(La Stampa – Torino) – Coronavirus, Saturday, April 11, extraordinary Shroud veneration on live TV and social media.

At 5pm local time, Archbishop Nosiglia will lead a liturgy of prayer and contemplation from the cathedral that houses the Shroud.

Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, custodian of the Holy Shroud of Turin, has announced via Youtube that on Holy Saturday, April 11, there will be a televised meditation of the Shroud, visible throughout the world, accompanied by prayer.

“Thousands and thousands of people, young and old, healthy and sick – said the archbishop – have asked me, at this time of such serious difficulty, if we could pray in Holy Week in front of the Shroud to implore before the image of the dead and resurrected Christ that the sacred cloth presents us in such a concrete way, to ask him for the grace to overcome evil as he did on the cross, trusting in the goodness and mercy of God.”

Archbishop Nosiglia explained that he “gladly accepted this request: I assure everyone that we will carry it out on Holy Saturday starting at 5 pm: I will preside over a long prayer in front of the Shroud, thanks to television and social media. Thus, this time of contemplation will make available to everyone throughout the world, the image of the Sacred Cloth that reminds us of the passion and death of the Lord but which also opens our hearts to faith in the resurrection. Love is stronger: this is the Easter announcement of the Shroud that fills our hearts with gratitude and faith. Yes, the love with which Jesus gave us his life is stronger than any suffering, disease and contagion, any trial and discouragement. Nothing and no one can ever separate us from this love, it unites us to him with an indissoluble bond.”

Some of the many photos I took on a visit to Turin for a Shroud exposition:

The archbishop of Turin then recalled that, “Pope Francis, for the 2013 televised exposition, told us: ‘It is not we who contemplate in the Shroud a face that has its eyes closed by death, but it is he who looks at us to make us understand what great love he had for us, freeing us from sin and death. That face speaks to our heart, it communicates a great peace to us, and it is as if it says ‘trust us’, do not lose hope, the strength of the love of God and the Risen One wins everything. Dear friends throughout the world, I wait for you to raise to God through the contemplation of the Shroud a choral prayer together with his son Jesus our brother and Savior. Yes, the Shroud always repeats it to our heart: love is stronger.”



It is Flag Day in America and I hope and pray every home has one flag flying from its roof or a flagpole or displayed inside a window! June 14 for decades was a big day in our family and in the entire neighborhood where I grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, a day everyone indeed hung a flag!. I pray that the stars and Stripes are still important and meaningful for my fellow Americans!


In this week’s Vatican Insider, I present Part II of my special “Who is the Man of the Shroud?” – the Shroud being the cloth that is said to have wrapped Christ’s body in the tomb until his Resurrection. A story of science and faith…..

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


There are a ton of new rules for tourists in the Eternal City and it would definitely behoove people to be informed. So read the story about the updated regulations (some went back to 1946!) and have some peace of mind. You don’t want Italians to give you a piece of their mind if you misbehave!

Here’s a great piece by Lonely Planet (you probably have a slew of their guidebooks if you travel a lot).

I did have to look up the word busk, which means is to perform music or other entertainment in the street or another public place for monetary donations.

The Independent online also reports that, “ticket touts selling ‘skip the line’ tickets at some of the Eternal City’s biggest attractions, such as the Vatican Museums and Colosseum, are prohibited, as are those who dress up as Roman centurions around tourist hotspots and charge money for photos.”

(JFL: if they succeed in banning these touts, it would be a miracle – there are probably 40 or more at anyone time outside the colonnades of St. Peter’s Square! Often, as I walk over to Pio XII Square to film segments for EWTN, I will pass – or be “touted: by – two dozen of these guys. They drive most tourists crazy. To skip the line at the Vatican Museums, folks, just go to the official webpage and reserve a day and time!!)

In its story on the new rules, the online newspaper added that “some offences may just attract a slap on the wrist from police patrolling attractions, while others will incur a fine or a ban from the area where the offence took place.

Virginia Raggi, the mayor of Rome, told The Telegraph: “Rome is, and always will be, welcoming, but that does not mean tolerating bad behaviour and damage being done to our city.“

She said she would be writing to foreign embassies, asking them to make citizens aware of the new rules when visiting the city.



In this week’s Vatican Insider, I have a special for you instead of the regular interview segment. This Sunday is Pentecost and the official end of the Easter Season but I have prepared a two-part story I call “Who is the Man of the Shroud?” – the Shroud being the cloth that is said to have wrapped Christ’s body in the tomb until his Resurrection – the start of the Easter season. Part II will air next week. (Images from

The Shroud:

The ventral image of the Shroud of Turin as it appears on the screen of a VP-8 Image Analyzer:

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


Marking the Day for Life in England and Wales, dedicated this year to domestic abuse, Pope Francis issues an appeal to fight all forms of exploitation.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

As the Catholic Church in England and Wales prepares to celebrate the Day for Life focusing on the theme of the Scourge of Domestic Abuse, Pope Francis has sent a message of greetings, support and participation.

In the message, signed on his behalf by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope said that as the bishops consider the theme of domestic abuse, “and in particular the shameful ill-treatment to which women are sometimes subjected (cf Amoris Laetitia, 54),” he prays that the efforts of the bishops to “support the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters will bear much fruit and contribute to a growing commitment to fight against all forms of exploitation.”

“The responsibility to share the good news that every human life is beautiful and sacred is a noble calling,” said Pope Francis. He continued offering “his encouragement to all who strive to promote a culture of life, gladly imparting his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.”

The 2019 Day for Life is being held in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland on 16 June.

Commenting on the shocking statistics that reveal one in four women and about one in six men suffer from domestic abuse in their lifetime, and that two women are killed every week in England by a partner or ex-partner, Bishop John Sherrigan who is responsible for the Day for Life in England and Wales said:

“These shocking statistics call us to fight against the scourge of domestic abuse. For those who are experiencing domestic abuse, the home is far from being a place of security and self-fulfillment. Too often it is a place of suffering, fear, degradation, and isolation.

“Domestic abuse is often a hidden problem, and our aim is for anyone experiencing domestic abuse to feel able to have the confidence to seek help within the Church setting. We want to raise awareness in our churches which would be a step towards addressing this serious moral and social problem.”

He pointed to the good work carried out by the National Board of Catholic Women and other groups, saying that it is of vital importance.

The proceeds from the Day for Life collection held in parishes will be used for the promotion of the dignity of the human person through the distribution of grants. This will help to develop networks and work with others to support projects against domestic violence.


