THE HOLY SHROUD OF INZAGO

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THE HOLY SHROUD OF INZAGO

The Holy Shroud of Inzago is a silk cloth, 413 cm long and 63 cm wide, upon whose surface a mysterious painter drew the front and back image of a human body with the blood traces characteristically ascribable to a crucifixion, just like those you can observe on the Holy Shroud of Turin. In the centre of the cloth you can read: “Sacrosancta Sindonis Vere Expressa Imago”. According to tradition, the sheet displayed in Turin was given by Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia to Saint Carlo Borromeo when, in October 1578, he walked to Turin to venerate the Holy Shroud and be released from a vow he had contracted during the plague epidemic that struck Milan in 1576.

 

-  "....In the shadow of the Duomo of Milan, the streets were crammed with chariots loaded with dead bodies: in

1576, the plague was raging. Saint Carlo Borromeo made an oath: once the epidemic was over, he would walk all the way to Chambery to worship the Holy Shroud. Two years later, he was ready to begin his journey, when the duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoia had an idea that could save the pilgrim a great amount of fatigue and at the same time increase the prestige of the city of Turin: he secretly moved the Shroud there and on October 8th he welcomed the Cardinal with a surprise: a copy of the Holy Shroud produced long time before, to be kept in Milan. The gift was much appreciated, so much that the saint even wrapped himself in the shroud as a sign of devotion. Time passed, Carlo Borromeo died and the relic was inherited by his secretary, Lodovico Moneta from Inzago, who took it in his villa on the shore of Adda. Centuries later, his heirs donated it to the local parish: it is currently kept in the crypt of the church of Santa Maria Assunta, displayed only on special occasions or in the day dedicated to Saint Carlo Borromeo. The shroud is placed in a glass case, covered by a red cloth which, once lifted, reveals a strip of fabric as long as the original one, but made of silk instead of linen, painted in ochre, red and brown. It’s the most ancient of the 37 existing copies and the only one to look exactly like the original shroud before the fire that damaged it in 1532: it carries, though, other signs of burns, redoing those left on the original by a fire in Constantinople in the 9th century: the painter didn’t understand those were burn marks, he thought they were bloodstains and painted them in red. "Such information – explains the priest Don Davide Mazzucchelli – let us suppose it was produced between 1200, when the first silk reached Europe, and 1532, year of the Chambery fire. Perhaps the copy was specifically made to avoid exposing the original to the public. Also in Inzago, the priest at the time thought better to leave it inside the Church: he had it cut at head’s level to display it in vertical position just like a real human figure, back and front. Cardinal  Schuster, in 1933, asked the Adoring Sisters of Rivolta d'Adda to sew it anew, taking it back to the time of Cardinal Borromeo"....

 

In 1965, on the 4th centenary of the entrance in Milan of Saint Carlo Borromeo, the Shroud was exhibited in the churches of the external parsonage of Inzago, which included the parishes of: Pozzuolo Martesana, Trecella, Groppello d’Adda, Bettola di Pozzo d’Adda and Masate. At the end of the initiative, which was called “Peregrinatio san Carolis”, (St. Charles’ pilgrimage in Latin) the copy of the shroud was laid down in the new crypt of the main Church. On that occasion the Archbishop Cardinal Giovanni Colombo stated that the Shroud could be displayed to the public once every ten years instead of every 25, following the Archbishop Schuster’s order. In 1978 it was exhibited in the Duomo of Milan, to celebrate the 4th centenary of  Carlo Borromeo’s pilgrimage to Turin. In 1985 it was displayed in St.Peter’s Cathedral in Vatican, on the Altar of Mercy, and in 2000 in Siena in a general exhibition of the copies of the shroud. In  1991 it was thoroughly studied by the specialist Mario Moroni. The analysis of the substances used for the painting, sampled from the fabric by means of special duct tapes, verified the use of tempera for the human contour and rose madder for coloring the bloodstains. The scientific tests were carried out with the latest technologies available by a   Chicago lab team. In early 2010 the copy had to undergo some special restoring works, carried out in a lab specialized in ancient fabrics. At the end of these, the relic was placed in a  new case, specially built to ensure a better conservation, and located in the presbytery of the main church. The Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, upon request from the priest of Inzago, don Antonio Imeri, established with a decree dated March 2010, that the Shroud of Inzago can be shown yearly to the believers on the date of the Holy Easter: “As an incentive to the people’ devotion and piety for the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the faith towards the Holy Easter of Resurrection”.