ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview
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ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview

Otangelo Grasso: This is my library, where I collect information and present arguments developed by myself that lead, in my view, to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation for the origin of the physical world.

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From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny

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From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny

On Amazon:
From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny

Kindle version:

The infographic panels can be downloaded here:

Joe Marino, Author of: The 1988 C-14 Dating Of The Shroud of Turin: A Stunning Exposé
Grasso’s book is an up-to-date treatment of the mysterious Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the actual burial cloth in which Jesus was buried, although there are numerous skeptics who believe the Shroud is nothing but a clever medieval forgery.
     Grasso painstakingly examines all aspects of the Shroud and incorporates recent “infographics,” with its many excellent photos and graphics that complement the text.  He meticulously analyzes the Shroud’s correspondence with the gospel accounts; a detailed look at the mechanics of crucifixion; the Shroud’s possible history back to the 1st century; the science of the Shroud from the first photos taken in 1898; the extensive 1978 examination of the Shroud by “The Shroud of Turin Research Project;” the unique image properties of the images, including blood, pollen and 3D information; the infamous C-14 dating in 1988; various proposed hypotheses of how it could have been faked;  the virtual impossibility of it having been forged, textile analysis, including Old Testament and New Testament background;  a look at the Sudarium of Oviedo, believed by some to be the face cloth mentioned in the Gospel of John; the Shroud’s link with the Resurrection, the implications of the Shroud and addresses common objections against the Shroud’s authenticity.

This is one of the finest books on the Shroud available and should be in the library of anyone interested in the Shroud. 

Robert A. Rucker, nuclear engineer, www.shroudresearch.net 
The 2024 book “From Forensics to Faith” by Otangelo Grasso covers extensive discussion of all essential topics related to the Shroud of Turin in about 540 pages.  This includes what can be seen on the Shroud (Chapter 1), history of the Shroud (Chapters 2 to 4), scientific examination (Chapters 5 and 6) and carbon dating of the Shroud (Chapters 7), how the images were produced (Chapters 8 and 9), fabric, blood, and other evidence (Chapters 10 to 13), comparison of the Shroud to Biblical evidence (Chapters 14 to 20), and meaning of the Shroud for us today (Chapters 21 and 22).  Of special delight is the images created by the author related to the Shroud and Jesus, especially Jesus’ face on the cover of the book that was produced from the front image on the Shroud.  What a delight it would be to leave this book face up on your coffee table or other prominent location to allow others to see the face of the most important person who ever lived.    

The Shroud is the empirical link to the gospels, confirming all the narratives as true. Discovered to be photonegative in 1898 by Secondo Pia, the negative of the Shroud's image revealed a more distinct and detailed view of the man's face and body, enhancing the realism and depth of the figure.  Further intrigue was added in 1976 when analysis with a VP-8 Image Analyzer revealed encoded 3D information in the Shroud's image, unlike any conventional 2D image, indicating a unique image formation process. And now, using modern advanced AI tools, Otangelo Grasso was able to get a very close realistic image of how the man on the Shroud that many believe to be Jesus looked like in real life.

The photonegative, and 3D characteristic strengthens the case for the authenticity of the Shroud.  Pollen grains found on the Shroud have been traced to plants native to the regions around Jerusalem, lending geographical credibility to its origins. The weave and textile patterns of the linen cloth are consistent with materials available in the first century, aligning with the historical period of Jesus's life and death. The bloodstains on the Shroud have been analyzed and identified as type AB, with properties consistent with genuine human blood, containing traces of bilirubin, a compound produced by the human body in response to severe torture. The image on the Shroud resides on the utmost surface of the linen cloth, and investigations by the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) confirmed it is not a painting, adding to its enigma.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny First_10

In November 2022, I visited the Othonia Atheneum Apostolorum Shroud Exposition in Rome. Upon returning home, it struck me that the informational panels I had seen were nearly two decades old, dating back to 2005. Considering the advancements and discoveries made in the scientific study of the Shroud since then, I felt a compelling need to update these materials. Motivated by the significant developments in understanding the Shroud's imagery, I embarked on a project to create a new series of infographics. These were designed to be more visually driven and less reliant on text, reflecting the latest insights. From December 2023 to January 2024, I crafted 20 such infographics and compiled comprehensive background information to support each panel. This endeavor culminated in the creation of a book that presents this updated and enriched perspective on the Shroud.

Chapter 1 Intro and description of the Shroud & History of the Shroud
Chapter 2 6th. to 14th. century of the Shroud
Chapter 3 Secondo Pia's 1898 discovery
Chapter 4 3d Information on the Shroud
Chapter 5 STURP Investigation from 1978 
Chapter 6 The Radiocarbon dating
Chapter 7 The Shroud, a forgery?
Chapter 8 How was the image made?
Chapter 9  The Flagellation
Chapter 10 Head Wounds, and the Crown of Thorns
Chapter 11 The Sorrowful Path 
Chapter 12 Golgotha - Calvary - The Crucifixion 
Chapter 13 The death
Chapter 14 The burial
Chapter 15 The Resurrection 
Chapter 16 The Linen
Chapter 17 The Blood
Chapter 18 Pollen, Limestone, and Micro traces
Chapter 19 Bought, Purchased, Randomed and Redeemed 
Chapter 209 Addressing Common Objections about the Shroud & Some Renderings & Images

Chapter 1

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Panel110

What is the Shroud of Turin?

Bible References To The Burial Shroud Of Jesus
1. Matthew 27:59
And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud
2. Mark 15:46
And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
3. Luke 23:53
Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.
4. John 19:40
So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
5. John 20:5
And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.
6. John 20:6
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,
7. John 20:7
and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.

The Shroud of Jesus presents an image that captures a pivotal moment, the most important event in human history: the resurrection of Christ. It acts as a physical validation of the narratives found in the New Testament, underscoring the veracity of the teachings and prophecies of both the Old and New Testaments concerning the Messiah. This remarkable relic is a divine testament, providing tangible evidence of God's power. It is also the receipt of the unfathomably high price paid through the sacrifice made by Christ, shedding his blood on the cross for our sins. Those who investigate and study it will find undeniable evidence that strengthens their faith, alleviates uncertainties, dispels any doubts, and brings hope, joy, and peace into their hearts. We are not alone. The sentiment it evokes affirms the belief that we have a benevolent, loving creator, that has a plan individually for each of us, that extends into all eternity. We are created by Him, to live with Him and to be a part of His family. The purpose of our existence is simple and elegant: To love God, to love others, and to be loved by Him.

The facial features of the man on the shroud, while indistinct, convey a sense of nobility, Lordship, peace, serenity, and solemnity. The eyes are closed, giving an impression of peace or repose.

The Shroud, commonly called the Shroud of Turin is a piece of linen cloth that bears the image of a man who has been crucified. It is a rectangular linen cloth measuring approximately 14.3 feet by 3.7 feet and is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. There is powerful evidence the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, that bears his actual image. The image on the shroud appears as a negative image ( like a negative of a photograph)  and has most likely been formed by the imprint of the body that had been wrapped in the cloth after death.  The Gospels do describe the burial of Jesus in a linen cloth, which is a reference to the shroud. The Gospels describe Joseph of Arimathea taking Jesus' body, wrapping it in a clean linen cloth, and placing it in his tomb (Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:46, Luke 23:53). The Gospel of John also mentions the burial cloth, stating that Nicodemus helped Joseph of Arimathea prepare Jesus' body for burial by bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes. They took Jesus' body, and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices, according to Jewish burial customs (John 19:38-40). Scientists have inferred that a burst of 34 thousand billion Watts of vacuum-ultraviolet radiation produced a discoloration on the uppermost surface of the Shroud’s fibrils (without scorching it), which gave rise to a perfect three-dimensional negative image of both the frontal and dorsal parts of the body wrapped in it.

Rigor Mortis and the Crucifixion Imprint

Rigor mortis, the postmortem stiffening of muscles, is a critical forensic marker for determining the time elapsed since death. This process begins within 2 to 6 hours of death, initially affecting smaller muscles such as those in the jaw and neck, before progressing to the larger muscles of the limbs. The condition typically encompasses the entire body within 12 hours and remains for up to 72 hours before the onset of decomposition causes it to dissipate.
When rigor mortis is observed in the extremities, such as the feet, it signifies that the phenomenon has advanced through its initial stages and reached the lower parts of the body, indicating that a considerable period has passed since the individual's death. This is particularly relevant in forensic analysis when a body is discovered in a position reminiscent of crucifixion. The detection of rigor mortis in the lower limbs not only confirms the passage of time since death but also suggests that the body was maintained in a suspended state for an extended duration postmortem. The body's posture at the time of death can significantly influence the manifestation of rigor mortis. In cases where the body is suspended, the force of gravity may accelerate the stiffening process in the lower limbs. This aspect is crucial for forensic experts as they work to reconstruct the death timeline and understand the circumstances surrounding the individual's final moments. The comprehensive analysis of rigor mortis, along with other postmortem changes such as livor mortis and algor mortis, aids forensic investigators in estimating the postmortem interval more accurately. This thorough examination is essential for a deeper understanding of the events leading to and following death. The Shroud offers a unique case study in this regard. The detailed imprints on the Shroud are consistent with the forensic expectations of a crucified individual, providing insights into the posture and the nature of the wounds. The positioning of the body, as evidenced by the Shroud, aligns with the known effects of crucifixion and subsequent rigor mortis, offering a tangible link to ancient practices and the conditions of the period. This alignment between the Shroud's evidence and forensic science underscores the value of interdisciplinary studies in uncovering historical truths, further enriching our understanding of significant historical events and figures.

Crucifixion Mechanics and the Certainty of Death

The method of crucifixion, a historical execution practice, is characterized by its excruciating and prolonged nature. The positioning and nailing of the feet played a significant role in the victim's ability to prolong life during this agonizing process. The use of two nails for one foot and a single nail for the other was not merely a matter of convenience or cruelty; it served a specific purpose in the mechanics of crucifixion. This arrangement allowed for one foot to have a limited range of movement, enabling the victim to alternately push up to breathe and then relax, a cycle that could be sustained only while the victim remained alive. This ability to push up was crucial for the victim to stave off asphyxiation, as the crucifixion posture severely impeded normal respiration. The cessation of this movement was a clear indicator of death. Observers, particularly the Roman soldiers tasked with carrying out and overseeing executions, were well-versed in these signs. Their expertise in such matters was critical, given the Roman emphasis on ensuring the death of the condemned. The historical accounts indicating that the soldiers did not feel the need to break Jesus' legs, as was customary to hasten death in crucifixion if the victim was still alive, underscores their certainty of His death. This practice of breaking the legs, known as crurifragium, was a brutal method to induce rapid asphyxiation, ensuring the victim could no longer lift themselves to breathe. The narrative that the soldiers refrained from breaking Jesus' legs due to their confidence in His death aligns with the forensic analysis of crucifixion techniques and the physiological effects on the human body. This congruence between historical descriptions and modern forensic understanding lends support to the authenticity of the accounts of Jesus' death on the cross. Furthermore, the detailed analysis of crucifixion practices, including the specific use of nails in the feet, enriches our comprehension of the historical and physical realities of this form of capital punishment, providing a deeper context to the events described in historical texts.

The 1532 Fire

In 1532, a significant event tested the resilience of the revered cloth: a fire broke out in the church where it was safeguarded. This calamity led to the formation of two distinct scorch lines flanking the central image on both the front and dorsal sides, a testament to the intensity of the flames that threatened its destruction. Additionally, the aftermath of the rescue efforts is marked by water stains, remnants of the urgent attempts to quench the fire and save the cloth by dousing the metal container in which it was stored. The fire's heat, while causing damage, did not alter the image's integrity in a manner consistent with the application of organic compounds. If the image had been the result of such materials, the intense heat would likely have caused a gradation in the discoloration intensity, fading or altering the image in a discernible pattern. However, the absence of such gradation provides compelling evidence against the theory that the image was crafted using organic pigments or dyes. This resilience of the image, despite the exposure to extreme conditions, adds another layer of intrigue to the cloth's history. It suggests that the method of the image's formation is unlike any known artistic or chemical application, supporting the argument for its authenticity. The survival of the image, undistorted by the fire's heat, aligns with the understanding that the image's formation is not merely the result of human craftsmanship but possibly of a profound and mysterious event. The 1532 fire, rather than diminishing the cloth's value, has inadvertently contributed to its historical and scientific examination. The scorch marks and water stains have become part of its unique fingerprint, providing additional data points for researchers. These features offer insights into the cloth's material resilience and the conditions it has endured, further enriching the ongoing dialogue about its origins and the circumstances surrounding the image it bears.

Understanding the Patches and Patterns on the Shroud

In the wake of the 1532 fire, a meticulous effort was undertaken to preserve the integrity of the sacred cloth. The fire's aftermath left parts of the cloth charred, necessitating the removal of the damaged material. These areas were carefully restored with patches, a testament to the dedication to preserving this invaluable artifact for future generations. The distribution of these patches, along with the scorch marks, traces back to the cloth's folded state during the calamity, revealing a pattern that speaks volumes about the event's impact on the cloth. How the cloth was folded meant that a single corner bore the brunt of the fire's damage. This resulted in multiple sections, once unfolded, displaying the need for repair and thus the subsequent placement of patches. The pattern formed by these repairs and the scorch marks provide a unique insight into the cloth's condition at the time of the fire, illustrating how a moment of crisis has become an integral part of its history. The strategic placement of these patches, mirroring the scorch marks, not only served a restorative purpose but also added a new layer to the cloth's rich tapestry of history. Each patch, carefully sewn into place, represents a chapter in the ongoing story of the cloth's survival and reverence through centuries. This pattern of preservation, marked by the alternating patches and scorches, stands as a visible record of the community's dedication to safeguarding the cloth. Furthermore, the meticulous approach to the cloth's preservation, particularly in the aftermath of the fire, underscores the reverence afforded to it, consistent with its perceived authenticity. The care taken to maintain its integrity, despite the challenges posed by the fire, reflects a recognition of its significance beyond mere historical or artistic value. This reverence and the efforts to preserve the cloth in the face of adversity contribute to the ongoing dialogue about its origins, enhancing its mystique and the reverence it commands.

From Edessa to Turin

The Shroud's intricate history is illuminated by the distinctive L-shaped pattern of burn holes, a feature that intriguingly mirrors depictions found in the Hungarian Pray Manuscript, dated between 1192-1195 AD. This correlation is pivotal, as it suggests the Shroud's presence in Constantinople before the city's sacking in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. The manuscript's depiction predates the commonly cited carbon-14 dating range of 1260 to 1390 AD, thus challenging these results and supporting the Shroud's earlier existence. Historically referred to as the Mandylion, the cloth's journey from Edessa, Turkey, to Constantinople, encapsulates its significance across centuries. Known as the Image of Edessa, its revered status in early Christian history is well-documented, positioning the Shroud as an artifact of profound historical and spiritual import, traceable back beyond 944 AD. This lineage underpins the argument against the carbon-14 dating, proposing that the Shroud's origins are indeed much older. Supporting this standpoint are various dating methodologies that align with a first-century origin. The analysis of the linen's tensile strength and reflectivity, the distinctive stitching patterns akin to those found at Masada, the Shroud's dimensions correlating with ancient measurements, the historical context of crucifixion practices, and the presence of a Roman Lepton coin dating to the era of 27-30 AD, collectively suggest an earlier date for the Shroud. These elements not only challenge the carbon-14 dating but also enrich the narrative of the Shroud's authenticity and its historical journey. The discrepancies in carbon dating have prompted alternative hypotheses, such as the possibility of an invisible reweaving or the impact of neutron absorption on the linen's nitrogen content, which could skew the carbon dating results. These theories, set against the backdrop of the Shroud's storied past, invite a reevaluation of its dating and further investigation into its origins. As scholars and enthusiasts gather to delve into these complexities, the conference will serve as a forum for robust discussion on the Shroud's dating, exploring the myriad of evidence and perspectives that surround this enigmatic artifact. The dialogue promises to shed light on the Shroud's historical journey, from its origins in Edessa to its current resting place in Turin, offering insights into its enduring significance and the mysteries that continue to envelop it.

The Forensic Testimony of the Shroud

The dorsal image of the Shroud reveals a compelling detail in the form of separated blood and clear serum emanating from the side wound, a feature that corroborates the biblical account of the crucifixion. This separation is a significant forensic clue, indicating that the heart had ceased its function long enough for the red blood cells to settle, a process that occurs postmortem. This detail not only aligns with the historical practice of crucifixion but also with the specific account of the piercing of Jesus' side, as described in the Gospel of John, where "blood and water" were observed to flow out. This alignment between the Shroud's markings and the biblical narrative is striking, offering a tangible link to the events described in the scriptures. The presence of both blood components on the Shroud suggests a level of physiological realism that adds depth to its authenticity. In the context of crucifixion, the occurrence of such a wound after death would not induce a typical bleeding response but rather a separation of blood components, mirroring the description found in John 19:34. The correlation of this detail with the scriptural account provides a nuanced layer of verification to the events surrounding the crucifixion. It serves as a bridge between the physical evidence present on the Shroud and the spiritual testimony found in the Bible, reinforcing the historicity of the narrative. This confluence of forensic evidence and scriptural description enriches the dialogue surrounding the Shroud, inviting a deeper reflection on its significance and the events it purports to document. This forensic detail, when considered alongside the broader context of the Shroud's imagery and historical journey, contributes to a multidimensional understanding of the artifact. It underscores the potential of the Shroud to serve as a focal point for interdisciplinary study, bridging the realms of science, history, and theology. 

The Marks of Sacrifice

The detailed examination of the scourge marks evident on the cloth reveals a harrowing narrative of suffering, aligned with the historical practices of Roman punishment. Between 100 to 120 scourge marks, consistent with the brutal application of Roman flagrums, are visible across the fabric. These flagrums, typically fitted with dumbbell-shaped weights at the ends of their leather straps, were designed to inflict maximum pain and damage, a fact that the pattern of wounds on the cloth attests to. The distribution of these marks, emanating from both sides, suggests a methodical approach by two executioners, each delivering blows from different angles. What is particularly remarkable about these wounds is the presence of blood serum halos that encircle the dried blood exudates, a detail only discernible under ultraviolet light. This phenomenon indicates that after the infliction of the wounds, blood seeped out, and as the red blood cells coagulated to form the central clot, the clearer serum separated and spread outwards, creating a distinct ring. This subtle but significant detail underscores the authenticity of the wounds represented on the cloth, as it reflects a natural physiological response to severe lacerations. The presence of these serum rings adds a layer of forensic credibility to the cloth, suggesting that the depiction of wounds is not merely artistic but bears the hallmarks of genuine bodily injury. This physiological accuracy reinforces the proposition that the cloth is an authentic burial shroud, bearing the true imprints of a crucified individual. The correlation of these scourge marks with historical accounts of Roman flagellation practices provides a tangible link to the period and manner of execution. This congruence between the physical evidence on the cloth and the historical context of Roman crucifixion methods further solidifies the argument for the cloth's authenticity.

The Burden of the Cross

The cloth bears silent testimony to a journey of immense suffering, as evidenced by the abrasions on both shoulders. These marks are consistent with the harsh impact of carrying a heavy, rough object across a significant distance. This physical burden, as imprinted on the cloth, aligns with the historical account of Jesus bearing his cross to the site of the crucifixion, as described in John 19:17. It is widely understood that the cross referred to in this passage denotes the horizontal beam, or patibulum, which the condemned were often required to carry to the place of execution, where the vertical stake would have already been erected. The presence of these abrasions on the cloth provides a tangible connection to the narrative of the Passion, offering a forensic detail that corroborates the biblical account. The specificity of these marks, located precisely where the patibulum would have rested and caused friction against the skin while being carried, underscores the authenticity of the cloth as a true burial shroud of a crucified individual. This detail adds a layer of historical and physical realism to the narrative, grounding it in the tangible reality of Roman execution methods. Moreover, the abrasions suggest a level of detail and physiological accuracy that transcends mere artistic representation. They reflect a genuine human experience of pain and endurance, captured in the fabric's weave. This confluence of historical, scriptural, and forensic evidence enhances the argument for the cloth's authenticity, providing a multifaceted perspective on the events it is believed to represent.

Crown of Thorns

The cloth meticulously records the echoes of a brutal act, with puncture wounds visible on both the front and back of the head area. These wounds are consistent with injuries that would be sustained from a sharp, thorn-like object being forcibly applied to the scalp. This evidence aligns with the biblical accounts of the crown of thorns placed upon Jesus' head and subsequently beaten into place with rods, as detailed in Matthew 27:30 and Mark 15:17-19. The presence of these puncture wounds on the cloth serves as a poignant physical testament to the narrative of suffering and humiliation described in the scriptures. The detailed imprints of these wounds on the cloth go beyond mere artistic depiction, suggesting a level of authenticity and specificity that points to a real event. The distribution and nature of these wounds correspond with the crown of thorns' description, reinforcing the cloth's role as a genuine burial shroud of a crucified individual. This correlation between the physical evidence on the cloth and the scriptural descriptions provides a tangible link to the historical events of the crucifixion. Furthermore, the forensic analysis of these wounds offers insights into the nature of the object used and the severity of the act. The wounds suggest a cap-like application of thorns, pressed and beaten into the scalp, causing multiple, deep puncture wounds. This brutal act, captured in the fabric of the cloth, echoes the scriptural accounts of mockery and torture, providing a stark visual representation of the suffering endured. The examination of these wounds within the context of the cloth's wider narrative invites a deeper contemplation of the events leading up to and including the crucifixion. It bridges the gap between historical record and spiritual reflection, offering a visceral insight into the physical realities of the Passion. As such, the cloth stands as a profound artifact, not only of historical significance but also as a focal point for theological and meditative reflection on the depth of suffering and sacrifice embodied in the crucifixion narrative.

Pollen Imprints

The cloth harbors microscopic witnesses to its geographic and historical journey, notably through the presence of pollen grains. Among these, specific pollen types unique to the region surrounding Jerusalem stand out, embedding the cloth within a distinct geographic context. This botanical signature provides a tangible link to the land and the natural environment of the area, further grounding the cloth in a real-world setting that aligns with the historical narratives. Remarkably, pollen from a plant characterized by long thorns has been identified in the vicinity of the head imprints on the cloth. This detail is particularly significant given the biblical accounts of the crown of thorns placed upon Jesus' head. The correlation between the presence of this specific type of pollen and the scriptural description of the crown of thorns adds a layer of authenticity to the cloth. It suggests not only a geographical alignment with the historical setting of Jerusalem but also a direct connection to the events described in the New Testament. The identification of these pollen types on the cloth is more than a mere botanical curiosity; it represents a forensic bridge to the past, offering clues to the cloth's origins and the events it is believed to depict. This botanical evidence supports the notion that the cloth was present in the Jerusalem area during a time consistent with the historical period of the crucifixion. Moreover, the presence of pollen from a thorn-bearing plant around the head area of the cloth resonates deeply with the symbolism and reality of the suffering depicted in the crucifixion narrative. It serves as a silent but potent testament to the authenticity of the events described in the Gospels, reinforcing the physical and historical credibility of the cloth. The integration of botanical forensics with historical and scriptural analysis enriches the multidisciplinary study of the cloth. It opens new avenues for understanding its origins and the profound narrative it carries, bridging the realms of science, history, and theology. As such, the pollen imprints on the cloth not only anchor it within a specific geographical and historical context but also contribute to the ongoing dialogue about its significance and the events it purports to document.

The Mysteries of the Shroud's Images

The images on the cloth, both front and dorsal, present a fascinating enigma in the realm of historical artifacts. Not only do these images serve as negative impressions of a crucified man, but they also encapsulate three-dimensional information, akin to a topographical map, that correlates with the distance between the cloth and the body at the time of image formation. This unique feature is not found in any conventional artistic or photographic methods known to date, setting the cloth apart in its singularity. Upon closer examination, the image formation on the cloth is remarkably precise, affecting only the top one or two layers of fibers in each thread, which consists of 100 to 200 fibers. This level of detail extends to the microscopic scale, where the thickness of the discoloration on each fiber is less than 0.4 microns—narrower than a single wavelength of light. Such precision defies the natural capillary action that would occur if the image were created using liquid mediums, as there is no evidence of liquid spreading or soaking between the fibers and threads. The nature of the discoloration itself is indicative of a profound alteration at the molecular level, where the covalent bonds of the carbon atoms within the cellulose molecules of the linen have changed. This alteration, characterized by dehydration and oxidation, is not consistent with any known forms of manual artwork or intentional aging by human hands. The absence of any conventional medium or method that could replicate these intricate details and effects leads to the conclusion that the image could not have been the work of an artist or forger, at any point in history. How the image of a crucified man was imprinted on the cloth, given these distinctive characteristics, remains a subject of intense speculation and inquiry. Theories abound, yet no definitive explanation has emerged that fully accounts for the combination of negative imaging, three-dimensional data content, microscopic precision in discoloration, and the lack of capillary action. This cloth, with its enigmatic imprint, continues to challenge the boundaries of our understanding, inviting scholars, scientists, and theologians alike to ponder its mysteries. As we convene to discuss and delve deeper into these complexities, the conference promises to be a nexus of interdisciplinary exploration. The aim is not only to unravel the scientific and historical underpinnings of the cloth's images but also to contemplate the broader implications of its existence and the profound message it may hold within its fibers.

The Facial Features of the man on the Shroud

The cloth presents a haunting portrayal of suffering, with facial features that suggest a harsh physical ordeal. The swollen cheeks and a disfigured nose on the image hint at a severe beating or a traumatic fall, resonating with the biblical accounts of the trials faced during the final hours. The Gospel of John (18:3) alludes to such a beating, while the synoptic narratives in Matthew (27:32) and Mark (15:21) recount the arduous journey to the crucifixion site, during which a fall under the weight of the cross is implied. A closer examination reveals abrasions on the tip of the nose, within which traces of dirt are embedded. This microscopic detail not only underscores the violence of the fall but also situates the event in a gritty, real-world context. The presence of dirt within the wounds adds a layer of authenticity to the image, suggesting that the figure did not merely suffer in a sanitized, abstract sense but interacted with the earth in a moment of vulnerability. The specificity of these injuries, captured on the cloth, transcends mere representation. It offers a tangible connection to the historical figure's final journey, marked by physical suffering and human frailty. The detailed depiction of these facial wounds challenges the notion of an artistically crafted forgery, pointing instead to a genuine imprint of a man who endured significant physical trauma. The correlation between the facial features on the cloth and the scriptural descriptions of the events leading to the crucifixion provides a poignant intersection of history, archaeology, and theology. This confluence invites a deeper reflection on the nature of the suffering depicted and its significance within the broader narrative of the crucifixion. As we gather to explore the mysteries of the cloth, these facial features and their implications stand as a central point of inquiry. The discussion will delve into the forensic and historical analysis of these wounds, seeking to understand their origins and the story they tell. This exploration is not just an academic exercise but a journey into the heart of a narrative that has shaped centuries of thought and belief, offering insights into the physical realities that underpin a pivotal moment in history.

