The American Confraternity of the Holy Shroud

Comments by Popes

Below are comments from various popes subsequent to 1898 when Secondo Pia's remarkable photographic negatives revealed for the first time the extraordinary life-like image of the man of the Shroud.

Leo XIII (1878-1903)

It was during the pontificate of Leo XIII that Secondo Pia was invited to photograph the Shroud. After seeing Pia's negative photographs Leo declared that the image on the Shroud was “a means well-adapted in our time to stimulate everywhere a revival of the religious spirit.”

St. Pius X (1903-1914)

Pius X referred to the photographic negative as the “true image of The Holy Shroud.” St. Pius X expressed the desire that the negative photograph of the facial image found on the Shroud be published and seen around the world and venerated in every Christian family. He recommended it to all bishops and priests and gave a special blessing to all who propagate the image and their devotion to the Holy Face.

Pius XI (1922-1939)

"They are the pictures of the Divine Son of Mary; they come, in fact, from that object known as the Shroud of Turin; still mysterious, but certainly not the work of any human hand."

Pius XII (1939-1958)

"Turin, city of the Most Holy Sacrament, guards as a precious treasure the Holy Shroud, which displays, both to move and comfort us, the image of the lifeless body and the tortured Face of Christ....a holy thing perhaps like nothing else."

St. John XXIII (1958-1963)

“Digitus Dei est hic – The finger of God is here.”

Paul VI (1963-1978)

“…. so true, so profound, so human and so divine, such as we have been unable to admire and venerate in any other image.”

John Paul I (1978)

John Paul I was elected Pope in the same hour that Cardinal Ballestrero of Turin was offering mass to inaugurate the opening of a major exposition of the Shroud (August 26 – October 8, 1978). John Paul I died suddenly on September 28, 1978 while the exposition of the Shroud was still underway. His was one of the shortest reigns in papal history. The STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) team departed the United States for Turin on September 29, 1978, the day after the death of John Paul I. There was concern that the death of Pope John Paul I, the night before, might cause the cancellation of the STURP scientific expedition. Instead, while the Church mourned the death of a pope, the most important and extensive scientific examination of the Shroud in its history was conducted in Turin. The memory of John Paul I is indeed remarkably tied to the history of the Shroud even if any words he may have spoken regarding the Shroud remain obscure.

St. John Paul II (1978-2005)

"....the Holy Shroud, a most singular record of Easter, the Passion, Death and Resurrection, a mute, yet surprisingly eloquent witness."

Benedict XVI (2005-2013)

"...burial cloth that was wrapped around the body of a crucified man which corresponds entirely to the description the Gospels give of Jesus, who was crucified around midday and breathed his last breath around three in the afternoon....the image on the Shroud is that of a dead man...the blood speaks of his life. Every trace of blood speaks of love and life, especially the large spot in the chest area, which marks where much blood and water flowed after being pierced by a Roman spear."

Francis (2013-)

"This image...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. By means of the Holy Shroud, the unique and supreme Word of God comes to us: Love made man, incarnate in our history; merciful love of God who has taken upon himself all the evil of the world to free us from its power...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."