The Shroud of Turin went on display Saturday in the cathedral of the northern Italian city of Turin. It will be displayed for six weeks during which time two million people are expected to see the mysterious cloth some believe is the burial cloth of Jesus.
The first to see the Shroud of Turin Saturday morning were city authorities and then journalists. A mass will be held later in the day and then the exhibit will be declared open to the public. Hundreds of thousands of people have already made their reservations to come and see the linen, that believers think was the burial cloth of Jesus.
Among those who went in Saturday was Emanuela Marinelli, a shroud expert who has written numerous books on the shroud.
"I believe more and more that the shroud is really the burial cloth of Jesus so for me it's important to see again this important relic, to stay in front of it for one moment to say a prayer because I am convinced that the shroud is authentic, not for reasons of faith but for scientific reasons," she said.
Pilgrims and tourists from all over the world will be coming to Turin to see the shroud, which was restored in 2002. Thirty patches and a fabric backing sewn by nuns onto the shroud after a fire in the 16th century have been removed.
Still there are plenty of skeptics who say that the Shroud of Turin is a fake. They say carbon dating by three separate laboratories in 1988 - in Britain, Switzerland and the United States - dated it to the Middle Ages. But Marinelli says she has no doubt about the image that has special significance to her.
"For me the shroud is something to have continuously the memory of the presence of Jesus and the presence of the shroud in my life is also the presence of Jesus in my life," she said.
To this day, no one has yet been able to explain how the image on the shroud was formed. Because of the huge interest for the shroud, visitors will only get three minutes to view the mysterious cloth, which is being displayed in a bulletproof, climate controlled glass case in Turin cathedral. Pope Benedict will visit on May 2nd.