Rome, Apr.7 (ANI): The Turin Shroud, said to be the cloth used to bury Christ, was secretly hidden in a Benedictine abbey during the Second World War because the Vatican feared that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler wanted to steal it.
The shroud was transferred for its safety to the Benedictine sanctuary of Montevergine in Avellino, in the southern Campania region of Italy in 1939 and was only transferred to Turin in 1946.
It is due to go on display for six weeks after Easter at the Turin Cathedral, where it has been kept for over 500 years.
The Telegraph quoted the current director of the library at the abbey, Father Andrea Cardin, as saying the reason behind the move was because Hitler was "obsessed" with the sacred relic.
Both the Vatican and the Italian royal family, the Savoys, who were the guardians and owners of the shroud, feared that the German leader, who had an interest in the esoteric, might try to steal the linen cloth.
In an interview with an Italian magazine, Diva e Donna, Father Cardin said: "The Holy Shroud was moved in secret to the sanctuary in the Campania region on the precise orders of the House of Savoy and the Vatican. Officially, this was to protect it from possible bombing (in Turin). In reality, it was moved to hide it from Hitler who was apparently obsessed by it."
The shroud, which is supposed to have wrapped Christ's body after he was crucified, was returned to Turin in 1946 on the orders of Italy's last king, Umberto II.
The monarchy was abolished in 1946 when Italy voted in a referendum to become a republic, and ownership of the shroud eventually passed to the Holy See.
While millions of people believe the shroud to be authentic, sceptics believe it is a medieval fake.
Tests conducted 20 years ago dated the fabric of the relic to between 1260 and 1390, although the results have been vigorously disputed.
The linen cloth, which measures 14.4ft by 3.6ft, is imprinted with the image of a man bearing all the signs of crucifixion, including bloodstains. It will go on display in Turin Cathedral from this weekend. (ANI)