Twelve years ago today, just days after his 78th birthday, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the papacy, taking the name of Benedict XVI. A man who wanted only to return to Germany to teach and write, Pope Benedict accepted the choice of the College of Cardinals and, although already 20 years older than his predecessor had been when elected in 1978, he reigned until February 11, 2013.

Wishing you health and happiness, Pope emeritus Benedict! The legions of faithful around the world who love, admire and miss you, hope you feel that love!


Welcome to Part II of my account of the Shroud of Turin, believed to be the linen cloth that wrapped the body of the crucified Jesus during his three days in the tomb. Last week I looked at its journey through time and history and mentioned just some of the many tests done on this cloth since Secondo Pia took his famous photograph in 1898, a photo whose negative re-opened the case for the authenticity of the shroud.

Let’s look at more history and further scientific experiments:

In 1578, St. Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, expressed the desire to venerate the precious relic of Christianity but because of frail health could not cross the Alps from Italy for the arduous trip. The Duke of Savoy, Emmanuel Filiberto, shortened the archbishop’s trip by bringing the shroud to Turin in May of that year. It has been in Turin for the past 437 years, except for brief periods when it was removed to protect it from the dangers of war.

For years it was wrapped width-wise around a wooden spool and housed in a silver reliquary above the main altar of an exceptionally beautiful chapel of black and gray marble designed by the Baroque architect Guarino Guarini. The chapel, specially designed for the shroud, is next to the Cathedral of St. John and is a masterpiece of architectural daring with an extraordinary dome of interlacing arches culminating in a gilded sunburst.

AT PRESENT, the Shroud is kept flat inside an aluminum and glass case at a constant temperature in an atmosphere of argon gas. It is covered by a drape, embroidered with the words: TUAM SINDONEM VENERAMUR, DOMINE, ET TUAM RECOLIMUS  PASSIONEM (We revere Your Holy Shroud, O Lord and (through it) we meditate on Your Passion).

On numerous occasions since 1898 when Secondo Pia photographed the Shroud – including the 1969 appointment of a Roman diocesan commission to study the linen – photographs using techniques vastly superior to those of 1898 have been taken, all upon special appointments and with the permission of its then legal owners, the house of Savoy, and now the Holy See. With these constantly improved photographs the studies of the shroud multiplied and intensified over the years, involving many nations and many men.

In the early 20th century, Dr. Pierre Barbet, a Paris surgeon and forerunner of today’s sindonologists, completed tests on cadavers to parallel his findings with what he “read” in the life – sized photographs of the crucified man.

Joining him were Paul Vignon, a French biologist, and Yves Delage, a member of the Academy of Science in Paris. Later, Giovanni Judica Cordiglia, degreed in medicine at Turin and in law at Pavia, and a professor of legal medicine at Milan, devoted his life and talents to the study of the shroud in yet another effort to arrive at its authenticity.

Modern scientific investigative techniques were also used by the late Max Frei, for years a criminologist with the scientific police in Zürich, Switzerland, Ian Wilson, a graduate student of history at Oxford University, Rev. Maurus Green, British priest and historian, and Fr. Peter Rinaldi, a Turin-born priest who at one time was vice president of the 7,000-member Holy Shroud Guild in the United States. These few names are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to name experts on the Shroud of Turin, but some of the earliest studies on the shroud have also been the most remarkable.

Max Frei, the Swiss forensic expert, aided by photographic enlargements, studied the micro sedimentations present on the fabric and he identified pollens indicating not only the shroud’s unlikely provenance but its itinerary in the years before it reached Turin. Over 30 specific pollens were named as belonging to plants in the Palestine area, Turkey and western Europe. Each plant, even now extinct ones, has its own specific pollen, distinguishable from all other plants and as individual as fingerprints. Frei’s long voyages, arduous studies and astounding results played a major role in lending credibility to the authenticity of the shroud.

Ultraviolet photography was first used in 1969 by Giovanni Battista Judica Cordiglia, son of the famed professor of legal medicine. This method, frequently used by police and art experts, traces organic substances which, if present on a tissue and illuminated by a mercury lamp emit fluoresences that show up on the special photographic plates. Ultra violet photography aids in neutron activation analysis and the evaluation of the origin of fibers and organic substances on these fibers and it was instrumental in Max Frei’s incredible findings.

American contributions have been significant over the years. Dr. Donald Lynn of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, used enhanced photograph and aided image techniques similar to those employed when the American spaceship Viking sent photos back from Mars. With the aid of a scanner, the markings on the shroud were broken down into a series of microscopic dots and these, in turn, were translated into a mathematical code. The codified dots were then fed into a computer whose multiple readings provided information on the composition of the fabric, organic substances on its surface and last, but not least in importance, an electronically-enhanced image of the entire shroud.

The enhanced photograph technique, in the case of the shroud, gave a three-dimensional effect. Simply put, it is much like listening to a Beethoven symphony in stereo – nothing new is added to the original music but its value is now enhanced. With the shroud the original images were reinforced.

In the 1970s and 80s, Captains John Jackson, a physicist, and Eric Jumper of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs used in their research both a microdensitometer and an image analyzer, the VP 8, which gave a third dimension, that of depth, to the photographs. Their process translated electronically the diverse light intensities of the photographs of the shroud onto a third dimensional image, whereas normal photographs show light and shadow, theirs showed depth – the distance of the shroud from various parts of the body – in an analysis of flat versus volume.

These are modern methods of photography and scientific laboratory analysis allowed the human eye to see what previously went unnoticed and they confirmed beyond a doubt the authenticity of the shroud. Earlier accusations of a falsification by painting were destroyed as, with painstaking slowness and precision, it was revealed that a forgerer would have to have been erudite in modern photographic techniques in order to re-create the perfect negative image on the shroud. He would also have to been skilled in medical sciences to have known about the process of blood plasma separation represented by the carmine color stains on the Shroud.

Msgr. Ricci told me in our first conversation those many years ago that surgeons, reconstructing what has been “read” in the many photographs, confirmed the exactness of anatomical details. The state of rigor mortis is in perfect accord with the biblical description of Christ’s crucifixion. Studies of the various blood flows revealed the crucified man to have been in positions both of relaxation and then of pulling himself up.

Surgical experiments also revealed that if a body is nailed to a cross through the palm of the hand, the sheer weight of the body tears the flesh in a short period of time, thus offering no support. However, if a nail is placed through the wrist in the so-called Destot space, the weight will be more easily borne for a longer period. In addition, the carpus area of the wrist contains the median nerve, a highly sensitive motor nerve, and if a nail is hammered into this nerve it causes the thumb to bend inward toward the palm. This fact shows up on the hand imprints of the man of the shroud where only four fingers are visible.

