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Shroud of Turin
Millions of words have been written about the remarkable cloth preserved at Turin. More recently, most of these writings dealt with one basic question, was it the actual winding sheet of the crucified Christ, bearing an imprint of His body? Or was the whole thing a gigantic hoax? A fantastic forgery of the Middle Ages? Erudite men have lined up on both sides of that compelling query. Some of the facts about the Holy Shroud have something to do with the presence of human blood and other strong evidences of its authenticity, it intensified man’s curiosity. The researcher himself was also puzzled and came up with this study. In the words of John Walsh, “the facts here have always been available in newspapers, books, documents and human memory, but they have been difficult to gather. I have sought them, off and on, for four years, finally visiting Europe in the search. But I have not set them down here in any effort to convince. Indeed, the reader must come to his own conclusion.”(Walsh 1963, p: 1.) Being open minded to both parties the pros and cons plays an important part in conducting this research paper, as what authors Pickenett and Prince said “ Undertaking this study with a completely open mind, being equally ready to affirm that the shroud was absurd fraud, or to recognize its authenticity, but gradually forced to agree, on every single point that its markings were exact.”(Picknett & Prince 2000, p:5.). Thus, it was a test for scientist and experts to show how these evidences support the possibilities of its authenticity.
Statement of the problem
The purpose of this paper is twofold. It aims to excavate some of the evidences that supports the authenticity of the Holy Shroud of Turin specially for the skeptics, secondly is to furnish some brief and clear explanations to the evidences gathered. To achieve the said purpose the researcher formulated these questions:
1. What is Holy Shroud of Turin all about? its significance?
2. What is the history of the Shroud? Where does it come from?
3. What makes the Holy Shroud of Turin authentic?
Significance of the Study
If the Shroud was just an old piece of linen, something of little value then continued research would be a waste of time and effort. But because the potential meaning of the Shroud was so enormous, it compels continued focus until this “riddle of the ages” is finally solved. It’s like a puzzle with lost pieces or a mystery with missing clues. It beckons not just the researcher but all of us to press on until all the pieces are found and its mystery is revealed. Yet it was the mystery that makes it a captivating topic for study. This paper was limited to a study of cross section materials. No actual interviews with the scientists and the researcher didn’t go to Turin, Italy to examine the Shroud himself. Being systematic and following the right steps are musts in term paper writing. The researcher gathered all information needed and noted the source. Had read printed materials and had taken all essential information and evidences.
Discussion of the problem
For starters & the unfamiliar a picture of the shroud would be most appropriate. Examinations have been conducted along numbers of different lines, like history, anatomy, chemistry, medicine, photography and art history to prove its authenticity. In the year 1988 the Holy Shroud was subjected to Radio Carbon14 dating proclaiming it as a forgery. But there are other facts & evidences which makes the Holy Shroud authentic.
Problem One: What is the Holy Shroud of Turin all about?
The first public exposition of the Shroud that the researcher could remember was the one held in 1998 of April through June for two months at the Turin Cathedral it was a memorable event and a lot of pilgrims came to see it as televised on CNN. This led to the researcher’s interest to focus on this subject matter. The first impression that the researcher got was this is the actual cloth that wrapped our Savior. Simply that’s it with no further descriptions. “The most sacred and priceless piece of cloth on earth is a rectangular piece of ancient linen cloth 14ft. 3inches long & 3 ft 7 inches wide, kept in great care in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (Duomo San Giovanni) in Turin, Italy. Why is it so sacred and priceless? Because it is believed to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus which has a miraculous imprint of His full body with all the wound marks and body contour registered on the it as a faint sepia colored image. This cloth shows how Jesus looked, what types of wound he received at the crucifixion, and it proclaims the resurrection of Jesus in great power.” (Encyclopedia Britannica CD, 99.) Looking at the image alone one can see that the man was tortured and suffered a lot. These was justified in the words of Picknett and Prince, they stated that “down at the center of the cloth, taking up just 13ft of its total length , are two images showing the front and back of a naked, well proportioned man, “hinged” at the head. The cloth is believed to be a winding sheet, which means the corpse would have been laid on one half, and his front covered over with the other. The man is bearded, with very long hair hanging down the shoulders at the back, and stopping at shoulder length at the front. The hands are crossed modestly over the loins. The sole of one foot, dreadfully darkened with what appears to be blood, is clearly outlined on the image of the back.