The Spear Wound

The front image of the cloth bears a stark and poignant mark: an elliptical wound approximately 2 inches wide, a detail that aligns with the dimensions of a Roman spear. This wound, referenced in the Gospel of John (19:34), is not just a testament to the brutality of the act but also serves as a crucial piece of forensic evidence that supports the cloth's authenticity. The shape and size of the wound are consistent with the historical understanding of Roman weaponry, providing a tangible link to the methods of execution used during the period. More significantly, the area surrounding this wound reveals traces of both blood and a watery fluid, suggestive of a post-mortem flow. This detail is crucial, as it indicates that the wound was inflicted after death, consistent with the biblical account of the piercing of Jesus' side to confirm His death. The presence of both blood and a separate watery fluid mirrors the scriptural description of "blood and water" flowing from the wound, a phenomenon that occurs when blood settles and separates into its constituent parts after the heart has stopped beating. The accuracy of this detail on the cloth—both in terms of the wound's dimensions and the nature of the fluids emanating from it—challenges the notion of a medieval forgery. Reproducing such precise physiological reactions and Roman military specifics would have been nearly impossible without a deep understanding of post-mortem blood separation and the exact dimensions of Roman spears, knowledge not typical of the medieval period. This wound, with its forensic and historical fidelity, invites a deeper examination of the cloth's origins and the events it purports to document. It stands as a focal point for discussions at the conference, where experts from various fields will delve into the implications of this and other features of the cloth. The aim is to unravel the layers of history, science, and theology intertwined within the fabric, offering insights into the enduring mystery of the cloth and the narrative it carries.

The Blood Evidence

The analysis of the bloodstains on the cloth reveals a level of detail that significantly corroborates the crucifixion narrative. The blood flow patterns on the arms, displaying two distinct angles, reflect the physiological response of a crucified individual alternating between positions to breathe. This shifting, a desperate measure to alleviate the suffocation inherent in crucifixion, is mirrored in the blood flow directions observed on the cloth, lending credence to its authenticity as the burial shroud of a crucifixion victim. Further bolstering the case for authenticity, the substance identified as blood on the cloth has undergone a battery of tests, affirming its biological origin. These tests have conclusively proven that the stains are composed of real human blood, characterized by the presence of both "X" and "Y" chromosomes, indicative of a male origin. The determination of the blood type as AB adds another layer of specificity to the biological evidence. The blood's high bilirubin content is particularly telling. Bilirubin levels rise in response to the breakdown of red blood cells, a condition consistent with severe physical trauma, such as a beating. This biochemical marker aligns with the historical accounts of the physical sufferings endured, providing a poignant testament to the brutality of the events leading up to the crucifixion. Contrary to expectations for ancient bloodstains, which typically darken to a black or deep brown over time, the blood on the cloth retains a reddish hue. This unusual coloration has been the subject of much speculation and scientific inquiry, with multiple theories proposed to explain the phenomenon. Among these, the high bilirubin content itself is a plausible factor, as it can impact the degradation and coloration of blood over time. The confluence of forensic, historical, and scriptural evidence as represented by the bloodstains on the cloth offers a compelling argument for its authenticity. The detailed examination of these stains provides not only a window into the physical realities of crucifixion but also a testament to the individual's identity and the ordeal endured. 

Nail Marks on the Shroud

The depiction of crucifixion in medieval art often presents a stylized interpretation, with nails piercing the palms of the hands. This imagery, while iconic, contradicts the practical and anatomical realities of crucifixion as understood through archaeological findings and historical research. The palms, lacking the structural support of bone above the area of penetration, would not have been able to sustain the weight of a human body during crucifixion. Archaeological evidence has clarified this aspect, showing that nails were more likely driven through the wrists, where the bones could provide the necessary support. The cloth, in stark contrast to medieval artistic conventions, displays a remarkable adherence to this anatomical and archaeological understanding. The marks suggestive of nail wounds are located not in the palms but in the wrists, aligning with the more accurate portrayal of Roman crucifixion practices. This detail is not only consistent with the physical realities of such an execution but also with the findings from archaeological excavations of crucifixion victims. The precise location of the nail marks on the cloth challenges the notion of a medieval origin, as it predates widespread archaeological insights by centuries. The accuracy of these marks suggests a level of knowledge about crucifixion practices that was not common during the Middle Ages, further supporting the cloth's authenticity as a genuine burial shroud of a crucifixion victim. This congruence between the nail mark locations on the cloth and the archaeological understanding of crucifixion practices adds a significant layer of historical credibility to the artifact. It invites a reevaluation of the cloth's origins and the events it is believed to depict, bridging the gap between historical artifacts and scriptural accounts.

The Unique Depiction of Thumbs on the Shroud

The cloth presents an anatomical detail that significantly diverges from the iconography typical of medieval art: the thumbs are depicted as folded under, a posture not seen in the conventional representations of the crucifixion from the Middle Ages. This specific detail provides a compelling insight into the physiological reactions to the crucifixion process, particularly about the placement of the nails. Nailing through the wrists, as opposed to the palms, would likely impact the median nerves, leading to an involuntary reflexive contraction of the thumbs. This physiological response is accurately reflected on the cloth, suggesting a level of anatomical understanding that surpasses the artistic conventions of the time. The absence of the thumbs in the image aligns with what would be expected from nail placement through the wrist, further corroborating the cloth's depiction of crucifixion with historical and anatomical accuracy. This detail challenges the notion that the image could be a medieval creation, as it incorporates a nuanced understanding of human anatomy that was not widely recognized until much later. The precise portrayal of the thumbs adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the cloth's authenticity, suggesting that its creation was the result of direct contact with a crucified body rather than an artistic endeavor. The discussion of this unique anatomical feature at the conference will delve into the intersection of art, history, and medicine, exploring how the cloth's depiction of crucifixion stands apart from contemporary artistic representations. This exploration will contribute to a deeper understanding of the cloth's origins and the events it is believed to represent, highlighting its significance as a historical and religious artifact.

The Masada Stitch

A distinctive feature of the cloth that has intrigued scholars is the three-inch wide side strip, attached with a sewing technique that bears a striking resemblance to a stitch found exclusively at Masada, a site destroyed in 73-74 AD. This unique stitch, nearly identical to the one employed in the construction of textiles unearthed at Masada, provides compelling evidence pointing towards the cloth's creation in the first century. The presence of this stitch on the cloth is more than a mere curiosity; it serves as a tangible link to a specific time and place in history, offering a clue to the cloth's origins that align with the era of the crucifixion. The rarity of this stitching technique, coupled with its geographical and temporal association with Masada, strongly suggests that the cloth, and by extension the side strip, originates from a similar period. The purpose of the three-inch side strip remains a subject of speculation, yet the prevailing theory suggests it was integral to the cloth's original construction. This could indicate a practical aspect of textile making at the time, perhaps related to the dimensions or the intended use of the cloth. The meticulous attachment of this strip, utilizing a stitch characteristic of the period and region, further underscores the cloth's historical authenticity and its potential as a first-century artifact. The discussion of the side strip and its unique stitch at the conference will delve into the broader implications of textile evidence in understanding the cloth's origins. By examining the sewing techniques, materials, and patterns used in the cloth's construction, scholars aim to shed light on the cultural and historical context in which it was made. This exploration not only enriches our understanding of the cloth itself but also offers insights into the textile practices of the era, contributing to a more nuanced appreciation of the artifact's significance in the tapestry of history.

The Limestone Evidence on the Shroud

Among the myriad of clues the cloth offers, one of the most compelling is the presence of small chips of travertine aragonite limestone found in the dirt near the image's feet. This particular type of limestone, known as "Jerusalem limestone," is predominantly found in the Jerusalem area, offering a geographical marker that ties the cloth directly to this historic locale. The spectral analysis of these limestone particles reveals a near-identical match with samples from the area surrounding the Damascus Gate, the gateway nearest to Golgotha, the site traditionally recognized as the location of the crucifixion. This remarkable correspondence in the spectral signature between the limestone on the cloth and that of Jerusalem's environs strongly suggests that the individual whose death is memorialized on the cloth had indeed traversed the streets of Jerusalem before the crucifixion. The specificity of this limestone, unique to Jerusalem, serves as a geological fingerprint, providing substantive evidence that anchors the cloth in a specific time and place. The implications of this finding extend beyond mere geographical significance; they offer a tangible connection to the historical setting of the crucifixion narrative. This limestone evidence supports the authenticity of the cloth as a burial shroud of someone who was in Jerusalem in the first century, aligning with the historical period of the events described in the New Testament. As scholars gather to discuss the multifaceted evidence presented by the cloth, the limestone findings will be a focal point, offering insights into the environmental and geological context of the era. This discussion will explore the integration of geological science with historical and scriptural analysis, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the cloth's origins and the events it is believed to depict. Through this interdisciplinary exploration, the limestone evidence on the cloth stands as a testament to the historical and geographical authenticity of the narrative it bears. There is one item that should be on a burial cloth such as this that is not present.  That one item is the product of the body's decay.  There are no body decay products on the Shroud of Turin, even though the pristine nature of the blood marks indicates that this Shroud was not lifted off of the body from which the blood had come.

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Pre-1355 History of the Shroud:  Evolution of Christ Iconography

Chronology of the Shroud

On August 9th, 48 BC, a significant event in the Roman Civil War unfolded at Pharsalus in central Greece, where Julius Caesar and his legions triumphed over the larger forces led by Pompey the Great, aligned with the Roman Senate. Following his defeat, Pompey fled with remnants of his army to Egypt, only to be assassinated upon his arrival. Caesar, chasing Pompey, arrived in Alexandria to find himself amid Egypt's civil conflict, becoming a target for local factions. Facing a large Egyptian military force aiming to eliminate him, Caesar's situation seemed dire. At this critical juncture, Antipater the Idumaen, a lesser-known leader from near Judea, intervened significantly. Josephus documented Antipater's arrival with 3,000 armed Jewish men, alongside support from Arabs and Syrians, bolstering Caesar's position. This support not only facilitated Caesar's survival but also contributed to the eventual shift from the Roman Republic to Caesar's autocratic rule. Caesar, in gratitude, appointed Antipater as procurator of Judea, laying the foundations for the Herodian Dynasty, which would have profound implications for early Christian history. Antipater's son, Herod the Great, and his descendants, including Herod Agrippa and Herod Antipas, played pivotal roles in the New Testament narratives, from the massacre of Bethlehem's infants to the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of early Christians. Despite the Herodians' adversarial actions towards Christianity, Antipater's aid to Caesar indirectly fostered the religion's growth. Caesar's subsequent decrees granted religious freedoms to Jews throughout the Roman Empire, inadvertently creating conducive environments for the spread of Christianity. These Jewish communities and their synagogues, along with their Gentile neighbors, became fertile ground for the missionary efforts of early Christian figures like Peter and Paul, significantly aiding in the propagation of the Christian faith.

In 34 AD, following the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, in Jerusalem, a wave of persecution swept through the early Christian community. This led to many followers of Jesus seeking refuge beyond the city, spreading their message to Jewish communities in Phoenicia, Cyprus, and particularly in Antioch. It's believed that Barnabas was dispatched to Antioch, possibly on the instruction of Peter. At that time, Antioch was a major urban center of the Roman Empire, ranked only behind Rome and Alexandria in Egypt in terms of importance. Around 40 AD, under the guidance of Barnabas and later Paul, Christian missionaries in Antioch began to increasingly direct their evangelistic efforts towards non-Jewish populations. This marked the beginning of Antioch's pivotal role as a hub for Christian missionary activity. Following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, Antioch emerged as the preeminent center of Christianity, boasting the largest Christian community in the world at that time. It was in Antioch that the term "Christian" was first coined, earning the city the title "Cradle of Christianity." Additionally, St. Luke, a native of Antioch, composed both the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles within this vibrant city.

Peter's missionary endeavors are less clearly defined than Paul's well-documented journeys. While we don't have precise dates and routes for Peter's travels, insights can be gleaned from the First Epistle of Peter. This letter, possibly penned by Peter from Rome around 60-63 AD or by a follower between 70-90 AD, is a theological gem of the New Testament, offering deep insights into Christology, the nature of the Church, and Christian conduct. The epistle's greeting hints at Peter's missionary reach, addressing believers scattered across Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. This suggests Peter's involvement in these regions, whether through direct visits or his influence. Further historical texts, like the fifth or sixth-century Doctrine of the Apostles, record Peter's foundational role in establishing the church in areas including Antioch, Syria, Cilicia, and Galatia, leading up to his time in Rome. Peter's timeline, traditionally accepted, includes:

Around 35 AD, Peter is believed to have played a key role in founding the church in Antioch, later returning to Jerusalem by around 40 AD, and being present there in 42 AD. In 42 AD, Peter faced threats from Herod Agrippa, leading to his miraculous escape from imprisonment. Despite Acts of the Apostles mentioning Peter's brief stay in Caesarea, many scholars speculate his journey led him to Rome, a significant center for the Jewish diaspora and fertile ground for spreading the Gospel. Peter is noted to have returned to Jerusalem around 44 AD for the Jerusalem Council, which took place circa 49-50 AD. This council was pivotal in deciding that Gentile converts need not fully adhere to Jewish customs, including circumcision. Following the council, tradition places Peter back in Antioch until around 54-55 AD, after which he is said to have embarked on a second journey to Rome. Peter's final years were spent evangelizing in Rome and Italy, culminating in his martyrdom under Emperor Nero, approximately between 64-68 AD. This timeline, while not exhaustive, sketches a broad outline of Peter's contributions to the early Christian mission, reflecting his pivotal role alongside Paul in the spread of Christianity.

Between 68 and 70 AD, amidst the turmoil and onset of hostilities in Jerusalem involving Jewish zealots and Roman authorities, key Christian artifacts, including an "image of our Holy Lord and Savior," were transported out of the city for safety. This period followed the martyrdom of James in 62 AD and was marked by escalating tensions that eventually led to open conflict in 66 AD. Recognizing the imminent danger, members of the Jerusalem Church sought refuge, many heading towards Antioch and other safe havens in Syria. This exodus, including the safeguarding of sacred objects, is documented in a sermon attributed to Saint Athanasius, the 4th-century Bishop of Alexandria. Delivered during the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, Athanasius' sermon recounts the careful removal of a significant Christian relic, described as a full-length "image of our Lord and Savior," from Jerusalem to Syria around 68 AD, as part of the broader effort to protect the Christian community and its heritage from the perils of the Jewish-Roman conflict.

“But two years before Titus and Vespasian sacked the city, the faithful and disciples of Christ were warned by the Holy Spirit to depart from the city and go to the kingdom of King Agrippa II, because at that time Agrippa II was a Roman ally. Leaving the city, they went to his regions and carried everything relating to our faith. At that time even the icon with certain other ecclesiastical objects were moved and they today still remain in Syria. I possess this information as handed down to me from my migrating parents and by hereditary right. It is plain and certain why the icon of our Holy Lord and Savior came from Judaea to Syria."
Encyclopedia, Vol. V, Robert Appleton Company (New York 1907-1914)

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Apostle Thaddeus and King Abgar Icon. St. Catherine monastery (Sinai) Byzantine. Empire, 10th C.

The Image of Edessa

The Image of Edessa, also known as the Mandylion, is intertwined with the tale of how Christianity came to Edessa. The legend of the Mandylion claims that  Taddai brought the Shroud soon after 33AD to Edessa.   This story is told in the document known as "The Teaching of Addai," a text that dates back to the late 4th or early 5th century. According to tradition, King Abgar V of Edessa, suffering from an illness, heard of Jesus Christ's miraculous healings and sent a correspondence to him, requesting both healing and that Jesus seek refuge in his city. In the account recorded in "The Teaching of Addai," rather than Jesus Himself visiting Edessa, He sends one of His disciples, Thaddeus (also referred to as Addai), in His stead after the Ascension. Thaddeus arrives in Edessa, heals King Abgar, and facilitates the conversion of the king and his subjects to Christianity.

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The ‘Concealment’ Phase c.30 - c.525 AD

For Christians of the first millennium, the Image of Edessa was profoundly significant because it was believed to carry a true likeness of Jesus Christ, not created by an artist but through a unique imprint directly from Jesus himself. This concept, known as 'acheiropoietic' (meaning "not made by human hands"), is emphasized in early historical accounts. Evagrius, writing in the 6th century, is the first Greek historian to mention the Image, highlighting its miraculous origin. A century later, Andrew of Crete echoed this sentiment, noting that the Image's creation involved no painting or artistic intervention. The perception of the Image of Edessa during this period was of a powerful and authentic representation of Jesus, holding immense authority and mystique as a physical manifestation of humanity's savior. Its origins were a source of great wonder and speculation. Surprisingly, many esteemed scholars, including Steven Runciman and Averil Cameron, have focused their research on the Image predominantly through written records, potentially overlooking the insights that could be gleaned from artistic depictions of Jesus from the same era. This study aims to adopt a more inclusive approach, considering these contemporary artworks to gain a fuller understanding. It also seeks to identify various artistic and historical phases through which perceptions and understandings of the Image have evolved in significant and intriguing ways.

Only lightly to be addressed here will be the difficult question of whether the Image could have had its genesis as far back as the first century amidst the dealings between Jesus and Edessa’s ailing toparch Abgar V that are described in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. As a genuinely conscientious and reliable historian, Eusebius, writing circa 325 AD, claimed to have consulted in Edessa’s Record Office a collection of original Syriac documents relating to Edessa’s evangelization by Jesus’ disciple Thaddeus (in Syriac, Addai), shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion. The historicity of such an evangelization seems plausible: Jesus, his disciples, and the Edessans spoke a similar brand of Aramaic/Syriac, and there is a Syriac-speaking community today claiming direct evangelization by Addai. Nevertheless, whatever the true date of the Edessan source documents, the written exchange between Abgar and Jesus, Abgar’s healing of his disease, and Edessa’s subsequent evangelization are the high points of Eusebius’ narrative. Any awareness of the Image’s existence is entirely absent from his account. Similarly, when around 394 AD the lady pilgrim Egeria traveled to Edessa, she made no mention of it in her detailed memoir, despite her keen observational nature, as noted by historian Runciman. The late fourth century/early fifth century Syriac Doctrine of Addai does mention an image of Jesus, a conventional portrait that Abgar’s messenger Ananias painted on his master’s behalf, which Abgar then displayed in his palace. This could be considered the earliest historical mention of the Image, suggesting that the story of what began as a conventional artwork became embellished and divinized by later writers - a stance most modern critics take. However, most scholars agree that the Doctrine of Addai seems like a late elaboration of the same early documentary sources that Eusebius consulted earlier, even adding to Jesus’ letter a blessing of Edessa and promise of eternal protection. The Doctrine’s mention of the Image may be seen as a vague memory of some Jesus portrait that existed at Edessa, with no current whereabouts known. Corroboratively, fourth and fifth century artists’ depictions of Jesus show no indication of any authoritative likeness influencing them. Beardless depictions resembling the Graeco-Roman god Apollo are common, such as the fourth century mosaic Christ face from Hinton St Mary, Dorset, and similar depictions on sarcophagi, caskets, and Roman catacomb wall-paintings. Bearded versions from this period, like the late 4th century wall-painting in Rome’s catacombs of Commodilla, are rare and notably vague. St. Augustine of Hippo described the Christ portraiture of his time as ‘innumerable in concept and design,’ confirming the absence of any strong guideline for Jesus’ human appearance. This continued into the early sixth century, as seen in beardless depictions at the Basilica of S. Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna.

The ‘Discovery’ Phase c. 525-944

In the early stages of its history, known as the 'Discovery' phase, the Image of Edessa was first referenced in Greek records as an existing object during the siege of Edessa by Khosrow I Anushirvan, the Sassanian 'King of Kings', in 544 AD. This reference comes from Evagrius, who mentions the Image's role as a protective symbol for the city. Contrary to later claims, Evagrius does not suggest that the Image was discovered during this siege, and other sources, including recently uncovered Georgian manuscripts, imply an earlier emergence. These manuscripts reveal that in the early part of the 6th century, a group of Assyrian monks, led by St John of Zedazeni, embarked on a mission to evangelize Georgia. Among them were Theodosius of Edessa and Isidore of Hierapolis, each associated with an image of Christ - the former with the Image of Edessa and the latter with a similar image on a tile, known as the Keramion of Hierapolis. This evidence suggests that both the Image of Edessa and the Keramion were known and revered by the time of this mission. Despite the lack of contemporary documents detailing the exact circumstances of their discovery, the arrival of the Image in Constantinople around 944 AD prompted Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos to investigate their origins. In his work, the Narratio de Imagine Edessena, Constantine describes an almost archaeological discovery of the Image and Keramion, found in an arch-shaped niche above one of Edessa’s gates, hidden there during a period of Christian persecution centuries earlier. Although certain elements of this story, like the bishop's name Eulalios and the specific timing during the Sassanian siege, are questionable, the consistency of representing the Image over archways in later art supports some historical accuracy in this narrative. Interestingly, during this phase, neither the Image of Edessa nor the Keramion were depicted as they would be known later - as the face of Christ on cloth and a tile, respectively. Initial references, such as those by St John Damascene, describe the Image as imprinted on cloth, but it wasn’t until after 944 AD that artistic representations align with this description, marking a significant shift in the portrayal and perception of these revered objects.

It appears highly improbable that the emergence of objects as visually authoritative as the Image and the Keramion would not have significantly influenced artists' representation of Jesus’ facial likeness prior to 944. The body of surviving Christian art from this period, despite the widespread destruction during the Iconoclastic controversy, clearly supports this. During this era, without any specific verbal guidance, Christ likenesses in art abruptly and confidently adopt the long-haired, long-nosed, distinctively bearded appearance that is universally recognized as Jesus’ human appearance today. These artist-made ‘true likenesses’ are also perceived as possessing a remarkable power and wonder in their own right. Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People records that in 595 AD, Augustine of Canterbury, evangelizing Anglo-Saxon England, used ‘the likeness of our Lord and Saviour painted on a board’ with ‘power from God’ to convert the Mercian king Ethelbert of Kent. Similarly, the likenesses of Christ that St. John of Zedazeni’s missionary monks attempted to create in Georgian monasteries were believed to have strange, quasi-supernatural properties. Even the massive circular mosaic face of Christ created for the basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome was rumored to have floated into place overnight.

These phase II likenesses of Christ, while collectively establishing a new distinctive bearded appearance, can be categorized into three variants, each with its own authority:

The Splayed Hair variant features Christ’s sidelocks splayed at a near 45-degree angle on either side of his head, with a rounded, somewhat pointed beard. Examples include the Christ Enthroned mosaic at S. Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna; the face of Christ painted in a cistern at Salamis, Cyprus (6th century); and a roundel of Christ’s face on a Ss Sergius and Bacchus icon (6th century).

The Curly-Haired variant is relatively rare, characterized by short, curly hair and a matching beard. Examples are a fresco in a burial-crypt at Abu Girgeh near Alexandria, Egypt; a miniature of Christ Enthroned with Saints in the Rabbula Gospels, Laurentian library, Florence; and the ‘Rex Regnantium’ Christ portrait on gold solidi of Byzantine emperor Justinian II’s second reign (705-711 A.D.).

The Asymmetrical Hair variant has Christ’s left sidelock hanging over his left shoulder, while his right sidelock is swept over his back, out of sight. The beard is full and blunt. Examples include the Christ Pantocrator icon at St. Catherine’s monastery, Sinai; the Christ Pantocrator fresco in the catacomb of S. Ponziano, Via Portuensis, Rome (8th century); and the ‘Rex Regnantium’ Christ portrait on gold solidi from the last three years of Byzantine emperor Justinian II’s first reign (692-695 A.D.).

During this significant phase in the history of the Image of Edessa, it is not surprising that at least three variations of the new bearded type of Christ's image emerged. The Image of Edessa, as previously discussed, appeared alongside the Keramion tile, which bore a miraculous likeness of Christ. This likeness was believed to have been formed during its close association with the cloth Image. However, a more plausible theory suggests that the Keramion was actually crafted by a ceramicist. It is thought to have been initially displayed on a gate of Edessa during a time when the city was favorably disposed towards Christianity. Such practices of displaying images of gods over city gates were common in the region. Later, when Edessa reverted to pagan practices, the Keramion, along with the cloth Image, was likely removed and concealed in the same hidden location. If this hypothesis holds true, then it can be assumed that the artistic style of the Keramion was influenced by the Parthian culture, which was dominant in Edessa before the third century. This influence is particularly evident in the 'Splayed Hair' variant of the Keramion, which closely resembles other surviving Parthian artistic works. This connection to Parthian art offers a compelling insight into the cultural and historical context in which these revered images were created and venerated.

Christ Likenesses 6th Century to 944

The Splayed Hair variant

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6th century mosaic, S. Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna

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6th century wall-painting, Cistern, Salamis, Cyprus

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6th century icon, Ss. Sergius & Bacchus (detail), St. Catherine’s, Sinai

The Curly Hair Variant, arguably deriving from the Christ-likeness on the Image of Camuliana

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Wall-painting, Abu Girgeh, Egypt

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6th century manuscript illustration, Rabbula gospels

The Asymmetrical Hair Variant, arguably deriving from the Christ likeness on the Image of Edessa

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6th century icon, St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai

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6th century wall-painting, Ponziano Catacomb, Rome

According to numismatic scholar J.D. Breckenridge, the Curly-Hair variant of Christ’s image likely originated from the Image of Camuliana, which was among the most popular of several images competing with those from Edessa and Hierapolis. This emergence seemed to be a response to the latter's success. Notably, just as the Camuliana Image did not endure the Iconoclasm period, the Curly-haired variant similarly faded from art.
In summary, it appears that the Splayed Hair variant was inspired by the Christ likeness on the Keramion, and the Curly-Hair variant was influenced by the corresponding likeness on the Camuliana Image. Furthermore, the Asymmetrical Hair variant, which is prevalent in numerous post-944 depictions of the Image of Edessa as a face on cloth (part of Phase III), strongly indicates that this variant was derived from the Christ likeness on the Image of Edessa.

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Fresco depicting the Holy Keramion (Ceramic Tile) which the image of Christ was transferred, Visoki Dečani monastery, Kosovo, Serbia (ca. 1335).

