THE VATICAN has refused to comment on widespread Italian press reports that the Holy Shroud of Turin may be brought to Rome for public display next year.
The shroud, the 14-foot-long linen cloth believed by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus, has been displayed to the public only three times this century. It attracted 3.3 million visitors during the last 44-day exposition period in 1978.
The shroud, enclosed in a silver casket in the Guarini Chapel of the Cathedral of San Giovanni in Turin, has not left that northern Italian city since it arrived there in 1578
According to reports in a variety of Italian newspapers, including the national Catholic daily, Avvenire, some 200 Roman and Vatican church leaders have asked Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Anastasio Ballastrero of Turin to arrange for the transfer of the shroud to Rome for the last two months of the Holy Year of Redemption, which is to end on April 22, 1984.
According to the reported plan, the shroud would be displayed not at St Peter's Basilica, but at either Santa Croce in Gerusalemme or St John Lateran Basilica, the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome.
The Turin Archdiocese had no comment on the reports, except to say that no formal request had been made for the transfer of the shroud to Rome.