Close study also revealed that the legs were slightly bent and that only one nail was used to pierce both feet, evidenced again by the flow of blood. This nail allowed the crucified man upward movement, and both wrist and feet wounds showed that he was alternatively in a position of relaxation and of upward movement, thus avoiding death by suffocation that would have occurred had he remained only in a hanging position.

For years the most debated point was the exact cause of death of the man of the shroud. The strong arguments against the death by suffocation seem to offer, on the one hand, conclusive proofs for death by infarction and hemo-pericardium, that is, the breaking of the heart. Msgr. Ricci’s intensive studies were based on a theory put forth in the mid-19th century by the English physician, William Stroud. Dr. Stroud’s research was favored by the fact that autopsies could be performed in England as soon as two hours after death whereas on the continent there was a mandatory interim of 48 hours.

Basing his studies on St. John’s Bible passage – “and immediately there came out blood and water” – referring to the soldier’s lance piercing the side of Christ two hours after his death, Stroud proceeded to prove that, had the heart been undamaged prior to death, the “blood and water” (plasma) would have flowed out, mixed together, in a single liquid. Whereas, in a previously ruptured heart the blood would already have separated into two elements, the red corpuscles and the plasma. Thus the hypothesis, based on the biblical eyewitness accounts and support by actual autopsies, of a ruptured heart.

The intensive mental anguish of Gethsemane that caused Christ to sweat blood even before his ordeal, the extreme shock caused by multiple scourge marks (over 120 separate lashes deeply inflicted can be counted by blood marks on the shroud), pain and the loss of blood through flagellation and the crowning with a helmet of thorns, all combined to cause heart failure. Christ’s loud cry at the moment of death, utterly impossible in the case of suffocation, announced the moment of rupture.

Modern cardiology supports the theory that extreme moral stress can precondition the body for heart attacks and that, given even minor physical provocation, the heart will give in to this stress.

While archaeologists, scientist, doctors and theologians have probed, read, analyzed and interpreted the shroud to determine its authenticity, artists have played their role in determining its provenance and suggesting the identity of the man of the shroud.

In the first is centuries after Christ artistic representations of the Cross depicted Christ as a fish (its letters spelled out in Greek mean Jesus Christ son of God the Savior) or as a lamb. The figure of Christ-man on the cross was nonexistent. Slowly, however, in the post-Constantine era when Christians were allowed more freedom of expression, crosses appeared with a toned down, fully clothed Christ.

Curiously, though, the Byzantine art of the 4th to 11th centuries brought a coherence to the art of the cross, depicting a bearded Christ, half nude, suffering and nailed to the cross, suggesting that the shroud had been exposed in the Eastern world in that period and that artists portrayed what they saw on the shroud. Contemporary art in the Western world, however, still showed Christ fully clothed and usually beardless, thus providing a strong argument for the historians who quote the shroud as first appearing in the West only after 1204.

In the magical encounters between the ancient relic and men of science, art, and theology, the greatest mystery today lies in the question; how did the bodily imprints get out into the linen? Two theories are prevalent.

Perhaps Msgr. Ricci, referring to these theories, best answered when he said, “where research ends, faith begins.” For researchers, the imprints could have been caused by the powdered aloes and myrrh spread on the shroud in a temporary effort at preservation of the body prior to full burial. For the Jews the quickening approach of the Sabbath allowed only hasty, pre-burial rites. These substances could have had a chemical reaction due to vapors or body liquids and the dampness of the tomb, thus causing the imprints to surface.

On the other hand, they could have been caused by an inexplicable release of energy, “a microsecond burst of radiation scorching the surface of the cloth.” To date, there has been no scientific proof that would give credence to this second theory.

Outstanding, however, were the findings of Baima Bollone and Rodante that would confirm the first theory as being scientifically irrefutable. Their repeated experiments proved consistent in their results; if a fabric impregnated with aloes and myrrh, and in direct contact with a body covered with coagulated blood stains, was exposed to conditions of humidity or moisture, there would appear, in approximately 36 hours, bodily imprints identical in nature to those of the shroud.

In 1988 a carbon-14 dating test was performed on scraps of the shroud in independent tests in laboratories in Tucson, Arizona, Oxford, Great Britain and Zurich, Switzerland. Test results said the shroud dated from 1260 to 1390, which, of course, would rule out its used during the time of Christ.

However, tests done since then by scientists at the University of Padua in northern Italy, used the same fibers from the 1988 tests but dispute the findings. The newer examinations date the shroud to between 300 BC and 400 AD, which would put it in the era of Christ. Brendan Whiting, author of the 2006 book “The Shroud Story” introduced the world to the most powerful evidence that the 1988 Shroud c-14 data (dating the Shroud in the 14th Century) was invalid.

Most recent tests have determined that the earlier carbon dating test results were likely skewed by contamination from fibers used to repair the cloth when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages. In addiiton there woul d have been contamination from the hands used to repair the cloth.

The Catholic Church has never pronounced itself officially on the authenticity of the shroud or the identity of the man. Nor is it “within the church’s doctrinal definition to declare the authenticity of any relic.” Importantly, the church has never denied its authenticity.

Several Popes have openly expressed reverence for the shroud and Pope Pius XI dedicated a prayer to it. In September, 1936, Pius XI said: “There is still much mystery surrounding the sacred object: but it is certainly sacred as perhaps no other thing is sacred; and assuredly (one can say this is an acknowledged fact, even apart from all ideas of faith or of Christian piety) it is certainly not a human work.”

Pope Paul VI said, “Perhaps only the image of the Holy Shroud gives us a something of the mystery of this human and divine figure.”

More recently, Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope emeritus Benedict XVI both described the Shroud of Turin as “an icon” and Saint John Paul II called the Shroud “a mirror of the Gospel.”

Hundreds of scholars from a variety of fields have spent hundreds of thousands of hours and millions of words researching and writing about the shroud. This would be a book-length account if it were to include mention of only a score of these scholars.

The question remains: who is the Man of the Shroud?

The answer has been almost unanimous since experiments done following Secondo Pia’s photograph in 1898: sindonologists, some even previously atheists, have paralleled their findings with the evangelical account of the death of Christ and they conclude that scientific, objective evidence proves the man to be Jesus.

When asked if he believed the man of the shroud was Christ, Msgr. Ricci replied that there was perfect agreement between the Gospel account of the death of Jesus and the story told by the shroud. He said, “if one had recourse to the Gospel, the document of faith, and to a careful reading of the holy shroud, the archaeological document, you see that both speak of Christ with unmistakable certainty.”


One of my great passions in life and the subject of my first-ever published magazine story several decades ago has been the Shroud of Turin. I spent six months doing research, reading countless books and interviews by specialists and interviewing some of the same experts.

