ROANOKE TIMES Copyright (c) 1997, Roanoke Times DATE: Sunday, April 13, 1997 TAG: 9704140068 SECTION: NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL PAGE: A-14 EDITION: METRO DATELINE: TURIN, ITALY SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Archbishop calls the shroud's rescue a ``miracle.'' It was saved from another fire over 450 years ago in France.
The burial cloth many believe shrouded Jesus Christ survived its second brush with fire in 465 years - but officials said Saturday the gorgeous Baroque chapel that housed it suffered incalculable damage.
Authorities were still assessing the impact of Friday's late-night fire at the San Giovanni Cathedral in Turin and its Guarini Chapel, home of the Shroud of Turin.
The shroud in its silver urn was snatched from the flaming chapel by firefighters who hammered their way through four layers of bulletproof glass. But the flames devastated the shroud's marble-faced chapel, the wooden dome of the cathedral and much of the Royal Palace nearby.
Radio Vatican called it ``an apocalypse'' and recalled that the shroud had been saved from another fire in Chambery, France, more than 450 years ago.
Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire. Police say it might have been a short circuit.
The shroud was Crusader booty taken from Constantinople to France in 1353. After it was scorched in the 1532 fire, it was taken to Turin. Its chapel was added to the cathedral 300 years ago.
The chapel ``is one of the foremost buildings of Italian architecture and it will be impossible to restore it the way it was before,'' said Pasquale Mallara, the architect in charge of historic buildings in the Piedmont region and director of restoration work that was underway at the cathedral.
The restoration was in preparation for a rare public showing of the shroud scheduled for next year as part of the buildup to the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ.
Mallara said the five-hour fire did millions of dollars in damage.
Archbishop Giovanni Saldarini, the keeper of the shroud, confirmed Saturday that the cloth was intact and said the church would go ahead with the public viewing next year. He called the shroud's rescue a ``miracle.''
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