes us into the world of God. It introduces us fully into the mystery of God's Love. A God made flesh out of Love. Made wounds to heal our wounds, made death to give us life.

For this reason, when we contemplate the face of the icon, the peace it transmits pierces our heart. And a question arises after contemplating it. After all the sufferings he has gone through, how can he radiate so much peace?

It is the peace of "all things are accomplished" (Jn. 19:30). It is the peace of the Love of God who has poured himself out totally, who has given his life for humanity. It is the peace of God who gives the Spirit. Spirit of Peace. Spirit of Love. Spirit given at Pentecost to move our hearts. That Spirit that makes us cry "Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6) because he has united us to the Son, making us sons.

When we contemplate the man in the Shroud, we contemplate the consequences of our sins. Sins consumed by the Love of God. As the Easter Proclamation proclaims, "blessed sin that deserved such a Redeemer". That is why we do not look at the man in the Shroud, delighting in his pain, in his wounds. They frighten us because they make us discover the dimension of our sin. A sin that needed the very Son of God made man.

The Shroud condenses in itself all the models of icons of Christ. It contains the icon of the Incarnation: it makes us understand that God has taken our nature and introduced us into his intimate life. It contains the icon of the Cross: it shows us with unusual crudeness and terrible realism the historical reality of the crucifixion. And it contains the icon of the Resurrection: the peace of the face leads us to understand the reality of the resurrection, of the victory of Life over death, the victory of Christ which is also ours.

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