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"[The Shroud] witnesses precisely to the unique and unrepeatable interval in the history of humanity and the universe, in which God, in Jesus Christ, shared not only our dying, but also our remaining in death. The most radical solidarity."
A voice in the dark
Benedict XVI reflected how in "that 'time-beyond-time' Jesus Christ 'descended into hell' -- 'agli inferi.'"
What does this mean, he asked? "It means that God, made man, went to the point of entering into the extreme and absolute solitude of man, where no ray of love enters, where there is total abandonment without any word of comfort: 'hell' ('gli inferi'). Jesus Christ, remaining in death, has gone beyond the gates of this ultimate solitude to lead us too to go beyond it with him."
The Pope compared this solitude to the childhood experience of fear of the dark, when only the presence of a loved one could bring comfort.
"So, it is exactly this that happened in Holy Saturday," he said. "In the kingdom of death there resounded the voice of God. The unthinkable happened: that Love penetrated 'into hell -- 'negli inferi' -- that in the most extreme darkness of the most absolute human solitude we can hear a voice that calls us and find a hand that takes us and leads us out.
"The human being lives by the fact that he is loved and can love; and if love even has penetrated into the realm of death, then life has also arrived there. In the hour of extreme solitude we will never be alone."