VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will spend two days in Turin to venerate the Shroud of Turin; meet young people, workers, juvenile detainees, immigrants and the sick; and visit with his Italian relatives from northern Italy.
The papal visit June 21-22 also will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Bosco, a 19th-century priest from the Turin region who was a pioneer in vocational education, worked with poor and abandoned children and founded the Salesians, a religious order specializing in youth work.
The trip’s main focus will be to venerate the shroud, which will be on public display April 19-June 24, 2015, in Turin’s cathedral. It will be the fourth time since 2000 the shroud goes on public display.
According to tradition, the 14-foot-by-4-foot linen cloth is the burial shroud of Jesus. The shroud has a full-length photonegative image of a man, front and back, bearing signs of wounds that correspond to the Gospel accounts of the torture Jesus endured in his passion and death.
The church has never officially ruled on the shroud’s authenticity, saying the shroud is an important aid for spiritual reflection and that judgments about its age and origin belong to scientific investigation. Scientists have debated its authenticity for decades, and studies have led to conflicting results.
A pilgrimage to Turin is not a journey to discover “apparitions or miracles. It is a journey that’s both communal and interior, ‘a pilgrimage within'” that prompts deeper conversion and faith, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, papal custodian of the Shroud of Turin, told reporters at the Vatican March 25.
The Vatican released the pope’s Turin schedule during the archbishop’s new conference. It said the pope is scheduled to give five speeches over the two days, including a question-and-answer session with young people. He will celebrate Mass outdoors June 21.
The pope will have lunch that day with juvenile detainees, immigrants, homeless people and a family of Gypsies, who are also known as Roma.
After praying before the shroud and the tomb of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati at the city’s cathedral, Pope Francis is expected to visit a Marian sanctuary, visit the ill and disabled at a church-run institute, and meet with Salesians and educators at the Basilica of Our Lady of Help of Christians, which was founded by St. John Bosco and houses his casket.
Pope Francis will visit Turin’s Waldensian church June 22 before dedicating the late-morning and afternoon to visiting relatives from his father’s side of the family. The private visit is to include a Mass and lunch at the archbishop’s residence.
The Bergoglio lineage begins in northern Italy — and today the majority of Italians with that last name are still in Turin and Asti, the town where Pope Francis’ father grew up. The pope’s father, Mario Jose, and other family members, including his beloved grandmother, Rosa, went to Argentina in 1929.
During the shroud’s display, special emphasis will be on those who suffer since the shroud prompts deeper reflection on pain, hope and service to those in need, Archbishop Nosiglia said.
Special services and accommodations will be available for those needing assistance and special, accessible confessionals will be available.
Organizers of the exhibition said they expected at least 1 million people from all over the world to visit during the two-month-long public exposition, adding that almost 850,000 people have already registered.
While visits to the display in the city’s cathedral will be free, reservations are mandatory in order to regulate the massive flow of visitors that is expected. Reservations can be made only online on the official site: www.sindone.org.
All donations made by pilgrims during the event will be given to Pope Francis, who will decide what charity or project the monies will be given to, the archbishop said.