Burial Cloth

Shroud of Turin, ItalyThe Shroud is a burial cloth made from herring-bone linen, 4.37m long, and 1.11m wide that bears the image of a crucified man. The image on the cloth is a double image of the front and back of a man with wounds to the face, left wrist, feet, and right side of the chest. Many believe the image to be that of Jesus of Nazareth. However, the debate about whether the Shroud is that of Jesus of Nazareth or merely a medieval forgery has raged over the years. It is the single most studied artifact in history and to this date, no clear conclusion has been reached on its authenticity.

The Shroud’s First Appearance

The first known existence of the Shroud was in the 14th century when Geoffrey de Charny (a French noble) gave the linen sheet as a gift to the church he had built in Lirey. However, the Shroud was believed to have been kept in the basilica of Saint Mary of Blachemes in Constantinople during the 5th century.

The Journey of the Shroud

In 1453 the Shroud was given to Ludovic of Savoy where it was eventually moved to Turin in 1578. The Shroud, having been in the possession of the Kings of Savoy for 5 centuries, was later entrusted to the Holy See (Vatican) in accordance with the will of the former King of Italy. The Shroud has been damaged by various fires throughout the centuries. In 1532 the Shroud was damaged in Chambery, causing 12 holes that were repaired by the Poor Clares (Clarisse nuns). The Shroud also suffered water stains when attempts were made to put out a fire. In 1997 the Holy Shroud came close to being lost forever when a fire broke out in the Cathedral. Fortunately, it was rescued without any damage. During World War II (1939-1945) the Shroud was secretly transferred to the Sanctuary of Montevergine in Avellino before being returned to Turin.

For All to See

In 1998 Pope John Paul II announced that during the Jubilee Year 2000, the Shroud of Turin would be exhibited in the Chapel of Turin for 70 days. The motto for the exhibition chosen by Archbishop of Turin was “Your face, my Lord, I seek”.

So Many Theories, So Few Conclusions

For centuries, questions about the authenticity of the Shroud have been raised. Even with today’s technology, no clear result from testing has put the questions to rest. As you can imagine there are so many theories about the Shroud, that I wouldn’t have enough space to write about them all. So instead, I have listed a few theories, discrepancies, and updates about the Shroud with related websites for you to help draw your own conclusions to this fascinating historical artifact.

The first (and most controversial) theory about the Shroud, is that the negative image of the crucified man is in fact Jesus of Nazareth. The Shroud, being the burial cloth that he was wrapped in following his death. Regardless of advanced technology and testing, this theory has never been totally dispelled and gathering by the enormous queues during the 2000 showing of the Shroud, it will be a hard one to ever to disprove.

The Shroud is a 14th century painted forgery, painted using iron oxide in an animal protein binder.

In 1898, after the Shroud was photographed for the first time, it was discovered that the image on the cloth was in fact the negative impression of the person. This information blew the painting forgery theory out of the water, as it would have been near impossible to replicate such a feat, even by the greatest forger.

A recent book by Picknet and Prince, “Turin Shroud: In Whose Image?” suggests that the Shroud was an early photographic attempt by Leonardo Da Vinci. It had long been thought that Da Vinci painted his subject matters in his own likeness (even Mona Lisa!).

The Shroud is Jacques de Molay, who was the last Grand Master of the Knights of Templar. In 1307, Jacques de Morlay was tortured and executed, his body was wrapped in a shroud and the shroud was later kept by the knights. The lactic acid and blood from the body, reacted with the frankincense (used on burial cloths) to create the negative image.

A high burst of radiation produced the image on the cloth. Evidently, following the explosion of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, pieces of glass were found with the negative image of people’s faces on them. It is believed they were standing near windows when the explosion occurred. This raised the theory that the Shroud could have been exposed to high bursts of radiation or heat, which could have created negative imprinting.

In 2004, Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo, researchers at the University of Padua in Italy, discovered a faint image of a second face on the back of the Shroud of Turin.