The Shroud of Turin, the burial linen of Jesus, on exposition in the spring of 2010

The Shroud of Turin, a cloth widely believed to be the burial linen of Jesus, will be put on exposition in the spring of 2010, announced Benedict XVI.

The Pope divulged the news today upon receiving in audience some 7,000 faithful from the Archdiocese of Turin. Prior to the audience, Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, had celebrated Mass for the pilgrims in St. Peter's Basilica.

In his address to the pilgrims, the Holy Father noted that in the Archdiocese of Turin, the next pastoral year will be dedicated to the Word of God, while 2010 "will see you oriented toward a more attentive contemplation of the Passion of Christ."

In this context, he announced that he had accepted the wishes of the archbishop of Turin and that "in the spring of 2010 there will be another 'solemn exposition of the Shroud.'"

The last time the shroud was put on display was in 2000. In the 20th century, the linen was displayed only four times.

"If the Lord gives me life and health, I too hope to come," he added off-the-cuff, reported the Vatican Information Service.

The exposition, he continued, "will provide an appropriate moment to contemplate that mysterious face which silently speaks to the hearts of men, inviting them to recognize therein the face of God."

The shroud, measuring 4.39 meters in length and 1.15 meters in width (14.5 feet by 3.5 feet), is kept in a climate-controlled urn in the chapel of the Turin cathedral.