Francis J. DeStefano, Francis Joseph Paul DeStefano, President
It was the largest and most amazing faith/science collaboration that has ever occurred in history.
Some of the best scientists in the world at that time - were involved in this research - research that the future Pope John Paul II - would continue to encourage.
It was during the 1978 exhibition that the future Pope John Paul II - saw the Shroud as a cardinal. I also know that as many as 300 bishops also saw it during that exhibition, one of them being the saintly Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York - who was so moved by it - that he wanted the original Shroud brought to St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Cardinal Cooke was close friends with Father Peter Rinaldi. I have a photograph of Cardinal Cooke visiting Father Rinaldi at his parish. His successor, Cardinal O'Connor - was also very interested in the Shroud, and I have documentary evidence which shows he encouraged the work of the Holy Shroud Guild.
Getting back on track, I know that Pope Paul VI was also interested in the Shroud, because of that letter he wrote that I shared with you, and also, from another document that I found in Father Rinaldi's shrine to the Shroud.
I also know that Pope John Paul II became the personal owner of the Shroud in 1985, after King Umberto II, the last king of Italy, died in exile in 1983. The shroud passed through the Italian court system for two years, when finally the king's will was probated and the Shroud went to the living Pope, on condition that it remain in Turin.
Many people believe that the Shroud belongs to the Vatican. But that is not true. It is actually the personal possession of the living pope.
I also know something else. Ever since the carbon-14 dating was conducted on the Shroud, back in 1988 (which tests were paid for by the Archdiocese of Turin) - the Catholic Church has invested next to nothing to deepen our understanding of the Shroud - after spending nearly a billion dollars to settle all the sex abuses case against it in the United States, as reported in Catholic New York, one of the Church's own newspapers.
I also know that, during the late 1990's, the Turinese custodians of the Shroud - approached Pope John Paul II, and asked him when they should exhibit the Shroud again. They presented him with two options: either in 1998, to commemorate the 100 years that the Shroud was first photographed, or during the year 2000, to commemorate the Third Millenium.
At that, Pope John Paul II - asked for the Shroud to be exhibited during BOTH dates, which it was. You have seen the speech that he gave about the Shroud back in 1998, when he visited the Shroud to venerate it personally.
I also know that Pope Benedict XVI - will also be going to Turin to venerate the Shroud on May 2nd of next year.
I also know that Mother Angelica has life-sized images of the Shroud at her convent in Alabama, probably obtained from my Jewish hippie friend, Barrie Schwortz. But you never find that out by looking at her website.
I know that images of the Shroud are exhibited at several Catholic churches in the United States: at Corpus Christi Parish in Portchester, New York, at the Mount Manresa Retreat Center in Staten Island, at the monastery of the Holy Face in Clifton, New Jersey, at Alvernia College in Reading Pennsylvania, at Our Lady of the Angels, down in Virginia.
As I also told you, an image of the Shroud is on one of the doors of St. Maria Maggiori in Rome.
To sum up then: I do not know if I am doing God's will to be so interested in the Shroud. But when I see all of these popes and bishops and heroic religious - who share my interest in the Shroud - then I know that I am not acting alone.
May none of us walk alone in 2010!
A very Happy New Year to you all!
Peace in Christ,
Francis J. DeStefano
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