The mysterious and controversial Shroud of Turin will make its first television appearance in 40 years on Italian television Saturday, as researchers at the University of Padua say the 14-foot cloth could really be Jesus' burial shroud.
Professor Giulio Fanti's and a team of researchers used fibers from the shroud to date the cloth, which bears the face and body of a man, back to 300BC to 400AD, meaning that it could have been made in Christ's lifetime.
"For me the [Shroud] comes from God because there are hundreds of clues in favor to the authenticity," Fanti told the Huffington Post. He said that while their were "no sure proofs" that the Shroud is real, his scientists also found traces of soil "compatible with the soil of Jerusalem."
Doubts about the Shroud of Turin stem from a 1988 study that used carbon-dating to determine that the cloth was made in the Middle Ages, centuries after Jesus' death. But Fanti called the 1988 study "not statistically reliable.
Regardless of the controversy surrounding its origins, the Shroud remains important to the Catholic Church. Pope Francis will introduce the cloth during Saturday's television special and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI once wrote that the relic was "a truly mysterious image, which no human artistry was capable of producing."
“The shroud can never replace faith,” Russ Breault, president of the Shroud of Turin Education Project, told ABC News. “I don’t think we can ever know for sure whether the shroud is absolutely authentic because we don’t have the DNA of Jesus to match it up with something that we might extract from the shroud itself.”