After the story was first published in 1979, I continued to follow research and scientific developments, attended press conferences, interviewed experts, followed the C-14 or carbon dating exams done on this celebrated linen cloth and read every word I could about papal visits to Turin. I have been in Turin several times in recent years when the Shroud was removed from its shrine for public viewing.

We are still, of course, in Easter season and today I offer you Part I of those years of research. My special radio report on the Shroud of Turin was aired in two parts on “Vatican Insider” – Part I on Palm Sunday weekend and Part II this past Easter weekend. (photos below – JFL and also Shroud website)

I prayed as I wrote this – perhaps you will want to pray as you read it.


As you know, the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ is celebrated every year throughout the Christian world during Holy Week. What you may not know is that it has also been studied by scientists in their laboratory. As worshipers gather to commemorate Christ’s passion, scientists have been studying the results of tests made on an object alleged to be directly connected with that passion.

The object of intense religious devotion as well as scientific curiosity is a simple strip of linen, known as the Shroud of Turin. It has been venerated by Christians for centuries as the burial cloth that wrapped the body of Jesus Christ in his tomb after his crucifixion and death.

The 2015 exposition of the Shroud was only the 8th time since 1900 that it has been made available to the public. It was displayed in 1931 for the wedding of Prince Umberto of Savoy with Maria Jose of Belgium; the House of Savoy was the owner of the Shroud for many centuries but has since given it to the Vatican.

The Shroud was displayed again in 1933 to mark the Holy Year called to mark the 19th centenary of the passion and death of Christ. In 1973 the world had the first televised showing. In 1978 it was again shown to mark the 4th centenary of its transfer to Turin from Chambery, France.

Three more showings before the 2015 exposition; 1. 1998 to recall the centenary of the first photograph of the shroud by lawyer Secondo Pia in 1998 and also the 5th centenary of the Turin cathedral, 2. the Great Jubilee Year 2000 and 3. in again in 2010.

The 1978 43-day exposition marked only the fifth time in the last 100 years that this relic of Christianity had received public exposure – and it marked and even rarer occasion for direct access to scientific study. After the public exposition, it was turned over to scientists for brief study in an attempt to clear up centuries of mystery surrounding the cloth.

While scientific research has told us much, it does not solve what may forever remain the greatest mystery – was this Christ’s burial cloth?

The pure linen cloth, of Middle Eastern origin, is a simple, opaque tissue of fishbone weave measuring 14′ x 3.5′ feet. It contains the full-length frontal and dorsal imprints of a man and has carmine colored stains corresponding to blood. It is spangled with a double series of dark spots caused by burns it underwent in a fire in the 16th century and the water used to douse the fire left broad, symmetrical rings clearly visible. Less visible, but seen upon close observation, are transverse marks corresponding to the creases of the linen that, before its final voyage to Turin in 1578, had been preserved in its reliquary by folding in 48 thicknesses.

Because the Santa Sindone, or Holy Shroud, lacked fully documented evidence of its provenance prior to surfacing in France in the 14th century, it was assumed that the images had, at some point, been painted on the linen cloth. In the Middle Ages controversies arose as to the authenticity of these images and accusations of falsification were prevalent. Proofs were lacking for both sides of the argument and the relic slipped into relative obscurity.

However, in 1898, during an eight-day exposition of the shroud, a lawyer and dilettante photographer from Turin, Secondo Pia – who had been commissioned to photograph the shroud by its legal owner, King Umberto I of the House of Savoy – astounded the world with the results of his photographs and re-opened the case for the authenticity of the shroud.

The original imprints of the man on the linen are a form of the negative in themselves and thus photographing them produces a negative of a negative with the result being a startling positive of the subject. The bloodstains and burn marks, however, distinctly impregnated in the material, follow photographic inversion principles and are dark on the original and the light on the negative.

Photography was then in an embryonic state but Pia’s amateur black and white photographs revealed a dimension of the shroud heretofore never seen and stimulated the imagination of scientists, archaeologists, photographers, theologians and doctors. At that moment, a multiple study of the famous linen began that continues to the present.

Paul Claudel, the eminent French writer, said: “The photographic discovery is of such importance that I do not hesitate to compare it to a second resurrection.” And so, since 1898 dozens of other prominent men of all walks of life, stimulated by scientific motives, intellectual curiosity or principles of faith, have devoted much of their lives to the study of this “document written in blood.”

One acknowledged expert in the field of Sindonology, or study of the shroud, was Msgr. Giulio Ricci, at one time president of the Rome Center for Sindonology, who in his 28 years of personal devoted study of the shroud and in close collaboration with scientists, archaeologists and theologians, contributed immensely to what we know today about the shroud and the man of the shroud.

When we first met several decades ago, two life-size transparencies, possessing a third dimensional effect, occupied part of his office and he traced, inch by inch, the anatomical details and individual markings of the shroud and explained their significance. And he – and the shroud – told a most wonderful story.

I first saw the real shroud in Turin during the 2010 exposition. By far the most outstanding, almost startling, aspect of the shroud – are the bodily imprints. They reveal the athletic and physically harmonious body of an adult male approximately 5’6″ tall. The longish hair, beard and mustache seem well cured and his face bears a look of almost serene majesty.

Closer scrutiny evidences the correctness of certain anatomical particulars; the conventional differences in symmetry between the right and left sides of a person and the 1; 8 ratio in normal head – body proportions. These are considered as partial proof for the authenticity of the shroud as these only fairly recently discovered details could not possibly have been known to an artist/forger six centuries ago.

Msgr. Ricci claimed that the man of the shroud was 5’6″ tall, basing this on archaeological proof of the average height of a Palestinian 2000 years ago, as well as close studies made of the folds in the shroud. He concluded that the exceptional height that some would wish to attribute to Jesus with a surface glance of the shroud’s imprints can be accounted for by numerous folds in the cloth.

Exaggerated lengths of certain parts of the anatomy, most notably the right forearm and hand and the anterior print of the tibia were due to the fact that the linen was folded at these points. The bodily imprints reveal themselves throughout the thickness of the folds so that when the shroud was unfolded to its full length the images appear in full but unnaturally prolongated. By subtracting the amount of material used in folding, as revealed by the crease marks on the shroud, the natural height results as 5’6″.

The body was laid in the lower half of the rectangular cloth with the feet toward the open and. The linen was then folded at the head and laid over the frontal portion of his body until it met at his feet where it was tucked under. Though the burial was hasty, the transverse lines of the cloth indicate that it was folded under his chin, beneath his forearms, around the femur, and wrapped both feet.