The Image of Christ which was preserved for centuries in Edessa, the capital city of Osrhoene,2 was called Mandylion ( ‘towel’) only after its translation to Constantinople from Edessa in the year 944.

The term "tetradiplon," meaning "doubled in four," arises from descriptions in early Christian texts, notably the "Acts of Thaddeus," part of the Abgar legend. This term has led to significant speculation about its connection to the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud, when folded in such a manner — in eighths or 'doubled in four' — would prominently display the face of the image it bears, which mirrors the facial features found in Byzantine iconography. The correlation between "tetradiplon" and the Shroud of Turin becomes particularly interesting when considering the halo in Byzantine art. The halo, or nimbus, is a visual element used in art to denote holiness, sanctity, or divinity and is commonly seen in depictions of Christ and other sacred figures. In many Byzantine icons, Christ is depicted with a halo that often contains a cross within it, sometimes with the Greek letters Ο Ω Ν (representing "The Being" or "I Am"), indicating Christ's divine nature. Now, if we look at the Shroud of Turin and the way the image of the face appears when the cloth is folded "doubled in four," it's possible to draw parallels with this iconic halo. The natural folds and creases of the cloth could be seen as framing the face in a manner similar to a halo in iconography. The "topless square" between the eyebrows, a notable feature on both the Shroud and in some icons, can be interpreted as a representation of the cross within the halo, further tying the image on the Shroud to traditional Byzantine depictions of Christ. The connection between the "tetradiplon" and the Shroud of Turin, when aligned with Byzantine iconography, suggests that the Shroud influenced the way Christ was depicted in art during the Byzantine period. This influence was both direct, through the image itself, and indirect, through the theological implications of an image "not made by human hands" that affirmed Christ's dual nature as human and divine, as decreed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. This duality is central to the Christian understanding of Jesus and is consistently reflected in the art of the period, possibly informed by the actual viewing of the Shroud, folded to show just the face, resembling the haloed heads of Byzantine icons. This hypothesis posits that the Shroud's role extended beyond being a mere relic; it was a template that defined the most sacred elements of Christian iconography, particularly the way in which the divine nature of Christ was visually represented.

In the 1st century, Edessa—now Urfa in southeast Turkey—was a culturally diverse kingdom, a melting pot of Syriac, Greek, Armenian, Arabic, and Jewish communities. By the 6th century, it became a hub for a burgeoning Christian populace. Historians concur that Christianity's influence in Edessa solidified in the late 2nd century during the reign of Abgar VIII, known as "The Great." The discovery of a church sanctuary from 201 AD supports this. However, Edessan Christian scribes of the 3rd century traced the gospel's arrival back to the 1st century, attributing it to Addai, a disciple of Jesus, and King Abgar V. This is detailed in Eusebius' "Ecclesiastical History," which mentions a correspondence between Abgar and Jesus, including a celebrated letter allegedly preserved in Edessa's archives. This tale was further embellished in "The Teaching of Addai" (TA), a 4th or possibly early 5th-century text. Here, Abgar communicates with Jesus through the messenger Hanan, who is tasked with creating Jesus' portrait, which he does and presents to Abgar, who receives it joyfully. The historicity of TA is debated; it's seen by many scholars as a blend of fact and fiction, containing anachronisms typical of a later period. The Edessa Image's ancient references are scarce, leading to speculation about its existence and identification with the Shroud of Turin. Fourth-century church father Ephrem makes no mention of it, and while some scholars suggest it never existed in ancient times, others propose it was simply not widely known.

An intriguing hypothesis has been presented regarding the Shroud of Turin, particularly put forth by Ian Wilson in 1978. Wilson suggested that the famed portrait of Christ in Edessa was actually the Shroud of Turin, ingeniously folded to display only the face. This image was revered in Edessa as a miraculous depiction of Christ's face. After its transfer to Constantinople in 944, it is proposed that only a select few "privileged persons" came to realize its true form as a burial shroud, encompassing a full, bloodied image of Jesus' body. In Constantinople, the cloth is believed to have been eventually unfolded and presented as the actual burial shroud of Christ. This exposition continued until the Shroud's disappearance in 1204, during the sack of Constantinople by the Latin Crusaders. The hypothesis concludes that this same shroud later resurfaced in Lirey, France. To visualize this theory, imagine an image showing what the Edessa Image might have looked like, with the Shroud of Turin folded in such a way to reveal only the face of Christ.

The discovery of a HALO around the head of the Man on the Shroud of Turin in different photographs and two other details in the neck area under the beard are a strong indication that the theory of historian IAN WILSON, that the Cloth of EDESSA and the Shroud of Turin are one and the same, is most probably correct. These details are being found also regularly in icons and mosaics portraying the face of Jesus Christ in the Byzantine Empire as of the VI-th Century A.D., showing that artists had access to the Cloth of EDESSA and copied very truthfully the details that they encountered.

Edessa, originally a small kingdom established by the Nabataeans, is located in what is now Turkey. It wasn't until 202 A.D. that the kingdom officially embraced Christianity, following the conversion of King Abgar IX. However, by the late 2nd century A.D., Edessa was already a hub for various Christian sects. During this period, Christianity was in the process of consolidating its doctrinal texts, and debates about the nature of Christ were fertile grounds for the emergence of new "heresies." In this environment, apostolic churches like those in Rome or Antioch, founded directly by prominent Apostles, became doctrinal reference points. They represented a sure and authentic Christian doctrine. Having a church established by a direct disciple of Christ conferred significant authority upon its bishop, especially in theological disputes with other Christian groups. For the church in Edessa, affirming its roots in the apostolic age was crucial to bolster its standing in the Christian world. It is within this context of religious contention that the Abgar legend likely emerged in Edessa, probably towards the end of the 3rd century A.D. The earliest known written account of this legend is by Eusebius, the Bishop of Caesarea, in the early 4th century A.D. He narrates the story of Abgar V, a king of Edessa during Christ's time, who experienced a miraculous healing and converted to Christianity through the efforts of Addaï, a disciple sent by Jesus after his resurrection. Eusebius claimed to base his account on Syriac documents that he supposedly consulted directly in Edessa's city archives and translated into Greek. These documents, as per Eusebius, included an authentic letter from Christ to King Abgar, which was purportedly delivered by Addaï.

« King Abgar being afflicted with a terrible disease…sent a message to him(Jesus) by a courier and begged him to heal his disease. But he did not at that time comply with his request; yet he deemed him worthy of a personal letter in which he said that he would send one of his disciples to cure his disease, and at the same time promised salvation to himself and all his house. Not long afterward his promise was fulfilled. For after his resurrection from the dead and his ascent into heaven, Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, under divine impulse sent Thaddeus, who was also numbered among the seventy disciples of Christ, to Edessa, as a preacher and evangelist of the teaching of Christ. »    Eusebius Pamphilus (Bishop of Caesarea), « The Ecclesiastical History », Book I, Chapter XVIII. Translated from the original by Rev. C.F. Cruse, A.M. - Published by R. Davis and Brother, Philadelphia, 1840.

The history of the Mandylion, also known as the Image of Edessa, is deeply intertwined with the early Christian history of Edessa, a city that served as a cultural and religious melting pot in the first century. The legend of King Abgar V of Edessa and his correspondence with Jesus is a cornerstone of this history, documented in various texts including Eusebius' "Ecclesiastical History" and the later "Teaching of Addai." These sources describe how Abgar, afflicted with illness, sought healing from Jesus, who replied with a letter and, according to later traditions, sent an image of his face imprinted on a cloth. Ian Wilson's research into the Shroud of Turin suggests it may be the Mandylion, historically revered as a miraculous image "not made by human hands." Wilson speculates that the Shroud was folded to display only the face, in line with the description of the Mandylion as "tetradiplon" - folded in four - a term unique to this relic. The discovery of Georgian texts at St. Catherine's Monastery corroborates the Shroud's presence and veneration in the region, with accounts of Assyrian monks, such as Theodosius of Edessa, evangelizing with icons in the 6th century. The significance of the Edessa Image persisted through centuries, with the 7th-century Nestorian Christians in Edessa describing the city as sanctified by the image of Christ's face. By the 8th and 9th centuries, the narrative solidified around the image being safeguarded by the orthodox Christian community, with stories of its copies being made and revered. The Edessan cathedral, rebuilt as Hagia Sophia, housed the Mandylion in a sanctuary, revealing it annually in a ceremony emphasizing its "incomprehensible power." The secrecy surrounding the Mandylion, its limited display, and the divine fear it inspired are mirrored in the veneration of the Shroud of Turin in later centuries.

The Shroud's historical trail is uncertain for its first 1300 years, raising questions about its authenticity as the true burial shroud of Jesus. However, Wilson's theory posits the Shroud as the Mandylion, suggesting it was brought to Edessa by a disciple of Jesus and later to Constantinople. He hypothesizes that the Shroud was known only as the face image in a frame for the first millennium, with its full nature as a burial cloth revealed later. The legend of the Mandylion outside the Bible holds it as the "first icon," revered in Eastern Orthodoxy. This narrative, which evolved over time, includes accounts of the Mandylion's rediscovery after a flood and its eventual transfer to Constantinople. The legend served to affirm the dogma of the Incarnation and played a role in the defense of the two natures of Christ within the church. While the Mandylion and the Shroud of Turin have often been conflated, historical analysis suggests they were distinct relics, with the Shroud being one of several relics in Constantinople before the 13th century. The precise relationship between the Mandylion and the Shroud remains a subject of scholarly debate, with no consensus on whether they are the same object.

Last edited by Otangelo on Sun Feb 04, 2024 5:36 pm; edited 6 times in total




The Abgar legend

The legend of King Abgar and the Image of Edessa stands as a significant narrative in the traditions surrounding early Christian relics. It tells of King Abgar who, afflicted with an ailment, supposedly corresponded with Jesus Christ, seeking healing. According to the legend, Jesus sent an image of His face to Abgar, which came to be known as the Image of Edessa. However, this story is not substantiated by historical evidence and is generally considered a legend rather than fact. The account was declared apocryphal by the Decree of Gelasius in the late 5th century, and early Christian scholars such as Augustine and Jerome emphasized that Jesus did not leave behind any physical writings or images. The argument by the historian Tixeront suggests that the language used in the supposed letters between Abgar and Jesus resembles the wording from the Gospel texts of Matthew and Luke, indicating that the letters were likely composed after the Gospels were written, using their text as a template. This revelation indicates that the narrative about Abgar's correspondence with Jesus and the subsequent creation of the Image of Edessa was a later invention, possibly created to inspire faith or reinforce the burgeoning Christian tradition of venerating holy images. It reflects how legends can often be rooted in earlier texts or beliefs, evolving over time to serve the needs of a developing religious culture. The narrative that King Abgar of Edessa wrote to Jesus, and received a reply, bearing an image, is now understood to be a later construction, likely apocryphal in nature. This conclusion is drawn from the fact that the language in the letters echoes text from the Gospels, suggesting a post-Gospel composition. The letter attributed to Jesus includes phrases that closely resemble passages from John's Gospel, revealing direct literary influences. The presence of phrases such as "it is written about me" within Jesus' alleged reply to Abgar is an anachronism that further discredits the letter's authenticity. Such language implies the existence of Gospel writings during Jesus' lifetime, which is historically inaccurate. Despite scholarly dismissals based on textual evidence, the legend of Abgar's correspondence with Jesus persisted as truth well into the Middle Ages and beyond, reflecting a popular desire to root the Christian tradition of Edessa in the apostolic era. This desire particularly aimed to honor the conversion of King Abgar IX, who was an early adopter of Christianity around A.D. 216. While historical accuracy does not support the miraculous or supernatural elements of the story, the legend's enduring appeal has had a significant impact. The reply of Christ to Abgar, revered as a talisman, became a lasting aspect of the lore surrounding the Image of Edessa, maintaining its prominence in tradition long after the physical image itself had faded from memory. The resilience of this legend underscores the power of narrative in sustaining religious devotion and cultural heritage.

Eusebius of Caesarea

The oldest known version of the Abgar legend is found in Eusebius' "Ecclesiastical History," written in the early fourth century. This account differs from later iterations, dating the events to A.D. 30, based on the Seleucid calendar. Unlike later versions, which place Abgar's interaction with Jesus just before the crucifixion, Eusebius' version doesn't specify the timing as precisely. Eusebius doesn't identify who Jesus sent to Abgar, though he mentions elsewhere that it was Thaddaeus, one of the seventy-two disciples sent by Thomas. Notably, Eusebius' account lacks any mention of Jesus promising to protect Edessa from enemies, a detail likely added later when Edessa became a Roman border city near Persian territory. Eusebius asserts that his narrative is drawn from documents in Edessa, translated from Syriac, though this claim's authenticity remains uncertain. Importantly, these records, as Eusebius knew them, did not reference any physical image or portrait associated with the story. This omission raises questions about the existence or recognition of such an image during Eusebius' time, as later claimed in the "Narratio de imagine Edessena." The reliability of the "Narratio de imagine Edessena" as a historical source is debated, given its lack of external corroboration. In Eusebius' tale, when Thaddaeus meets King Abgar, a remarkable vision appears on his face, a detail the "Narratio" interprets as a light emanating from an image placed over Thaddaeus' face. It's unclear if Eusebius intentionally omitted the image or if his source material did not include it. The "great vision" he mentions could either be a subtle nod to the image or an unrelated detail later adapted by the author of the "Narratio." If Eusebius did omit the image, it suggests he did not associate the vision with it, or possibly overlooked this aspect in his narrative.

The Doctrine of Addai

"The Doctrine of Addai," a Syriac text dating around AD 400, introduces the Image in the story of Abgar, a significant evolution from Eusebius' earlier account. This text, also known as Labubna, after its purported scribe, aimed to affirm orthodox Christian beliefs in Edessa, tracing them back to the city's earliest apostolic connections. In this narrative, Abgar sends Hanan (possibly Ananias from Eusebius' account) to Jesus. Contrasting Eusebius, where Ananias is merely a messenger, the "Doctrine of Addai" elevates him to a prominent court official, a scribe, and an artist. Hanan creates a portrait of Christ, bringing it back to Edessa, marking the first appearance of the Image in this legend, albeit in a different form from later descriptions. The "Doctrine of Addai" also expands the story with Jesus promising to protect Edessa from enemies, a concept absent in Eusebius' version. This promise, later mentioned in a letter from Darius to Augustine in 429, implies divine protection for the city, contributing to the letter's perception as a talisman or charm. Differing from Eusebius' written response from Jesus, the "Doctrine of Addai" presents Jesus' reply to Abgar as an oral message, with similar content but including a new promise of perpetual protection for the city. This evolution from a written to an oral response marks another key difference between the accounts of Eusebius and the "Doctrine of Addai."

Here’s the relevant part of the text : 

« Hannan was not only archivist, he was also the king's painter. When he saw that Jesus spake to him like this, he painted a likeness of Jesus with chosen paints, and brought it with him to Abgar the king, his master. And when Abgar the king saw the likeness, he received it with great joy, and placed it with great honour in one of his palatial houses. After the Ascension of Christ, Judas Thomas sent to Abgar Addai the Apostle, one of the seventy-two disciples. ».

In the period following the Council of Constantinople, it appears highly likely that the Church of Edessa introduced the concept of Christ's portrait to support and affirm the newly established dogma of Christ's dual nature, especially emphasizing his human aspect. This move was likely aimed at countering heretical views by reinforcing the belief in both the divine and human natures of Christ through the use of a physical representation.

The Acts of Thaddaeus

In the Greek text of the Acts of Thaddaeus, dated by Palmer to between A.D. 609 and 726, and published by Lipsius, there are notable additions to the earlier version by Eusebius, believed to be made towards the late fourth century. The Acts narrate the story of Lebbaios from Edessa, who journeyed to Jerusalem during John the Baptist's ministry. Baptized and renamed Thaddaeus, he becomes one of the twelve disciples. The Acts recount Abgar's story similarly to Eusebius, with minor adaptations in the king's letter to Christ. Ananias, as in the Synaxarion, is instructed to meticulously record Christ's appearance. In a manuscript variation noted by Lipsius in Vindobonensis bibl. Caesar. hist. gr. 45, dated to the ninth or tenth century, this description extends to Christ's entire body, suggesting Abgar wanted a complete depiction. The Acts introduce the concept of the Image being on cloth, referred to as "tetradiplon" and "sindon." Contrasting other accounts, Jesus' response to Abgar is brief and oral, focusing on his mission to suffer, resurrect, and uplift humanity. He promises to send his disciple Thaddaeus to enlighten Abgar and his city, guiding them to truth. This version simplifies and alters the message, integrating the Image on cloth into the narrative.

Is it possible to claim that this Mandylion was a burial shroud folded « 4 times double », bearing traces of blood and the image of an entire body?

The transformation of the Edessa Image from a painted portrait to a miraculous image purportedly made by Christ himself played a crucial role in the unification of both the Church and the Byzantine Empire. This miraculous image allowed for diverse interpretations, resonating with people of varying beliefs.

In the "Acts of Thaddeus," a 7th-century Greek text part of the Abgar legend, the creation of the miraculous image is described. According to this text, Jesus washed his face with a cloth, and his image was miraculously imprinted onto it:

"And He, knowing the heart, asked to wash Himself; and a tetradiplon was given to Him; and when He had washed Himself, He wiped His face with it. And His image being imprinted upon the linen, He gave it to Ananias, saying: 'Give this, and take back this message, to him who sent thee: Peace to thee and thy city!'"

In only one version of the "Acts of Thaddeus," the term "tetradiplon" is used to describe the cloth. This word combines the notion of "four" and the concept of "folded in two." In other versions of the text, the cloth is referred to as "strips of cloth" or a "handkerchief."

An important insight into the interpretation of this term comes from a 10th-century Arab text, which illuminates the translation from Syriac of a word related to the image's aspect:

"Hannan, who was a painter ... took a square board and painted on it Our Lord the Christ, may He be glorified, in nice and beautiful colors." This description suggests a physical representation, possibly influencing how the image was perceived and its characteristics described in various texts. The term "square" in Arabic shares a common root with the Syriac word “mbr’,” which translates to "four." This linguistic connection provides an interesting insight into the translation of the "Acts of Thaddeus." The Greek translator of this text encountered the same Syriac term used by the Arab author, but instead of translating it as "square," it was rendered as "tetra," meaning "four." Given that both the Greek and Arabic terms reflect the same Syriac expression, it is plausible to infer that either the medium or the image itself described in these texts was "square" in shape. However, it is truly possible that the cloth used as a support of the image could have been for exemple folded in two or folded twice in order to be more easily inserted in the ancient square reliquary. In this setting, the 10th-century Codex Vossianus Latinus presents a distinctive variation of the Abgar legend. In this version, Christ sends to the king a towel that bears not just the image of his face, but also the depiction of his entire body.

« If you want to physically see my person, I am sending you this towel on which you can see not only the appearance of my face, but the state, printed miraculously, of my whole body.. » 3

The story might be a post-hoc invention to explain the presence of a Christ image in Edessa. The TA could reflect a faint memory of an early Christian evangelization and an image that, due to persecution, was hidden and its history obscured. While its ancient existence is uncertain, evidence of the Edessa Image in the 6th century is more substantial. Evagrius' account from around 595 describes Edessans using the image, believed to be divinely created and not made by human hands, to miraculously save the city from a Persian siege. By the 6th century, the image was revered as the "Holy Image Not Made With Hands of Edessa." It shifted from being seen as man-made to being a divine imprint. The "Acts of Thaddaeus" narrate a version where Jesus imprints His face on a cloth, the rakos, after washing Himself. Ian Wilson, upon studying the account, found that the term tetradiplon, used to describe the cloth, was unique to the Edessa Image. He theorized that by folding the Shroud of Turin in a specific way, one could recreate this four-layered appearance, with only the face visible, mirroring early artistic representations of the Icon. This insight offered a new perspective on the Shroud's history and its possible connection to early Christian art.

The "Acts of Thaddaeus," is dated to the sixth or early seventh century. Notably, it describes the creation of the Image as a result of Jesus washing himself. More intriguingly, the cloth on which the Image was imprinted is described using the term 'tetradiplon' – meaning 'doubled in four'. This term is unique in Byzantine literature and appears exclusively in reference to the Image of Edessa, suggesting an unusual method of folding the cloth.

Experimenting with this concept using the Shroud of Turin offers an interesting perspective. If a full-length photographic print of the Shroud is folded in half and then folded in half twice more, it results in eight segments, or doubled in four, as per the sixth-century description. Folding the Shroud in this manner reveals that the face appears isolated on a landscape-oriented cloth, closely matching the later artistic depictions of the Image of Edessa. This correlation suggests a possible physical connection between the Shroud and the historical descriptions of the Image of Edessa.
This method of folding would transform the Shroud's lengthy fourteen feet into a more manageable size of approximately twenty-one inches by forty-five inches, prominently displaying the most significant part: the face. Considering the dim lighting of a church interior, where bloodstains might not be distinct in color, it's conceivable that the face on the cloth could have been perceived as having a watery origin, as described in the sixth-century "Acts of Thaddaeus."

Additionally, the "Acts of Thaddaeus" not only uses the term 'tetradiplon' to indicate a large cloth but also the word 'sindon' — the same term used in the synoptic gospels to describe Jesus’s burial shroud. This term's usage in various documents from the period hints at the Image of Edessa being a large cloth rather than a small hand-towel. While this doesn't necessarily imply that the Image was recognized as Jesus’s burial shroud at that time, it does confirm that it was considered a large piece of cloth.

Moreover, there is a further compelling indicator from the same era suggesting the Image of Edessa and the Shroud of Turin are one and the same. In the seventh century, a new wave of Pantocrator-type depictions of Christ emerged, influenced by the Image of Edessa. One such depiction is found in the St. Ponziano catacomb in Rome’s Trastevere district. This depiction, similar to the Pantocrator icon at St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, influenced by the Image of Edessa, contains a unique detail: a geometrical shape resembling a topless square between the eyebrows. Artistically unusual, it could be interpreted as an unnatural furrowed brow. However, the same feature appears on the Shroud face, likely a flaw in the weave. This suggests that an artist, over fourteen centuries ago, saw this feature on the cloth known as the Image of Edessa and replicated it in his Christ Pantocrator portrait. This small detail serves as a clue linking the depiction of Jesus in this artwork to the cloth we now know as the Shroud of Turin.


Egeria, a nun from possibly northwest Spain, undertook a pilgrimage to holy sites in the late fourth century. Her journey, partially documented, included a visit to Edessa, where she heard the story of Abgar from the local bishop. Egeria's records, incomplete as they are, mention the letters exchanged between Abgar and Jesus. The bishop reportedly read these letters to her and provided copies (likely not the originals). Egeria noted that the letters in Edessa were more detailed than those she already possessed. However, the specific content of these expanded letters, possibly including the promise of invincibility for the city, remains unknown. In her surviving account, Egeria doesn't mention Thaddaeus/Addai in relation to Abgar's story, nor does she refer to Abgar's illness or Ananias in Jerusalem. Her record's incompleteness means no definitive conclusions can be drawn from these omissions. Crucially, Egeria's account contains no mention of an image or portrait of Christ. This absence suggests that neither the bishop nor others in Edessa were aware of such an image. While some infer from this that the Image of Edessa did not exist at Egeria's time, this conclusion isn't necessarily accurate. It could indicate that the Image was simply unknown to them, possibly hidden or lost, as described in the "Narratio de imagine Edessena." However, the lack of written records before the tenth century about the Image being hidden complicates this theory. The "Narratio's" account of the Image's history before its sixth-century (re)discovery might have been fabricated to trace its origins back to Christ's time. But the absence of a pre-sixth century history of the Image, constructed four centuries later, doesn't confirm its sixth-century origins. It only highlights that the true origins of the Image are shrouded in history's uncertainties.


In the mid-sixth century, Procopius wrote about the failed Persian assault on Edessa. Notably, he doesn't mention any miraculous involvement of the Image in the city's defense. Procopius observes that the original versions of the letter between Jesus and Abgar didn't include the promise of the city's invincibility. He comments, somewhat sarcastically, that since the populace believed in this promise, it was as if God honored it to avoid undermining their faith. Drijvers argues that Procopius' silence on the Image implies its non-existence at that time, countering the belief in miracles. Meanwhile, scholars like von Dobschütz and Runciman see a historical basis in the legend. Evagrius Scholasticus, writing later in the sixth century, recounts how Christ's portrait protected Edessa during the Persian attack in AD 544. He assumes his readers are familiar with the Image but doesn't delve into its origins or arrival in Edessa. This account, found in Book IV, chapter 27 of his history, appears to build on Procopius' narrative, notably adding the Image's miraculous role in igniting wood underground – the earliest historical reference to the Image in Edessa. While Procopius describes challenges in lighting the fire during the siege, Evagrius focuses on the Image's miraculous intervention, omitting some details. Whitby notes that the miracle of the Image is seamlessly integrated into Procopius' account of the defenders' struggles.

The Oxford and Cairo Fragments of the Abgar correspondence

The Oxford Bodleian Gr. Th. b 1 and Cairo 10 736 papyrus fragments present a distinct version of the Abgar correspondence, albeit in a deteriorated state. These fragments, identified as parts of the same document and dated to the sixth or seventh century, were studied by Rolf Peppermuller, leading to several insights:

This version predates those of Eusebius and the current form of the Doctrina Addai.
The text is not a mere replication of Eusebius' work.
While sharing perspectives with the Doctrina Addai, the papyrus texts are not exact translations, evidenced by notable differences.
Compared to the papyrus, the Doctrina Addai contains both additional material and omissions, suggesting the papyri derive from an earlier Syriac source now lost.
The existence of a Greek version of the legend, independent of Eusebius, suggests a more complex history of the Abgar legend than previously thought. Despite the varying versions, Eusebius' account has exerted the most significant influence over time, largely due to his stature as a historian rather than the inherent authority of his text. The discrepancies in the correspondence as noted by Egeria further imply that there was no singular, authoritative original of the Abgar legend. From its inception, the story was subject to alterations and adaptations, with Eusebius' rendition becoming the 'standard' largely due to his reputation.

Regarding the depiction of the Image, in one version, Abgar, the king of Edessa, sends an artist to paint Jesus, but due to the divine brilliance of Jesus' face, a direct portrayal is impossible. Instead, Jesus imprints his image onto a large cloth, sending it to Abgar. In another account, if Jesus declines Abgar's invitation, messengers are instructed to capture his likeness on cloth, leading to a miraculous imprint of his image. This version transforms the Image from a human-created painting to a divine imprint. The Letter to Emperor Theophilus, often attributed to John Damascene but dating a century after his death, also mentions the Image. In this letter, Jesus wipes his holy form onto a sudarium, sending it to Abgar through Thaddaeus. This account implies that the Image was formed not just from Jesus' face but also from the divine sweat, raising questions about its similarity to the Narratio de imagine Edessena, where the Image forms when Jesus wipes his face in Gethsemane. The use of the term sudarium, typically meaning a sweat cloth, might have inspired this interpretation.