The eye is drawn unmercifully to dark lines and splotches on the body apparently blood from several atrocious wounds. There are small pierced wounds on the head, and a round one on the visible wrist as if a nail had been driven through it. There is a wound as if from a large stab in the chest, blood from which also runs across the small of the back, and there are small flows of blood on the front of both feet and much more on the sole of one foot. Some believe that the face appears to be swollen and contused, and over hundred scourge marks have been counted on the back, wounds that also curl around the front of the body and legs. Obviously, judging by these horrific marks the man on the Shroud was or was supposed to be Jesus Christ.” (Picknett & Prince 2000, p:22-23.) ” It is a length of pale biscuit-colored linen, 14 ft, 3inches by 3 feet 7 inches with an additional 3 ½ inches strip on its left hand side. It bears various folds and blemishes accrued throughout its long life. Most conspicuous are the marks of fire in 1532, which burned through places, notably through the shoulders of the image. The burn holes (fourteen large ones and eight small ones) have been repaired with patches of the altar cloth, blackened areas still clearly visible around them. (A backing Holland cloth was added, and is still there today.) There are other isolated burns from specks of molten silver from the same fire.” (Picknett & Prince 2000, p:21-22.) John Walsh said while seeing the Shroud, “before them was a long narrow piece of cloth that had once been white but now had the tone of old ivory. It was about fourteen feet length and less than four feet wide. From one end to the other it presented a bewilderingly mottled appearance: a series of large and small patches, darkened areas, discoloration and brownish stains: though vague and diffused, they gave an irresistible of a human body.” (Walsh 1963, p:7.) Based from other sources the researcher gathered stated “that the Shroud of Turin is an ancient yellow linen cloth which bears the faded image of a bearded man covered with bloodstains which correspond to the wounds of crucifixion. The Shroud has been kept in Turin, Italy for over 400 years but has ha history that can be traced to the sixth century legends and a folklore going all the way back to the first century. Millions believe it to be the actual burial shroud of Jesus, National Geographic called it “one of the most perplexing enigmas of modern times.” Time magazine called it “Riddle of the Ages.” The Shroud is a fascinating blend of ancient history, sacred art, modern science and religious tradition.” (Multimedia World History CD, 95.)
On the other hand, “the Turin Shroud, a piece of linen cloth roughly 1 by 4 meters, covered the body of Jesus after His death. It bears the faint image of a human shape that becomes quite vivid in a photographic negative. Details show the marks of torture and crucifixion.” (Reader’s Digest Almanac of the Uncanny, 95.) All in all instead of a vague outline of a bearded man, there was a massively detailed photograph of a terribly wounded, terribly real body. The descriptions from the references gathered were all similar. For sure this image, this torn and tortured man could be no other than Jesus himself. The power of the Shroud is never to be underestimated.
Problem Two: What is the History of the Shroud? Where did it come from?
It is a must to look at the known history of the Shroud to pick up from a often biased and selective story where the most awesome relic in Christendom could possibly begun its career. Had it actually originated in a cold tomb in first-century Palestine? “The history of the Shroud of Turin can be best studied by dividing it into two specific categories. The general consensus of even the most doubting researches is to accept a “1350” date as the beginning of the “undisputed” or documented history of the Shroud of Turin. This also happens to coincide with the approximate date determined by the 1988 carbon dating of the cloth. Although there is a significant amount of evidence supporting the Shroud’s existence prior to the mid 1300’s, much more of it is, in fact, “circumstantial” and remains mostly unproven.” (Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia CD, 95.) In the words of Walsh “from the tomb to Turin is a tortuous journey. Upholders of the relic’s authenticity assert that it is the same burial cloth that was venerated by pilgrims in Jerusalem during the seventh century, and later taken to the Imperial Palace Chapel at Constantinople (now Turkey). When the Crusaders sacked that city in 1204, this Shroud along with other treasures disappeared. Around 1350, a French nobleman, Geoffroy de Charny donated a Shroud to a Church in the village of Lirey, near Troyes in north-eastern France. Where he obtain it is unknown, but believers insist it is the one that had been missing. A century later, one of Geoffroy’s offspring, Lady Marguerite, gave it to the House of Savoy. The family’s head, 71 years old ex King Umberto II, became the relic’s owner. It is a pedigree as full of holes, as fondly stuck together by tradition, as that of many formed relic.” (Walsh 1963, p: 75).
