2002

“And have you seen the Shroud?” Kristina was asking of Cass Cleave. “Our famous Sindone”. My memory snapped its fingers: sindone, not signore. Kristina set off walking again, and Cass Cleave and I turned and walked with her, me to the right and she to the left; Kristina was half a head shorter than Cass Cleaves; I looked down at the little woman’s lustreless hair, then up again at my girl, and grinned, and winked. My biographer. “Professor Vander has been reading to us,” Kristina said, still with her head down but addressing Cass. ” ‘Effacement and Real Presence’ “, a chapter from his famous book. I was surprised”, glancing up at me now, “that you did not mention the Shroud: effacement, you see.” She laughed shortly. “They say it is the first self-portrait. Always think it was the Magdalene who held the cloth, not Veronica. But Magdalene was hair, is that not so?”

John BanvilleShroud. Picador, London 2002

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