Friday, September 7, 2012

The Holy Shroud of Cadouin: Always Read the Manufacturer's Label

Boss showing the Sacred Bandage at the Abbey of Cadouin.

As was the case yesterday with San Ero, tomorrow's reading from the 19th Century edition of the Cistercian Menology takes us to another stop along the pilgrimage route to Compostela, this time in further north in France:

At Cadouin, Perigord, the exposition of the Sacred Bandage which, in the tomb covered the Sacred Head of our Lord jesus Christ. Adhimar of Monteil, Bishop of Puy, Legate of the Holy See, discovered it at Antioch in 1098. At his death, he entrusted it to a Priest companion. The Canons were incredulous, and the Priest returned to Perigord with the precious Relic. Preserved in a conflagration by the Monks of Cadouin, it remained with them, and was the center of one of the most celebrated devotions of the middle ages. The Abbey Church became parochial the Feast [was] fixed for the Tuesday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and it is annually celebrated by an immense number of the devout Faithful.

The cloister at Cadouin.

The Lincieul de Cadouin or the Saint Suaire made the Abbey a major stop for pilgrims heading south and the abbey grew quite wealthy. When the original cloister collapsed in the 15th Century, it was rebuilt in Flamboyant style. Today the abbey complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

An early 20th Century procession of the Saint Suaire.

After the suppression of the abbey, the pilgrimage continued until 1934, when a photo of the shroud was shown to the director of Cairo’s Coptic Museum, who noticed that the banding contained a familiar script. The inscription read in part, “Mohamed is the prophet of God and Ali is God’s friend,” a standard Shiite Muslim invocation. It went on to say that the shawl had been created for the vizier of the Caliph of Cairo who had battled the Crusaders at Antioch in 1098.

The Saint Suaire.

After this, the pilgrimage ended, but the Saint Suaire remains preserved at Cadouin, the house it built. And the more than 2,000 miracles attributed to the Saint Suaire over the course of more than eight centuries remain a testament to the faith along the pilgrim route. Faith and prayer are never wasted.