'Shroud of Turin' replica draws devotees to Nueva Ecija

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 13) — A replica of the sacred Shroud of Turin from Italy is now in the Philippines for good.

Thousands of Catholic devotees and residents llined up the streets of Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija on Saturday to catch a glimpse of the carriage bearing the wooden case in which the Turin Shroud replica is kept.

The sacred replica was donated by the rector of the Basilica de Volto Santo in Italy to the Immaculate Conception Parish in Nampicuan. It was brought to the Philippines on Friday by the parish priest, Father Christian Magtalas.

The Shroud of Turin is a centuries-old cloth that bears an image believed to be that of Jesus. The cloth is said to be the burial shroud Christ was wrapped in after his crucifixion.

Magtalas considers the arrival of the Turin Shroud's replica as another blessing for their little town, which has just over 13,000 residents.

"It's a great blessing not only spiritually but also economically dahil pangangailangan talaga ng mahihirap ang tulong ng Diyos, and nakikita po namin 'yun [the poor need God's help; we've seen it does work]," he said.

The Turin Shroud's replica has been enthroned in the parish so devotees can see it anytime. It was placed near another replica of a relic from Italy, the Veil of Manopello.

The replica of the veil, which also came from the Basilica de Volto Santo, features an image of Jesus Christ's face.

Since the arrival of the Manopello Veil's replica in 2014, Magtalas said more devotees have been coming to their town to visit their church.

He is hoping the number of visitors will rise further with the Turin Shroud's replica on display.

"When we received the replica of the Holy Face of Jesus, talagang 'yung pananampalataya ng tao ay lumalim, dumami ang mga nagsisimba na," Magtalas said.

[Translation: Your faith deepens; more people are coming to church.]

"Anyone, any pilgrim from different areas in the Philippines, you can visit Nampicuan to see the Holy Face of Jesus here," he added.

After the mass to celebrate the Turin Shroud replica's arrival, hundreds of devotees lined up to see it. Cena De Guzman, a resident ofNampicuan, was one of them.

"Talagang ibang-iba siya," she said about the replica. "Kasi nasubukan ko na rin yung sa Holy Face, parang ganoong-ganoon ang naramdaman ko."

[Translation: It's quite an experience. I've seen the Holy Face and the feeling is the same.]

Joyce Flores, a first-time visitor to the church, said seeing the replica of the Turin Shroud was a surreal experience.

"Syempre parang blessed and you will be given [sic] hope," she said.