By Jim Fair

Faithful Christians around the world will experience a different sort of Easter this year, with millions under a direction to stay at home due to the coronavirus.

But while churches are closed and people are experiencing services on television and social media, there will be a special glimpse upon one of the Church’s most revered relics: The Shroud of Turin.

Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin has announced that he will lead prayers in front of the shroud on Holy Saturday, April 11, which will be broadcast on television and social media. The event will begin at 5 p.m. local time and more information and links are available on the archdiocese’s website.

Pope Francis visited Turin on June 21, 2015, and prayed before the Shroud. He called on the people of Turin and Piemonte to follow in the footsteps of their Saints and Blesseds in order to experience the joy of the Gospel by practicing mercy on those suffering or going through difficulties.

The Shroud is a linen burial cloth that bears the image of a man suffering trauma from crucifixion. Although the Catholic Church has neither endorsed nor rejected the belief that is the burial Shroud of Christ, the image is venerated by Catholics around the world as a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Following is a working translation of the archbishop’s announcement of the event:

Dear friends,

Thousands and thousands are the messages that I receive from the people, the elderly and adults, and young people, healthy and sick to ask me that, in the moment of serious difficulty we are going through, we can pray during this Holy Week in front of the Shroud, to impetrate from Christ dead and risen – which the Sacred Cloth presents to us in such a true and concrete way – the grace to overcome evil as he did, trusting in the goodness and mercy of God.

Stronger is love. This is the Easter announcement that the Shroud brings us to relive and fills our hearts with gratitude and faith. I gladly accepted this request and I assure everyone that we will carry it out on Holy Saturday in the afternoon from 5 pm onwards. From that hour onwards I will preside over a long prayer before the Shroud. Thanks to television and social media, this time of contemplation will make the image of the Holy Cloth available to everyone throughout the world, which reminds us of the passion and death of the Lord, but which also opens our hearts to faith in his resurrection.

Yes, the love with which Jesus gave us his life and that we celebrate during Holy Week is stronger than any suffering, any disease, any contagion, any trial, and discouragement. Nothing and nobody can ever separate us from this love, because it is faithful forever and unites us to him with an unbreakable bond.

Pope Francis in his message for the 2013 exhibition told us that 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 and communicates a great peace to us and it is as if it were telling us: have faith, do not lose hope, the strength of the love of God and the Risen One wins everything.

Dear friends scattered all over the world, I await you next Saturday at 5 pm to raise up 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.

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