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Public to get latest peek at shroud

The Shroud of Turin, a 14-foot-long linen revered by some as the burial cloth of Jesus, draws believers and the curious. The Shroud of Turin, a 14-foot-long linen revered by some as the burial cloth of Jesus, draws believers and the curious. (Antonio Calanni/Associated Press/File 2000)
Associated Press / April 10, 2010

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TURIN — The long linen with the faded image of a bearded man is the object of centuries-old fascination and wonderment, and closely kept under wrap. Starting today, and for six weeks, both the curious and those convinced the Turin Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ can have a brief look.

By late yesterday, 1.5 million people had reserved their three-to-five-minute chance to gaze at the cloth, which is kept in a bulletproof, climate-controlled case. Organizers said earlier this year they hoped some 2 million pilgrims and tourists would see the linen during the special viewing.

That number doesn’t include Pope Benedict XVI, who will fly up to Turin, Piedmont’s capital, in northwest Italy, on May 2 for a day trip to pray before the shroud.

Traditionally, the public gets a peek at the 14-foot-long, 3.5-foot-wide cloth once every 25 years. But recent decades have seen shorter intervals. The shroud went on display in 1998 after a 20-year-wait and then in 2000 during millennium celebrations.