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April 2, 2013

The first time I tried to see the Shroud of Turin was in 1992, but I forgot my x-ray specs, so I caught only a glimpse of a stone box tucked in a badly lit chapel of that city's Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. I fared better in 1998, when the Shroud was exhibited for the first time in two decades. As I stood in front of the yellowed cloth, stretched and lit in its bulletproof case above the altar, I had a strong and perhaps absurd urge, which at first I resisted. Then I gave in.

I...