The same hold’s true on the CD ROM reference, “the Shroud surfaced during the Crusades when Pilgrims to the Near East brought back religious souvenirs. A linen Shroud that had been taken to Constantinople from Jerusalem was reported missing when Constantinople was sacked by the Crusades in 1204. In the 1350’s a Frenchman, named Geoffroi de Charny began displaying a shroud that he said came from the East. The bishop of Troyes, condemned it as a painted fake. The Charny family gave the Shroud to the Counts of Savoy. It has remained with them ever since and is now housed under the strictest security in Turin Cathedral.” (Encarta Encyclopedia CD, 96.) The Shroud only surfaced in 1357. If it were genuine, where was it before that? If it had existed, it would have been the most prized relic in Christendom; how could it have remained anonymous and unmentioned for well over a thousand years? This is what they categorized as the circumstantial history. This information that the researcher got from the internet tells the public that “in 1203, a French soldier with the Crusaders camped in Constantinople (who were responsible for the sack of the city the following year) noted that a church there exhibited every Friday the cloth in which Christ was buried, and “his figure could be plainly seen there” It is likely that this cloth and the Turin Shroud are the same, especially in view of the pollen evidence and the fact that these are the only known “Shrouds of Christ” with a body imprint.” (www.shroud2000.com). One of the essential highlights of the Holy Shroud of Turin was the Fire of 1532 which was also believed to have altered the age when it was subjected to Carbon dating. “During the Shroud’s long history, there was no lack of opportunity for restoration. In 1532, for instance, a fire broke out in the ducal palace chapel at Chambery, capital of Savoy, where the Shroud then reposed. Snatched from a silver casket that had begun to melt, the cloth was signed in places burned and stained by water used to fight the fire. Nuns of the order of Saint Clare patched the relic with fine linen and reinforced with strong canvas sewn to its back.” (Walsh 1963,p:79) “On December 4, 1532 fire broke out in the Sainte Chapelle, Chambery, seriously damaging all its furnishings and fittings. Because the Shroud was protected by four locks, canon Philibert Lambert and two Franciscan summon the help of a blacksmith to open the grille. By the time they succeed Marguerite of Austria’s Shroud casket reliquary as made to her orders by Lievin van Lathan has become melted beyond repair by the heat. But the Shroud folded inside is preserved by being scorched and holed by a drop of molten silver that fell on one corner.” (Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia CD, 95.)
The researcher’s curiosity about how the fire could have altered the date was justified. “The fire is important, not only because it caused to the cloth, but also it is constantly cited as evidences for some theory or another about how the image was formed, and it is regularly quoted as the reason for the “freak” carbon dating results. More recently there have been claims that the chemical in the linen interfered with the carbon dating results, making the cloth appear much younger than it was.” (Encyclopedia Britannica CD, 99.) “Last August 26 up to October 22, 2000 an eight weeks public exhibit of the Shroud is scheduled to commemorate the JUBILEE Anniversary of the birth of Jesus. It will mark the fifth such exposition of the Shroud since it was first photograph in 1898 and modern science took an interest in the cloth.” (www.shroud2000.com)
Problem Three: What makes the Shroud Authentic?
Part of the Shroud’s appeal to the believers was apparently something between a miraculous and a earthly object, a souvenir left by Jesus that was opened to the scrutiny of the twenty-first century. Science must take its steps and it was a necessity in order to provide answers to this most intriguing and beguiling relic of Christendom. The researcher was convinced that it is genuine and how dare could anyone fake the image of Christ. But evidences and proofs must be provided to the public reader to convince them about its authenticity. The researcher was not convince that the true identity of the Holy Shroud would be revealed by the Carbon Dating alone, as the usual way of predicting its age which can prove its authenticity if it dates back to the time of Christ. There are other evidences which can validate its authenticity. “The Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) comprised of over 40 scientists subjected the cloth in 1978 to five days of continuous and intensive scientific analysis. When their results were published in 1981, over 150,000 scientific man hours had been employed in the research and analysis. The research continues today. The Shroud has become the most thoroughly examined relic or artifact in the history of man. In 1988 the cloth was carbon dated to the 13th century. Recent research now questions the validity of those tests. No other artifact has received as much scientific focus as the Shroud and yet it remains a mystery. Some believe it to be a medieval hoax, yet the Shroud image and all of its uniqueness cannot be duplicated by any known physical process.