Although impressive, the bodily imprints do not tell the story of the passion and death of this man as vividly as do the carmine color stains.

Indicating the rivulets of blood on the back head and forehead, Msgr. Ricci told me that the head had been entirely covered with a helmet, and not the traditional crown, of sharp thorns piercing the delicate vascular surface, thus causing numerous wounds and great blood loss. He underscored the fact that, throughout oral tradition and written history the only mention ever made of a crucified man being crowned with thorns is the biblical account of the crucifixion of Christ.

Further bloodstains on the arms, back, shoulders and legs, and the study of their intensity and directional flow, tell the story of a man who had been flagellated, bound by both wrists and ankles, had borne an enormous weight on his shoulders causing the bruised skin to tear and bleed, and whose and whose wrists feet and right side were pierced through by sharp instruments.

Though death by crucifixion was common in the days of Christ, a most singular element manifests itself both in the biblical account of Christ’s death and on the shroud’s imprints. To either hasten or insured death, a final touch was always added to the crucifixion – the victim’s legs were broken. In the case of Christ, however, this was not done, the Gospels tell us. Instead his side was pierced with a lance as evidenced on the shroud by a complex of stains of deep red blood surrounded by a lighter, serous liquid.

It was, in fact, the scrutiny of the shroud’s bloodstains, using the most sophisticated techniques and comparing the results with the biblical accounts of the death of Jesus that convinced Msgr. Ricci and others that this was, indeed, the burial linen of Christ. The stains corroborate in a decisive manner the exegetical account of Christ’s ordeal on Calvary.

In addition, they support the biochemical laws of blood coagulation and the process of hemolysis and fibrinolysis by which, within a given time span, blood is transferred onto a fabric when the fibrin, a white insoluble protein formed in the process of clotting, “is half dissolved, neither before nor after.” Too few hours of contact with the body would have prevented bloodstains from appearing or have shown them up securely. Too many hours of contact, through excessive softening of the fibrin, would have blurred the stains. Instead, the shroud presents bloodstains in perfect harmony with the laws of coagulation and within the precise time span for transferring via homologous this and fibrinolysis, a scientifically demonstrated period of 36 hours which would correspond to the approximately 36 hours Jesus remained in the sepulcher between burial and his resurrection that first Easter Sunday.

Experiments in this area have also been made by Prof. Baima Bollone, a leading forensic expert and Dr. Sebastiano Rodante, a pediatrician, and the results were published early in 1978. Their tests proved unquestionably that the presence of both aloes and myrrh on a fabric aided in bringing about the process of hemolysis and fibrinolysis – in the case of the shroud, the transfer of the bloodstains.

Dozens more studies have been published in the intervening years by these men and many others.

Msgr. Ricci, summarizing the shroud’s distinct bloody testimony to the physical passion of the man of the shroud, excludes completely the theory that this linen is the result of a forger’s brush and latest scientific evidence does not contradict this statement.

“The shroud is not a document of faith,” he told me. “It is a document of scientific research. It was necessary to go back and re-study biblical, apocryphal, patristic, archaeological and historical sources, Jewish and Roman law as well as that of other Middle Eastern peoples. Above all, it was necessary to undertake an accurate geometric and medico-legal examination of the imprints.”

These multiple aspects of research into the problem of authenticity and identification of the man of the shroud posed a formidable challenge involving many nations. Foremost among these problems for sindonologists, scholars of the shroud, was determining its provenance and its odyssey concluding with its final resting place in the Guarini Chapel of St. John’s Cathedral in Turin.

Exact and detailed documentation of the shroud’s history in the centuries immediately following the death of Christ is wanting due to historical and even juridical factors – the troubled history of Jerusalem in that period, the lack of freedom and expression enjoyed by Christians in that part of the world and even the Jewish law that considered as unclean anything having to do with the death, so that any violation of the tomb, such as the taking of a shroud, even for a relic, was punishable by death.

Thus, in this obscure period when the shroud’s history seems untraceable, these voids in its odyssey can be accounted for if one considers the fear of contamination with death- related objects by the Jews, the hostility to the new Christians, and the onslaught of invasions and sacking by vandals – so that, had the precious relic been preserved by Jesus’ disciples, it would have been kept well hidden until safer conditions made it possible to openly expose and venerate the sacred object.

In the first centuries after Christ, frequent indirect references to this burial linen were made, and only in the post Constantine period was it named explicitly and displayed openly. Historical testimonials place it in Jerusalem prior to the 11th century. Towards 1005 it was transferred to Constantinople and chronicles a century later ascribed to its presence there when they recorded that Louis VII of France, on an official visit to that city in 1147, venerated the Holy Shroud. They also tell us that only 10 years later, in 1157, Nicholas Samudarson, abbot of Thyngeirara, while making an inventory of the relics in Constantinople included the Holy Shroud on his list.

The first clear references to its presence there in the monastery of St. Mary of Blachernae was made by Robert de Clari, a knight from Picardy who took part in the capture of Constantinople in 1204. As a spoil of war, the shroud was taken to France and kept first at Lirey where contemporary chronicles explicitly mention its regular expositions there. Its owner, Marguerite de Charny, made a gift of it in 1452 to the Duke of Savoy in Chambery where it remained until its transfer to Turin in 1578.

It was in the chapel specifically built for the Shroud by the Duke of Savoy that a fire broke out in 1532 and this relic was partially damaged when the heat caused the molten silver of the reliquary to penetrate and burn the fine linen. Nuns were ordered to repair the cloth and their stitch work can be seen today on the shroud.

This fire and subsequent repair work has a very important bearing on experiments that have been done to indicate the shroud’s age.



May I take this occasion to send heartfelt wishes to all my listeners for a very holy and blessed Triduum and a Happy Easter of the Resurrection!

EWTN employees will have time off for Mass on Holy Thursday and all day Good Friday. I’ll be off those days as well, participating in Triduum liturgies with the American Catholic community of Santa Susanna in Rome but I’ll be back for Pasquetta, Little Easter as we say in Italy, the Monday after Easter (also known as Monday of the Angel) and a very big holiday in Italy and much of Europe. I fly to the U.S. on Holy Saturday but am never more than a keyboard and a camera away from work, posting stories, blogs, photos, etc.


In a news story on the Pope Francis Laundromat for the poor and homeless that just opened in Rome, reported that Whirlpool donated six washers and dryers, as well as a number of irons. “We are proud to partner with the Papal Charities Office to make laundry services available to the homeless in Rome with the donation of Whirlpool appliances,” the brand’s senior direct of communications Alessandro Magnoni told Moneyish. “This is perfectly aligned with Whirlpool’s mission to give back to local communities.”