The Nouthesia Gerontos

This text, predating 787 and possibly written before 770, is among the few surviving from the First Iconoclasm period. It offers a unique take on the Abgar legend:

The narrative begins with the widespread renown of Jesus and his miracles. Abgar, the king, filled with a desire to see Jesus, sends messengers with a plea for Jesus to visit, expressing belief in Jesus as the light and glory of nations. Jesus, responding that he was sent only to the house of Israel, declines the invitation. However, Abgar instructs his messengers to bring back an exact likeness of Jesus if he refuses to come. Unable to create an image through artistic means, Jesus, observing their faith, takes a linen cloth and places it on his undefiled face. Without the use of paint or other materials, his image miraculously imprints onto the cloth. He then sends this cloth back to King Abgar, blessing him, the messengers, and the city of Edessa, fortifying its foundations. This account, as told by the God-bearing father Ephraim in his writings, emphasizes the divine nature of the image’s creation, highlighting its miraculous origin without the aid of human artistry. The cloth used for the imprint is specifically noted as linen. This version of the legend differs from later accounts, especially in the oral nature of the messages between Jesus and Abgar and the brevity and content of the communication. The focus is on the supernatural creation of the image, a departure from the traditional artistic portrayal, marking it as a divine imprint on a linen cloth.

The Narratio de imagine Edessena

The extensive version of the Abgar legend, attributed within the text to Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, represents one of the most detailed accounts of this narrative. Von Dobschutz challenges the direct authorship of the emperor, suggesting it was more likely penned by a courtier under Constantine's supervision. However, Patlagean sees no reason to dispute the emperor's authorship. Regardless of who precisely wrote it, the content of the text holds paramount importance.

Paul Hetherington notes that the author likely witnessed the arrival of the image in the Great City on 15 August 944, possibly conversing with those who escorted it. This text, integral to the Narratio de imagine Edessena, was incorporated unchanged into Symeon Metaphrastes' Menologion. Understanding the distinctions between the Menologion, Synaxarion, and Menaion is crucial. According to Noret, the Menologion provides a comprehensive account of a saint’s life or events of a particular day, with Symeon Metaphrastes' version being the most renowned. The Synaxarion offers a condensed version of these stories, as seen in the shorter rendition of the Image of Edessa narrative compared to the more detailed Menologion account. The Synaxarion's brevity sometimes results in missing context, as evidenced in its account of the discovery of the Persians’ tunnel in Edessa. The Menaion differs from both, serving as a liturgical calendar with hymns organized by date rather than subject. Some manuscripts blend excerpts from the prose Synaxarion with the hymns for specific days. Metaphrastes, in the latter half of the tenth century, expanded and detailed many earlier hagiographies in his Menologion. Christian Hogel notes significant structural changes in Metaphrastes’ reworkings, including uneven distribution of texts across months and fewer texts dedicated to Mary. The fact that Metaphrastes left the Narratio de imagine Edessena untouched in his Menologion for 16 August implies either the unavailability of further details or his satisfaction with the existing account. Hogel suggests that the voluminous Menologion was later condensed into a more practical version at Mount Athos shortly after the founding of the Megistes Lavras in the mid-tenth century. This likely marked the origin of the Synaxarion, with numerous manuscripts found in Athos libraries. The Narratio de imagine Edessena, therefore, stands as a key text in understanding the evolution and dissemination of the Abgar legend through various historical and liturgical documents.

Christianity in Edessa

Acknowledging the Narratio de imagine Edessena and the Synaxarion as factual would imply that Christianity was established in Edessa soon after Christ's crucifixion. However, the correspondence between Jesus and King Abgar, as described in these texts, is generally not considered authentic. This casts doubt on the idea of such an early emergence of Christianity in Edessa.

While legends often have a kernel of truth, however distorted, a King Abgar did rule Edessa during Christ's lifetime. The more widely accepted view, though, aligns the official adoption of Christianity in Edessa with the reign of Abgar VIII the Great, who ruled from AD 177 to 212. Notably, some coins from this period show Abgar VIII wearing a tiara adorned with a cross, suggesting his Christian faith.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Abgar%2BVIII%2Bcoin

A coin from the reign of Abgar VIII, featuring a Christian cross on his headgear, was likely minted during the reign of the Roman Emperor Commodus (177-192 AD). This suggests a period of religious tolerance. While there may have been earlier Christian rulers in Edessa, such as Abgar V, it is Abgar VIII who is recognized as the first king to openly embrace Christianity. 1

A Christian church certainly existed in Edessa during the time of Abgar the Great. Bardaisan, a contemporary philosopher and poet of Abgar, likely held Christian beliefs or at least integrated elements of Christianity into his own philosophies. By the end of the second century, the presence of Christian heretics such as Valentinians and Marcionites in Edessa indicates that Christianity had been established there earlier. Tixeront suggests that Christianity was first preached in Edessa around AD 160 to 170. Segal proposes the possibility of a Jewish mission in the first century AD having successfully influenced the region. He links the Jewish tradition of affixing a mezuzah (a small piece containing scripture attached to doorframes) to the legend of the Jesus/Abgar correspondence being attached to the city gates. Although this theory appears somewhat speculative, it could provide some context for the emergence of the legend. It is more probable that the letters and the Image became widely acknowledged first, and a story was later fabricated to trace their origin back to Christ's time. This does not necessarily negate the possibility of a pre-sixth-century origin for the Image. While there is strong evidence of Christianity in Edessa from the mid-second century, the early history of Christian origins in the city remains largely elusive and open to interpretation.

It is plausible that Christianity, which rapidly spread across the Roman Empire, could have reached an area close to Palestine like Edessa, where a similar dialect was spoken. We can highlight the geographical proximity of Edessa to significant Christian centers, noting that it is just 180 miles from Antioch, compared to the much further distances to Ephesus, Rome, and Spain. If Christianity had gained followers in the mountain village of Hadiab by the early second century, it is reasonable to believe that Edessa and Osrhoene, located on key routes connecting Arbel and Syria, would have embraced Christianity by the end of the first century. The discussion then shifts to whether the arrival of Christianity in Edessa is directly linked to the arrival of the Image (assuming it did not originate in the city). The two events don't necessarily coincide; Christianity could have arrived earlier among the populace or officially, independent of the Image. The presence of the Image in Edessa, or its origin there, seems improbable without a Christian presence in the city. This leads to an uncertain conclusion: while it's unlikely that the Image existed in Edessa before Christianity arrived, it could have been brought there anytime between the establishment of the religion and the sixth century. Thus, determining when Christianity took root in Edessa provides limited insight into the origins of the Image.

Why this painted image was transformed into an image « not made by human hands? 

In Edessa, the painted portrait of Christ was not regarded as having been created through divine intervention or possessing miraculous "protective powers." Instead, it was the letter from Christ, with its blessing on the city, that was believed to explain Edessa's successful defenses against Persian attacks in 503, 540, and 544 A.D. This belief was echoed by Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea in 550 A.D.

Yet, at the end of the 6th century A.D., another historian, Evagrius, offered a different perspective on the Persian attack of 544 A.D. According to him, the victory was attributed to the Image of Edessa, which he described for the first time in the Abgar legend as "the image that has not been made by the hand of men." This new element in the legend likely emerged from a confluence of existing beliefs and events:

The divine protection granted to Edessa in Christ's letter to King Abgar was symbolically "transferred" to the portrait displayed in the city, which then came to be regarded as a "palladium," or protective relic.
A specific incident during the battle, as described by Procopius, involved water reviving fire "with greater activity than oil would have," leading to associations of this event with divine intervention and the image.
The concept of a miraculous Christ image gained credibility due to an earlier event in 503 A.D. in the nearby town of Amid, where a different portrait of Christ was believed to have "delivered the city to the Persians because of its sins," setting a precedent for such beliefs.
Additionally, the presence of a miraculous image in the town of Kamuliana by the end of the 6th century, which was later moved in 574 A.D., reinforced this notion. The Byzantine victory over the Persians was then attributed to this transferred image.
These various factors combined to enhance the perception of the Image of Edessa as a miraculous and divinely protected icon within the evolving Christian tradition.
This image was uniquely described as being "made by miracle, and not by the craft of Embroiders or Painters." Such a characterization set a precedent for the acceptance of the Edessa Image as an icon "not made by human hands."

Moreover, there's evidence that challenges the theory suggesting the Image of Edessa was discovered during the collapse of a city wall in the flood of 525 A.D. Notably, a testimony predating this event, specifically before 439 A.D., mentions an eyewitness visiting Edessa specifically "to receive a blessing from the image of Christ that was present there." This account indicates that the image was known and venerated in Edessa well before the mid-5th century, contradicting the later discovery hypothesis. 2

The Origins of the Image 

To date, there is no definitive or universally accepted theory about the origins of the Image of Edessa. Various books and articles exploring this topic have proposed different sources, dates, and reasons for its existence, but none have emerged as conclusively more persuasive than the others. The best approach remains to examine and analyze the available sources, both ancient and modern, for insights into the Image's origins. The Narratio de imagine Edessena, one of the primary sources on the subject, dates the Image's creation to the time of Christ, specifically before his crucifixion. Notably, the Narratio presents two versions of how the Image came to be. The first and more common version involves King Abgar sending a messenger to capture Jesus' likeness, but instead, Jesus miraculously imprints his facial features onto a cloth and sends it back. The second, less typical version, sets the imprint event in the Garden of Gethsemane. In this narrative, Jesus, while sweating blood, wipes his face with a cloth, which miraculously captures his visage.

The historical existence of a King Abgar in Edessa during the time of Christ is widely acknowledged. This Abgar, likely ruling from AD 13 to 50, is even mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus, albeit in a negative context. In his writings, Tacitus recounts a situation where Abgar's actions influenced political events and decision-making in Edessa, portraying him as a somewhat manipulative figure. However, the mere historical presence of King Abgar in Edessa during Jesus' lifetime does little to substantiate a first-century origin for the Image. It's essential to consider other factors and evidence beyond the coincidence of Abgar's reign to draw more concrete conclusions about the origins of the Image of Edessa.  The first known textual reference to the Image of Edessa appears in the "Doctrine of Addai," dating to around AD 400. Eusebius, while aware of the supposed correspondence between Jesus and King Abgar, does not mention the Image in his works. In the "Doctrine of Addai," Abgar sends envoys, including the faithful archivist Hanan (Ananias in Greek versions), to Eleutheropolis with letters. Upon receiving a response, they journey to Jerusalem, witnessing Jesus' activities and the plotting against him. As an archivist, Hanan meticulously records everything they observe. Upon their return to Edessa, they relay the events to King Abgar, with Hanan reading out his detailed account. This ignites a desire in Abgar to meet Jesus himself, but he is unable to travel through Roman-controlled areas outside his jurisdiction. Abgar’s letter to Christ, largely similar to later versions, seeks healing for an illness and invites Jesus to Edessa. In this account, there's no request for a portrait if Jesus is unable to visit. Jesus responds orally, not in writing, promising to send a disciple after his ascension (the disciple remains unnamed, unlike in later texts), and assures Edessa's invincibility against enemies.

The "Doctrine of Addai" then diverges significantly in its mention of the portrait: Hanan, also the king's artist, paints a portrait of Jesus and presents it to Abgar, who receives it joyfully and honors it in his palace. This portrayal of events raises questions about the relationship between the "Doctrine of Addai" and the document Eusebius might have seen in Edessa's archives. Tixeront believes the "Doctrine of Addai" is the text Eusebius saw, albeit with minor modifications. However, the "Doctrine of Addai" includes Jesus' promise of Edessa's invincibility, a detail later omitted but restored in subsequent versions. Tixeront suggests Eusebius accepted the correspondence's authenticity but not the invincibility promise, leading to its removal. The mention of the portrait in the "Doctrine of Addai," absent in Eusebius' account, complicates this theory. Tixeront argues that since Egeria saw the letters but not the Image during her visit, the Image must not have been in Edessa then, implying it was a later addition to the "Doctrine." This conjecture highlights the challenges in asserting that Eusebius' source was the "Doctrine of Addai." The suggestion that the additional elements in Eusebius' text, specifically the promise of invincibility and the inclusion of the Image, are early instances of the story's embellishment over time is a more reasonable explanation. These additions likely represent the beginning stages of how the narrative evolved and expanded as it was retold.

The Image of Edessa in Art 

The Image of Edessa, while not having any surviving copies from its time in Edessa, remains a significant subject in art. Andre Grabar notes the lack of these early copies, attributing it to the Semitic population's preference for the letter from Christ to Abgar over painted art, unlike the Greeks, who focused more on the Image itself. An early artistic representation of the Image of Edessa is found in Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai.

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This icon is divided into four sections. In the upper left, Thaddaeus is depicted in a white robe, and opposite him is Abgar, wearing a dark blue tunic, both identified by inscriptions. Abgar is shown holding a small cloth bearing the imprinted head of Christ. This cloth appears to have been given to him by a figure on his right, likely Ananias. Below Thaddaeus and Abgar are figures of Paul of Thebes, Antonios, Ephraim the Syrian, and Basil. The icon comprises two wings of a triptych joined together after the central part was lost. The central portion likely depicted the actual Image of Edessa, with the top half showing the Image and the lower half featuring standing figures similar to those under Thaddaeus and Abgar. The cloth in Abgar’s hand is probably a smaller version of the larger Image depicted in the lost central section. The facial depiction on the miniature differs from later portrayals of Christ's face on the Mandylion, being somewhat rounder. the Sinai icon is dated to the mid-tenth century and suggests an intriguing possibility: the portrayal of Abgar may be modeled on Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. This artistic choice could symbolize Constantine as the new recipient of the Mandylion, aligning him with King Abgarus in the role of protector and preserver of this revered Christian relic.

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One of the most notable Western European copies of the Mandylion is housed in the Cathedral of Laon, north of Rheims. This representation, painted onto two pieces of pinewood, measures 44 x 40 cm. It was sent to Laon from Rome in 1249. According to Andre Grabar, this icon could date from any time between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. The Abgar story and the Image of Edessa have been held in high esteem in Georgia, evidenced by the inclusion of the letters in the New Testament alongside the gospels. In 1989, remnants of a painting titled "Holy Face of God" were found in the Church of the Holy Cross at Telovani, dated to the late eighth or early ninth century, a period when the Image was still believed to be in Edessa. 

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Sem_t143

From the eleventh century, the Mandylion became a common feature in Georgian churches. A depiction of both the Mandylion and Keramion (the tile onto which the Image was transferred according to many versions of the story) is found in the Vatican Biblioteca Apostolica Cod. Ross. Gr. 251f I2'. The manuscript portrays the cloth on the left with tassels and the tile on the right, ingeniously painted to resemble a mirror image of Christ's face. The miniature bears the title "atX6Cxs5 atvsuμatitxai." Another well-known miniature of the Image of Edessa is in the thirteenth-century Codex Skylitzes (f. 131), located in Madrid's National Library. The miniature, titled "to aytov itavbvXtov," depicts the emperor receiving and holding the Image to his face, presumably to kiss it. The scene shows two cloths: a smaller white one with tassels, bearing Christ's face, and a larger reddish-pink cloth held in folds by the messenger. The relationship between these two cloths remains ambiguous.

Robin Margaret Jensen provides a detailed description of Jesus' face as depicted in copies of the Mandylion. The portrayal features Christ with a gaze that directly meets the viewer, situated beneath prominently defined brows and a high forehead. His nose is depicted as long and slender. Below it lies a small mouth, situated beneath a slightly drooping mustache. The beard is distinctive, coming to two sharp points. His hair is styled with a center part, flowing down to his shoulders.

Last edited by Otangelo on Mon Feb 05, 2024 2:53 am; edited 5 times in total




What was the Image of Edessa? 

If we consider the story of Abgar sending a messenger to Christ, and Christ imprinting his face on a cloth, as purely legendary, then the Image of Edessa, in a certain sense, never truly existed. However, the reality is more complex. There indeed was an object referred to as the Image of Edessa, which was transported from Edessa to the Byzantine capital in the tenth century and remained there until the early thirteenth century. The fact that its origins are rooted in legend doesn't negate the existence of the object itself.  The Liturgical Tract, a document concerning the Image, suggests it was deliberately kept from public view to enhance the sense of mystery and religious awe surrounding it. Von Dobschütz dates this text to shortly after the Image's arrival in Constantinople and believes it to be based on an earlier Syriac original. This implies that the rituals described might reflect practices from Edessa. The lack of direct public access to the cloth likely contributed to the limited and vague descriptions of its appearance, making the task of understanding it challenging. The term 'eikōn' is consistently used in texts referring to the Image of Edessa. This Greek word, often translated as 'icon', is deliberately rendered as 'image' here to avoid the implication of a painted artifact. The choice stems from a desire to prevent any misinterpretation since the Image of Edessa is not typically described as a painted image, except in the Doctrine of Addai. The Septuagint uses 'eikōn' in the creation narrative to signify a likeness or similarity, not necessarily a painted representation or the exact essence of something else. In the New Testament, 'eikōn' has dual meanings: it represents the emperor's likeness on a coin, as well as the visible essence of something, such as in 2 Corinthians 4:4. For the Image of Edessa, 'eikōn' should be understood in this latter sense.

1. Abgar VIII #3
2.  Text cited in « Transformations of the Edessa Portrait of Christ” - Sebastian Brock, Oxford University – He based his work on the manuscript: Paris, syr. 235, f.166r. See “Revue de l’orient Chrétien-Deuxième série-Tome
V(XV)-Paris” for the translation of the complete text in French.
3. E. Poulle, dans un article « Les sources de l’histoire du Linceul de Turin», Revue d’histoire Ecclésiastique, Vol. 104 (2009), N°3-4, page 767

The Image of Edessa, also known as the Mandylion, is an integral part of Christian history and iconography, with its roots deeply embedded in the legend of how Christianity came to the ancient city of Edessa. This tale is chronicled in the document "The Teaching of Addai," dating back to the late 4th or early 5th century. The story begins with King Abgar V of Edessa, who suffered from a severe illness. Upon hearing of Jesus Christ's miraculous healings, Abgar sent a correspondence to Jesus, inviting Him to Edessa for healing and refuge. According to "The Teaching of Addai," Jesus, unable to visit Edessa himself, sent his disciple Thaddeus (also known as Addai) after His Ascension. Thaddeus arrived in Edessa, healed King Abgar, and led the conversion of the king and his subjects to Christianity.

The Mandylion, meaning "towel" or "handkerchief" in Greek, is central to this narrative. It is believed to bear a miraculous image of Jesus' face. There are different accounts of its origin; some suggest Jesus intentionally imprinted His face on the cloth, while others claim the image appeared when He wiped His face with it. This revered cloth, sent to King Abgar, validated his faith and veneration. An interesting twist in the story involves Hanan, the king's messenger, who in some accounts is tasked with painting Jesus' likeness. However, he returns with the Mandylion, bearing the divine imprint of Christ's visage, instead of a crafted image. This event marks the beginning of the veneration of the Image of Edessa, considered one of the earliest icons in Christian history.

The Image of Edessa also played a significant role during the Iconoclastic Controversy in the Byzantine Empire. It served as an exemplar for the defense of icon veneration, notably by figures such as St. John Damascene. The argument was that if the Mandylion, an image "not made by human hands," was worthy of honor, then so were other icons. The legend further unfolds during the siege of Edessa by Persian forces in 544. The city's bishop, following a prophetic dream, unearthed the Image, which was hidden in a wall niche. When brought to the siege lines, the Image caused a miraculous event: the flames lit by the besiegers were repelled, leading to their defeat.

Despite Edessa's eventual fall to the Byzantine Empire, the Image remained revered and was transported with great ceremony to Constantinople in the 10th century. Housed in the Boucoleon Palace, it made occasional appearances in pilgrims' accounts but ultimately vanished following the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204. The Image of Edessa, beyond its physical existence, left a profound textual and symbolic legacy. It played a crucial role in the early establishment of Christianity in the region, evidenced by Edessa becoming the first kingdom to embrace Christianity as a state religion around 200 AD. During the Iconoclast Controversy, the Image became a central piece of evidence in the debate over the veneration of sacred images, embodying the concept of circumscription. This concept, highlighting Christ's ability to be depicted, was pivotal in justifying the use of religious imagery. The Image's symbolic and protective roles continue to resonate within the Orthodox Church, influencing Christian iconography. Its placement over gateways in Edessa reflects the Church's appropriation and Christianization of earlier pagan traditions, such as the ancient Greek practice of positioning statues of deities at city gates for protection. This adaptation showcases the seamless weaving of old and new traditions in the continuous tapestry of faith and tradition, with the Christian Image of Edessa supplanting and transforming earlier practices.

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There are several reasonable clues suggesting that the events narrated in the Doctrine of Addai have a historical basis and refer to Abgar V, who reigned during the time of Jesus. When he died in 50 A.D., his son Ma'nu V succeeded him. Upon the latter's death in 57 A.D., the kingdom was passed into the hands of Abgar V's other son, Ma'nu VI, who reverted to pagan worship and persecuted Christians. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that the image had to be hidden, and its precise memory faded until its rediscovery in the 6th century. By the times of Eusebius and Egeria, it was no longer possible to display the image; this could explain their silence on the matter.

In 57 A.D., Ma'nu, the successor of Abgar, rejects Christianity and begins to persecute Christians. The cloth is hidden and disappears. In 525 AD– During reconstruction works after a great flood, in a niche above one of the gates of Edessa, an image of Christ’s face 'not made by human hand' was found. It is the Mandylion (Shroud), whose imprinted face was similar to what we have on the Shroud of Turin.

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In the account given by the compiler of the Narratio, the acheiropoieton image had been displayed openly but was later concealed within a wall, or possibly within a column or a small shrine at the city's gate, as often depicted. This image, by some accounts, was miraculously preserved through numerous calamities, including several devastating floods that battered the city in the years 201, 203, 413, and 525, and its existence had slipped from the collective memory of the people.

The tale then reconnects with a tradition begun by Evagrius Scholasticus, who recorded that in 544, during the Persian siege of Edessa, the city was spared due to the presence of this relic. However, by that time, the inhabitants had forgotten about this potent talisman. The narrative introduces a dramatic turn where the bishop of Edessa is guided by a dream vision to rediscover the hidden object. Upon following the revelation, the bishop finds the divine image intact, along with a wick that had remained lit over the centuries, and a secondary image on a tile that was placed before the lamp to shield it. Armed with the venerable depiction of Christ, the bishop then approaches the area where the Persian forces were heard, reinforcing the city’s hope.

The image, having been found unscathed after such a long concealment, was credited with the miraculous repulsion of Chosroes and his forces. The account of the Narratio thus explains the existence of more than one terracotta tile bearing the miraculous image of Christ.

The story provides an intricate account of how an image, preserved through time, was later found and became a symbol of protection and victory for the city of Edessa. The tale also touches upon the tradition of placing anthropomorphic symbols on buildings, a practice common in the region, which could relate to the placement of the image on the city gates. Further, it recounts the finding of a lamp that had seemingly burned perpetually, and a ceramic representation of the image that was potentially used to safeguard the actual relic when placed within its niche.

The earliest known historical mention dates to 544 AD, when the Persian King Khosroes besieged Edessa. The city reportedly repelled the siege with the aid of the image, described by historian Evagrius Scholasticus as miraculously made "not by the hands of man"—a phrase commonly associated with the Mandylion.

The Image of Edessa, also referred to as the Mandylion, holds a significant place in the lore of Christian relics, embodying a profound intersection of faith, art, and history. The phrase "not made by hands" (acheiropoietos in Greek) that Evagrius Scholasticus and other sources use to describe the image conveys the belief that the image was of divine, rather than human, origin—miraculously created.

The account of the siege of Edessa and the image's role in it appears to be the first historically recorded instance of the Mandylion. When the Persian forces of King Khosroes I laid siege to the city, the Edessans processed the holy image along the city walls, which resulted in the miraculous saving of the city. This event elevated the Mandylion to the status of a palladium, a protective icon for the city.
The historical account given by Evagrius does not mention the legend of King Abgar and the image’s origins, which suggests that the association with the earlier legend developed after this time. It is also notable that the earlier story about the image's origins in the time of Jesus does not specify the image's nature as acheiropoietos, a detail that appears to emerge later and may reflect a growing theological emphasis on the divine nature of Jesus and the desire for a tangible connection to Him. By the 6th century, the cult of icons was becoming increasingly popular, and the story of the Image of Edessa played a pivotal role in this development. Icons were not merely artistic representations but were believed to participate in the holiness of the figures they depicted, serving as conduits for devotion and intercession.

The Mandylion remained in Edessa until the 10th century, after which it was brought to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Its arrival is historically documented in 944 AD, when it was transferred with great ceremony. The Byzantines also regarded the image with profound reverence, and it was believed to have the power to protect the city. The fate of the Mandylion following the Fourth Crusade in 1204, when Constantinople was sacked by Latin Crusaders, is uncertain. Some scholars believe that the Mandylion was taken to the West and eventually became what is known today as the Shroud of Turin, although this theory is subject to much debate and is not universally accepted. Throughout its history, the Mandylion has been enveloped in legend and mystery. While its existence as a physical artifact from the time of Jesus is debated, its impact on Christian tradition, iconography, and the veneration of relics is clear. It served as a symbol of Christ's presence and a tangible embodiment of divine intervention in human affairs. Its story is a testament to the enduring human desire for a direct, physical connection to the divine and the powerful role that religious artifacts play in faith and community identity.

The legend of the Mandylion states that the image, which had been hidden due to the city's conversion back to paganism, was rediscovered after a vision on the night of a Persian invasion. The story evolved to include the idea that the image was not made by human hands (Acheiropoietos), and later accounts suggest it played a role in the defense of the city during the siege by Persian King Khosrow I in 544 AD. However, there is strong evidence against this narrative, as the Syriac "Edessan Chronicle," written between 540 and 550 AD, does not mention the rediscovery of any image following the 525 flood, which challenges the theory that the Mandylion/Shroud was found at that time. The earliest mention of an image in this context appears in the Doctrine of Addai from around 400 AD, which describes a portrait of Jesus painted by a court painter. Over time, the story developed to include supernatural elements, such as the image miraculously reproducing itself on a tile and remaining lit by a lamp over centuries. The Christ Pantocrator at St. Catherine's Monastery in Sinai is considered one of the earliest icons to reflect a congruence with the facial features seen on the Shroud of Turin, which adds to the discussion on how such images may have influenced the iconography of Christ in Christian art.

