A message from Father Nick 55
“I can call him both me and master”
Among the “relics” associated with Our Lord’s Passion we have mentioned those believed to have been brought back from the Holy Land by Constantine’s mother Helena. The room where she housed them in her palace would become the church we call today Holy Cross in Jerusalem – a short walk from Rome’s cathedral, the great basilica of St John Lateran.
Beside these relics, the Church of the Holy Cross keeps a life-size photograph of another object, the so-called “Shroud of Turin”, for centuries believed to be the burial cloth of Christ and showing the image of a man’s body. Carbon dating would seem to have disproved that possibility, suggesting instead that the “shroud” is a mediaeval (and hence human-made) picture. It is important to emphasise that nothing here is essential to our Easter faith.
What is interesting is that the outline of a figure had been visible for centuries, but only in 1898, when the cloth was first photographed, was it possible to see that this outline was already a kind of negative image. The photographer who developed it was surprised to find it yield a new and deeply moving positive image – the image we know so well today.
And that is surely the point. However the image on the Turin Shroud was formed, we can see in it qualities of majesty and humanity that we associate especially with Jesus. However, and whenever, the image was made, James Brabazon’s poem remains valid for us this Easter time.
James Brabazon: The Face on the Turin Shroud
This was the look of him? This down to earth man?
This convinces me. None of the flimsy faces
The painters put on him. This man never arrived
At resurrection without a hard won fight,
Nor was half air before he achieved ascension.
With him he took a look of the earth he lay in –
Rock, and a little soil, and old olive roots –
A sturdy, serene man, common sense in a riddle.
He looks like his talk, before it was pared by parsons,
Spun into sermons, and so on, transtabulated
Into theology. This man is marvellous –
Death instinct with life, life at peace
This is man.
They say he will judge me. I’m convinced.
I am judged already. I stand before him knowing
That like each man I am my own disaster.
He knows I know. He will be merciful.
This man looks like all that I ask of God –
I can call him both me and master.