The Shroud of Turin made a rare television appearance today amid new research that claims to have dated the burial cloth to the time of Jesus Christ's death.
An image of a man impressed into the cloth, showing wounds similar to the ones Jesus died from on the cross, has been a point of contention between researchers. Some tests have carbon dated the cloth to the 13th and 14th centuries, while research detailed in a new book, "The Mystery of the Shroud," dates the cloth to ancient times.
The Vatican has never said the 14-foot cloth was used to bury Jesus. Pope Francis sent a pre-recorded video message for the event, which was held in Turin's cathedral, but called the cloth an "icon" not a relic, keeping with Vatican policy.
"This image, impressed upon the cloth, speaks to our heart and moves us to climb the hill of Calvary, to look upon the wood of the Cross, and to immerse ourselves in the eloquent silence of love," he said.
"This disfigured face resembles all those faces of men and women marred by a life which does not respect their dignity, by war and violence which afflict the weakest," he said. "And yet, at the same time, the face in the Shroud conveys a great peace; this tortured body expresses a sovereign majesty."
The cloth was last seen on broadcast television in 1973, at the request of Pope Paul VI.
A Shroud 2.0 was released on Good Friday, allowing users to zoom in on high-definition images of the cloth and read more about its history.
The app, which the Vatican News Service called an "Evangelization tool," is available for Apple devices.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.