After the year 544, the image was relocated to the primary church in Edessa. Seventh-century accounts in the Acta Maris confirm its presence there, describing it as an acheiropoieta (a term for images not made by human hands) and referring to it as 'seddona', which is the Syriac translation of 'mandylion'. Additionally, in the same century, or perhaps earlier, the Acta Thaddaei depict the image as being folded into quarters.

The Byzantine Narratio and related sources, which document the transfer of the Mandylion from Edessa to Constantinople in 944, are the first to link the image with the events of Jesus’ passion, spanning from the Gethsemane to his Crucifixion and burial. The hypothesis that the image was first folded into four parts is believed to have originated around this time, possibly as a means of preservation or reverence, aligning with its increasing association with significant events from Jesus' life.

The public worship of the image in Edessa is corroborated by Smera, who refers to a depiction of Christ’s full image. In the 10th-century document, Codex Vossianus Latinus Q69, an account from the eighth or ninth century mentions that a canvas bearing the imprint of Christ’s entire body was preserved in a church in Edessa. This text, quoting Smera from Constantinople, narrates Abgar's desire to see Jesus. Jesus is said to have promised to send Abgar a linen cloth imprinted with not just his face, but his whole body, miraculously transformed: ‘linteum, in quo non solum faciei mee figuram, sed totius corporis mei figuram cernere poteris statum divinitus transformatum’. Jesus reportedly laid his entire body on a snow-white linen cloth, leaving imprints of both his glorious face and his noble entire body.

The text emphasizes the ‘whole body’ three times (totius corporis mei figuram; toto se corpore stravit; totius corporis status), indicating that the Edessan image depicted both Jesus's face and body, and was still present in the great church of Edessa: ‘Linteus adhuc vetustate temporis permanens incorruptus, in Mesopotamia Syrie apud Edissam civitatem in domo maioris ecclesie habetur repositus’. On certain feast days throughout the year, this linen was taken out of its golden box and displayed for all to see. It is not explicitly mentioned whether the linen was normally kept folded in the golden box and only unfolded for these occasions.

In 525, following the destruction of Edessa’s main cathedral in a significant flood, a new cathedral was completed about three decades later. Termed Hagia Sophia, akin to the renowned church in Constantinople, this cathedral was reputed for its stunning beauty, adorned with gold, glass, and marble, as noted by Segal in 1970. The 10th-century Greek "Liturgical Tractate", discovered by the eminent 19th-century historian Ernest von Dobschutz, reveals that this cathedral permitted only the Icon within its walls. The Icon was securely kept in a chest within a dedicated sanctuary, under the watch of an abbot, as detailed by Wilson in 1979.

A special procession took place on the Sunday before Lent began, where the Image, still enclosed in its chest, was paraded through the cathedral, accompanied by twelve bearers each of incense, torches, and flabella or liturgical fans, as Wilson described in 2000. Historian Robert Drews, analyzing the Tractate, inferred that the object in question was sizable, not a small, unframed cloth susceptible to the wind, as he noted in 1984. The chest housing the Icon was only opened by the archbishop, equipped with shutters that were seldom opened. On these rare occasions, the gathered crowd, including locals and pilgrims, could view it from a distance through a grille at the sanctuary’s entrance, though the face was difficult to discern. Von Dobschutz speculated that even then, the Icon was likely covered, as Scavone reported in 2001.

Wilson underscored the profound impact of these rituals, quoting the Tractate in 1979: the faithful were not permitted to approach or touch the holy likeness, nor to gaze directly upon it. This restriction heightened their divine fear, faith, and reverence for the revered object, making it more fearful and awe-inspiring. This aspect is critical for understanding the history of the Holy Image of Edessa and its challenging identification with the Shroud of Turin. The cloth was frequently kept folded and hidden, much like the Shroud was in later centuries in Turin.

Evolution of Christ Iconography

The Bible offers no detailed description of Christ's physical features; instead, tradition credits Saint Luke or Nicodemus with crafting the first depictions of Jesus. In early Christian art, symbolism was predominantly employed, utilizing motifs like the lamb, the loaf, and particularly the fish. The Greek acronym for 'Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior' spelled out 'fish,' and depictions of the 'eucharistic fish' are notable in the San Callisto catacombs in Rome, dating back to the late 2nd century. The initial visual portrayals of Christ in ancient mosaics and sculptures were influenced by deities from various non-Christian beliefs, a reflection of the era's gradual shift from paganism to Christianity. One of the earliest known images, Christ Helios, located in the Vatican's Tomb of the Julii from the early 3rd century, depicts Jesus as the unconquered sun, sol invictus, ascending to the heavens in a chariot pulled by two horses. With time, the depiction evolved to include the human form of Christ as the 'good shepherd,' 'healer,' and 'teacher and guide,' reminiscent of the classical archetype akin to Apollo. Such an image is exemplified by the portrayal of Christ healing the bleeding woman, found in the catacombs of Saints Peter and Marcellinus in Rome from the late 3rd century. The portrayal of a beardless Christ was likely a deliberate choice to emphasize his divine essence, aligning with the proclamations of the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD about the divine nature of Jesus, the Son of the eternal God.

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"IS THIS THE PROTOTYPE PORTRAIT OF OUR LORD? What may be the original of the later traditional likenesses of Jesus was found in a fresco on the ceiling of a vault in the catacombs of Rome. There this drawing—discovered in 1932 in the British Museum by the Rev. C. C. Dobson—was made by a British portraitist, Thomas Heaphy, about 1847. The vault is known to date to the 1st century; the fresco, much faded, was copied by the painter with the utmost reverential care." 2

The image is a drawing of Jesus Christ, made by a British portraitist named Thomas Heaphy in 1847. Heaphy was a prolific watercolor painter and a founding member of the Royal Society of British Artists. He primarily painted battle scenes and portraits of officers, such as the one he painted of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. The drawing was discovered in 1932 in the British Museum by the Rev. C. C. Dobson, who claimed that it was a copy of a fresco found in the ceiling of a vault in the catacombs of Rome. The vault is known to date to the 1st century AD; the fresco, much faded, was copied by Heaphy with the utmost reverential care. The fresco depicts Jesus Christ on a throne between two groups of apostles. It is one of several Christian frescoes that have been rediscovered inside the catacombs of St. Domitilla in Rome.

As long ago as 1985, my book The Holy Shroud and the Earliest Paintings of Christ was published. This dealt with my research into the work of a little-known Victorian English painter, Thomas Heaphy, who had spent time in the Roman catacombs when they were being re-opened and explored by several archaeologists and art historians in the mid-nineteenth century. Heaphy's consuming interest was the received likeness of Christ which occurs again and again throughout the entire 2,000-year history of Christianity. He found several paintings of Christ in the catacombs and copied them with the aid of candlelight and a good deal of perseverance in extremely difficult conditions. His work was later published in the form of etchings taken from his original paintings and at the turn of the century other researchers expanded the theories Heaphy had put forward concerning the great antiquity of some of the paintings he had found. After his death, a folio of Heaphy's original paintings was deposited in the British Museum Library (now the British Library) where they lay scarcely touched for more than a century. A few researchers during that time had sighted them, one or two of whom had published commentaries based on Heaphy's work. I came across them through a series of coincidences and became convinced that Heaphy had discovered and copied probably the earliest portrait of Christ ever painted and that it dated to the mid-first century. My 1985 book and subsequent papers on the subject were regarded with hilarity, scorn, and derision by several of our contemporary experts on art history. They stated that no painting in the Roman catacombs dates earlier than about the end of the third century and one went as far as to proclaim more than once that Heaphy was a fraud and that I had been fooled by his fraudulence. A chamber has been named the Orpheus Cubiculum on account of a painting of Orpheus which faces the observer as one enters the room. Indeed, this early painting of Christ on the ceiling of the Orpheus cubiculum in the secret depths of the Catacomb of Domitilla, well away from public access, was claimed to be a figment of Heaphy's imagination. This portrait shows a bearded, long-haired Christ very similar to the image of the man on the Shroud and totally unlike all the early portraits of Christ for the first three centuries which depict him as a beardless Roman youth or in artistic inventions as the Good Shepherd. I have proposed the theory that if the portrait is very early then its remarkable similarity to that on the Shroud suggests that we have two likenesses of the same man: that in the catacomb probably painted by someone who had seen Christ in person or at the very least had from memory dictated and directed the painter who executed the work.

 It was not until after I had published much of this that I came into contact with Sylvia Bogdanescu of London who had, quite independently of me, not only researched the work of Thomas Heaphy but had, in 1979, visited the Orpheus Cubiculum and had discovered and photographed the painting reported by Heaphy more than a hundred years before. Subsequently, I took an expedition into the catacombs with Vatican permission in 1993 and took more photographs substantiating the work of Bogdanescu and giving the lie forever to fraudulence on Heaphy's part. This amazing portrait is still there, although somewhat damaged, and yet has never been published photographically in any known reference work including those which describe and illustrate the Cubiculum of Orpheus other than in Sylvia Bogdanescu's manuscript book and my paper given in Rome in 1993 about our joint research. My group currently cannot offer a cogent reason for this absence (or suppression) of publication unless it is that the authorities themselves realize that this may well be the earliest portrait of Christ and was executed in the first century by someone who had seen Christ and is, therefore, one of the most important artifacts in Christendom. One does not want thousands of pilgrims tramping through the already severely damaged, deteriorating and dangerous catacombs to a "shrine" in the inner depths of those remarkable tunnels. It was an interesting coincidence that, three years after the Rome Symposium conducted by the French Shroud group CIELT, the proceedings of that congress were published. Indeed on the very day I was leaving Australia for London to discuss with Sylvia Bogdanescu our proposed May 1996 catacombs expedition I received a copy of the book containing the Rome papers including my New Evidence for the Earliest Portrait of Christ. Despite the omission of the bibliography, many typographical errors (not in the original text supplied to the editors), and despite one of my three colored plates being inverted, the French editor has kindly seen fit in his French language summary to describe the work as "revealing sensational evidence which not only establishes certain catacomb paintings as First Century but that at least one has been influenced by the image on the Shroud (sic) and has probably been painted from direct observation of the man or instruction from an observer." The book is a magnificently produced 428 pages including many coloured plates on quality art paper. Now that the world can read the theories of Bogdanescu and Morgan we await the further comments and reactions of the experts. 

In the meantime, I led a further expedition in May 1996 into the Orpheus Cubiculum, again with gracious official permission. We have studied and assessed much of the work of Bogdanescu which provides an enormous amount of circumstantial historical evidence for the age of the tomb complex. We have found, for example, that all existing maps of that part of the catacombs have been based on inaccurate previous maps with inaccuracies and elisions perpetuated. Bogdanescu's return to original sources has shown without doubt that the assumptions on which many of the dating premises have been based were quite inaccurate. In fact, there was almost certainly an earlier entrance to the Cubiculum complex, later abandoned and lost, which seems to place it in the middle of the First Century and has no relevance to the entrances or routes used today to access the Cubiculum and its immediate environs. Further evidence for this comes from art expert Isabel Piczek who was a valuable team member in May 1996 and we await her further deliberations based on the extensive observations she made of pigments, colours, and technique when we were in Orpheus this year. She has already concluded that the work in that cubiculum is probably first century. In this year's observations when our team descended, armed with the most modern and non-harmful equipment, Christopher Morgan made the fullest series of serious photographs ever taken of the portrait and nearby paintings and environmental features including the use of infrared techniques. I made photographic and other observations in many of the nearby tunnels which C. Morgan has discovered converge at a now buried point where the original entrance probably existed and which has no relevance to the entrances used to gain access today or when the catacombs were rediscovered in the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries after being closed for a millennium. I should add that our work has already been supported by such well-known researchers as Marinelli, Whanger, Piczek, Scavone, Manton, and others. Christopher Morgan's monumental Site Report is almost completed and I am privileged to have been invited to give another paper on the current research at the Shroud Symposium in Esopus, New York in August 1996. The outcome of all this is expected to be a new book based on the work of Bogdanescu, C. Morgan, R. Morgan, and Piczek incorporating the fascinating data we have collected and the theories we have put forward. The conclusion is that we have exonerated the maligned Heaphy; we have discovered probably the earliest portrait of Christ in existence; it probably dates to mid-first century; it was probably painted by a contemporary of Christ; it is almost identical to the man portrayed in the Shroud image and this adds to the claims for non-fraudulence of the Shroud of Turin. 1

It is a three-quarters profile portrait of Christ, in a fresco medallion still faintly visible in the ceiling of a vault in the Orpheus Cubiculum* of the Domitilla catacomb. The figure has long hair and a beard; a white mantle is clasped upon the right shoulder. Just as Heaphy had copied it. There are catacombs below Rome containing paintings probably dating to the first century; that the portrait in the Orpheus Cubiculum could well be the work of an artist who had seen Christ or worked from a description by someone who had; that the features of the man in this profile "closely match those of the Man on the Shroud. ..."3

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The Domitilla Catacomb is one of the largest and oldest catacombs in Rome. The Orpheus Cubiculum, located within the Domitilla Catacombs in Rome, is part of an extensive underground Christian burial site that dates back to the 1st and 2nd century AD. These catacombs are named after Saint Domitilla, and they are among the oldest in Rome. The name "Orpheus Cubiculum" derives from a fresco within a particular chamber (cubiculum) that depicts Orpheus, a figure from Greek mythology, which is somewhat unique because it represents a pagan theme within a Christian burial site. The Orpheus motif was common in Roman art and was adopted by early Christians. In this context, Orpheus is often seen as a symbol of Christ due to the mythological Orpheus' ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music, which could be interpreted as a metaphor for Christ's message appealing to a wide audience. The specific age of the Orpheus Cubiculum within the Domitilla Catacombs is often estimated based on stylistic analysis of the art, the stratigraphy of the catacombs, and historical references to the Domitilla family and the early Christian community. It is widely accepted among scholars that the Domitilla Catacombs, including the Orpheus Cubiculum, were in use from the 2nd century, with expansions and further decorations possibly occurring in subsequent centuries.

The image makes it difficult to discern clear details that could give us a definitive representation of the figure depicted. Early Christian art often utilized a limited color palette due to the pigments available at the time. The colors seen in such frescoes were typically earthy tones, reds, ochres, and charcoals. While it's challenging to make out specific facial features from the provided image, many early depictions of Christ portray him with a serene expression, sometimes featuring large, expressive eyes which were a common stylistic choice in Roman art to convey the importance of the figure. It's a convention to depict Christ with shoulder-length hair and a beard, following the Judaic tradition of the time. The attire in such frescos usually includes a tunic and sometimes a mantle, reflecting the common dress of the period in the Roman Empire. Early Christian art was rich with symbolism. For instance, Christ was often depicted with a halo or an aura to signify divinity. Given the quality of the image, any reconstruction would be highly speculative. However, artists and forensic anthropologists sometimes attempt to reconstruct faces from historical depictions using these common elements, although such reconstructions are not definitive representations of historical figures but rather artistic interpretations based on available data and cultural contexts.

Stephen Jones: Thomas Frank Heaphy (1813-73) begins sketching the likenesses of Christ in the Catacombs of Rome which were early centuries' underground cemeteries. Heaphy was in Rome during the 19th century opening many of the catacombs and sketching those that depicted the likeness of Christ, under conditions of great difficulty. Heaphy, relying on the datings of Italian archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi (1822–94) who opened many of the Roman catacombs in Heaphy's day, thought that the likeness of Christ in the catacombs must have been first or second century when Christians were alive who had seen Jesus or knew Christians who had. Since Heaphy died in 1873, long before the 1898 first photograph of the Shroud [see above and "1898c" below], made the Shroud face well-known, Heaphy could not have been trying to, and nor did he claim to, depict the catacomb's face of Jesus as the face of the Shroud. Therefore, Heaphy's early centuries' paintings of Shroud-like images of Jesus' face in the catacombs are independent confirmation that the Shroud had existed from the first century. Leading Shroudies Ian Wilson and Dorothy Crispino (1916-2014) were critical of Heaphy, with Wilson accusing Heaphy of being "a cheat" and "fraudulent"[58]. But Rex Morgan had stood by Heaphy, that his catacomb paintings were evidence for the Shroud's existence in early centuries while agreeing that Heaphy may have been wrong on some dates different, but nearby, Domitilla catacomb, which dates from the first century.

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"The Earliest Portrait of Christ," A fresco dated to the 1st Century AD and having similar characteristics to the image on the Shroud of Turin and representing one of the most important recent pieces of evidence for the antiquity of the Shroud" (Photograph by Christopher Morgan 1996)[66]. This is not Bogdanescu's original photograph but a later one taken by Rex Morgan's archaeologist son, Christopher. I have ordered Bogdanescu's book, "The Catacombs and the Early Church" (1998) and I am hoping it has Bogdanescu's original photograph in color. It does, but it is inferior to this photograph.]

Domitilla's husband was the consul Titus Flavius Clemens who was martyred in 95 and she was banished from Rome in the same year[69]. Wilson's response, instead of admitting that he had been wrong all along about Heaphy being dishonest, was:

"But even the most hardened counterfeiter (and I wouldn't rate Heaphy in quite that category), can pass the occasional genuine article"[70].
But would a "counterfeiter" have gone to this much trouble?:

"He [Heaphy] at once saw the value of the frescoes in this part, but his time in Rome was ended, and he must leave the next day. He realized that he could only do the work he desired in this section by staying all night, and he determined to do so. By further bribing he prevailed upon the custodian to lock up and leave him there as if forgotten. Providing himself with candles and matches, as he thought sufficient, he descended 80 feet down to carry out his lonely and perilous task, - more perilous than would appear, for there have been instances of people swallowed up and lost in the catacombs, in one case that of a party consisting of an officer and twenty soldiers. As he proceeded he made careful notes of turnings and any features in the passages along which he groped his way, lest he should never find his way back to the entrance, so many and intricate are the passages in the larger catacombs. The catacombs are said to have an aggregate of 700 miles of passages, and a single false turn may lead into a labyrinth of passages from which the unwary explorer can find no way out. Having carefully noted in his sketchbook all the marks and turnings that he deemed necessary, he returned to the entrance to reassure himself that he knew his way. At length, he was able to begin work, and soon became so absorbed that he forgot the novelty of his situation. There were three pictures he wished to copy, and having completed two [one of which was the above], he found that his supply of candles would not last out the work on the third, a picture of Adam and Eve in Paradise. Rather than lose his picture he decided to work while his last candle lasted, and then trust to groping his way back to the entrance to wait there in the dark until the door was opened. He tells us it became a race between his picture and the candle as to which would be completed first. The picture won by an inch of candle, and even this proved deceptive, for, as it turned out, afterward, the wick did not extend above halfway into it. He ends his dramatic account of this adventure: `The perils I encountered during this night in the catacombs, in total darkness, and the difficulties I had to surmount in finding my way out, I must, however, leave to the imagination of the readers'"[71].

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From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny 1c2dss13
This particular portrayal of Jesus was heavily influenced by the cultural and artistic trends of the time, as well as the theological and philosophical beliefs of the early Christian church.

The images you've shared show various depictions of Jesus Christ from early Christian art, reflecting a range of styles and cultural influences. In these artworks, we see a blend of artistic trends from different periods and regions, which include:

Byzantine Influence: The golden backgrounds and the iconic, frontal poses are characteristic of Byzantine art. This style often imbued figures with a sense of divine presence and otherworldliness, which was in line with the theological emphasis on the divinity of Jesus. The halo around Jesus' head in these mosaics is a symbol of sanctity and has become a visual shorthand in art for holiness.

Roman Influence: Early Christian art was also influenced by Roman styles, especially in the realistic portrayal of figures and the use of narrative scenes. The adoption of Roman artistic conventions made the religious stories more accessible to the public, allowing the viewers to see the divine narrative unfold in a visual context they understood.

Philosophical and Theological Representations: These images also reflect the theological debates of the time. For instance, Jesus is often depicted as a teacher or shepherd, emphasizing his role as a guide and caretaker of humanity. This portrayal aligns with the Christian philosophical view of Jesus as the "logos" or the rational divine order of the universe.

Iconographic Development: The early Christian period was a time of significant iconographic development. The way Jesus is depicted in these artworks reflects the early church's search for a standardized representation of its central figure. Over time, these representations became more codified, and certain iconographic elements like the beard and long hair became standard in the portrayal of Christ.

Use of Symbols: In addition to representational art, early Christian iconography was rich in symbols. For example, the depiction of Jesus as the "Good Shepherd" with a sheep over his shoulders was an adaptation of a common pagan motif that was reinterpreted in a Christian context to symbolize Jesus' care for his followers.

Each of these images tells us not just about how Jesus was viewed at the time, but also about the broader cultural and artistic milieu in which these pieces were created. The synthesis of artistic styles and theological messages in these artworks illustrates how the early Christian church was both influenced by and sought to distinguish itself from the surrounding culture.

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The depiction of Christ in the  Hinton St Mary Mosaic in England from the 4th century AD presents Him as a conventional, beardless young man with a Hellenistic-Roman appearance.

The Hinton St Mary Mosaic is a particularly notable artifact because it reflects the early stages of Christian art and iconography, particularly in the Western part of the Roman Empire. The portrayal of Christ as a beardless young man is significant for several reasons:

Hellenistic Influence: The depiction of Christ in this mosaic shows clear Hellenistic influences, which were prevalent in the art of the Roman Empire. The Hellenistic style, developed in the Greek-speaking world after the conquests of Alexander the Great, emphasized naturalism and idealized forms. By portraying Christ in this manner, the artists were drawing on the visual language that was familiar and respected by the viewers of the time.

Roman Conventions: In the Roman context, youth was often associated with divinity and virtue. A beardless Christ would resonate with the Roman portrayal of gods and heroes as eternally young and idealized beings. This was a departure from the later, more widely recognized depiction of Christ with a beard, which emerged as a symbol of wisdom and maturity.

Transition from Paganism: The mosaic from Hinton St Mary also highlights the transitional period in which Christian iconography was still being defined and was heavily borrowing from the existing pagan imagery. This period of synthesis allowed for Christian themes to be depicted in a manner that was approachable to a population that was still largely pagan.

Christ as the Philosopher: The portrayal of a young, beardless Christ also aligns with the image of the philosopher, a prevalent figure in Greek and Roman culture. In this context, Christ is presented as the divine philosopher-king, a wise teacher whose authority comes from his spiritual insight rather than temporal power.

Didactic Purpose: Early Christian art often served a didactic purpose, teaching the stories and theology of Christianity to an illiterate population. By presenting Christ in a familiar form, the mosaic could communicate Christian beliefs within a visual framework understandable to a Roman audience.

Iconographic Evolution: The beardless Christ in the Hinton St Mary Mosaic is part of the iconographic evolution that would eventually lead to the standardization of Christian religious imagery. It represents a phase where artists were experimenting with how to best represent the central figure of their faith.

The Hinton St Mary Mosaic is thus a critical piece of evidence in understanding how early Christians saw themselves about the dominant Roman culture and how they sought to express their understanding of Christ within that context.

Christ Pantocrator ( God Almighty) 
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Pantocrator of Mount Sinai (6th century). The term "Pantocrator" (from Greek παντοκράτωρ) is a title that means "Almighty" or "All-Powerful," and is often used in Christian theology and art.
The icon was painted with the encaustic technique, depicting Christ with the two natures, divine and human, in his face. The New Interpreter’s Study Bible: “. . the Christ Pantocrator icon from Saint Catherine’s Monastery is by far the most accurate non-photographic representation of the Shroud image that we have seen.” 4

St. Catherine’s Pantocrator Icon: a good example of the new “true likeness” Christ face from the 6th century AD. When researcher Alan Whanger overlays the Shroud's face onto this picture, over 250 points of similarity are observed.

If the Shroud were the new exemplar for the face of Christ, where was it and how did it so quickly influence Christian art from the 6th century? Wilson theorized that some unknown artists studied the Shroud face including Vignon’s peculiarities, made model drawings trying to incorporate each oddity, and then circulated copies to Christian communities engaged in religious decoration (Wilson 1979: 105). It probably began in the East, where some earlier art historians had recognized the important role played by the greater Syrian region in Christian art. O. M. Dalton observed “It was the Aramaeans [Syrians] who counted for most in the development of Christian art” compelling Hellenistic views to yield to Semitic modes of expression. This especially included “the cities of Edessa and Nisibis, where monastic theology flourished ...” (Dalton 1925: 24-25). This was an important key to their influence:

The East had always one advantage over its rival [Hellenistic West]... it was the home of monasticism, the great missionary force in Christendom .... Monks trained in the Aramaean theological schools of Edessa and Nisibis flocked to the religious houses so soon founded in numbers in Palestine. From the fifth century it was they who determined Christian iconography ... (Dalton 1925: 9).
The large pilgrim influx to the Holy Lands and migration of Syrian-trained monks to distant places ensured that what was current in the East would be known everywhere. “When we consider the part played by a monasticism trained in Aramaic theology, and the wide missionary activity of which Edessa was the base, the importance of the Syrian element in Christianity is at once realized” (Dalton 1925: 24). If there were an authoritative picture of Jesus to be found in the Syrian region, it is understandable how it could have become famous throughout Mediterranean Christianity. Although initially, Wilson could not identify any contemporary documentary source for this new Jesus face, he recognized there was a likely candidate. In the 6th century a new class of icons was gaining prominence in the East, supposedly made by Christ himself and therefore acheiropoietos, “not made with (human) hands” (Wilson 1979: 111-112). The belief was that in one way or another they were imprints of Christ’s face. The most prominent was the Image of Edessa, the very picture Vignon had deduced as the earliest to exhibit the new “true likeness” features. Could the Image have been the Shroud? If so, why hadn’t anyone made that identification? Wilson soon noticed an obscure Greek word, tetradiplon, that proved to be the key to answering those questions.  5

The Pantocrator of Mount Sinai, dating back to the 6th century, is an extraordinary and iconic representation of Jesus Christ in Christian art. This depiction is housed in Saint Catherine's Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt, a site of immense religious and historical significance. The term "Pantocrator" is derived from the Greek word παντοκράτωρ, meaning "Almighty" or "All-Powerful." In Christian theology, this title is used to emphasize the omnipotence of Christ, reflecting his divine nature as well as his role as judge and ruler of the universe. The Pantocrator icon is a central image in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, symbolizing the dual nature of Christ as both God and man. In the Pantocrator of Mount Sinai, Christ is typically depicted in a frontal pose, holding the Gospels in his left hand while his right hand is raised in a gesture of blessing or teaching. This iconic image strikingly portrays the two natures of Christ: his humanity and divinity. The facial features often exhibit this duality; one side of the face may appear gentle and compassionate, representing the human nature of Christ, while the other side appears more stern and powerful, symbolizing his divine nature. The technique used in this icon is encaustic painting, an ancient method where colored pigments are mixed with hot wax and applied to a surface. This technique was widely used in the Eastern Roman Empire, and its durability has allowed many encaustic works, like the Pantocrator of Mount Sinai, to survive in remarkably good condition. The encaustic method gives the icon a unique texture and depth, contributing to its striking and enduring visual impact.