In addition, the story noted that Procter & Gamble has also volunteered to give detergent and fabric softener. “P&G wants to help bring comforts of home to those who need them the most,” a rep told Moneyish.

It seems that the Vatican also hopes to bring shower facilities, barbers and medical care to the same area in Trastevere on Via San Gallicano that now houses the papal Laundromat. Such facilities are now available for the homeless in the Vatican near the right hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.


Join me if you can on Vatican Insider this Easter weekend for a somewhat shorter addition as EWTN employees have time off for Mass on Holy Thursday and all day Good Friday. To commemorate Good Friday, I offer Part II of my special on the Man of the Shroud – the Shroud of Turin, of course, allegedly the linen that wrapped Our Lord’s body as he lay in the tomb after his passion and death.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library:   For VI archives:


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will celebrate a special Liturgy of the Word in memory of the “New Martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries on Saturday, April 22.

A communique from the Holy See Press Office said the prayer will take place in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiberina Island, which is located in the heart of Rome on the Tiber River.

The Liturgy of the Word celebration is organized by the Sant’Egidio Community and takes place at 5 PM.

A separate communique released by the Sant’Egidio Community said the Basilica of St. Bartholomew held special significance: “The Pope’s prayer in a place, which – since the Jubilee of 2000, at John Paul II’s behest – contains the memoirs of contemporary martyrs, takes on a very special significance in these times marked by the suffering of so many Christians in the world and by the light of Easter.”


Pope Francis has appointed EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw as a Consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications. The appointment was announced at the Vatican on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. As a consultor, Warsaw will have a role in advising the Pope and the Holy See on matters related to media and communications. The appointment comes as part a broad restructuring of the media operations of the Vatican.

“I am extremely humbled and honored by the Holy Father’s appointment,” said Warsaw. “This is a tremendous recognition of the role which EWTN plays in the life of the Church throughout the world. I am grateful to Pope Francis for his confidence and look forward to serving the universal Church in this post.”

Warsaw joined EWTN in 1991 and has held senior management positions in the areas of television production, satellite operations and technical services. He became President of EWTN in 2000 and assumed the post of chief executive officer in 2009. Warsaw was named chairman of the board of EWTN in 2013. In that capacity he oversees the Network’s strategic direction and mission around the world. With the Network’s 2011 acquisition of the National Catholic Register, Mr. Warsaw assumed the role of publisher of that newspaper.

Prior to joining EWTN, Mr. Warsaw was employed by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.   He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Catholic Distance University.

The Secretariat for Communications was established by Pope Francis in an apostolic decree on June 25, 2015. Among its responsibilities, it has the task of carrying out the restructuring, reorganization and consolidation of the various communications outlets of the Holy See including the Vatican Television Center, the Vatican Publishing House, L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, Vatican Radio, the Holy See Press Office, Photographic Service and the Vatican Internet Service.  The office is headed by Monsignor Dario Vigano, who serves as Prefect.


The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper that he will celebrate at the Paliano House of Detention in the province of Frosinone and the diocese of Palestrina will be of a strictly private nature and will not be televised. That Mass will include the rite of washing the feet of a number of detainees.


I hope you can tune in to “Vatican Insider” this weekend as we approach Holy Week which starts this Sunday, Palm Sunday. This weekend and next, Easter weekend, I will not have a guest in the interview segment of Vatican Insider. Rather, I’ve prepared a two-part special on something that is very near and dear to me, a story I’ve followed for decades, and that is the Shroud of Turin. As you will hear in what I hope is a riveting historical and scientific journey, I ask: “Who is the Man of the Shroud?”

Photos from a visit to Turin for the exposition of the Shroud:

Around Turin:

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library:   For VI archives:


A dear friend of mine, Msgr. Daniel Mueggenborg, was named yesterday by Pope Francis to be an auxiliary bishop of Seattle – another name to keep in our prayers! We broke bread together many times in Rome during the years he was at the North American College, joining friends in restaurants and, fairly often, in my home. About a year ago, we met serendipitously at a favorite restaurant when he arrived in Rome for a visit. I asked Msgr. Dan about life in his Tulsa parish, Christ the King. His answer was a riveting account of parish life, of a project he started there and of a book he had just published.

I asked him to tell his story and he joined me for a conversation on “Vatican Insider.” The book, by the way, is “Come Follow Me,” reflections on the Gospel for all Sundays of the liturgical year.

Msgr. Dan was assistant director for formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome (2005-2006) and vice rector for the administration at NAC (2006-2011), before being appointed pastor of the “Christ the King.”

If there is one quality that Seattle faithful will love – among the many good ones Msgr. Dan is blessed with! – it is his palpable joy at the priestly ministry!
Wishing you the Lord’s choicest blessings, my friend! And Happy Birthday a few days early!


The 2017 Pontifical Yearbook and the 2015 Statistical Yearbook of the Church (“Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae”) are now available at Rome bookstores. Prepared and edited by the Central Office of Church Statistics of the Secretariat of State, there are some very interesting statistics about the Church. A very lengthy explanation and summary of the various data presented in the statistical yearbook accompanied the announcement of the publication of the two annual volumes.

For the reader’s sake, I offer a summary of that report. I did simplify one or two presentations but, as Blaise Pascal once famously said, “I have made this letter rather long because I did not have the time to make it short!”

** The number of baptized Catholics has continued to grow globally, from 1,272 million in 2014 to 1,285 million in 2015, with a relative increase of 1 %. This represents a total of 17.7% of the total population.

** The dynamic of this increase varies from continent to continent: while, indeed, in Africa there is an increase of 19.4%, with the number of Catholics passing from 186 to 222 million in the same period, in Europe there is instead a situation of stability (in 2015 Catholics amounted to almost 286 million, whereas in 2019 there were just over 800 thousand fewer, and 1.3 million fewer compared to 2014).

** Intermediate situations with respect to the two described above are found in America and Asia, where the growth of Catholics is certainly important (respectively + 6.7% and 9.1%), but in line with the demographic trend of these two continents. Stagnation, obviously with lower values, is also typical of Oceania.

** The increased weight of the African continent is also confirmed, with an increase from 15.5% to 17.3% of global baptized faithful. There is, however, a sharp decline in Europe, from 23.8% of faithful worldwide in 2010 to 22.2% in 2015; America instead remains the continent to which almost 49% of baptized Catholics belong. Asian Catholics continue to represent around 11% of the world total 2015. The proportion of Catholics in Oceania also remains stable, although with a figure of less than 0.8% of the world’s Catholic population.