Although carbon dated to the Middle Ages it seems even more incredible that someone from that era could have artificially produced this remarkable image which has defied a scientific solution. Public interest in the Shroud rests entirely on the possibility of its authenticity. For the skeptic, carbon dating may have already provided the answer. But for those who seek a genuine solution to this "Riddle of the Ages", carbon dating only compounds the mystery. Despite a Medieval carbon age, there are many that say there is more to the story…” (Grolier Interactive Encyclopedia CD, 98.) In other sources, “the Shroud was carbon dated by three laboratories as being only 700 to 800 years old. This now poses the greatest dilemma for the proponents of the Shroud. The Shroud cannot be explained in a medieval context, because it presupposes medical, artistic. And historical knowledge of crucifixion practices totally unknown in the Middle Ages. It also contradicts other documentation pointing to a Middle East origin between 29 to 33 AD. The validity of the C-14 tests is now being seriously questioned due to issues of improper protocol such as relying only on one sample site for the text, the possible contamination of the sample, carbon enrichment due to the 1532 fire, or even the possibility of having dated a re-woven part of the Shroud since it was cut from outside edge (exactly where the C-14 experts say to avoid due to possibilities of excess contamination.) One cannot dismiss the Shroud’s authenticity based on the C-14 alone. Science must be in harmony to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. This is not the case with the Shroud. After the year 2000 more testing will be done that may answer some of these questions. In the meantime, the Shroud remains one of the greatest mystery stories of all times.” (www.shroud.com) “Primary Test Results from X-Ray-Fluorescene resulted that there was no detectable in elemental composition between image and non-image areas, and concluded that no inorganic pigments present. On X-Radiography resulted that there was no density discontinuities associated with the body image and therefore no substances manually applied to the cloth. On Photoelectric Spectrophotometry resulted that that there was no spectral characteristics of stains, dyes or pigments were detected in the image and non-image areas and therefore no typical artistic substances are on the cloth. Tests on the Ultraviolet Fluorescene resulted that there was no evidence of aromatic acids and therefore no collagen binder as would be used with paint.” (www.shroud.com)
The Holy Shroud of Turin is indeed not painted. As stated by Adam Otterbein, “photography has also been used to reduce the size of the two life-size images , thus defining then more clearly and anatomical details was thus revealed. The anatomical proportion of the two figures is superior to that of even the great masterpieces of painting. This fact and the absence of pigment from the cloth further weaken the painting theory.” (Otterbein 1996, p:250.) “Scientific evidence which came to light after the Shroud was photograph for the first time in, 1898 by Secondo Pia, strengthens the view that the image was not painted but an actual imprint of a human corpse. It was then discovered that the image is a negative one like a photographic negative in which light areas appear dark and dark areas appears light. Before the discovery of photography (in about 1840), knowledge of negative images was limited. With this discovery, the possibility that the image had been painted became consequently more remote.”(Otterbein 1996, p: 250.) “Air Force Scientist John Jackson and Eric Jumper, using a sophisticated image enhancement analyzer designed for the space program, discovered the shroud image contained encoded 3-D data not fount in ordinary reflected light photographs. This discovery indicated that the cloth must have been enfolded around a real human figure at the time the image was formed.” (www.shroud.com) Other strong evidences that can subject the Shroud to its authenticity, “Microbiologist said there was a bacteria coating on the threads that could have altered the dating. Other expert said in 1532 fire that nearly destroyed the cloth altered the date. Renowned art experts said it’s not a painting and no artist could have produced it. Medical experts say it’s the image of a real human being. Blood Chemist say it is human blood from actual wounds. Spectroscopist say there was no evidence of paint binder. X-ray radiographers said there was no metallic based substances as might be used in paint. Spectroscopist said there was no significant trace of paint, ink, dye, pigment or stain. Textile experts said there are particles of Egyptian cotton indicating a Mid East origin. Botanist said pollen on the Shroud was from Israel and surrounding areas. Microscopists say limestone particles were similar to the hills around Jerusalem. Photographers said the image was a negative that becomes positive in a photonegative. DNA experts said there was evidence of human genomes found from blood cells.