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Christ the Teacher, Cubiculum of Leo, catacombs of Commodilla, Rome, 4th century.

"Christ the Teacher" in the Cubiculum of Leo, located in the catacombs of Commodilla in Rome, is a remarkable example of early Christian art from the 4th century. This artwork holds significant historical importance as it reflects the early Christian iconography in the period following the legalization of Christianity under Constantine's rule. The Cubiculum of Leo, a small burial chamber, features frescoes that depict various Christian themes and figures, with "Christ the Teacher" being a prominent representation. In this depiction, Christ is often shown as a youthful, beardless figure, breaking away from the Greco-Roman tradition of portraying deities and sages with beards. This portrayal symbolizes Christ's role as a teacher and shepherd to his followers. The catacombs of Commodilla, where this artwork is found, are among the notable Christian burial sites in Rome. These underground cemeteries were used by Christians to bury their dead and to celebrate their faith in secret during times of persecution, before the Edict of Milan. The art in the Cubiculum of Leo, including "Christ the Teacher," is significant for its stylistic qualities and its role in the transition from Roman art to early Christian iconography. It showcases the early development of Christian artistic themes and the adaptation of Roman artistic techniques to express Christian religious concepts.

"Christ the Teacher" in the Cubiculum of Leo is a testament to the transformation of Christian iconography in the 4th century.  This particular fresco in the catacombs of Commodilla presents a youthful Christ, a shift from the previously common Greco-Roman tradition of bearded deities.  The eyes of the figure in the fresco are wide and penetrating, a detail that is similarly striking on the Shroud, which shows clear and defined eyes that seem to engage the onlooker. Even though the Shroud's image is fainter and monochromatic, the intensity of the gaze is a point of commonality. The shape of the face in the fresco, while more youthful and less marred than the visage on the Shroud, shares the oval contour. The hair, while not as pronounced in length as on the Shroud, shows a semblance of the wavy texture that the Shroud's image portrays. The depiction of Christ in the catacombs, which were places of burial and worship for the early Christians, would be an attempt to capture the essence of the divine and the human in Jesus. The Shroud of Turin, with its detailed portrayal of a suffering yet serene figure, would provide an archetype for representing this duality. In considering the art from the Cubiculum of Leo and its relationship to the Shroud of Turin,  even in the youthful representations of Christ, there is an underlying attempt to depict a figure that is both human and divine. The Shroud, with its detailed and lifelike image, could have served as inspiration for such depictions, aiming to convey the spiritual authority and the compassionate humanity of Jesus as a teacher and shepherd.

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Apse mosaic in Santa Pudenziana, c. 400 (Rome).

The opulent interior of the Constantinian basilicas would have created an effective space for increasingly elaborate rituals. Influenced by the splendor of the rituals associated with the emperor, the liturgy emphasized the dramatic entrances and the stages of the rituals. For example, the introit or entrance of the priest into the church was influenced by the adventus or arrival of the emperor. The culmination of the entrance, as well as the focal point of the architecture, was the apse. It was here that the sacraments would be performed, and it was here that the priest would proclaim the word. In Roman civic and imperial basilicas, the apse had been the seat of authority. In the civic basilicas, this is where the magistrate would sit adjacent to an imperial image and dispense judgment. In the imperial basilicas, the emperor would be enthroned. These associations with authority made the apse a suitable stage for Christian rituals. The priest would be like the magistrate proclaiming the word of a higher authority.

A late 4th-century mosaic in the apse of the Roman church of Santa Pudenziana visualizes this. We see in this image a dramatic transformation in the conception of Christ from the pre-Constantinian period. From teacher to God
In the Santa Pudenziana mosaic, Christ is shown in the center, seated on a jewel-encrusted throne. He wears a gold toga with purple trim, both colors associated with imperial authority. His right hand is extended in the ad locutio gesture conventional in imperial representations. Holding a book in his right hand, Christ is shown proclaiming the word. This is dependent on another convention of Roman imperial art of the so-called traditio legis, or the handing down of the law. A silver plate known as the Missorium of Theodosius made for the Emperor Theodosius in 388 to mark the tenth anniversary of his accession to power shows the Emperor in the center handing down the scroll of the law. Notably, Emperor Theodosius is shown with a halo, much like the figure of Christ. 6

Starting from the 6th century, a particular type of portrait of Jesus inspired by the Shroud also spread in the East: it is the majestic Christ, with beard and mustache, called Pantocrator (Almighty), of which there are splendid examples in Cappadocia. The inspiration for the Shroud is evident in the face of Christ in the 6th-century silver vase found in Homs, Syria, now preserved in the Louvre in Paris, and in that of the silver reliquary from 550, coming from Chersonesus in Crimea, which is located in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. The Pantocrator is also present in the post-Byzantine era and will remain substantially unchanged until today. In the East, this image will become the only one for all figurative art and also the icon's date to somewhere between the beginning of Constantine's reign as sole emperor in January 945 and his death in 959. Obviously of prime interest for us is to be how the artist has depicted the Image being held in Constantine's hands of him. If the panel indeed dates between 945 and 959, it ranks as the earliest known depiction of the Image of Edessa in its direct form as an actual piece of cloth as distinct from its indirect or interpreted versions as Christ Pantocrator, Christ Enthroned, and those of the roundel variety we have seen hitherto. Immediately apparent is that the piece of cloth we see on this icon, even though it features a disembodied, front-facing face in a broad semblance of the equivalent area on the Shroud, does not seem to be on anything like the Shroud's double body-length scale. While the 'face-only' form is consistent with the earlier-advanced 'doubled in four' mode of how the Shroud was presented as the Image, a fringe runs along the bottom edge where we would expect the Shroud's fold line to be. As a result of this, some art historians, understandably encouraged by the radiocarbon dating findings of 1988, have used this icon to dismiss any possibility that the Image of Edessa could have been the same as the Shroud. In the 14th-century Pantocrator of the Church of St. Saviour in Chora (Istanbul), one can observe concave cheeks and asymmetrical, protruding cheekbones.

In Byzantine literary sources the image of the Pantocrator is called acheiropoietos - not made by human hands - or apomasso - imprint - and according to tradition it is traced back to a cloth; therefore it is called Mandylion. This canonical portrait of Christ is considered to date the only valid depiction, not only by the Orthodox Church, but also by the Catholic Church

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Catacombs of SS. Marcellino e Pietro, Rome. 4th to 5th century. It is supposed, that some saw the image in Edessa, and made images based on the Shroud. But the majority didn't know about it, imagining that Christ was without beard, and short hair.

The Catacombs of SS. Marcellino e Pietro in Rome, dating from the 4th to 5th centuries, offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of early Christian art, particularly in the depiction of Jesus Christ. These catacombs, like many others in Rome, served as burial places for Christians and were adorned with religious art that provided valuable insights into the beliefs and artistic expressions of early Christian communities. During this period, the image of Christ was subject to various interpretations and depictions, influenced by a range of cultural, theological, and artistic factors. One significant influence was the image of Christ from Edessa, often associated with the Shroud. This image, known as the Mandylion, was believed to have miraculous origins and showed a bearded Christ with long hair.  In contrast to the image from Edessa, many early Christian artists, especially those who had not seen the Mandylion or were unaware of its existence, portrayed Christ differently. In the Catacombs of SS. Marcellino e Pietro, and in similar sites, Christ was often depicted as a youthful, beardless figure with short hair, resembling the typical Roman portrayal of philosophers and teachers. This portrayal was possibly more relatable to the contemporary audience and reflected the Greco-Roman cultural influences prevalent in the Roman Empire.

The differing depictions of Christ in early Christian art, ranging from the beardless youth to the bearded figure based on the image from Edessa, illustrate the diversity of early Christian iconography. This diversity reflects the early Christians' attempts to express their understanding of Christ's nature and message in a visual form, drawing from both their religious convictions and the artistic conventions of their time. The Catacombs of SS. Marcellino e Pietro, therefore, represent not just a burial place but also a canvas that captures the theological and cultural milieu of the 4th and 5th centuries. These catacombs, with their unique art, contribute significantly to our understanding of the early Christian community's identity, beliefs, and artistic expressions. The artists who created these images were drawn from a different set of references, likely rooted in the Roman and Greco-Roman traditions of depicting revered figures and teachers. This portrayal aligns with the contemporaneous aesthetic and cultural expectations, which favored a youthful appearance symbolizing virtue and wisdom. However, the existence of varied depictions within the same historical period suggests that the Christian community had no single, uniform concept of Christ's physical appearance. The variance could be attributed to the fact that while some artists and believers may have been influenced by the image of the Shroud, others relied on their imagination or local artistic conventions. One might consider that the artists who portrayed Christ with short hair and without a beard were not necessarily unaware of the Shroud's image but chose a different representation to convey their theological emphasis on Christ's teachings and his role as the Logos, the Word of God. The choice to depict Christ in this manner may have been a deliberate one, to distinguish Christian art from other religious art forms of the time and to make a clear statement about the new faith. The Catacombs of SS. Marcellino e Pietro serve as a testament to the evolving nature of early Christian art and iconography. They provide a visual narrative of how early Christians perceived and represented their savior, Jesus Christ, in a way that was meaningful to their faith and accessible to the community of believers during that era.

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Catacomb of Callisto Crypt of S. Cecilia Maiestas  4th to 5th century

The image provided appears to be an early Christian fresco, specifically from the Catacomb of Callixtus (often spelled as Callisto), depicting what is known as the "Maiestas Domini" or "Christ in Majesty." This image is dated between the 4th to 5th century AD, which places it within the late antiquity period, a time when Christian art was beginning to flourish within the Roman Empire. During this time, the Maiestas Domini was a common motif that portrayed Christ as a majestic, regal figure, often accompanied by symbols of his power and glory. The specific features of this fresco reflect several key aspects of early Christian art and iconography: Early Christian art was heavily symbolic, and this image likely contains several layers of meaning. Christ is typically shown in a frontal pose, often with a halo or some indication of his divine nature. His right hand is raised in a gesture of teaching or blessing, which was a common pose for figures of authority in Roman art. Compared to the naturalistic styles of earlier Roman art, early Christian frescos often had a more abstract and simplified aesthetic. This can be seen in the stylized features of Christ and the use of color and form to convey meaning rather than detailed naturalism. The development of Christian iconography can be seen in the way Christ is depicted. Over time, certain elements became standardized, such as the halo and the particular gestures of Christ. These would become instantly recognizable to believers as representing Christ. While developing its own iconography, early Christian art did not emerge in a vacuum. It adapted and adopted the styles and conventions that were prevalent in the Roman Empire at the time, making it more accessible to the recently converted Roman population.

The catacombs were underground burial places but also served as places of worship and gathering for early Christians. The frescoes within them were not only devotional images but also conveyed a message of hope and eternal life, reflecting the beliefs of the Christian community that used the space. The period when this fresco was created was a pivotal moment in Christian history. It was when Christianity was transitioning from a persecuted religion to one that was officially recognized and eventually became the state religion of the Roman Empire. This transition is reflected in the increasing sophistication and prevalence of Christian art. The Crypt of Santa Cecilia within the Catacomb of Callixtus is named after St. Cecilia, a revered Christian martyr. The presence of such a fresco in her crypt would have served as a powerful visual testament to the faith and resilience of the early Christian community. In the early Christian fresco from the Catacomb of Callixtus, depicting "Christ in Majesty," we see a blend of symbolism, abstraction, and evolving iconography characteristic of the late antiquity period. This particular motif, representing Christ as a powerful and divine ruler, was prevalent in Christian art as the religion began to establish itself within the Roman cultural milieu. The frontal pose of Christ, a common representation of authority and divinity in Roman art, is a direct adaptation of the artistic conventions of the time. Christ's raised right hand signifies his role as a teacher and a source of blessings, while the halo surrounding his head marks his sanctity and divine nature. This fresco reflects the early Christian community's use of symbols to convey deeper theological meanings. For example, the halo is not merely a marker of divinity but also a symbol of the holy light and truth that Christ represented. The simplicity and abstraction seen in the stylized features of Christ cater to a universal understanding rather than individual recognition. The catacombs provided a sacred space for burial and worship, and the art within them served multiple purposes. It reinforced the Christian doctrine, offered comfort to the bereaved, and reaffirmed the community's belief in resurrection and eternal life. During this transformative period in Christian history, the shift from persecution to acceptance is mirrored in the art. As Christianity gained legal status and began to thrive, the art became more elaborate and widespread, showcasing the growing confidence of the faith. The Crypt of Santa Cecilia within this catacomb would have been particularly poignant, as it connected the martyrdom of St. Cecilia with the regal depiction of Christ, emphasizing the triumph of the Christian faith over adversity. The fresco from the Catacomb of Callixtus stands as a historical narrative, illustrating the early Christian community's theological aspirations and their cultural journey from the fringes of the Roman Empire to its very heart, shaping a new artistic legacy that would endure for millennia.

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Mosaic Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian 530 d. C.

The mosaic in the Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian, dating from around 530 AD, is an illustrious example of Byzantine artistry, located in the heart of the ancient Roman Forum. This artwork, dedicated to the twin saints Cosmas and Damian, reflects the early Christian veneration of these physician martyrs and the broader sacred art tradition of the era. The apse mosaic is particularly distinguished by its representation of Christ, who is depicted with a commanding presence that is emblematic of Byzantine artistic expression. This Christological representation aligns with the theological understanding of the time, viewing Christ as a sovereign ruler, an image that permeated Christian art in the Byzantine period. Encircling Christ in the mosaic are figures of saints and angels, portrayed with a solemnity that speaks to the profound reverence for the divine. The palette of the mosaic, with its extensive use of gold and rich hues, transcends mere ornamentation, serving instead as a visual allegory for the divine light and the splendor of the celestial kingdom. These choices in color and material are not just aesthetic but are laden with symbolic meaning, highlighting the divine nature of Christ and the saints. The artistry behind this mosaic, composed of minuscule tesserae of colored glass and stone, is indicative of the advanced technical skills of the Byzantine craftsmen. Beyond its function as a religious declaration, the mosaic serves as a cultural statement of the era's artistic inclinations and technical prowess.

Turning to the Shroud of Turin, one can draw parallels between the solemnity of Christ's visage in the mosaic and the haunting image on the Shroud. The serene yet powerful countenance of Christ in the mosaic resonates with the dignified and tranquil expression that is observed on the Shroud. The golden halo that frames Christ's head in the mosaic can also be seen as a counterpart to the enigmatic 'halo' of the Shroud's image, which some interpret as a sign of Christ's divinity. The mosaic and the Shroud together echo the Byzantine era's deep theological contemplations of Christ's nature—as both human and divine—and the desire to represent this duality. The Shroud, with its stark and lifelike portrayal of a figure that many believe to be Christ, could well have been a touchstone for Byzantine representations of the sacred, informing the solemn and august depictions in mosaic art. Thus, the Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian, through its magnificent mosaic, not only venerates the twin saints but also contributes to the intricate tapestry of Christian artistic heritage. It demonstrates how religious convictions were articulated through the visual arts, and perhaps, how artifacts like the Shroud of Turin could have subtly influenced the portrayal of the divine across different mediums and centuries.

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Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna. Mosaics from the early 6th century

The mosaic is a prime example of early Byzantine art and comes from the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, which is known for its extensive and well-preserved mosaic program. Dating from the early 6th century, this artwork is a testimony to the religious and artistic culture of the time. Byzantine mosaics are renowned for their luminosity and grandeur, achieved through the use of glass tesserae that often included gold leaf. The figures in these mosaics are rendered with a sense of solemnity and formality, which was intended to convey the divine nature of the subjects. The central figure of Christ is depicted enthroned, a common representation of Christ in Majesty.  This iconography emphasizes Christ's role as the ruler of the universe, a concept central to Byzantine theology. The hand gesture of Christ is a traditional sign of teaching and blessing, while the book he holds is likely a symbol of the Gospels or the New Testament, signifying wisdom and the divine word. Christ's regal portrayal, with purple robes and a halo with a cross inscribed, denotes imperial authority, tying the divine rule to the earthly rule of the Byzantine emperor. The association of sacred and imperial power was a prominent feature of Byzantine art. The presence of the angels flanking Christ underscores the theology of the time, which emphasized the heavenly court and the divine monarchy of Christ. The angels are depicted in a stance of reverence, enhancing the sanctity of the scene. Ravenna was the capital of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century and later of Ostrogothic and Byzantine Italy. Its political significance is reflected in the lavish decoration of its churches, which combined Roman imperial art and architecture with the emerging Byzantine aesthetic.

The lush green landscape at the bottom of the mosaic, with flowering plants and the use of a gold background, can be interpreted as a representation of Paradise, indicating that the sacred space of the basilica was a reflection of the heavenly realm. The mosaics in Sant'Apollinare Nuovo blend Roman, Orthodox Christian, and Gothic elements, reflecting the diverse cultural influences present in Ravenna during this period. This synthesis is seen in the stylistic elements, such as the drapery of the garments and the classical features of the figures. The Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo stands as a monument to the religious devotion and artistic sophistication of the early Byzantine period, embodying the spiritual ideals and political realities of its era. The mosaics are not only stunning works of art but also rich historical documents that offer insight into how religious beliefs were visually interpreted and expressed. The mosaic from the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, as described, is a quintessential representation of early Byzantine art.  The depiction of Christ in these mosaics could potentially draw connections to the image on the Shroud of Turin. The image on the Shroud of Turin features a bearded man with long hair, which has become one of the most iconic and widely recognized characteristics of Christ in Western art. It is interesting to note that the physical portrayal of Christ in the mosaic, with long hair and a bearded face, does share similarities with the facial features of the figure in the Shroud. The mosaic artists may have been inspired by a tradition or belief in the existence of a true likeness of Christ, such as the image on the Shroud or similar relics. The veneration of holy images and relics was an integral part of Byzantine spirituality, and it is possible that such objects could have influenced artistic portrayals of sacred figures. The potential influence of the Shroud on the depiction of Christ in Byzantine art would carry significant theological implications. If the Shroud were believed to be the authentic burial cloth of Christ, its image could be seen as a true record of his appearance, and therefore, an authoritative guide for artists.

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Christ with angels. Fresco. Bawit, Monastery of Apa Apollo, Egypt, ca. 6th-7th century.

The fresco from Bawit, in the Monastery of Apa Apollo, dated approximately to the 6th-7th century, and the Comodilla Catacomb fresco both present early Christian representations of Christ, accompanied by angelic figures, and include the inscription "I am the alpha and omega," indicating Christ's eternal nature. These artworks, with their portrayal of Christ, can be viewed through the lens of the Shroud of Turin's influence. The Shroud, believed to bear the actual imprint of Christ's face, presents specific facial features: a bearded visage with marked facial structures and long hair falling past the shoulders. Examining the frescoes, one notices a correlation in the depiction of Christ's facial features, especially the stylistic representation of the hair and beard, which bear a resemblance to the imagery of the Shroud. The fresco from Bawit shows Christ with a halo, a symbol of sanctity, and a facial depiction that emphasizes the eyes and beard, similar to the detailed features of the Shroud. The eyes in the fresco, like those on the Shroud, are large and command the viewer's attention, suggesting a divine presence that is both imminent and transcendent. The depiction of the beard, with its forked style, is also reminiscent of the beard on the Shroud, which is similarly detailed and divided. Moreover, the angels flanking Christ in the fresco suggest a celestial context, reminiscent of the Shroud's interpretation as a heavenly relic. The Shroud and the fresco both convey a sense of Christ's presence and authority through their respective mediums.

In comparing these frescoes with the Shroud, one can see how the physical depiction of Christ in art may have been influenced by relics believed to bear his true likeness. The artists might have sought to capture the essence of the divine figure portrayed in the Shroud, translating its profound and solemn image into the frescoes. This suggests an artistic endeavor to echo the venerated image within the Shroud, providing a visual bridge between the relic and the faithful. These frescoes, therefore, not only represent early Christian art but also encapsulate the broader narrative of Christian iconography, where the Shroud of Turin possibly played a role in shaping the visual tradition of depicting Christ. Through such art, the community of believers could engage with a representation of Christ that resonated with the venerated and mysterious image of the Shroud, further solidifying their spiritual connection.

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Portrait of Christ on a silver vase (late 6th-early/7th century AD) discovered at Homs, ancient Emesa, in Syria: The Louvre, Paris.

The silver vase portrait of Christ from Homs, held in the Louvre, is an exquisite artifact from the late 6th to early 7th century AD, embodying the artistic and religious sentiments of its time. The representation of Christ on this vase reflects the iconographic elements that were becoming standardized in Christian art during this period. Examining the portrait, one observes the serene countenance, the stylized hair, and the prominent halo—a symbol of divinity—surrounding Christ's head. These features echo those found on the Shroud of Turin. The facial features depicted on the vase, such as the elongated nose, the stylized hair with a middle parting, and the solemn expression, are reminiscent of the physiognomy on the Shroud. The connection between the two could suggest that artists of the time might have been influenced by the Shroud when creating religious iconography.

Further into the tradition of Christian art is the famed Christ Pantocrator from Mount Sinai, an icon that presents a compellingly detailed image of Christ. The Pantocrator, which means "Almighty" or "All-powerful," typically depicts Christ holding the Gospels and blessing the viewer. This iconic image has served as a template for countless depictions of Christ throughout Christian history. The resemblance between the Pantocrator and the Shroud of Turin is striking, particularly in the structure of the face, the gaze, and the positioning of the hands. Both the Shroud and the Pantocrator convey a sense of authority and divine majesty, with the Shroud's image suggesting a moment of suffering and resurrection, while the Pantocrator reflects the risen Christ in glory. In the vase portrait from Homs, one can find a synthesis of these elements—the solemnity and regality of the Pantocrator and the hauntingly lifelike image of the Shroud. Together, they comprise an iconographic lineage that stretches from the physical artifacts associated with Christ to the stylized representations that became central to Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox Christian art. The synergy of these various representations—relic, vase portrait, and icon—speaks to the profound influence of the Shroud, whether directly or through the continuity of Christian iconography. It reveals the artists' endeavor to not only represent Christ's physical likeness but also to capture the essence of his divine nature and role as the spiritual sovereign, resonating with the faithful across the ages.

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Mosaic of the vault of the chapel of San Zeno (IX century)

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Christ Pantocrator, Central Dome, Church of the Dormition, Daphni, Greece, c. 1080–1100 CE.

The Christ Pantocrator in the central dome of the Church of the Dormition in Daphni, Greece, is an iconic example of Middle Byzantine art, dating back to around 1080–1100 CE. This mosaic represents a mature development in the portrayal of Christ in Byzantine iconography, where He is depicted as the all-powerful ruler of the universe, which is what the term 'Pantocrator' signifies. In examining the connection to the Shroud of Turin, one can observe that the Pantocrator image shares certain facial features with the face seen on the Shroud. The long hair parted in the middle, the large eyes, and the solemn expression are elements that can be found in both the Pantocrator and the Shroud. These similarities may not be coincidental; as the Shroud is considered by some to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus, bearing His true likeness after the Crucifixion, it is conceivable that its image could have informed the development of Christ's iconography. Furthermore, the Christ Pantocrator from Mount Sinai, one of the earliest known icons of this type, might have served as a visual template for subsequent representations of Christ, including the one in Daphni. The Mount Sinai Pantocrator features a marked symmetry and a profound expression, characteristics that have been replicated and interpreted in various ways throughout the history of Christian art. The evolution from earlier artistic representations, which might have been more varied and less standardized, to the iconic Pantocrator style, reflects a synthesis of artistic creativity, theological reflection, and possibly the influence of venerated artifacts like the Shroud of Turin. This synthesis has resulted in a powerful and enduring image of Christ that conveys both His humanity and His divinity, a duality that has been central to Christian belief and has been expressed through the visual arts across centuries.

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Christ Pantocrator, Karanlik Church (Dark Church), Cappadocia, 11th century.

The stylistic elements of this icon, such as the specific facial features, the positioning of the hands, and the way the robes are depicted, have a significant influence on Christian art. This specific portrayal has been a subject of study and admiration due to its symbolic richness and its connection to the religious sentiments of the era. When considering the Shroud of Turin, the connections between the facial features and markings on the Shroud and the stylistic representations found in icons like the Pantocrator. They examine aspects such as the alignment of facial features, the pattern of the hair and beard, and the proportions of the face to understand how these icons may have been influenced by or might have influenced the perception of the Shroud. The connections between these icons and the Shroud of Turin are complex, involving a mix of art history, religious studies, and sometimes personal interpretation. The conversations around these topics can often be intriguing as they open a window into how religious artifacts both influence and are influenced by the art and faith of their time.

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Christ Pantocrator, Palatine Chapel, Sicily. This brilliant golden mosaic adorning a dome of Palermo's Palatine Chapel, inside the former Royal Palace, was commissioned by the Norman King Roger II of Sicily in 1131 to celebrate the reconquest of Sicily from Moorish rule.

The Christ Pantocrator mosaic in the Palatine Chapel of Sicily is a stunning example of Norman-Byzantine art, created during a period of cultural synthesis under the commission of King Roger II after the reconquest of Sicily. The Pantocrator, or "Ruler of All," is a depiction of Christ that became a central theme in Byzantine iconography, and this particular mosaic is noted for its grandeur and the harmonious integration of different artistic traditions. The Pantocrator image shares common features with the face seen on the Shroud of Turin. Both are characterized by a penetrating gaze, a beard, and long hair that falls over the shoulders, creating an aura of wisdom and majesty. These similarities could indicate that the image on the Shroud, which many believe to be the true face of Christ, might have influenced the iconography of the Pantocrator. This influence would not necessarily have been direct; instead, it could have been part of a broader Christian artistic tradition that sought to convey the divine authority and humanity of Christ.

