Some two million people are expected to view the Shroud of Turin, the purported burial cloth of Jesus Christ, when it goes on public display for the first time in 10 years shortly, officials say.
"We have already reached a million'' people who have reserved their chance to view the relic in the northern Italian city from April 10 to May 23, Turin alderman Fiorenzo Alfieri told a news conference today.
Organisers said in a statement that two million people are expected to view the relic, which is said to have been imprinted with an image of Christ's body, notably his face.
It is among the most revered as well as the most disputed in Christendom.
Radiocarbon dating analysis in 1988 determined that the fibres in the cloth date from the Middle Ages, sometime between 1260 and 1390, but those findings have in turn been challenged.
Pope Benedict XVI will pay homage to the shroud on May 2.
The Shroud of Turin last went on public display in 2000 on the occasion of the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Days, held that year in Rome.
Benedict said last June that his visit would be "a propitious occasion to contemplate this mysterious visage that speaks silently to the heart of men, inviting them to recognise the face of God.''
The rectangular piece of cloth measuring 4.4 by 1.1 metres was discovered in the French city of Troyes, southeast of Paris, in the mid-14th century.