** Brazil, of the ten countries in the world with the greatest consistency of baptized Catholics, ranks in first place (with 172,200,000 or 26.4% of all Catholics of the entire American continent).

** Brazil is followed, in order, by Mexico (110.9 million), the Philippines (83.6 million), USA (72.3), Italy (58.0), France (48.3), Colombia (45.3), Spain (43.3), Democratic Republic of the Congo (43.2) and Argentina (40.8). The total number of Catholics, for the countries in the top ten places, amounts to 717.9 million, i.e. 55.9% of the world’s Catholics.

** Statistics for 2015 also indicate that the number of clerics in the world amounted to 466,215, with 5,304 bishops, 415,656 priests and 45,255 permanent deacons.

** In particular, in 2015, America holds 37.4% of all prelates, followed by Europe (31.6%), Asia (15.1%), Africa (13, 4%) and Oceania (2.5%). In 2015 there is decline in the number of priests from the previous year, thus reversing the upward trend that characterized the years from 2000 to 2014. The total amount of priests in the world in 2015, compared to 2010, has increased by 0.83% (from 412,236 to 415,656).

** Looking at the distinction between diocesan and religious priests, there appears to be a clearly divergent evolution of the two categories. With regard to the first, there is a total increase of 1.6%, from 277,009 in 2010 to 281,514 in 2015; Religious priests, however, are in constant decrease (-0.8% in the period in question), arriving at slightly more than 134,000 in 2015. The number of religious priests, in addition to being in line with the aggregate data, in decline in Europe and Oceania, also shows a significant reduction in the American continent, with just over 38,000 units in 2015 compared to over 40 thousand in 2010. In 2010 priests in Europe accounted for 46.1% of the global total but total little more than 43% in 2015.

** In America (North and South), the Catholics per priest ratio exceeds 5,000 units and keeps increasing throughout the period, and is particularly critical. EUROPE: 1,595 Catholics per priest. ASIA: 2,185 Catholics per priest: AFRICA: stable with around 5,000 Catholics per priest.

** The population of permanent deacons shows a significant evolutionary trend: an increase in 2015 of 14.4% compared to five years previously, from 39,564 to 45,255. The number of deacons is improving on every continent at a significant pace. America and Europe have about 98% of the total population of deacons.

** Professed men religious other than priests constitutes a group in decline globally: from 54,665 individuals in 2010 to 54,229 in 2015, mainly in Europe, the Americas and Oceania,

** Women religious constitute a population with a certain consistency: in 2015 they exceed by 61% the number of priests worldwide, and are currently in clear decline. At global level, they have decreased in number from 721,935 in 2010 to 670,320 in 2015, a relative diminution of 7.1%. Profound differences emerge when analyzing the time series for the individual territorial areas, i.e., Africa is the continent with the highest increase of religious, from 66,375 in 2010 to 71,567 in 2015, with a relative increase of 7.8% for the entire period and an average annual growth rate of 1.6%. It is followed by South East Asia, where professed women religious have increased in number from 160,564 in 2010 to 166,786 in 2015, an increase of 3.9% over the entire period.

** Seminarians: There is a continuation of the decline which has for some years characterized priestly vocations: in 2015 there was a total of 116,843 major seminarians , up from 116,939 in 2014; 118,251 in 2013; 120,051 in 2012; 120,616 in 2011 and 118,990 in 2010. The rate has dropped, in turn, from 99.5 seminarians per million Catholics in 2010 to 90.9 in 2015.

Complete report here:


I’d like to wish the readers of “Joan’s Rome” and my Facebook page a very blessed, beautiful and Happy Easter. EWTN staff has this afternoon and all of tomorrow, Good Friday, off so as to participate in the Easter Triduum liturgies and Easter Sunday of the Resurrection. I will probably not post anything until Monday after Easter, but who knows? Stay tuned!

I do have a little note about tonight’s papal Mass of the Lord’s Supper that you might enjoy. And if you intend to follow the Way of the Cross with the Holy Father at the Colosseum tomorrow night on television, here is a link to the booklet that pilgrims will receive in Rome:


In lieu of an interview segment on “Vatican Insider” this Easter weekend is a Special I have prepared on the Shroud of Turin. This week and next I ask the question – and attempt to answer – Who is the Man of the Shrou





As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:


Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization explained the special Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper as it will be celebrated by Pope Francis this year on the official Jubilee website-

On Holy Thursday, Pope Francis will spend time in Castelnuovo di Porto with young refugees who are hosted by the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers, known as the Centro di Accoglienza per Richiedenti Asilo, or CARA. The simple but eloquent visit will include the celebration of the Rite of the Washing of Feet. The Pope will stoop to wash the feet of 12 refugees as a sign of service and attention to their situation.

During the Jubilee Audience held on Saturday, 12 March, in speaking about the act of the washing of feet, Pope Francis stated: “By washing the feet of the Apostles, Jesus wished to reveal God’s mode of action in regard to us, and to give an example of his ‘new commandment’ (Jn 13:34) to love one another as He has loved us, that is, laying down his life for us.”

Delving deeper, he added that love “is the practical service that we offer to others. Love is not a word, it is a deed, a service, humble service, hidden and silent.” Indeed, “it is expressed in the sharing of material goods, so that no one be left in need.” It is, moreover, “the lifestyle that God suggests, even to non-Christians, as the authentic path of humanity.”

In light of these considerations we can understand the symbolic value intended by Pope Francis’ visit to the CARA in Castelnuovo di Porto and his bending down to wash the feet of refugees. His actions mean to tell us that it is important to pay due attention to the weakest in this historic moment; that we are all called to restore their dignity without resorting to subterfuge. We are urged to look forward to Easter with the eyes of those who make of their faith a life lived in service to those whose faces bear signs of suffering and violence.

Many of these young people are not Catholic. Therefore this gesture by Pope Francis takes on even more eloquence. It points to respect as the royal road to peace. Respect means being aware that there is another person beside me. A person who walks with me, suffers with me, rejoices with me. A person whom, one day, I may one day lean on for support. By washing the feet of refugees, Pope Francis implores respect for each one of them.




Pope Francis has paid for 50 homeless people to make a bus trip from Rome to Turin to see the celebrated Shroud of Turin. They arrive this evening, June 3, and will be welcomed by the Maria Adelaide and Cottolengo hospitals. The homeless frequent the soup kitchen run by the Santa Lucia parish in Rome and were accompanied on their trip by the pastor, Fr. Antonio Nicolai and assistant pastor, Fr. Pablo Castiglia.

The generous offer was made through the good offices of the papal almoner, Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski who also gave each of the pilgrims some spending money, calling it “a caress from the Pope.”