The Christ Pantocrator from Mount Sinai, one of the oldest known icons of Christ, presents a template that has been echoed in later artworks, including the mosaic in Palermo. The solemnity and symmetry of the Sinai Pantocrator, along with its spiritual intensity, may have served as a visual reference for artists creating subsequent images of Christ, seeking to encapsulate the same sense of divinity. In the Palatine Chapel mosaic, Christ is shown as the cosmic judge and king, attributes that are also suggested by the Shroud through its depiction of the suffering and resurrection of Christ. This confluence of art and relic serves to deepen the faithful's contemplation of the mystery of the Incarnation and the promise of redemption that Christ represents. The mosaic thus reflects not only the political and cultural achievements of Norman Sicily but also the spiritual aspirations of the time, possibly drawing from the profound legacy of the Shroud of Turin and the visual tradition established by the Pantocrator of Mount Sinai. Through these images, the theological and iconographic portrayal of Christ has been shaped across time, contributing to the rich tapestry of Christian art and devotion.

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The Byzantine image of Christ Pantokrator (Ruler of All) is a frontal, half-length portrait of a bearded Christ holding a Gospel book in his left hand while giving a sign of blessing with his right. 11th–12th century

The ivory carving of the Christ Pantokrator from the 11th–12th century is a representation that encapsulates the Byzantine conception of Christ as the sovereign ruler and divine judge. This portrayal is consistent with the Pantocrator type, which typically features Christ holding the Gospels and making a gesture of blessing. The Pantocrator imagery, characterized by its frontality, solemnity, and specific gestures, reflects an iconographic standard that can be traced back to the Christ Pantocrator of Mount Sinai, one of the oldest known icons dating to the 6th century. The Mount Sinai Pantocrator set a visual precedent for depicting Christ with a profound expression and with attributes emphasizing his teaching authority and divine nature. About the Shroud of Turin, the facial features of the Pantocrator share notable similarities with the face on the Shroud, including the beard and the long hair parted in the middle. The Shroud, venerated by many as the burial cloth of Christ, bears the image of a man with an expression that has been interpreted as peaceful yet marked by suffering, which might have influenced the way Christ's face was rendered in religious art. The convergence between the Shroud of Turin and the Christ Pantocrator iconography lies in the effort to depict the duality of Christ’s nature—His humanity encapsulated in the physicality and suffering evident in the Shroud, and His divinity represented by the majesty and authority in the Pantocrator imagery. The serene yet solemn expression in both the Shroud and the Pantocrator icons is a visual expression of this duality, aiming to inspire reverence and contemplation among the faithful. The continuity from the Christ Pantocrator of Mount Sinai to later Byzantine representations, including this ivory carving, illustrates the enduring nature of this iconographic motif. It suggests a tradition of Christological portrayal that has been informed by a combination of artistic influences, theological reflection, and possibly the contemplation of sacred relics such as the Shroud of Turin. This tradition has profoundly shaped the visual language of Christian devotion, capturing the essence of Christ’s role as both the Redeemer and the eternal Word made flesh. This icon is not only a masterpiece of religious art but also an important artifact in the study of early Christian and Byzantine art. It reflects the theological and artistic developments of the time and continues to be a source of inspiration and devotion for many Christians around the world.

Christ Pantocrator, St Catherine's monastery, Sinai. This encaustic (hot coloured wax) on wood (a technique which died out and became lost in the eight century) icon of Christ Pantocrator ("ruler of all") at the isolated Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, and so escaped the iconoclasm (Gk. eikon = "image" + klastes = "breaker") of of the eighth through ninth centuries. Dated c. 550, this icon was a gift from the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (c.482–565), who built the monastery between 548 and 565. This is the earliest surviving painted icon of Christ. It is nearly perfectly congruent to the Shroud-face, for example the high right eyebrow, the hollow right cheek, and the garment neckline. So marked are these oddities, that the late Princeton University art historian, Professor Kurt Weitzmann (1904-1993), while making no connection with the Shroud, remarked of this icon that:

"... the pupils of the eyes are not at the same level; the eyebrow over Christ's left eye is arched higher than over his right ... one side of the mustache droops at a slightly different angle from the other, while the beard is combed in the opposite direction ... Many of these subtleties remain attached to this particular type of Christ image and can be seen in later copies ..."

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Evidence that suggests the Pantocrator icon was based on the image of the Shroud of Turin

Both the face on the Shroud and the Pantocrator icon show notable asymmetry. The cheekbones, eyebrows, and the alignment of the eyes are not symmetrical, which is unusual for Byzantine iconography which often idealized symmetry. This asymmetry is clear evidence that the artist of the Pantocrator tried to capture the realistic features of the image on the Shroud, which also exhibits asymmetry that is consistent with a real human face bearing signs of injury or swelling.
The presence of such asymmetry in both the Shroud and the icon permits the interpretation as a clue that the iconographer was influenced by the image on the Shroud, aiming to represent a more realistic and human portrayal of Jesus, reflecting the details of the Shroud's image. The face on the Shroud and the Pantocrator icon have similar proportions and features.  When one image is superimposed on the other, key features such as the eyes, nose, and mouth often align closely.
Both images share specific marks that could be interpreted as corresponding to the same facial features or wounds, particularly those consistent with the Passion of Christ as described in Christian theology.
The flow and length of the hair and beard are often noted to be very similar. The way the face is lit and the lines of the face and neck could suggest a common reference.

Vignon marks refer to specific features or details found on the Shroud of Turin that can be matched, particularly the Pantocrator type. These marks are named after the French scholar Paul Vignon, who identified them in the early 20th century. They are considered as points of congruence that indicate the Shroud was used as a reference for these icons. In the image comparison, the Vignon marks are present in both the Shroud and the Pantocrator icon. Some of these marks include: Three-sided Square 'U' shape in the forehead, indicative of the way the blood flowed after the Crown of Thorns was placed on the head. Two Strands of Hair, fall in a particular way across the forehead. Open Oval Eyes, which may appear unusually open for a deceased individual as seen on the Shroud. Enlarged Left Cheek, which could be suggestive of swelling or injury. Raised Right Eyebrow, giving a particular expression that is replicated in the icon. Accentuated Zygomatic Arch, more prominent on one side of the face. Alignment of the Beard, which has a particular skew or parting is present in both images.  The presence of these specific and unique features in both the Shroud and the Pantocrator icon is evidence of a direct relationship.

Using polarized image overlay technique, Dr Alan Whanger found over 200 points of congruence between this icon and the Shroud. 

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The image is a layered composite that overlays the face of the Shroud of Turin with representations of the Christ Pantocrator icon. The gradual increase from one image to the other allows us to observe the specific congruences between the two. Here are the details:

Facial Outline: The contour of the face from the Shroud and the Pantocrator icons align closely, indicating a similar shape of the cheeks, jawline, and forehead.
Eyes: Both images have eyes that are similarly shaped and spaced. In the overlay, it appears that the alignment of the eyes is such that the gaze is consistent between the Shroud and the icons.
Eyebrows: The eyebrows in both images follow the same arch and thickness, with slight asymmetry where the right eyebrow is often depicted as more arched.
Nose: The bridge and length of the nose, along with the shape of the nostrils, align between the Shroud and the icons, suggesting a congruent depiction.
Mouth: The mouth, especially the line of the lips and the definition of the upper lip, matches closely between the Shroud and the icons.
Beard: The beard pattern is especially congruent, with the fork at the chin and the line of the mustache over the upper lip.
Hair: The hairline and the flow of the hair on both sides of the face, including the parting in the middle, are consistent between the Shroud and the icons.
Forehead Markings: If there is a mark on the forehead in the Shroud, it aligns with similar marks or features in the icons, which could correspond to the Vignon markings as previously mentioned.
Facial Lines and Wrinkles: The lines on the forehead, around the eyes, and the nasolabial folds are similarly positioned in both images.

These congruences are evidence that the iconography of the Pantocrator was influenced by the features present on the Shroud of Turin, with artists with high confidence using the Shroud as a reference point for their representations of Christ.

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Ostia, end of 4th century Museo Ostiense in Ostia Antica: Large bust of Christ composed of inlaid polychrome marbles, which nearly fills the rectangular panel. Christ is nimbed, has a forked beard (made of a single piece of marble), long curly hair, and wears a tunic with a clavus over the right shoulder.

The image of Jesus evolved significantly following the triumph of Christianity, which was officially endorsed by Constantine in 313 through the Edict of Milan. This new depiction of Jesus featured a moderately long beard and a mustache, complemented by a slender face. He appeared tall and dignified, with long hair cascading over his shoulders, often parted in the middle. The Shroud depicts a man with a forked beard—a detail not commonly found in art of the period but prominently displayed in this mosaic. This particular feature is intriguing because it is distinct and less stylized than other beard depictions of the era, which suggests it may have been drawn from an actual reference, such as the Shroud. Regarding the hair, the Shroud shows a figure with long hair falling to the shoulders, possibly parted in the middle. This detail is mirrored in the mosaic, where Christ's hair is similarly long and styled. What's noteworthy is not just the length but how the hair lays and flows, suggesting weight and texture, which corresponds to the hair's appearance on the Shroud. The face itself in the mosaic, slender and with a certain gravitas, also aligns with the visage on the Shroud. It is not merely the shape but the expression conveyed—solemn, introspective—that resonates with the countenance of the figure on the Shroud.

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Jesus Christ Pantocrator (Ruler of the Universe) Mosaic from the Deesis Panel of the South Gallery of the Hagia Sophia (1185-1204). Byzantine Art.

The mosaic of Jesus Christ Pantocrator from the Deesis Panel of the South Gallery of Hagia Sophia, dating from the late 12th to early 13th century, is a seminal work of Byzantine art. This image of Christ as the Ruler of the Universe is rendered with a profound sense of authority and divinity, which is central to the Pantocrator iconography.

The Pantocrator motif traditionally portrays Christ holding the Gospel book, symbolizing His role as the Word of God, and making a gesture of blessing, denoting His role as savior and judge. This mosaic from Hagia Sophia is particularly renowned for its artistic excellence and the depth of expression captured in Christ's face. When considering the Shroud of Turin within this context, the mosaic's portrayal of Christ shows facial features—a solemn gaze, a bearded visage, and long hair—that resonate with the image on the Shroud, believed by many to be the true likeness of Christ after His crucifixion. The Shroud's detailed image, with its enigmatic expression and the marks of suffering, provides a stark contrast to the regal and serene depiction in the Hagia Sophia mosaic.

The Christ Pantocrator of Mount Sinai, one of the earliest known icons of Christ Pantocrator, set a precedent for this type of representation. Its depiction of Christ with an intense and penetrating gaze, balanced features, and a symmetrical face may have influenced the stylized manner in which Christ was depicted in later Byzantine art, including the Deesis mosaic. The visual elements present in both the Shroud and the Mount Sinai Pantocrator could have served as inspiration for the Deesis mosaic, contributing to the portrayal of Christ as both fully divine and fully human. This mosaic, with its synthesis of solemnity and compassion, reflects a deep theological understanding of Christ's nature, an understanding that was shaped over centuries and influenced by both sacred artifacts and the evolution of artistic tradition.

The Deesis mosaic, therefore, is not only a masterpiece of Byzantine art but also a visual expression of the cumulative tradition of Christian iconography, enriched possibly by the influence of the Shroud of Turin and earlier icons such as the one from Mount Sinai. This artwork stands as a testament to the religious and artistic endeavors to portray the divine mystery of Christ's existence and His eternal presence as the Ruler of All.

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Christ Pantocrator, Sant Climent of Taüll, 12th century. Museum: Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), Barcelona, SPAIN.

The Christ Pantocrator of Sant Climent of Taüll, which is now housed in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) in Barcelona, Spain, is a prime example of Romanesque art from the 12th century. The figure of Christ Pantocrator, depicted within a mandorla and flanked by the symbols of the four Evangelists, is a powerful icon of Christian art that has inspired generations. The Pantocrator from Sant Climent of Taüll is a part of a progression in the depiction of Christ that becomes more standardized over time, especially after the first millennium AD. This standardization reflects a synthesis of biblical description, theological interpretation, and historical artifacts that were revered as genuine likenesses of Jesus. Examining the Pantocrator, one is immediately drawn to the commanding presence of Christ, holding the Gospels and blessing the viewer, embodying His role as the judge and sovereign of all. This depiction is consistent with the iconography of the Christ Pantocrator found in the Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai. The Mount Sinai Pantocrator has been influential in the iconography of Christ, providing a template for subsequent representations, including that of Sant Climent of Taüll.

When considering the Shroud of Turin within this artistic trajectory, its impact on the evolution of Christ's imagery is evident. The Shroud's detailed portrayal of the face of a man who has suffered presents a stark contrast to the divine majesty typically shown in Pantocrator icons. However, both forms aim to capture aspects of Christ's dual nature as human and divine. The earlier depictions of Christ, which often presented Him as a youthful shepherd or teacher, evolved into the more mature, authoritative Pantocrator image as seen in Sant Climent of Taüll. This development mirrors the Church's own transformation and the growing emphasis on Christ's divine authority. The Shroud of Turin, with its evocative image of Christ's face, could have contributed to this evolution, providing a physical point of reference for artists seeking to express the profound mystery of the Incarnation and the Resurrection. The Pantocrator of Sant Climent of Taüll, therefore, not only stands as a monumental work of Romanesque art but also as a culmination of centuries of Christian artistic development. It reflects both the changing perceptions of Christ in the Christian tradition and the potential influences of revered relics like the Shroud of Turin, which may have offered a tangible connection to the physical reality of Christ and thus influenced His representation in sacred art.

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As for the detail in the middle of the forehead, which may be a lock or double lock of hair, or some line or spot of red or white color, sometimes even a vertical wrinkle, it is always painted in the middle region and changes not the essential shape, but its content across various images from different centuries. This reveals, despite the different interpretations, a single origin: the characteristic trickle of blood on the forehead of the face shown on the Shroud.

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Marinelli (2014)The lock of hair, simple or double, can be seen, for example, in the 9th-century Pantocrator in the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Palatio in Rome 1, in the 12th-century Pantocrator of Cefalù (Palermo) 2 , in the Pantocrator of the same century of Monreale (Palermo) 3 , in the Pantocrator of Sant'Angelo in Formis in Capua (Caserta) 4 , and in the Pantocrator of the 12th century from the church of the monastery of Daphni, near Athens.  7

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The 10th-century Codex Vat. Gr. 511, particularly folios 143-150v, contains an oration by Gregory, an archdeacon of Constantinople's Great Church, which suggests a link between the Edessa image and the Shroud. He speaks of the image not being crafted by human hands but formed from divine 'splendor,' attributing its creation to the sweat of agony and blood from Christ’s face and side, respectively. These elements did not simply stain; they bore life-affirming teachings. This implies that the Edessa image encompassed more than Christ's visage, extending at least to the chest, hinting at the Shroud's fuller form. To expand on this, further examination of the Codex could reveal more about the cultural and religious significance of the Edessa image in Byzantine iconography and its perceived miraculous origins.

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In examining the various terms associated with the Image of Edessa, one particularly significant Greek word stands out: 'tetradiplon', used exclusively in Greek literature to describe this image. Its unique application indicates a distinct characteristic of the Image, setting it apart from other depictions of Christ. Surprisingly, modern historians have largely overlooked the importance of this term and its implications, which might challenge prevailing assumptions about the Image. Understanding 'tetradiplon' is not straightforward, despite its apparent simplicity. The word combines the elements for "four" and "fold over in two." However, it's unclear whether this implies the cloth was folded over twice to create four layers, folded in four to make eight layers (four double layers), or folded in a manner resulting in sixteen layers. Since 'tetradiplon' is uniquely associated with the Image of Edessa and no comparative object exists, deciphering its exact meaning is challenging. The term 'diplon', meaning folded in two, creates two layers. However, there are no similar numerical terms like 'triplon' or 'hexaplon'. Words like 'diploos' mean double, and 'hexaploos' means six times larger, but these don't provide a clear comparison for 'tetradiplon'. If 'diplon' signifies two layers, 'tetradiplon' could imply either sixteen layers (folded over twice four times) or eight layers (four double layers achieved through three folds). However, there's a method of folding a large cloth involving four actions to achieve four double layers: first folding it in half, then in quarters three times. The exclusive use of 'tetradiplon' for the Image of Edessa signifies its significance in understanding the cloth's appearance. If the Image was folded multiple times, it couldn't have been imprinted onto a solid surface like wood. The term suggests the cloth was reasonably large, larger than what would be required for just a facial image. This inference, supported by John Damascene's description of it as 'himatión' (a large piece of cloth), is a crucial yet often overlooked point in understanding the nature of the Image of Edessa.

In the "Acts of Thaddaeus," as well as in texts derived from it, the cloth associated with Jesus is referred to as τετράδιπλον. A translation from 1978 notes that τετράδιπλον literally means "folded in four." Building on this detail, there's a hypothesis suggesting that the image from Edessa and the Shroud of Turin might be the same. This theory posits that if the Shroud were folded four times, it would display only the head and upper torso of the figure depicted. As a result, it is conjectured that observers might perceive it merely as a smaller cloth imprinted with the face of Jesus, not realizing that a full body image was concealed within the layers.

Petrus Soons: he HALO that has been discovered in a variety of photographs and that fits the size of the round opening in the TETRADIPLON, showing only the head of the Man on the Shroud, is a very strong indication that IAN WILSON’s theory that the Shroud of Turin and the Cloth of Edessa (Tetradiplon, Mandylion) are identical is true. Because there is no anatomical detail visible of the surface of the body in the region of the upper thorax of the image of the Man on the Shroud, the head looks like disembodied and floating. That was probably the reason that for many centuries people did not know and realize that this cloth contained the image of the whole front and back of the body, apart from the fact that the TETRADIPLON was mounted, framed and covered with a precious cloth, leaving the round opening showing the face only. This object was considered so sacred that very few people were permitted to even touch or see it. This discovery means also that we can date the Shroud of Turin to at least the year 525 A.D. when the Cloth of Edessa was rediscovered in the niche above the city gate. This would also prove that the sample that was taken from the Shroud for the Radiocarbon Dating of 1988 was not representative for the whole Shroud.

When you take a good size photograph of the whole Shroud and double it in four you will find on one side the image of the face only. Reconstructing what the Byzantine artist did in the past when framing the image and finding the center of the circle around the head, you will first make a vertical line in the middle of the cloth and then make a horizontal line crossing both eyes. (artistically spoken the center of the face is between both eyes). Where the vertical and horizontal line cross you will find the center that you need to construct the circle to create the round opening in the covering precious cloth to make the face visible. Now we have the round opening in the middle of the cloth. If you do that you will find that the center of the circle will end up IN THE CORNER OF THE RIGHT EYE. The reason for this is that the image of the Man on the Shroud is not exactly in the middle of the cloth but displaced about 2-3 cm to the left side of the median line.
The measurements of the Mandylion are 113 cm x 55.2 cm, when the cloth is “doubled in four”. A second observation is that the border of the covering on the top of our HALO is smaller than the border on the bottom of the Halo. The diameter of the HALO was measured by me to be about 48 cm.

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Another term often associated with the Image of Edessa is 'acheiropoietos', meaning 'not made by human hands'. This term is notably absent in the Septuagint (LXX), likely due to the absence of an equivalent Hebrew word. The positive form 'cheiropoietos' appears in contexts like Isaiah 2:18, where it is used to mock the statues of false gods, described as human-made. In the New Testament, the concept of 'acheiropoietos' emerges as a distinctly Christian idea. Mark 14:58 contrasts a human-built temple with a spiritual temple that Christ would establish, and 2 Corinthians 5:1 and Colossians 2:11 use the term to describe heavenly dwellings and spiritual circumcision, contrasting them with their earthly, human-made counterparts. The adjective 'acheiropoietos' wouldn't apply to an obviously painted icon. Yet, in the earliest account of the Image's origin in the Doctrine of Addai, dating around AD 400, it is explicitly stated that Hanan, the king's archivist and artist, painted Jesus’ portrait. This account gives no indication of a miraculous origin for the Image. This description raises questions about whether the author had seen the Image and, if it was indeed a painting, why later versions diverge so significantly. Subsequent narratives uniformly assert that the Image was not a painting but an 'acheiropoietos' – an image not made by human hands. Interestingly, some copies of the Narratio de imagine Edessena on Mount Athos show uncertainty about this. When referring to Abgar's belief in the Image on the cloth, the text suggests that it might be a painted image, although in first-hand texts from Megistes Lavras and Iveron, the negative ('not') appears to be a later addition. Megistes Lavras 644 and von Dobschütz's version omit the negative, implying that the Image is a painting. However, considering the overall context of these manuscripts, this is likely a copyist's error, later corrected to maintain consistency with the general understanding that the Image was an 'acheiropoietos'.

Regardless of the actual nature of the Image of Edessa, it was most likely not a painting, and therefore, a non-human creation. This viewpoint aligns with the chosen terminology in the text, emphasizing the Image's divine origin.
Michael Whitby introduces a compelling theory about the origin of the term 'acheiropoietos' as applied to the Image of Edessa. He refers to Procopius, who describes a Persian mound in Edessa that was set ablaze with divine assistance, attributed to the Image, as 'heiros kheirpoiētos'. The use of this term, implying divine intervention, eventually became associated with the Image itself. Hans Belting, however, considers the term 'acheiropoietos' overly complex and contradictory. He argues that an image not made by human hands paradoxically implies it is not an image at all but the actual body. This interpretation, however, seems to diverge significantly from the intentions of the authors who described the Image of Edessa as 'acheiropoietos'. Their description implies a miraculous creation of the Image through divine power, not a human-made painting. Andrew of Crete (circa 660-740 AD) further clarifies this concept, explicitly stating that the Image of Edessa was not a painting: "First of all, the sacred image of our Lord Jesus Christ that was sent to Abgar the ruler, which is an imprint of his bodily form and owes nothing at all to work with paint..." This statement strongly supports the notion that the Image was a miraculous imprint of Christ's form, distinct from any painted representation.


The term "Mandylion" became prevalent when the Image of Edessa was brought to Constantinople. Theories about the origin of this word vary, with many suggesting a link to the Arabic 'mandil'. However, it seems almost implausible to disregard the influence of similar words in various languages: Greek 'mantilion' and 'mandalion', Latin 'mantilium', Aramaic 'mantila', and late Greek 'mandikē'. These terms typically refer to a large cloth, like a monk's mantle or a tablecloth. Another term often associated with the image on the cloth is 'morphē'. This word is central to the discussion in Philippians 2:6-7-8, where it is debated whether it implies that Jesus was equal to God or, as Adam was made in the image ('eikōn') of God, Jesus was less than God. Other words used to describe the Image of Edessa include 'sindon' (linen cloth), 'eikōn' (image), 'sudarium' (John Damascene, the Letter of the Three Patriarchs), 'ptukhion' (Leo the Deacon), and 'epi tō prosōpō' (on the face). However, none of these terms provide additional clarity about the precise nature of the Image of Edessa.

A full-body image

In his "Historia Ecclesiastica," Ordericus Vitalis provides a somewhat perplexing account of the image Christ sent to Abgar: Abgar, the ruler of Edessa, received a sacred letter from Lord Jesus, along with a precious linen cloth. Jesus had used this cloth to wipe the sweat from his face, and on this cloth, the image of the Savior was miraculously imprinted, shining forth. This image astonishingly revealed both the form and the size of the Lord's body to all who beheld it. At first glance, the description suggests that the image on the cloth should only be of Jesus' face, as that was what he wiped with it. However, Vitalis then indicates that viewers of the cloth could see an image of the entire body of the Lord. This appears contradictory: how could a cloth used to wipe Jesus' face display an image of his full body? Yet, such contradictions were not uncommon among writers of that era, who often seemed less concerned with consistency than contemporary authors might be. The narrative surrounding the Image of Edessa evolved, adapting, and expanding as new contexts emerged. The various attributes of the Image, as described in different documents, were likely adaptations to suit specific circumstances rather than discoveries of inherent qualities of the Image itself. Understanding what might prompt authors to describe the Image as a full-body representation is challenging unless such a portrayal was based on the actual appearance of the Image. Each new generation reinterprets and transforms texts, blending past and present. This approach implies that modifications to the text, including changes in details, reflect more about the beliefs of the readers or listeners than the original author's intentions. In the case of a tangible object like the Image of Edessa, later additions or observations could be more accurate than earlier accounts, particularly if they are based on direct eyewitness evidence rather than mere hearsay. These later accounts might correct earlier misunderstandings. Definitive conclusions about the origins of the Image of Edessa are elusive. The exact timing of its first mention in historical records is uncertain, as is the period of its actual creation. There exists a longstanding tradition that the Image was hidden and rediscovered centuries later. Its association with Christ and the assertion that it was not made by human hands were not crucial for establishing its ancient connection to Christianity in Edessa.

The letter attributed to Christ and the dispatch of a disciple named Thaddaeus or Addai was a more explicit way of suggesting that Christianity had deep roots in Edessa from early times. However, such traditions need to be critically examined for additional evidence. The diverse and often contradictory conclusions drawn by researchers about the origins of the Image of Edessa highlight the uncertainty surrounding its emergence. Regarding the nature and appearance of the Image, it is widely believed, based on various accounts, to have been a linen cloth bearing the face of Jesus. This depiction is consistent with the most popular legend, in which Jesus, during Ananias's visit, presses a cloth to his face and sends it back to Abgar. This version suggests that the Image was a miraculous facial imprint of Christ made during his lifetime. However, the narrative becomes more complex. A different account, emerging around the tenth century, speaks of a cloth pressed to Jesus's face during his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. This version appears in Gregory Referendarius' sermon when the Image was moved from Edessa to Constantinople. The "Narratio de imagine Edessena" presents both the Gethsemane and Ananias versions, indicating a hesitance to forsake the traditional account while acknowledging the newer one. The author admits the existence of two versions without endorsing either as definitive.

During the 8th through 10th centuries, additional evidence suggests that this is a large, folded cloth depicting Christ's full, bloodied body.

The 8th through mid-10th centuries were to make the Holy Image of Edessa the most famous icon in the Christian world, offer clues as to its physical appearance, but also reflect predictable contradictions stemming from the great secrecy in which it was kept. John of Damascus (d. 749), a defender of image veneration, wrote “he [Jesus] took a cloth (rakos) and applied it to his face and impressed on it his own likeness (charakter), which is preserved until the present day” (Cameron 1998: 40). This description, similar to and perhaps derived from the Acts of Thaddeus, appears to be the most common way of understanding it during these centuries. Pilgrims traveling to the Holy Lands and Syrian-educated churchmen migrating elsewhere would undoubtedly spread what they heard about the Image. It is said that Pope Stephen (752 – 757) remarked “that he had often heard the story from those coming from the eastern parts of how Christ imprinted his face on a linen cloth and sent it to Abgar” (Chrysostomides 1997: xxxiii). Texts from outside greater Syria mentioning the Image are few before the later 8th century, but the great iconoclastic controversy (726 – 843) gave a major boost to its notoriety. Iconodules (“image lovers”) used it to argue Christ sanctioned pictures by making one himself.

