sealed in a plastic case to ensure it remains uncontaminated.'

For the next two days the team continued to work, rehearsing their procedures. Decker tried to prove himself a useful member of the team, and at times he forgot all about being a reporter. He even began to wonder if choosing journalism over medicine hadn't been a mistake after all.

6 Conversation between John Heller and Ray Rogers is paraphrased. For actual words as recorded by Dr. John H. Heller, see ibid., pp. 86-87.

Chapter 2

The Shroud

September 28,1978 – Northern Italy

Barely more than misplaced starlight, the lights of Milan peeked dimly through the window as the jet flew over northern Italy. Decker studied the outline of this landlocked constellation as he considered the consequences of the job ahead. Like Professor Goodman, Decker was certain the team's research would prove that the Shroud was nothing more than a cheap medieval forgery. The problem was, he knew there were a lot of people who would not appreciate having their bubble of faith burst by the truth, including Elizabeth's mother, a devout Catholic. So far his relationship with her had been pretty good. How would she take all of this? I guess we'll be spending Christmas with my mom for the next few years, he mused.

Father Rinaldi, who had gone directly from the meeting in Connecticut to Turin, had chartered a bus to take the team the 125 kilometers from Milan to Turin. By the time the bus pulled into their hotel it was midnight and though it was only 7:00 p.m. in New York and 4:00 p.m. on America's west coast, everyone decided to go to their rooms to try to get some sleep.

The next morning Decker, who was never very good at adjusting to different time zones, got up before the sun. Because of the time difference going east, he should have wanted to sleep in. But it made no difference – he was ready to get up and logic was not involved. As the morning sky grew light, he looked out from his hotel window down Turin's long, straight streets which intersected at nearly perfect ninety degree angles. On either side of the streets were homes and small stores occupying one and two story buildings, none of which appeared to be less than two centuries old. Beyond the city, to the north, east, and west, the Alps pierced the atmosphere and clouds on their way to the sky. Elizabeth would love this, he thought.

Decker left the hotel for some early morning sightseeing. Despite the city's proximity to the mountains he encountered very few hills on his walk. About a quarter of a mile from the hotel he came to the Porta Palatina, an immense gateway through which in 218 B.C. Hannibal, after a siege of only three days, drove his soldiers and elephants into the Roman town of Augusta Taurinorum, or ancient Turin. As he walked, the wonderful smells of morning began to drift from the open windows of houses along his path. The sounds of children playing followed, and then suddenly the timeless atmosphere of the city was crowded into the present by the sound of a television in someone's kitchen. It was time to head back to the hotel.

As he entered the hotel lobby, Decker heard the voices of team members. The breakfast meeting had already begun and the conversation centered around a problem with the equipment that the team had brought from the United States. Without interrupting, Decker tried to piece together what was going on. Apparently the equipment had been put in the name of Father Rinaldi with the intention of avoiding exactly the sort of problems with customs that the team was now experiencing. Unfortunately, though Rinaldi was an Italian citizen, he had been in the U.S. too long and back in Turin too short a time to be eligible to bring the equipment into the country without a sixty- day impoundment. Rinaldi and Tom D'Muhala had already been sent to the customs office in Milan for some face- to-face diplomacy and arm twisting.

After breakfast, several members of the team decided to walk the half mile from the hotel to the royal palace of the House of Savoy, which for centuries had been the residence of the kings of Italy. It was in a suite of rooms in the palace that the team would be conducting its investigation of the Shroud. When they reached the palace they were stunned to find tens of thousands of people standing several abreast in lines that stretched for over a mile to the east and west. The lines converged at the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, which is adjacent to the palace. In the cathedral, in a sterling silver case sealed within a larger case of bullet proof glass filled with inert gasses, the Shroud is kept. Two or three times a century the Shroud is taken out and put on public display, drawing pilgrims from all over the world. The crowd that day represented only a small fraction of the three million people who over the past several weeks had traveled from all over the world to see what they believed to be the burial cloth of Christ.

The team was escorted through a courtyard into a restricted part of the palace. At every corner were guards armed with small European-made machine guns. The team paused as they entered, awestruck with the size and splendor of their surroundings. There was gold everywhere: on chandeliers, on picture frames, on vases, inlaid into carvings in the doors and other woodwork. Even the wallpaper was gold-gilt. And everywhere were paintings and marble statuary. At the end of a long, opulently decorated hall was the entrance to the princes' suite, where the team would conduct their experiments. Beyond the ten-foot doors was a fifty by fifty foot ballroom, the first of seven rooms which made up the suite. The second room, which is where the Shroud would be placed for examination, was as magnificent as the first. Crystal chandeliers hung from ceilings painted in classical frescos of angels and swans and biblical scenes. Somewhere in the life of ancient buildings which remain in use comes a point at which time and progress can no longer be ignored. Whether it is the carriage house that becomes a garage or a closet that is converted to a phone room, some aesthetics ultimately yield to the demands of modern convenience. In the princes' suite the evidence of compromise was a bathroom and electricity. The bathroom was a strange arrangement with two toilets and five sinks. This would double as the team's photographic darkroom. The only electricity was provided by a wire just slightly thicker than a standard extension cord, which led to a single outlet about an inch away from the baseboard. The team's equipment would require far more power than that.

'We'll need to run electric cables up here from the basement,' said Rudy Dichtl, the team member with the most 'hands-on' electrical experience. 'I'm going to see if I can find a hardware store.'

Decker told Dichtl that he had noticed a hardware store while walking that morning. He wasn't entirely sure of the location, but thought he could find it again. 'Great,' said Dichtl. 'If they have what we need, I could use an extra pair of hands lugging it back.'

For the next two days there was little to do but sightsee. Despite Father Rinaldi's best efforts, customs in Milan simply refused to release the team's equipment. Decker took advantage of the time to get to know some of the other team members. His intent was both to be friendly and to gather background information for the series of articles he planned to write. Everyone spoke freely of their thoughts about the Shroud and how each had become involved in the expedition. Decker was confident that he'd be able to sell the story to the wire services. An exclusive like this could really boost his career.

All of this, of course, assumed that the team got their equipment. Finally, Decker decided they'd waited long enough. If Milan didn't release the equipment soon, this expedition really was going to end up as a wild goose chase. Wednesday morning, when Father Rinaldi came into the hotel lobby to report on his progress, Decker was waiting for him. 'Any luck, Father?' Decker asked.

'None,' responded the priest.

'Well,' Decker said, 'I think I know how we can break this logjam.'

'Please, go on,' Rinaldi encouraged.

'Now, this might not be the way you like to do things, but right now Turin is crawling with reporters covering the Shroud exhibit. If you held a press conference and announced that we can't do our research because a bunch of petty bureaucrats won't let us have our equipment, you could cause quite a bit of embarrassment for our friends in customs.'

By now Eric Jumper and John Jackson had come into the hotel lobby where Decker and Father Rinaldi were talking. 'Anyway,' Decker said, 'if you embarrass these guys a little I bet they'll come through with the

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