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The replica of the Crown of Thorns shows a cap of Palestinian thorns that would have created wounds consistent with those on the Shroud. In the background, the Shroud replica hangs over the altar. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

Man of the Shroud exhibit in Ottawa inspires thousands

  • April 12, 2017

OTTAWA – The power of the Shroud of Turin could be found among the thousands of people who visited Ottawa’s St. Isidore’s Parish between April 4-11.

School children came by the busloads. People drove from Montreal, Brockville, Kingston and even the United States. And it was all to view the Man of the Shroud exhibit, complete with replica artifacts to explain the historical and scientific evidence that the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

One comment left by a grateful Ottawa mother made all the behind-the-scenes work leading up to the exhibit worth it for one of the organizers, Janet O’Dacre.

“My daughter came yesterday with her Grade 6 class,” the mother wrote. “In the past weeks she had been expressing that she did not want to be confirmed in May/17. After yesterday, she was fully on board for her Confirmation this spring. Praise our Lord!”

For Suzanne White of Dunrobin, Ont., the Shroud exhibit was “amazing.”

“I liked the archeological part of it — the evidence of Pilate’s coins on his eyes,” she said. She also found evidence concerning pollen from Jerusalem on the cloth compelling.

“(The exhibit) is quite profound. This is the best time to have it just before Easter. I’m glad I came out.”

“Unbelievable,” said Suzanne Guindon, from Gatineau, Que. “It really makes you think. If you’re skeptical it makes you wonder even more.

“I’ve always had a lot of questions. Now I have even more.”

Guindon was especially impressed with the life-sized replica of the crown of thorns. Instead of a wreath as depicted in art, the replica, encased in glass, shows a cap of Palestinian thorns that would have created the wounds of the scalp covered by the shroud. “I wish I could touch it! I couldn’t get over all the thorns. They are all over.”

“It was interesting,” said Thomas Murphy of Kanata, a parishioner of St. Isidore’s. “I already believed. They tried to explain what happened to the cloth. They don’t think anybody could make it up.”

The exhibit was set up in the church so viewers could read the panels that lined the sides and back of the nave. The replicas included the crown of thorns, a Roman lance, a Crucifixion nail, a Roman scourge, an example of the sign that would have been posted over Jesus’ head and the chalice Jesus may have used at the Last Supper. The relics surrounded the altar, guarded by two Knights of Columbus in full regalia. Over the altar, hung a life-sized replica of the Shroud, with a smaller display of the Shroud showing points of interest.

Several times each day and evening, Shroud experts gave lectures in the parish hall, outlining the evidence from a range of disciplines for the Shroud’s authenticity.

“Is it the real thing?” Phillip Wiebe, one of the Shroud lecturers asked after an afternoon lecture. “I think it is.”

Wiebe, an Anglican who teaches philosophy at Trinity Western University in British Columbia, said he was “searching for answers about the identity of Jesus.” In researching every aspect of the Shroud, he said he came to realize that if the man of the Shroud had the kind of ending depicted by evidence on the cloth, then the Incarnation through the Virgin birth was also possible.

No one has been able to explain how the image, similar to a photographic negative, got on the linen cloth. Wiebe said one theory is Jesus’ body de-materialized during His Resurrection and the energy from that created the image. The cloth shows no evidence of having been torn off a body nor of having surrounded a decomposed one.

“Echoing the Word of God and centuries of Christian witness, the Shroud whispers: believe in God’s love, the greatest treasure given to humanity and flee from sin, the greatest misfortune in human history,” said one of the exhibit’s panels.

Carolyn Wharton, the exhibit director, said the Vancouver Shroud Association created the exhibit originally for British Columbia. It was first shown in 2004, attracting more than 11,000 people, and was exhibited again the following year to 7,500 people.

“It was after that I started getting invitations from around the country,” Wharton said. “That’s when we started to comprehend what God’s will was for this vehicle.”

Wharton said the exhibit is only displayed during Lent, at a maximum of two locations. Any location desiring to mount the exhibit needs six months to prepare, 200 volunteers, as well as a venue with a proper lay out and adequate parking, she said.

The Man of the Shroud exhibit has been to five churches in Ontario over the years, she said. Next year it will travel to Calgary and West Vancouver. More information is available at www.manoftheshroud.org.

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