Anthropologist said that the man appears to be a Semitic Jew from 30-40 years of age. Jewish scholars said that the Shroud was consistent with the 1st century Jewish burial practice. Archeologist said that the Shroud shows details of crucifixion unknown to the Middle Ages. Coroners said the body shows evidence of rigor mortis. Chemist said there was no evidence of body decomposition. Physicist said the image was the result of a dehydrated cellulose. Theorists say such dehydration may have been produced by heat light or radiation.” (www.infoseek.com/holyshroud) Was the body outline blood? Based from the internet information, “The blood is in fact blood. Dr. John Heller confirmed by presence of heme, porphyrins and serum albumin. Confirmed also by spectographic analysis. According to Dr. Al Alder and Dr. Gil Lavoie, ‘the blood marks seen on the Shroud were consistent with a contract transfer to the cloth of blood dot exudates that would have resulted from major wounds inflicted on a man who died in the position of crucifixion. Also according to Dr. Sam Pellicori, the remarkably fine detailing of the scourge marks, revealed by ultraviolet flourescence would be impossible to obtain by any other means that direct contact a body and the linen.” (www.holyrelics.com) “Pollen particles were also discovered and according to noted Israeli Botanist and a professor of Hebrew University, Avinoam Danin confirmed Dr. Alan Whanger’s discovery of flower images on the Shroud. Of the 28 images found, pollen for 27 of them were confirmed to be from plants around Jerusalem. This evidence suggested that the shroud was used for an actual burial in the land of Israel. Max Frei, anoted criminologist, was given permission to take dust samples from the Shroud which contained pollen. He discovered 22 pollen species from plants that were unique to areas around Constantinople and Edessa, and seven pollen species from plants common only to the Middle East. The pollen trail confirmed the historical trail.” (www.yahoo.com/theshroudofturin) The body was also proportionate as the researcher thought it would be even in the first glimpse of the Holy Shroud this notion was proven by Dr. Pierre Barbet, a prominent French surgeon, published his landmark book, A doctor at Calvary documenting 15 years of medical research on the Shroud image. He described “the physiology and pathology of the man on the shroud an “Anatomically Perfect.” (www.shroud.com) Biblical accounts were also included in this research which corresponds to the imprints on the Shroud.
According to the gospel account of St. Matthew, “then Pilate’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s palace, and the whole company gathered around Him. They stripped off His clothes and put a scarlet robe on him. Then they made a crown out of thorny branches and place it on his head, and put a dark stick in his right hand, then they knelt before Him and made fun of Him. Long live the King of the Jews!’ they said. They spat on Him, and took the stick and hit him over the head. When they had finished making fun of Him, they took the robe off and put his own clothes back on Him. Then they led Him out to crucify Him.” (Matthew, the Disciple. Good News Bible, 95.p:47.) The theory that the researcher has regarding on the body imprinted on the cloth was by mere contact with the severely wounded body alone of the tortured Christ. This idea was supported by scientific theories. “One of the favorite theories of scientific Shroudies was that the image was not in itself a miracle, but that it was the by product of one, the Resurrection. This is the Nuclear Flash Theory by STURP co-founder John Jackson and taken up enthusiastically by many others. They suggest that, as the image resembles a scorch mark, it was caused by a split second burst of high energy radiation emanating from Jesus’ body as it regenerated. Since the carbon dating, believers have hastily capitalized on this theory: hey claim that if the Shroud had been subjected to a blast of radiation, the amount of radioactive Carbon-14 would have increased and the Shroud would appear to be much younger than it really is.” (Picknett & Prince 2000, p:103.) There was a second category of theories to account for the formation of the image. “The rare natural process, chemical reaction between the body of Jesus and the cloth of the Shroud. The first such idea was Paul Vignon’s “Vapourographic Theory,” put forward in the early years of this century. He speculated that the cloth was impregnated with aromatic oils that contained myrrh and aloes which reacted aith ammonia gas given off by the body. The corpse of people who die after prolonged torture and covered with sweat with an unusually high urea content, in which ammonia was abundant. Vignon carried out some experiments with these substances and after much trial and error, he was able to produce vaguely shroud like stains.” (Picknett & Prince 2000, p:106.)
