Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Architecture for the Shroud: Relic and Ritual in Turin

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Architecture for the Shroud: Relic and Ritual in Turin

Article excerpt

Architecture for the Shroud: Relic and Ritual in Turin. By John Beldon Scott. (Chicago and London:The University of Chicago Press. 2003. Pp. xxxii, 443, 214 figures, 16 color plates. $75.00.)

It is always a great pleasure to have in one's hand a book from which one may learn a lot.That is the case with the new work of John Beldon Scott about the majestic Chapel for the Shroud behind the Cathedral of Turin. After the fire in the night of April 11-12, 1997, that destroyed a substantial part of this most important baroque architecture in northern Italy, this book has an invaluable importance, even for the restoration that will take still many years until it is completed.

The whole work is divided into three parts and ten chapters. The first part is dedicated to the peregrination of the Shroud from Lirey to Chambery and from Chambery to Turin, and to the pilgrims and the manner in which the Shroud was shown to them in the different places. The second part treats of the central object of the book: Guarini's Shroud Chapel and its meaning. The third section shows how the presence and showings of this most important relic had a very strong impact on the urban evolution of Turin as the residence of the Savoy family.

The role played by the "king of the relics" for the Savoy family in its efforts to distinguish itself from other noble families and become a royal house is the real aim and content of the whole book in all its three parts, so that the title of the whole work could be "the Savoy family and its relic" or "the Shroud and its functions in a noble European family." Sometimes the reader encounters this theme a little overstressed and too often repeated.

The very heart and aim of the book is the second part: the history of the construction and the explanation of the meaning and the function of the architecture of the Shroud chapel that was built by the Theatine architect Guarino Guarini. …

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