Everything is ready in the northern Italian city of Turin for a rare display of the Shroud of Turin, which some believe is the burial cloth of Jesus and others a medieval forgery. Authorities say so many people want to view it that visitors will have no more than three minutes to view the mysterious cloth.
The Shroud of Turin, believed by many around the world to be the burial cloth of Jesus, is being put on rare display this weekend for the next 44 days. The last time it was displayed in the Turin Cathedral was for the Jubilee year 2000 marked by the Catholic Church.
Bruno Barberis heads the international center on the shroud. He says this will be the first public viewing since it underwent a major cleaning.
"In 2002 it has been completed the restoration work made in order to give to the shroud the most modern possible way of conservation," said Bruno Barberis.
Visitors will now view the shroud without the 30 patches and a fabric backing sewn onto the shroud after a fire in the 16th century.
Two million people are expected to come to view the Shroud of Turin. Barberis says no one has yet been able to explain how the image on the cloth was formed.
"We are practically sure that it is the image left by a human corpse not a painting or an image obtained in some other human way," he said.
Carbon dating in 1988 claimed the image of the man could not be that of Jesus because the shroud was medieval. But many have rejected that result and want further scientific tests to be carried out.
Monsignor Giuseppe Ghiberti, president of the Turin archdiocese's commission on the Shroud, says he believes this will happen.
He says the Vatican is not against new testing and will probably allow this to occur in phases in order not to do everything at the same time.
The Vatican has never claimed that the Shroud is authentic. Monsignor Ghiberti has called it "an instrument of evangelization".
He says it represents the story of a man who died because he was crucified and this death has all the characteristics of the death on the cross that Jesus suffered. And so, he adds, it is a very touching reminder of this mystery of our salvation.
Pope Benedict XVI is also expected to come and view the shroud, just like his predecessor did. He is expected in Turin on May 2.