Having been hot and sunny for most of today, Monday, it has just started to rain – a tropical downpour complete with thunder. It’s 6:30 pm and I had collapsed with chaffed thighs on the bed. I walked the whole day. Surely I had visited all the “attractions” listed in Trip Advisor” ? Oops – wrong! The 2nd most popular attraction in a list of more than 160 is the Juventis FC stadium – missed it! The 5th most popular attraction is a tour of the Fiat auto factory – missed it!
However I did discover the Turin Cathedral, the last of at least 13 churches I entered in Turin. God had directed me there – I was, as always, mildly disorientated. In my 4 trips from hostel to city and back, I have trudged unintentionally, 4 different routes. But on this my penultimate pilgrimage, my meandering had been miraculously and magnetically attracted to …. The Shroud of Turin! The Number 1 attraction in Trip Advisor.
In the foyer, I suspect vestibule is the correct term, was a font like receptacle that contained hundreds of coarse cotton squares. Obviously there for the taking, but not genuine pieces of the relic. I am not sure that I actually viewed the shroud, but on one side of the glassed in chapel, was the expected offertory box and on the other, an unexpected portable defibrillator! What on earth did it mean? I mentally re-ran the Cecil B. DeMillie movie epics. The one recurring and terrifying depiction to an innocent prepubertal boy sitting in the local picture theatre was the storm at the crucifixion. In fact, seared into my memory is that ominous, terrifying build up of storm clouds, slowly turning day into night (by now I am not sitting, but crouched behind the seat in front) culminating in a heart stopping bolt of lightening that rendered and tore asunder the sky at the very instant that Jesus died!
As I re-live this 50 years later, I experience an epiphany! At the instant that Jesus died, a million volts arced across the heavens, struck the cross and effectively defibrillated Our Lord, back to life and resurrection on the third day! Hence the reverential glass encased 21st century relic, fittingly displayed along side the 1st century relic.
I floated out of the cathedral, tucking a clean square of cotton from the font, making a mental note never to inadvertently blow my nose on it.