The travelers will be welcomed in Turin by Fr. Arco Brunetti, director of the diocesan health pastoral ministry, and by Sisters Giuseppina Fornoni and Gabriella Denti, responsible for two of the structures for pilgrims that were prepared for the period of the exposition of the Shroud, as well as volunteers.

Tomorrow Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin will accompany 40 homeless from the city to see the Shroud. This was arranged by the diocesan ministry for the homeless and the diocesan Caritas.


Today, June 2 is Republic Day, a big holiday in Italy. Known in Italia as the Festa della Repubblica, it celebrates the day when Italians voted to abolish the monarchy in 1946 so their country could become a republic. There was a big military parade this morning from the Colosseum on Via dei Fori Imperiali to Pza. Venezia.

The city had been at work for at least two weeks building the review stands along Via dei Fori Imperiali. My neighborhood is eerlily quiet – no stores open, people away for the four-day weekend created by building a “bridge” Monday between the weekend and today’s holiday and – the best part! – barely a sound from cars, busses, motorbikes or even the usual number of ambulances as they wend their way to nearby Santo Spirito hospital. It’s almost as if I was going deaf!

Apologies for not posting a column yesterday but it was a busy day from wake-up alarm to the very late end of the day.  I had meetings all morning, got home at 1:30 pm and had 90 minutes to have lunch and work on three scripts for “At Home with Jim and Joy.” By 3 pm I had to leave for St. Mary Major Basilica for a Mass scheduled at 4 pm celebrated by Paulist Father Paul Robichaud who was marking the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

Fr. Paul had been rector of Santa Susanna’s here in Rome for nine years before returning to the States where he is now working on, among other things, a history of the Paulist Fathers. He is also the postulator for the cause of canonization of Fr. Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulists.

Following Mass there was a reception at the Paulist residence, gathering together priest friends of Fr. Paul’s as well as a number of us longtime parishioners. A good time was had by all and it continued over dinner at a restaurant across the street from the rectory/residence.

If I had the gift of bi-location, I would have also attended another very important event yesterday, important for me personally. A good friend of mine, Chaldean Fr. Rayan Atto of Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq, has been studying in Rome and yesterday, at 4:30 pm at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, defended his doctoral thesis on “The Liturgical Reform of the Divine Mysteries in the Chaldean Church in the Light of the Ancient Tradition of the Oriental Church.”

In this photo Fr. Rayan is showing me around the old citadel part of Erbil

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And here I am at a kindergarten in the diocese of Mosul with Archbishop Amel Nona – Fr. Rayan is in the background…

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Fr. Rayan, who had his own parish at the time in Erbil, leads the children in song. Of the three prelates standing together, the future Archbishop of Erbil, Fr. Bashar Warda, is on the far left.

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Fr. Rayan’s defense was followed by a celebratory dinner where one of the special guests was another dear friend, Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil.  I will try to see both of them today or in coming days! The three of us met during my first trip to Iraq in 2010.

Abp. Warda’s episcopal ordination; the ceremony at the Chaldean seminary – with the archbishop at the celebratory dinner – Fr. Rayan Atto with two Dominican sisters.



(Vatican Radio) In preparation for his one-day visit to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday, Pope Francis has sent a video-message to the people of Sarajevo.

The Holy Father said that he hopes his visit will confirm the faith of Catholics, support ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and especially encourage peaceful coexistence for all citizens of the country. The motto for the visit is “Peace be with you,” taken from Jesus’ encounter with the apostles on the evening of Easter.

The apostolic visit is scheduled to last for a little less than eleven hours, but the Holy Father will be busy from the moment he lands in Sarajevo on Saturday morning until he takes off in the evening.

After he has been welcomed at the presidential palace by President Bakir Izetbegović, the highlight of the visit will be the celebration of Holy Mass at 11:00 am at the Olympic Koševo stadium.

Later, he will meet with a host of people including civil authorities, bishops, priests, religious and seminarians of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He will attend an ecumenical and interreligious meeting at 5:30 pm before travelling to the John Paul II Diocesan Youth Center to meet with young people.

The Pope said in his video-message, “I am preparing to come among you as a fellow messenger of peace, to express to everyone – everyone! – my respect and my friendship. I would like to express to every person, every family, and every community the mercy, tenderness and love of God.”


The Vatican has released the schedule of Pope Francis’ upcoming pilgrimage to Turin on June 21 and 22 in connection with the extraordinary exposition of the celebrated Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the linen that wrapped Jesus’ body in the tomb following His crucifixion.

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VIS reports that the Pope will depart Rome’s Ciampino airport at 6.30 a.m. on Sunday 21 June, arriving in Turin’s Caselle airport an hour later. Upon arrival, he will be greeted by Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, Sergio Chiamparino, president of the Piedmont region, Paola Basilone, prefect of Turin, and Piero Fassino, the city’s mayor. He will transfer by car to Piazzetta Reale, where he will address representatives of the world of work.

At 9.15 a.m. the Holy Father will enter the cathedral to pray before the Holy Shroud and to visit the altar and tomb of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. He wil do so in the presence of cloistered nuns, priests residing in clergy houses in the diocese, the Chapter of canons, the Commission for the Holy Shroud, relatives of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop emeritus of Turin, and the bishops of the episcopal conference of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta.

Afterwards, the Pope will go to Piazza Vittorio Veneto where he will concelebrate Holy Mass, deliver a homily and pray the Angelus. After Mass Francis will go to the archbishop’s residence by car, where he will lunch with detainees from the “Ferrante Aporti” detention center for minors, some immigrants and a Rom family. This will be followed by a visit to the shrine of the Consolata where he will pray privately with the priests of the community.

At 3 p.m. Pope Francis will meet with the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in the basilica of the same name. He will then travel by car to the church of Cottolengo where he will address the sick and disabled faithful. At 5.30 p.m. he will return to Piazza Vittorio to meet with young people, and will retire to the archbishop’s residence where he will spend the night.

On Monday, June 22 at 9 a.m. Francis will visit the Waldensian Temple where he will be received by and address the pastors and the president of the consistory of the Evangelical Waldensian Church. At 10.15 in the archbishop’s residence, he will have a strictly private meeting with some members of his family who still live in the Italian region of Piedmont for whom he will celebrate Mass, followed by lunch.

Before leaving the archbishop’s residence, the Pope will meet the members of the Committee for the Exposition of the Shroud and the organisers of the event. At 5 p.m. He will leave for Caselle airport, and will be greeted on the way by the young people of “Estate Ragazzi.” Half an hour later he will depart by air for Rome, where he is expected to arrive at 6.30 p.m.