Shroud of Turin infographic
Picture shows the Shroud of Turin.

Shroud of Turin saved after fire hits cathedral

April 12, 1997 - A fire heavily damaged the cathedral housing the Shroud of Turin but firefighters managed to rescue the relic some Christians's believe to be Jesus Christ's burial cloth. Picture shows the Shroud of Turin.

A fire heavily damaged the 15th century cathedral housing the Shroud of Turin, but firemen managed to rescue the fabric that some Christians consider to be Jesus Christ’s burial cloth.

The shroud is a piece of cloth which bears the faint yellowish negative image of the front and back of a man with thorn marks on the head, lacerations on the back and bruises on the shoulders.

In 1353, the religious relic was taken to France by a crusader and stored in a chapel. It was transferred to Turin after it was damaged by fire in Chambery, France.

Former Italian King Umberto di Savoia gave the cloth to the Vatican in 1983. The Shroud has been enshrined in the Royal Chapel of the cathedral since 1578.

Firemen used a sledge hammer to break through four layers of bulletproof glass protecting the silver-and-glass urn that contains the 14-foot-long linen shroud, while others poured water on the vessel to keep it cool.

Mario Trematore, the firefighter who finally smashed the glass, said ‘God gave me the strength to break the glass.’

It took about 200 firefighters more than four hours to extinguish the blaze, which began on Friday night. Police said there were no injuries and the cause was not known.

The chapel, which was under restoration, was completely gutted and the adjacent 17th century Royal Palace, which contains antique furniture and valuable paintings, sustained extensive damage.

PUBLISHED: 12/4/1997; STORY: Graphic News
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