There was something about the opportunity to visit the Shroud of Turin during one of the rare expositions or “showings” that just couldn’t be missed. From the moment I heard about it I knew it was something that “had” to be done. Such a rare opportunity does not come your way very often and so a handful of young people from around the UK grabbed the opportunity with both hands and said “Yes” to a trip to Turin at this special time.
The Shroud was last shown at the Millennium and the 2015 Exposition coincides with the bi-centenary of the birth of St John Bosco, an inspirational priest and youth minister, whose relics came to Liverpool three years ago. In order to be there when Pope Francis visited we travelled out over what was expected to be a very busy weekend, 19th -22nd June 2015. The graces that blessed us however made us aware of what a special opportunity we had been given and everything fell into place so easily.
Making the most of the opportunity we visited the grave of Blessed Chiara ‘Luce’ Badano, a 19-year old who suffered from terminal cancer and died in 1990, but who through her faith inspired so many to witness to Jesus. We then processed through Turin Cathedral to spend time contemplating the Shroud and Jesus’s passion and death. It was such a privilege to be offered the opportunity to do this. The Shroud allows us to ponder, to stop, to recall and to be silent in gratitude at the greatest love humankind can ever know. God in His goodness reveals Himself through such signs and symbols and such a Holy Object causes us to pause and ask deeper questions and to answer the invitation of Christ.
It was a special, vibrant and exciting weekend, significant in so many ways, not least to see the Shroud and to share this time with Pope Francis, but personally, to learn about the life and work of St John Bosco, a man inspired by Christ to work with young people and to trust each step, with generosity and courage. He stepped out continually, didn’t compromise his integrity to share faith with young people and trusted God’s providence in everything. “Meet the young people where they are at” was his motto and inspiration, and, because he did this, many thousands have turned their life towards God.