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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 15: Sept. 2022
Poem: 367 words
By Roberto Christiano

The Question of Questions

Blessed are they who have not seen
and have believed.
Faith is not a place for science. 
Faith is not a place for facts. 
Facts are slippery things in 2022. 
Even that which appears concrete 
is fluid and the fluid unassailable. 

What do Christian scholars 
seek with the Shroud of Turin? 
Proof of the real and actual 
burial cloth of Jesus? 
Didn’t Helena, mother of Constantine, 
seek the same in the finding of the true cross? 
Unless the world can touch the true cross 
they will not believe. 

On October 13, 1917, 
thousands in Fatima, Portugal, 
believers and unbelievers alike, 
awaiting a sign from the mother of God, 
saw the sun lose its assigned place in the sky 
and begin to twirl, and then it seemed, 
appeared, or did fall to the ground. 
Was it true? Was it real? Was it mass hysteria? 

How was the Shroud of Turin produced? 
Is this the question of questions? 
If miraculously produced, 
then is it the shroud of Jesus? 
If it is the shroud, does that make me 
or anyone more of a believer? 

Honestly, I am more attracted 
to the Veil of Veronica, 
a nonexistent artifact whose 
sources are apocryphal at best. 
Veronica out of compassion 
offers Jesus on the Via Dolorosa 
a cloth to wipe away 
the sweat and blood, 
and he in turn leaves the imprint 
of his face, his being, his soul, 
the eternal reflected image 
of the man of sorrow on linen. 

You chose the story 
you want to believe, 
Father Joe once told me. 

The scholars say The Shroud 
is the shroud of a crucified man. 
Of that they are certain, for the most part. 
What is truth? Pilate asked. 
I say truth is a slippery thing. 

If the shroud is of a crucified man, 
and I am inclined to believe that much is true, 
then the horror of crucifixion is well preserved 
and that horror calls for more questions. 

Have we become numb to mandated executions? 
What violence do we ignore in order to be Christian? 
I remember a preacher saying that if Jesus were executed today, 
we might all be wearing little electric chairs around our necks.



—Finalist in “The Question of Questions” Ekphrastic Writing Challenge



Publisher’s Note:

John 20:29: “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (The Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011).

Roberto Christiano
Issue 15, September 2022

is the author of a poetry collection, Port of Leaving (Finishing Line Press, 2022). He has received two back-to-back awards for seasonal poetry from writer.org, the online arm of The Writer’s Center of Bethesda, as well as a 2010 Pushcart nomination from Prairie Schooner. His poetry is anthologized in The Gávea–Brown Book of Portuguese-American Poetry (Brown University), and has also appeared in Beltway Quarterly, Delmarva Review, Hiram Poetry Review, New Verse News, Poetry Quarterly, The Ekphrastic Review, The Sow’s Ear, and The Washington Post.

Christiano won the 2010 Fiction Award from The Northern Virginia Review for his story “The Care of Roses.” Two of his short plays were produced at the Source Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Author’s website: https://robertochristiano.weebly.com/

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

And the Stars Were Shining, creative nonfiction by Roberto Christiano first published in Delmarva Review (Volume 12), and republished in The Chestertown Spy (Arts: 5 September 2020)

Requiem for the Tree of Life, poem in New Verse News (20 November 2018)

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