The Holy Shroud
Secondo Pia's 1898 negative of the image on the Shroud of Turin has an appearance suggesting a positive image. It is used as part of the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. Image from Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne.
Secondo Pia (9 September 1855 – 7 September 1941) was an Italian lawyer and amateur photographer. He is best known for taking the first photographs of the Shroud of Turin on 28 May 1898 and, when he was developing them, noticing that the photographic negatives showed a clearer rendition of the image. The image he obtained from the shroud has been approved by the Roman Catholic Church as part of the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.
On the third day of Jesus' death, a small group of women returned to the tomb of Christ - among them Mary Magdalene. This return was just at dawn. However, the small group found the tomb open, without the Roman legionaries’ troop , who had escaped from the site, abandoning their guard posts.
Mary Magdalena, despite being very afraid, was the first to enter the cave, followed, just behind, by the group of women. Minutes before, they had been challenged by an Announcing Angel, who had said that the tomb was empty and ordered them to come in to see what had happened: The Messiah, the Son of Abraham's only God, had risen.
Mary Magdalene was able to see that the interior was empty and that the shroud that enveloped Christ was folded on top of the stone on which his body lay three days earlier - when his hurried funeral had been held.
From the object, which used to be a mere linen fabric, now emanated light and heat: the relic had been sanctified by the body of the Savior and, from then on, it became known as "The Holy Shroud".
Jesus' shroud was later handed over to Mary, his mother, who kept its guard until the last minutes of her passage from planet Earth. She passed on its care to John, her faithful personal protector. The apostle John also cared for the preciousness until the end of his life and, in his last days, entrusted the shroud’s protection to other younger followers. These were difficult times and of great persecution for the First Christians, both on the part of the Roman Empire and the radical Jews, who still did not believe in Jesus Christ as the messiah sent by God.
The Holy Shroud was kept well protected and out of sight of persecutors of Christianity for several years. Tradition only describes the shroud’s new appearance in the 2nd century, in the city of Edessa, in Asia Minor, a place that, for centuries, became a great pilgrimage center for Christianity, where thousands of pilgrims were destined to see the Holy Shroud, which was traditionally presented to the public every Friday.
Yet, in AD 944, this relic was transferred to Constantinople, today Istanbul, Turkey, and remained there until AD 1204 when the city was looted by the Crusaders and the Holy Shroud was taken by these knights to Europe. It is not known exactly where it was.
The relic remained under the protection of the Templar Knights for more than a century and only reappeared later in France, around 1349, under the custody of Godofredo de Chaney, lord of Lirey.
In 1390, Pope Clement VII declared the relic sacred and began to encourage pilgrimage for its visitation.
From March 1453, the Holy Shroud became the property of the Duke of Savoy and, in 1502, was placed at the chapel of his castle in Chambéry.