The Shroud of Turin went on public display Saturday for the first time in 10 years, drawing long lines of people to see the linen some believe is Christ's burial cloth and others dismiss as a medieval fake.
Turin Cardinal Severino Poletto led the opening ceremony in Turin's cathedral. He referred to the debate over the shroud's authenticity, saying it was "not up to the church but for science to decide."
By late Friday, 1.5 million people had reserved their three-to-five-minute chance to gaze at the cloth, which is kept in a bulletproof, climate-controlled case. Viewing continues through May 23.
Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to fly to Turin, in northwest Italy, on May 2 to pray before the shroud.
It is the first time the 14-foot-long, 3.5-foot-wide (4.3-meter-long, 1 meter-wide) has gone on public display since a special showing in 2000 during Millennium celebrations.
The Vatican has tiptoed around the issue of just what the cloth is, calling it a powerful symbol of Christ's suffering while making no claim to its authenticity.
A Vatican researcher said late last year that faint writing on the linen, which she studied through computer-enhanced images, proves the cloth was used to wrap Jesus' body after his crucifixion.
But experts stand by carbon-dating of scraps of the cloth that determine the linen was made in the 13th or 14th century in a kind of medieval forgery. That testing didn't explain how the image on the shroud — of a man with wounds similar to those suffered by Christ — was formed.
However, some have suggested the dating results might have been skewed by contamination and called for a larger sample to be analyzed.
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