So fearing that Adolf Hitler would steal the Shroud of Turin, the purported burial cloth of Jesus, both “the Vatican and the Italian royal family, the Savoys, who were the guardians and owners of the shroud,” had it secretly transported south, to Campania, lest the little Fuhrer add it to his collection of European art and arcana.

Man, is that a loaded sentence. As anyone who has watched Raiders of the Lost Ark knows, Hitler and many in the upper echelons of the Nazi Party were fascinated by the occult. Blitzkrieg and a Ouija board—perfect together.

But did Hitler want the shroud because he believed it had magical properties, which is to say, because he believed it was authentic—and so had touched the person of the Son of God? (Which would make Hitler what? A believer?) Or because it would prove a neat addition to his treasure trove?

Also: “guardians” of the shroud I can understand. But “owners”? (Anybody get a receipt with that?)

I share most Protestants’ skepticism regarding relics and their professed miraculous qualities. Hokum is hokum. But I admit to being fascinated by the shroud. The History Channel did a nice job recently with a documentary about how a team of techies reconstructed a 3D face of Jesus using the cloth as a template. I also admit to being tempted by the notion that the shroud is a Leonardo Da Vinci original . (I know, I know, the carbon dating is all wrong—but everybody says that.)

In any event, the idea of touching something that touched Jesus remains a very alluring prospect—whether for good or for geetis .

Articles by Anthony Sacramone

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