Research suggests the Shroud of Turin -- said to be Jesus' burial cloth -- was hidden by medieval knights for more than a century, the Vatican said Sunday.
The Vatican's weekly newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said a researcher in the Vatican Secret Archives has found a document that suggests the shroud was hidden by the Knights Templar and secretly venerated for more than 100 years during the 13th century.
A similar relic is known to have been worshipped in Constantinople, and to have disappeared from there during the sack of the city by Crusaders, including Knights Templar, in 1204.
Researcher Barbara Frale told the newspaper that the missing years had long puzzled historians. The findings are based on a document which includes an account of a Templar initiation rite in 1287 of a young Frenchman, Arnaut Sabbatier.
"(I was) shown a long piece of linen on which was impressed the figure of a man and told to worship it, kissing the feet three times," said the document.