VATICAN CITY – The Shroud of Turin — revered by many Christians as Jesus Christ's burial cloth — will go on rare public display in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday.
The shroud last was shown to the public in 2000, when more than 1 million visitors viewed it in Turin cathedral during a special display for the new millennium Holy Year.
The pope made the announcement at a special audience at the Vatican for 7,000 pilgrims from Turin.
"If the Lord gives me life and health, I, too, hope to attend the display," said Benedict, who is 81.
The shroud bears an imprint believed by some to be the image of Christ. Kept in Turin's Roman Catholic cathedral, the strip of linen is about 14 feet long and 3 1/2 yards wide. Believers say the image on the cloth was left by Christ's body after he was taken off the cross.
A carbon-dating test in 1988 concluded that the shroud came from medieval times. Disputes have flourished over that study and others, including one by researchers at Hebrew University that concluded that pollen and plant images on the shroud showed it originated around Jerusalem sometime before the eighth century.
"I am happy to meet your great hopes and to accept the desire of your archbishop by consenting to another solemn display of the Shroud," Benedict said.
He said it will be an occasion to "to contemplate the mysterious face, which silently speaks to the heart of men, inviting them to recognize in it the face of God," Benedict said.
The Vatican was given ownership of the shroud in 1983.