Christ's Seamless Tunic to Be on Display in German City

Cardinal Ouellet Will Be the Pope's Envoy for the 5th Centenary of the 1st Pilgrimage

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By Anita Bourdin

ROME, MARCH 6, 2012 (Zenit.org).- To mark the start of the pilgrimage for the exposition of the Sacred Tunic kept in Trier, Germany, Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Marc Ouellet as his special envoy.

The Canadian cardinal of the Society of Priests of Saint Sulpice is prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

On behalf of the Pope, on April 13 Cardinal Ouellet will preside over the ceremony at Trier’s cathedral to open the pilgrimage (from April 13 to May 13), which is being held on the anniversary of the first public exposition of the tunic five centuries ago.

Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier was “delighted” by the” honor” of seeing this pilgrimage opened by Cardinal Ouellet as Benedict XVI’s envoy.

The Sacred Tunic is the most important relic of Trier’s cathedral. According to tradition, it is the seamless tunic worn by Jesus before the crucifixion and taken by the Roman soldiers who cast lots for it (John 19:23-24).

Its presence in Trier goes back to the time of Constantine: the emperor’s mother, Saint Helena, who brought it from the Holy Land, gave it to the fifth bishop of the city, Saint Agrizius. The first official pilgrimage was held in 1512.

The diocese estimates that hundreds of thousands of visitors and pilgrims will come to Trier to venerate the relic.

The last exposition was held in 1996, an event described as “impressive” by Bishop Ackermann. This pilgrimage is “very important” for his diocese, he said, but it is also an occasion for the Church to manifest her goal of “leading humanity to Christ,” of putting it in contact with Him, he declared.

Bishop Ackermann believes the pilgrimage will be an opportunity for the whole Church in Germany. Groups from all over the country have already registered to take part. As well, there are pilgrims coming from neighboring countries and from all over the world.

He invited the members of his diocese to make good use of Lent, not only to prepare themselves for Easter, but also for the pilgrimage, which will take place with the theme: “And Bring Together What Is Separated” (“Und fuhre zusammen, was getrennt isat”).