TURIN, ITALY (CNN) – The shroud of Turin, which some Christians believe is Jesus Christ’s burial cloth, went on public display Saturday for the first time since it was restored in 2002.

About two million people – including Pope Benedict XVI – are expected to view the shroud while it’s on view at the Turin Cathedral for the next six weeks.

The shroud, which bears the image of a face that some Christians say is Jesus’, was restored eight years ago to remove a patchwork repair done by 16th-century nuns after the cloth was damaged in a fire.

Many scholars contest the shroud’s authenticity, saying it dates to the Middle Ages, when purported biblical relics – like splinters from Jesus’ cross – surfaced across Europe.

“The shroud owner said it in 1355 … the local bishop said it was a forgery and even the pope of that time said it was a fake,” said Antonio Lombatti, a church historian.

The Catholic Church’s official position regarding the shroud – Christianity’s most famous relic – is that it’s an important tool for faith regardless of its authenticity.

The archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Severino Poletto, tells visitors to view the shroud with their hearts rather than their minds.

“It is a man who’s had this horrible set of injuries, lying in death, but the face has a kind of transcendental quality about it,” said David Rolfe, a filmmaker whose latest project argues for the shroud’s authenticity, in describing the relic.

Rolfe’s film, “Shroud,” was made at the Catholic Church’s invitation to coincide with the relic’s exhibition.

The pope will fly to Turin to visit the shroud May 2, according to the Catholic News Agency.

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