The Turin Shroud was almost toast tonight in 1997, when fire broke out in the dome of San Giovanni Cathedral, Turin, and quickly spread to the Chapel of the Holy Shroud (above). Fireman Mario Trematore took a sledgehammer to the 39mm bulletproof glass protecting the holy relic, while the dome disintegrated above him, and carried the Shroud in its silver case to safety.
‘The bulletproof glass can stop bullets, but it cannot stop the strength of values represented by the symbol inside it. With only a hammer and our hands, still bleeding, we broke the glass. This is extraordinary!’ Mario Trematore
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in a series of caves above the northern shore of the Dead Sea was announced today in 1948. These 2,000 year-old documents of the Essene sect, which existed in the time of Jesus, contain Old Testament manuscripts which may be as old as 200 BCE, as well as the sect’s own apocalyptic writings. According to legend, the scrolls were discovered when three young nomads were looking for a stray goat.
It is the feast of St Guthlac, a 7th century hermit who lived by the River Welland in the English fens. He enjoyed the company of the local wildlife, and even forgave the crows and magpies who stole from him, wanting to give them an example of Christian patience.
Pope John XXIII issued the encyclical Pacem in Terris (‘Peace on earth’) today in 1963, at the height of the Cold War. It called for world peace, which the Pope thought could be achieved by a universal recognition of human rights (including the rights of women), and by proper relations between states, and between the individual and the state. It made such a strong impact that it was reprinted in its entirety by the New York Times. Pope John died two months after it was published.
Image: Guilhelm Velut