‘Who is the Man of the Shroud?’ exhibit in Sacramento

The Sacramento metro area is home to numerous museums. This should hardly be surprising, considering the significance of California in this great nation. From to the Crocker Art Museum to the Folsom History Museum, there are depositories of history and knowledge here. Some are large, others so small they feature just one topic.

One small exhibit known to just a few is on permanent view in one of the older sections of Sacramento. As the Lenten season draws to a close, Christians of all denominations may find it of interest — and so may sceptics.

“Who is the Man of the Shroud?” went on exhibit in 2010. It is one of just a handful of exhibits featuring the history of the famous Shroud of Turin. It depicts a man who was terribly scourged, beaten and crucified.

Expect a primer on “Sindonology” — the study of the Shroud of Turin. It is fascinating.

The Shroud is an artifact of antiquity. Just how antiquated … that is part of the mystique. Some believe the herringbone-weave linen cloth to be the actual burial sheet of Jesus Christ. Others believe its origins date to the Middle Ages.

The actual item in question is stored in Turin, Italy. However, such is the curiosity about it that exhibits such as this one exist — to promote discussion and scientific inquiry.

The mildly curious will be able to cruise through this quiet museum in 10 minutes. Those fascinated by history, science or faith … plan to spend 30 minutes or more.

The exhibit focuses on the known history of the Shroud. Replicas of artwork dating back to the 11th century chronicle the travels of this artifact from Byzantine times to the modern era.

This exhibit chronicles man’s attempts to understand the Shroud, hiding nothing. From the discovery that the Shroud can appear to be a photographic “negative,” to the controversies of Carbon-14 dating, to more recent discoveries — including the Shroud as a holographic image — the visitor will find a lot to consider here.

One of my favorite parts of the exhibit is the life-size photograph of the Shroud. Visitors can get a close-up view of every part of the Shroud, without actually damaging the real article. Every thread, every stain is visible.

Another fascinating section of the exhibit is a bronze statue. Cast by Italian artist Luigi E. Mattei, this three-dimensional image takes its features and measurements from the Shroud.

No matter one’s opinion of the Shroud, it is hard to deny that the Romans were capable of remarkable cruelty in capital punishment. The history of the Romans in this aspect is on display here as well, complete with scourges, nails and a plaited crown of thorns — done in the Roman style.

The faithful and the curious may well find themselves leaving this exhibit pondering the human condition.

“Who is the Man of the Shroud?” is on permanent display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, located at 1909 7th St. in Sacramento. Admission is free, but put a couple bucks in the jar to help the parish pay the electric bill. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (916) 442-3211 for weekend hours.  

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Posted by on Apr 6 2014.
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