CLINTON – The devout and the curious from several Midwest states visited Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Clinton this weekend to see a replica of the alleged burial cloth of Christ.
“Clinton is kind of a central place,” said Liz Sharp, a Prince of Peace volunteer who greeted visitors to the Man of the Shroud traveling exhibit Sunday. “We’ve gotten a lot from Illinois and Wisconsin. I think there was a couple from Missouri Friday.”
Clinton is the closest many people will come to the famous Shroud of Turin, and visitors drove from Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri to see it, Sharp said.
Sharp saw the Man of the Shroud exhibit Friday. “It was very moving. I went home, and I cried all night.”
As a mother and grandmother, Sharp was moved by the idea that Christ was taken from the cross and handed to his mother. The feelings of a mother in that situation are beyond human comprehension, she said.
The Man of the Shroud traveling exhibit consists of 66 panels detailing the history and scientific examination of the shroud, a statue of Christ with wounds that match the wounds on the shroud and a full-length replica of the Shroud developed from a photographic image made by the Eastman Kodak Co.
A 45-minute video describing Roman and Jewish traditions, carbon dating and theories about the shroud runs on a loop for the convenience of viewers.
“Here the supernatural and the scientific merged,” Sharp said. “It’s very moving to see this stuff.”
Brenda McCloy and her sister saw the exhibit Saturday, she said. “We enjoyed it,” she said. McCloy has lived in Clinton her entire life, is a member of the Prince of Peace parish and attended Mount St. Clare Academy in Clinton, the high school boarding school of the Sisters of St. Francis.
On Sunday, McCloy asked visitors to sign a guest book, handed out literature and pointed out the starting point for the exhibit.
Tom and Lisa Fennelly drove up from Davenport to see the exhibit. “We’ve been reading about it for years,” said Tom Fennelly. “This is as close as we’re going to get.”
Rod Sieck of Clinton said he’s watched documentaries about the shroud. “I wanted to see the physical size,” he said Sunday.
Tami Leavens stood in front of the life-size replica of the linen. “I just feel it’s really touched me,” she said. “It strikes you that God is real. God is good.”
Maria and Stan Kozar of Aurora, Illinois had tears in their eyes as they tried to explain why they drove to Clinton to see the Man of the Shroud Sunday.
“It becomes very emotional, said Maria Kozar.
“It’s something that we had to see,” Stan said.
Though they’ve been in the United States 50 years, the Kozars still speak with a noticeable accent. They pair grew up in Hungary where they heard little of religion because of the Communist government.
Today Hungary is “just like here,” Stan said.
“People can express their religion,” said Maria.
But when Stan and Maria were growing up in Communist Hungary, religion was taught simplistically, “Everything was limited in those days,” said Maria.
The suffering depicted on the Man of the Shroud panels and seen in the replica of the shroud is something words can’t describe, Maria said.
“If you believe in Jesus Christ... you have to see this,” Stan Kozar said.