Turin Shroud Goes on Display

In 1457, Geoffrey II’s daughter Margaret was excommunicated when she refused to bring the shroud back to Lirey. She sold it to Duke Louis of Savoy, the son of the antipope Felix V, in return for two castles and grants for the church at Lirey.

The Savoy family carted the shroud around in their luggage for the next century, until it was given a permanent home in the Sainte Chapelle in Chambery.

Fatal Fires

On Dec. 4, 1532, a fire broke out and a blacksmith risked his life to break the locks holding the casket that contained the shroud. By the time he retrieved it, the silver casket was melted beyond repair — but the shroud inside was intact except for some scorching and a hole burned by a drop of molten silver. French nuns from the “Poor Clares” order restored it.

In 1578, the shroud was finally transferred by the Savoys to the Chapel of the Holy Shroud in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, where it has been almost ever since.

For years, a succession of popes and antipopes insisted that references to the shroud be accompanied by the proviso that it was not considered to be authentic. As centuries passed, this was allowed to slip.

In 1898, the then-young state of Italy decided to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its creation by putting the shroud on display. An amateur photographer, Secondo Pia, was allowed to photograph it for the first time.

The 20th century brought its own share of perils. During World War I, the shroud was locked in a secret vault two floors below Turin’s Royal Palace, wrapped in a thick asbestos blanket, in a simple tin casket.

World War II saw it smuggled out to the Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine, near Naples. By the time it returned, the monarchy had fallen and the royal palace, of which the Chapel of the Holy Shroud is part, was state property.

ABCNEWS’ Sue Masterman and Phoebe Natanson contributed to this report.

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