TURIN, Italy, March 29 (UPI) -- The Shroud of Turin, a relic believed by some to show Jesus' face, is to be shown on television Saturday in Italy for the first time since 1973.
The 90-minute broadcast will be shown on Rai, the Italian state channel, The Guardian reported Thursday. Pope Benedict XVI approved the broadcast before he retired as head of the Catholic Church.
Many scientists have dismissed the shroud as a medieval fake but "The Mystery of the Shroud," a new book Giulio Fanti, an engineering professor at the University of Padua, wrote with journalist Saverio Gaeta argues the shroud is far older, dating from some time in the 400 years around Christ's death.
The church owns the shroud, a 14-foot-long piece of linen but has never officially said it is authentic. Benedict, writing before he became pope, called it "a truly mysterious image, which no human artistry was capable of producing."
The Vatican also introduced a smartphone app Friday that will allow people to examine images of the shroud in detail. The broadcast will start with a brief introduction by new Pope Francis.
"It will be a message of intense spiritual scope, charged with positivity, which will help hope never to be lost," Turin Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia said.