This is undoubtedly one of the topics that most captivate the attention when it comes up during the guided tours I do in my city. Even today, there are many mysteries surrounding this relic, carefully preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of La Merced. Let’s start unraveling the details of this enigmatic Shroud.
It belongs to one of the few authenticated copies in our country.
It is a drawing with a sort of orange paste on it, believed to serve the purpose of protecting it from abrasion.
This copy may be somewhat coarser than the others, a sign that could indicate greater age than the rest. Its dimensions are similar to those of the original from Turin:
• One meter and twenty centimeters wide.
• Over four meters in length.
In one of its corners, there is the authenticity proof in Italian writing: ‘D. Girolamo Nasy. Custodian (…) I bear witness to the Holy Shroud, having made a touch (…) with my own hand from the original Shroud. Turin, August 20, 1682.’
Nevertheless, there are those who believe that the copy may have been made in the French city of Chambéry, where the original was located, around 1532. And others assert that it could have been created earlier, starting from 1506 when Pope Julius II granted permission to copy it.
How does it arrive to Jerez de la Frontera?
We go back to 1571 when it is said that Father Francisco de Hinestrosa, born in Jerez de la Frontera, traveled to Flanders in search of relics for the Mercedarian temple. This Father was the Procurator General of the order, Vicar General of the Italian provinces, and also in the Curia of Rome.
In the late 18th century, the historian Bartolomé Gutiérrez tells us that the copy arrived in Jerez by order of a bishop the following year, but it was intended for the Indies. It seems that the bishop passed away shortly after arriving in Jerez with the relics, including the Shroud, so ultimately everything remained in the Basilica of La Merced.
From the 19th century until the 1930s, the Jerez Shroud was displayed to the faithful at specific moments during the year, such as Good Friday, Holy Thursday, and August 15th (the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin).
In the sanctuary, deacons and acolytes would unfold the shroud held by two rods. When the time came, the faithful would approach to venerate it, often passing objects over it to receive blessings.
Later, the Shroud was placed in an exquisite reliquary, crafted in the 17th century. To open it, three keys were required, held by three different individuals. It rested there without public exposure for 80 years.
The last time the relic was displayed to the public was in 2018, on the occasion of commemorating the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Mercedarian Order.
An interesting fact…
We have already mentioned the authenticity seal that confirms the writing in one of its corners. Well, in that same corner, another piece of fabric is sewn on top, the origin of which is unknown, although some speculate that it might be a fragment of the original.
As you can see, a truly astounding mystery…
Don’t forget to comment and share if you’ve enjoyed this. Unfortunately, I can’t show you this relic, but I can show you the Basilica, the city, the province of Cadiz, and its surroundings… Get in touch!