The most precious relic in Trier Cathedral is the Holy Robe, the tunic of Christ. According to tradition, the Empress Dowager Helena brought the seamless robe of Christ to Trier. The Holy Robe is mentioned for the first time in the 11th century; the history of the Holy Robe is documented with certainty only from the 12th century, when it was removed from the west choir to the new altar in the east choir on May 1, 1196.
Opening of the high altar in the presence of Emperor Maximilian under Archbishop Richard of Greiffenklau and the first pilgrimage to the Holy Robe
1513, 1514, 1515, 1516, 1517, 1524, 1538, 1545, 1655, 1810, 1844, 1891, 1933, 1959, 1996, 2012
Since the Cathedral renovation in 1974, the Holy Robe has been kept in its wooden shrine from 1891, lying under an air-conditioned glass shrine. The last great pilgrimage, in 1996, became a celebration of all the faithful, with its continuation in the annual Holy Robe Days. Only during the Holy Robe Days is the Holy Robe chapel accessible, but the garment cannot be viewed. The original state of the textile has altered because of past events and the unfavorable storage conditions, as repairs have frequently been made.´
The question of the genuineness ot the Holy Robe cannot not be answered with certainty. For the faithful, the symbolism is important: the relic signifies Jesus Christ Himself, His incarnation and the other events in His life up to the crucifixion and His death. The undivided and seamless garment is also a symbol of undivided Christianity and evokes the binding power of God, as ist expressed in the Trier pilgrim's prayer:
"Jesus Christ, Savior and Redeemer, have mercy on us and all the word. Be mindful of Thy Church and bring together what is diveded. Amen."
Text: Dr. Franz Ronig, Professor
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