“The central question that came out of the Shroud film and the book is ‘who do you say that I am?’” said Legionnaires of Christ Father Andrew Dalton. “The world has two ways of answering this question. The first is science, which is the way into the truth of who this man is… to understand him in an empirical way. The other opportunity is that we look with eyes of faith; we turn to Scripture, and ask ‘what does God reveal?’”
A 15-minute teaser from his upcoming film “The Shroud: Face to Face” presented Sept. 22 in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, was a glimpse into a project Robert Orlando has been pursuing for nearly two years. Research for both his book and the documentary led Orlando – a filmmaker, author and Princeton Theological Seminary graduate student – from his home base of Princeton across the world to discover what the purported burial shroud of Jesus revealed about the man himself.
PHOTO GALLERY: The Shroud: Face to Face Presentation
People came from around the Diocese to the Co-Cathedral to view the film excerpt, to offer their reactions and to listen to Orlando and Father Dalton – an American priest and Shroud expert who teaches at the Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum in Rome – discuss the particulars of what is known about the centuries-old cloth emblazoned with the figure of a crucified man, and what is yet to be discovered.
“Faith and reason are two wings by which the human spirit ascends to the contemplation of the truth,” Father Dalton continued. “[They] aren’t at war one another – they’re mutually illuminated.”
Viewing photo negatives of the Shroud in the Shroud Center at the Santiago Retreat Center in California, Orlando’s relationship with the world’s most studied archeological artifact was “a face-to-face encounter,” he said.
“I’m taking the Stations of the Cross and comparing them to the physical evidence on the Shroud,” Orlando added. “To the non-believer, Jesus is a criminal … who received the most shameful death in the world and becomes the light of all civilization – how did that happen? … I see this movie as starting in kind of a dark place and ending up in a light place.” Throughout that journey, Orlando examines what the Shroud is, consulting experts to piece together the evidence the Shroud seems to contain.
Pointing out that the linen burial cloths are mentioned three times in John’s Easter Sunday Gospel account, Father Dalton asked, “Why is this significant? When the Gospel zigs when you expect it to zag, pause and ask questions … What did they see? In the Catechism, it states that it’s the condition of the empty tomb that caused [the apostles] to believe. To believe is not to crucify intellect, not to believe in spite of the evidence, but in light of the evidence.”
First impressions the audience offered were resounding applause, and comments that the film excerpt was “very powerful;” the evening included two question-and-answer periods bookending the presentation. Orlando’s book was available following the presentation for pre-purchase, and will be available for wider release Nov. 30. Updates for the film release dates and venues will be posted at http://theshroudfilm.com.
St. Robert’s parishioner Giuseppe Amatto happened upon information about the Shroud just prior to seeing the event advertised, and felt compelled to attend. “I definitely see myself
Filmmaker of "The Shroud: Face to Face" Robert Orlando talks about his film and book Sept. 22 in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. EmmaLee Italia photo
doing more research on this,” he said. And Deborah Lopez, parishioner of St. Veronica Parish, Howell, was eager to see the film in its entirety, advising that “people should look for more” on the Shroud.
Matthew Lash came with other members of Holy Eucharist Parish, Tabernacle. Having no prior knowledge about the Shroud, he said, “I didn’t have any words [to describe it] – I came here and got all my questions answered.”
His friend Gavin Palamara agreed. “I wasn’t completely sure what the Shroud was, but now I feel like I’ve attended a college session,” he said. “It really helped me with understanding it. The film added some tension, and as it went on [lent] more comfort.”
Opportunities to host a local premiere of The Shroud: Face to Face are available after Nov. 30. To learn more or to make reservations, visit http://theshroudfilm.com/event