The Biblical reports of Jesus’ burial are brief the evening of his death, the researcher red in news clippings regarding Matthew’s Gospel, “a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph , begged the body of Jesus wrapped it in clean linen cloth, and laid in his new tomb, which he had hewn out of the rock. ”John, the disciple who was present at the cross, adds that Joseph and Nicodemus, who brought a large amount of aloes mixed with myrrh, spread these spices on the linen as they wrapped Christ’s body for burial.” Tessa Lobregat said “the resurrected Savior left the “Linen cloth” lying in the tomb, and a small head cloth folded in a place apart. Medical men speculated that ammonia escaping from the body caused a chemical reaction in conjunction with the aloes on the sheet, or that the body’s moisture soaked the aloes, staining the linen whenever it adhered to it. Possibly as Jesus stirred to Resurrection, something like an electric flash broke from the body and produced the image.” (Lobregat 1996, p:13 cols 1-6.)
This research paper needs a lot of time and effort. As of now arguments still rage about the Holy Shroud’s authenticity but the researcher was convinced enough that it was genuine based on certain facts. Ironically, if it turns out to be the work of some unknown medieval artist-genius, the message doesn’t change! Whether it is authentic or not, this is what the Shroud represents. The message doesn’t change; it remains the same. The researcher views the Shroud as a picture that speaks every language. It speaks to the simple and the sophisticated, to the illiterate and the intellectual. In a sense, it is scripture in a picture! When the researcher focused on the message of the Shroud instead of being preoccupied with whether it is authentic or not, the Shroud becomes a powerful way of presenting the Gospel message while fascinating public readers with its mystery. What is that message? It is the message of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels. There is no difference. They are identical, and the conveyance of that message does not hinge on the Shroud’s authenticity. As with so many things in life, it is not the destination that is all that important, but rather the journey itself. So it is with the Shroud. If experts finally prove it one way or the other, it would be far less interesting. The mystery would be gone. Even if it were proven authentic and found to be first century after all, would the world suddenly believe the claims of Christ? Doubtful indeed. That’s why it will probably always remain a mystery. Why? Because that’s how God works, in mysterious ways. The great truths of God are all mysteries that are revealed only to the individual who invests the time and effort to discover them. God purposely hides himself and is found by those who indicate more than just a casual or occasional interest. The same holds true for the Shroud. It is the message that matters and the message of the Shroud is the message of the Gospel. As the researcher it is faith that makes one a true believer. In conducting a research paper an individual must be systematic and true to his work. That is the basic thing to do. In the words of John Walsh, “Only this much certain: The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Jesus Christ in existence showing in its dark simplicity how He appeared to men or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever, products of the human mind and hand on record. It is one or the other, there is no middle ground.” (Walsh 1963, p: 171.)
BibliographyA. Books Matthew, The Disciple. “Matthew 27, 27-30: The Soldiers Make Fun of Jesus.” Good News Bible. Manila: Philippine Bible Society Press, 1995.
Picknett, Lynn & Clive Prince. Turin Shroud In Whose Image? London.: Transworld Publishers, 2000.
Walsh, John. The Shroud. N.Y.: Random House Inc., 1963.
B. EncyclopediasOtterbein C. SS. R., Adam J. ”Holy Shroud.” The Catholic Encyclopedia for School and Home. 1965 ed.
“Great Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Shroud of Turin.” Reader’s Digest Almanac of the Uncanny. 1995 ed.
C. Periodical Lobregat, Tessa. “The Shroud of Turin.” Sun Star Cagayan de Oro Tribune. 31 May 1996, p.13, cols 1-6.
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_______, _______.”Shroud of Turin.” Grolier Interactive Multimedia Encyclopedia CD. 1998 ed.
_______, _______. “The Holy Shroud of Turin .” Encarta Encyclopedia CD. 1996 ed.
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