In the image-friendly atmosphere of the Second Council of Nicaea (787) the Edessa Icon was noted several times, and Evagrius’ history was used to help explain its past. The assembled ecclesiastics were concerned “with establishing the proper degree of respect for religious images-veneration (proskynesis), but not worship (lateria)” (Cameron 1998: 45). Theodore Abu Qurrah, from the same monastery and with the same theological views as John of Damascus, wrote (very early in the 9th century) “As for the image of Christ ... it is honored by veneration especially in our city, Edessa, the blessed, at definite times, with its own feasts and pilgrimages” (Cameron 1998: 46). By the early 10th century Alexandrian Patriarch Eutychius assigns a lofty status to the Image writing “the most wonderful of His relics which Christ has bequeathed to us is a napkin in the Church of ar-Ruha [i.e., Edessa] .... With this Christ wiped His face and there was fixed on it a clear image, not made by painting or drawing or engraving and not changing” (Cameron 1983: 90). Eutychius uses the Arabic word mandil, usually understood to mean a handkerchief-sized cloth; other writers sometimes used “sweat-cloth” (soudarion), again suggesting modest size. These writers certainly imply that Christ’s imprint (ektypoma) was only of his face.

From the 8th to the mid-10th centuries, the Holy Image of Edessa gained renown as the most celebrated icon in Christianity. This period offers insights into its physical characteristics, although the secrecy surrounding it led to inevitable contradictions in descriptions. John of Damascus, an advocate for the veneration of images, who died in 749, described the Image as Jesus imprinting his likeness onto a cloth, a view mirroring the Acts of Thaddeus and widely accepted at the time. The story of the Image likely spread through pilgrims visiting the Holy Lands and Syrian-educated churchmen relocating to other regions. Pope Stephen, reigning from 752 to 757, reportedly heard tales from Eastern travelers about Christ transferring his facial image onto a linen cloth for King Abgar.

References to the Image outside the greater Syrian region were scarce until the late 8th century. However, the Iconoclastic Controversy (726 – 843) significantly amplified its fame. Proponents of icon veneration, called Iconodules, cited the Image as evidence of Christ's endorsement of images, as he himself created one. The Second Council of Nicaea in 787, fostering a pro-image environment, mentioned the Edessa Icon multiple times, using Evagrius' history to elucidate its background. The Council focused on defining the appropriate reverence for religious images: veneration (proskynesis) but not worship (latria).

Theodore Abu Qurrah, sharing theological views with John of Damascus and belonging to the same monastery, wrote in the early 9th century about the special veneration the Image received in Edessa, including dedicated feasts and pilgrimages. By the early 10th century, Alexandrian Patriarch Eutychius elevated the Image's significance, describing it as a miraculous napkin (mandil in Arabic, implying a small cloth) housed in the Church of ar-Ruha (Edessa). He emphasized the Image's enduring nature, not created by human artistry and unchanging over time. The term "sweat-cloth" (soudarion) used by some writers suggests its modest size, and it's clear from these accounts that the imprint (ektypoma) on the cloth was solely of Christ's face.

During these centuries, the emergence of new Christ images shows a notable influence from both the Shroud face and the Edessa Image. Wilson posited that artists replicated the facial area visible through the circular opening of the Image's slip cover, adapting it into various depictions of Jesus (Wilson 1979). This idea aligns with Vignon's earlier observation that numerous Pantocrator (Christ Enthroned) images bore a strong resemblance to the Shroud face, evident in the presence of distinctive "Vignon markings" (Wilson 1991).

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One particular image in Rome’s Catacomb of St. Pontianus, dating back to the 7th century, drew attention due to its unorthodox features, such as an open topped square between Christ’s eyebrows, in addition to other characteristics aligned with the Shroud face, like a raised eyebrow and a long nose with one enlarged nostril (Wilson 1991).

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Two 6th-century artworks in Rome – the mosaic in St. John Lateran and a painted panel in the Sancta Sanctorum Chapel – were both labeled as acheiropoietos, suggesting their inspiration from an original "not made by hands" image.

No known depictions of the Image in its frame exist from before the 10th century, yet certain works seem to capture the Christ face within a circular halo, similar to later representations of the Icon. Wilson identified two late 6th-century pilgrims' flasks (believed to be based on a now-lost mosaic from Jerusalem) and a 7th-century icon of Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Kiev, each featuring a rigid, front-facing face within a circular field (Wilson 1979).
The Veronica portrait, a revered Vatican relic potentially dating to the 8th century (though Wilson suggests the early 11th), is often considered by scholars to be a derivative of the Edessa Image (Meagher 2003). The more widely known Veronica image, displaying a very realistic face, likely diverges from the original icon’s appearance, which is thought to have had a more blurry, impressionistic texture akin to the Shroud.
During this era, the prevailing notion that the Edessa Icon was merely a small cloth depicting Jesus' face is contested by accounts implying a connection to the Turin Shroud and suggesting a larger cloth with more comprehensive imagery.

Wilson's observation of the term "tetradiplon" in the Acts of Thaddeus is particularly noteworthy. This term, indicating a cloth "doubled in four," in a narrative not primarily about the Image but rather Edessa's evangelization, implies firsthand knowledge of this unique characteristic. This detail becomes meaningful if the cloth was large, bearing a face in the same position as on the Turin Shroud. Andrew of Crete in the early 8th century described the Image as the imprint of Christ's "bodily appearance," diverging from descriptions limited to just a face. This implies a cloth large enough to cover a body, raising questions about its actual size compared to a mandil. John Damascene's reference to Christ imprinting his facial image onto Hanan's himation, an outer garment approximately the size of the Shroud, further supports this larger size hypothesis. The Image's color and texture are alluded to in the account of Athanasius bar Gumoye’s painter who reportedly "dulled" its colors. A 9th-century Constantinople writer, referring to an earlier description by Patriarch Germanos, described the Image’s face as "sweat-soaked." This term could be an attempt to describe the Shroud's unique, diffuse, monochromatic, and moist-like appearance, familiar to those acquainted with the icon colors of that era. Massoudi, a 10th-century Muslim historian, seemingly unaware of the Abgar story, understood the cloth to be used for drying Christ after baptism. Scavone interprets this as indicating a larger cloth used on a damp body, a more straightforward, natural explanation. Massoudi's awareness that the Icon "circulated" before reaching the Edessa cathedral suggests there may have been more extensive knowledge about its early history that has not been preserved. Yet, these references are merely suggestive. A more definitive link between the Icon and the Shroud would require a clear assertion of a full-body image, specifically depicting Christ’s Passion. Such evidence, indeed, does exist.

In the 1960s and 1970s, research into the Image of Edessa initially overlooked significant evidence that the Syrian custodians of the Icon might have been aware of the concealed full-body image within its folds. It was believed that the cloth was folded and framed during the time of Abgar and remained unchanged until the 11th century. However, a 12th-century Latin text by the monk Odericus Vitalis, one of the earliest to reveal the full-body image, suggested a different story. Ernest von Dobschutz, a 19th-century historian, had noted that this and similar Latin documents from around the same period, which reported a full-body image, likely had their origins in a Syriac text from around 800. This hypothesis was further supported in 1993 with the discovery of an earlier Latin text from the 10th century, known as Vossianus Latinus Q69. These manuscripts, containing the "Oldest Latin Abgar Legend," suggest that the Edessa Image depicted the entire body of Jesus and likely originated from a Syriac source predating 769. In these texts, Jesus responds to Abgar's request for a visitation by promising to send a linen cloth. This cloth, as described, would reveal not just the features of Jesus' face but a divinely replicated image of his entire body. The narrative then continues to unfold, providing further insights into the history and nature of the Edessa Image.

The 10th-century tract Vossianus Latinus Q69, translating a probable 8th-century Syriac text, describes the Edessa cloth as depicting a whole-body image of Christ. This revelation began to hint at the true nature of the icon, previously thought to be just a facial imprint. The tract vividly describes how Jesus laid his entire body on a white linen cloth, resulting in the divine transfer of not only the lordly features of his face but also the majestic form of his entire body. This linen, remarkably preserved over time, was said to be housed in a great cathedral in Edessa, Syrian Mesopotamia. The original source of this legend, likely an earlier Syriac text, brings into focus the possibility that the Edessa Image aligns with the image on the Shroud. Furthermore, some of these texts, including Vossianus Latinus Q69, subtly hint at a connection between the cloth and Christ’s Passion. One particular passage describes how the cloth's appearance changed throughout Easter day, mirroring Christ’s life stages from infancy in the early hours to the fullness of age at the ninth hour, coinciding with the time of Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion. This description, suggesting a dynamic and evolving image, has led some scholars to speculate that the Edessa cloth could have borne a wounded, bloodied whole-body image similar to that on the Shroud. The text implies that the image might have been revealed progressively during an Easter ritual. However, a clearer understanding of these mysteries would require additional evidence, ideally from eyewitness accounts. By the later part of the 10th century, more such witnesses appear, providing further clarification on the nature of the Edessa Image.

Vossianus Latinus Q69, describing the Edessa Icon, also intriguingly mentions a mysterious Easter ceremony during which the image seemed to transform throughout the day to depict various stages of Christ's life, culminating in his Passion. This reference to a dynamic, changing image during a ritual adds a layer of complexity to our understanding of the Icon. In the early 7th century, Byzantium, under Emperor Herakleios, witnessed a series of military victories that briefly restored its glory before the rise of militant Islam, which led to Edessa falling under Muslim control in 639. The subsequent centuries saw the empire endure two Arab sieges of Constantinople and grapple with internal strife, notably the iconoclasm controversy. This period was marked by a division between iconodules, who venerated religious images, and iconoclasts, who opposed them, often with the support of the emperor's authority. This conflict resulted in injuries, banishments, and the destruction of much religious art. Eventually, iconodules triumphed in 843, restoring the use of religious images in Byzantine life. The imperial family played a significant role in religious affairs and sought to acquire major icons and relics for prestige.

In 943, to mark the centenary of the "Triumph of Orthodoxy," Emperor Romanus Lacapenus sent an army to seize the Edessa Image from the Muslims. The declining military might of the Muslims meant little resistance to the Byzantine forces. Although Islam shared an iconoclastic stance, Muslim rulers appreciated the fame and economic benefits brought by pilgrims to cities harboring revered relics. In 944, a deal was struck with the city’s emir, involving payment, prisoner release, and assurance of no further attacks in exchange for the Image. However, the Christian populace resisted, initially offering copies. It was only after a bishop, familiar with the original, identified the true Icon that it was handed over, despite protests from the Edessan people. At this time, the Eastern Christian Empire was nearing its zenith. Constantinople, formerly Byzantium, stood as Europe's most splendid city. It was a hub of art, culture, and commerce, preserving the legacy of the Roman Empire. Its wealth from trade, along with its magnificent palaces, churches, and shrines, made it the envy of the world. This historical backdrop provides context to the reverence and intense devotion the Edessa Icon inspired, as well as the fervor surrounding its eventual transfer to Constantinople.

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In the 10th century, Constantinople, Europe's most eminent city and the heart of the Orthodox Christian world, received the Holy Image of Edessa, the most venerated Christ picture of its time, into its treasury of relics. Subsequently, almost all Orthodox churches began to feature representations of this Image within their church art, as noted in the December 1983 issue of National Geographic. The Image was first brought to the Church of St. Mary Blachernae in the city's northwest corner on the evening of August 15, 944, coinciding with the Orthodox celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin. A select group of clergy and nobility gathered to preview this renowned picture. An event, possibly that same night or shortly after, was depicted in a small painted miniature from the 12th or 13th century, part of over 600 illustrations for a history by the Greek John Skylitzes. This miniature shows the aging emperor embracing a cloth with a typical Jesus face, stretched in a picture frame. Adjacent to the Image is a long cloth, possibly indicating the actual size of the cloth or a separate handling cloth used for protection (Crispino 1992).
However, the later artist made a significant error in depicting the Jesus face. According to a 10th-century account by Symenon Magister, the emperor’s sons, present at the viewing, could barely make out a faint face, while their brother-in-law and future emperor, Constantine VII, an artist himself, could discern various facial features. This struggle to interpret the image suggests that the nobility, accustomed to the finest art in Christendom, were actually viewing a blurry image akin to that on the Shroud. The following day, the Image was officially welcomed into the city, described as the new palladium, amidst high psalmody, hymns, and a bright display of torchlight in a procession involving the entire populace. A contemporary history records the event, emphasizing the indescribable joy, tears, prayers, and thanksgiving from the entire city as the divine image was paraded through the streets. This historical account vividly captures the profound impact and reverence the Holy Image of Edessa held upon its arrival in Constantinople.

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Shortly after the arrival of the Edessa Image in Constantinople in August 944, Emperor Romanus, his sons, and their entourage had a private viewing of this revered relic. Although a picture made about two hundred years later depicts a clearly imprinted face of Jesus on the cloth, contemporary accounts noted difficulties in discerning the face, as recorded in "The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the XXth Century, No. 237" (March 1991). During the grand celebration on August 16th, the Holy Image was placed on the Mercy Seat in the Hagia Sophia, the most prestigious church in Constantinople. It was later stored in the Pharos Chapel, a secretive area within the emperor's Great Palace, reserved for the most valued treasures. Around this time, another exclusive viewing occurred, likely for a select few. An 11th-century copy of a sermon preached during this event was discovered in 1986 by Shroud researcher Gino Zaninotto. The sermon was delivered by Gregory, an important cleric and archdeacon of Hagia Sophia, who possibly oversaw the Icon's reception in Constantinople. Gregory revealed in his sermon that a delegation had traveled to Edessa, hoping to uncover manuscripts detailing King Abgar's actions. They found numerous Syriac manuscripts, which they translated into Greek.

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Gregory clarified in his sermon that the Image was not created during Christ's ministry, but rather when Jesus, enduring his passion, used the linen cloth to wipe his sweat, which was falling like drops of blood during his agony. As Gregory spoke, the Image was likely more visible to the audience than on any other public occasion. He described the reflection of Jesus' image as imprinted solely by his sweat, falling like drops of blood, and referred to it as the work of God. He mentioned the combination of sweat and image, and also noted the presence of blood on the Image, drawing parallels to the Gospel accounts of blood and water flowing from Jesus' side when lanced on the cross.
Gregory's words initially led many to believe he was indicating a visible wound on the Image, reflecting the wound on Christ's side. However, recent scholarship suggests that the Greek text only shows Gregory reflecting on the Gospel narrative, not observing such a wound in the Image. This interpretation still leaves open the possibility that the Image could have borne a side wound, seen or not. Gregory's account serves as a firsthand testimony, linking the Image more closely to the events of Jesus' Passion, and advancing the association with the Shroud.

After the Edessa Image arrived in Constantinople in August 944, a privileged display was organized, where the knowledgeable cleric, Gregory, observed features reminiscent of “sweat ... falling like drops of blood” from Christ’s head, evoking thoughts of the wound in Jesus’ side. A few years later, Emperor Constantine VII, who had a significant collection of relics, mentioned possessing “blood from his side,” raising questions about its acquisition. In the following year, the Icon was honored with its own feast day on August 16th in the Orthodox calendar. To commemorate this event, a detailed history, possibly authored by Emperor Constantine VII, was written. Known as the "Story of the Image of Edessa," it's the first comprehensive account of the Image's 900-year history, offering a close-up eyewitness perspective since its arrival in Constantinople. Also called the “Festival Sermon,” it claims to be grounded in “painstaking inquiry into the true facts” from historians and Syrian traditions. This work likely drew from the same Syrian manuscripts as Gregory's earlier sermon. The Story recounts King Abgar's ailments and his request for Jesus to come to Edessa. According to the narrative, Jesus declined but promised to send a disciple after ascending to his Father. He then washed his face, leaving an impression of his likeness on the towel. A variation of this story in the manuscript suggests the Image was created during Jesus' agony in Gethsemane, where sweat, likened to drops of blood, transferred his divine face onto the cloth. Thaddaeus, the disciple sent by Christ, brought both the Gospel and the Image to Edessa. Abgar noted the Image's supernatural qualities, observing that its likeness was due to sweat, not pigments. The Story also details how the Image was revered in Edessa, later concealed atop a city gate during a period of Christian persecution, and then rediscovered during a Persian siege, as described by historian Evagrius. The narrative includes numerous miracles and may have been a lecture to a select audience, echoing Gregory's sermon.

However, historians view much of the early history of the cloth as described in the Story with skepticism, considering it semi-legendary. The narrative does not equate the Image with a burial shroud but speculates on the nature of the face, comparing it to blood marks on the Shroud and suggesting the bloody sweat from Gethsemane as a possible cause for its appearance. The Story aligns with a hypothesis that the Shroud, like the Image, was hidden and later rediscovered. 

A significant flood in Edessa in 525 and subsequent rebuilding might have provided an opportunity for this rediscovery, aligning with the emergence of Shroud-like Jesus faces in Ravenna mosaics in the early 540s. Additionally, reports of Assyrian monks associated with the Edessa Image traveling as "icon evangelists" in the early 6th century lend credence to this theory. The Story also recounts a later event in Edessa's history when Turkish forces in 1146 destroyed the Christian civilization there. During their year-long search, they discovered many hidden treasures, suggesting a historical precedent for valuable items being lost and later found.

The early documents hinting at a full-body image on the Edessa Icon, alongside the more explicit claims in the "Oldest Latin Abgar Versions" and the observations of Jesus' Passion made by Gregory and others who closely examined the Image, gradually led its new custodians in Constantinople to consider that what they had acquired in 944 might actually be Christ's burial shroud. By 958, Emperor Constantine VII was aware of several Passion relics in his treasury, as detailed in a letter aimed to bolster his troops near Tarsus. He mentioned possessing relics like the precious wood, the unstained lance, and notably, the life-giving blood from Christ's side, and the sindon, among others. This reference to the sindon is considered the earliest mention of any burial cloth in Constantinople. The precise identity of this sindon has been a subject of debate, especially given the lack of a celebratory welcome for such an important artifact. However, its existence gains clarity in light of the rediscovered Gregory Sermon. If the Edessa Image was indeed the Turin Shroud, it's plausible that the emperor and chief clerics would recognize and utilize it as such. From this point forward, a shroud is documented in Constantinople at least once each century, albeit kept under great secrecy and never directly shown to the public until just before its 1204 departure.

The term "Mandylion," commonly used to refer to the Edessa Image and derived from the Arabic word "mandil" (handkerchief), was not initially used as a name for the Icon upon its arrival in Constantinople in 944. It became more commonly used later in the 10th century, although not by its caretakers. The late 10th-century writer Leon Diaconos still describes it as a large cloth, calling it a peplos (robe). Monasteries on Mt. Athos around this time or slightly later recorded the old Abgar stories, with the king now asking for a full-body painting of Christ. Once in Constantinople, a painted picture of the Image became standard in most Eastern churches, with the original considered the source of Christ's true appearance. Early depictions typically show Jesus' face in a circular opening of an ornate, trellis-pattern slipcover. The Icon's horizontal, landscape shape in many early pictures aligns with the Shroud being "doubled in four." Why the Edessa Image's true nature as a burial shroud was not openly declared raises questions. The depiction of a brutally beaten, bloodied, and naked Christ on the Shroud was contrary to early Christian sensibilities, which found such imagery abhorrent. Early Christian art was hesitant to depict Christ realistically on the cross, with more vivid portrayals emerging only in the 13th century in the West. The stark reality of the crucifixion's effects visible on the Shroud likely led to its cautious handling and prudent silence about its true nature. Understanding of the Christian Orient at the time suggests that the guardians of the Shroud were unlikely to publicly display it, particularly in conservative regions like Syria and even in the relatively more liberal Constantinople. Furthermore, Constantinople's authorities faced the challenge of how to present such a sensitive and significant relic.

The dilemma faced by new Emperor Constantine VII and the Orthodox tradition was how to reconcile the deeply ingrained story of the Edessa Image, a face cloth believed to bear the imprint of Jesus, with emerging evidence suggesting it was more than just a facial portrait. This Icon had become a celebrated part of extra-biblical stories and a pillar in Orthodox tradition. The idea that it might have been something else all along would have been a challenging revelation for both the emperor and the patriarch. The Edessans had seemingly promoted the story of the Abgar facial portrait to obscure the full truth of the Image. However, various hints and versions of the story, including mentions of tetradiplon, himation, and the "Oldest Latin Abgar Legend" which alluded to a full-body image, indicated that the true nature of the relic was gradually being revealed. Faced with this situation, Emperor Constantine VII seems to have chosen a more nuanced approach. A possible solution was the introduction of a copy of the Mandylion into the emperor’s collection of relics. This strategy allowed for the continuation of the old Abgar tradition while simultaneously acknowledging the presence of burial linens. By the late 11th century, records indicate the existence of both a Mandylion and burial shrouds, suggesting that the original Edessa Image may have functioned in both capacities for a time. The Byzantines could thus preserve the old traditions and avoid disclosing the true origins of the new shroud. An additional point of interest regarding the Edessa Image, now referred to as the Mandylion and potentially also the Shroud of Constantinople, is the possibility of it having been folded or “doubled in four” for centuries. This hypothesis is supported by the presence of fold marks at one-eighth length intervals on the Turin Shroud, as observed by Dr. John Jackson, a leading scientist on the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research team. These folding patterns, not known to have been used during the Shroud's documented history since the 14th century, along with other crease lines, suggest a complex history yet to be fully uncovered.

In 1939 Paul Vignon, Professor of the Catholic Institute in Paris, published his second book on the Shroud, Le Saint Suaire de Turin, devant la Science, l’Archéologie, l’Histoire, l’Iconographie, la Logique. A large format, greatly expanded successor to his first book, Le Linceul du Christ. Etude Scientifique,from 1902.

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THE VIGNON MARKINGS. The French scholar Paul Vignon noticed these and other markings recurring in Byzantine portraits of Jesus, seemingly deriving from features visible on the Shroud

(1) Transverse streak across forehead,
(2) three-sided "square" between brows,
(3) V shape at bridge of nose,
(4) second V within marking 2,
(5) raised right eyebrow,
(6) accentuated left cheek,
(7) accentuated right cheek,
(8 )enlarged left nostril,
(9) accentuated line between nose and upper lip,
(10) heavy line under lower lip,
(11) hairless area between lower lip and beard,
(12) forked beard,
(13) transverse line across throat,
(14) heavily accentuated owlish eyes,
(15) two strands of hair.

French researcher Paul Vignon identified an additional fourteen unique features commonly found in Byzantine portraits of Christ, which appear to be derived from the Shroud. Among these features is a distinct triangle situated just below the "topless square," an anomaly also present in the Shroud. This topless square, akin to a trail of clues left behind, acts as evidence of the Shroud's existence six centuries prior to the date suggested by carbon dating. Regarding the Image's location in Edessa after its rediscovery, the city faced a devastating flood in 525, resulting in the tragic loss of thirty thousand lives. At that time, the Byzantine Empire was ruled by Emperor Justin I, soon to be succeeded by his accomplished nephew Justinian, famed for constructing the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Justinian invested heavily in Edessa's recovery, including rerouting the Daisan river to prevent future floods and reconstructing the city walls. It is speculated that during these renovations, the Image may have been found hidden in the old Kappe gateway. Furthermore, Justinian built a splendid new cathedral in Edessa, mirroring the grandeur of the Hagia Sophia, which could have served as a new home for the Image.

Although no remnants of the cathedral are visible today in Şanliurfa, historical accounts describe it with great admiration. Comparable to the ambiance created by the water-surrounded mosques in Şanliurfa’s fish-pools area, the cathedral was constructed entirely from stone, topped with a dome reminiscent of the one in Constantinople. Its marble, noted for its texture, was even compared to the ‘Image not made by hand’—another nod to the 6th-century portrayal of the Image. The cathedral's interior once boasted mosaics, and while these are no longer intact, their craftsmanship can be inferred from the contemporary mosaics found in a Byzantine governor's villa in Şanliurfa’s Haleplibahce Park. The Hagia Sophia of Edessa became the renowned residence for the Image after its long concealment, playing a role similar to the Temple of Jerusalem that housed the Ark of the Covenant. The Image was celebrated in Syriac hymns as containing 'the very essence of God.' Despite the apparent security of the Image in its new cathedral, Edessa was never far from strife. Between 609 and 626, the Persian ruler Khosraw II seized control of Edessa, likely with the assistance of the city's Monophysite community, who opposed the Byzantine Empire's Chalcedonian Orthodoxy. Khosraw handed over all Orthodox churches, including the Hagia Sophia, to the Monophysites and began looting their treasures. The city was on the verge of losing its citizens to enslavement when Byzantine Emperor Heraclius recaptured Edessa. However, soon after Heraclius restored the churches, a new threat appeared: Islam. Edessa's Eastern Syriac-speaking population had always had a tenuous relationship with their Greek-speaking rulers in distant Constantinople. Consequently, when the Islamic Arabs arrived, there was little resistance from the locals. Under the Arabs’ generally tolerant rule of Christianity at that time, the Image's safety seemed assured. For a time, the Image existed in a peculiar equilibrium, where Edessa's Christian factions—Orthodox, Monophysite, and Nestorian—were kept in check by their Islamic rulers. A letter from a Nestorian bishop from this period refers to Edessa as a chosen sanctuary by God, hinting at a complete body imprint on the Image, similar to the Turin Shroud. However, if the Image of Edessa was indeed the Shroud, it was on the cusp of a dramatic turn of events.

1. https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/sn096Aug96.pdf
2. https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/sn088Apr95.pdf
3. https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/ssi42part10.pdf
4. https://www.shroudofturin.com/Resources/CRTSUM.pdf
5. https://biblearchaeology.org/research/the-shroud-of-turin/2284-the-shroud-of-turins-earlier-history-part-one-to-edessa?highlight=WyJqb2huIiwiam9obidzIiwiJ2pvaG4iXQ==
6. https://www.oldest.org/artliterature/jesus-paintings/
7. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291332530_La_Sindone_e_l'iconografia_di_Cristo
8. https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Vat.gr.511

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7From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Empty Chapter 2 Tue Jan 23, 2024 6:19 pm



Chapter 2

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6th to 14th Century History of the Shroud

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The Shroud, believed to be stored in the Middle East (possibly Jerusalem) in the first century, was exhibited in Edessa from 200 to 944 AD. It was then displayed in Constantinople until the Fourth Crusade in 1204. It's speculated that the Shroud was taken during the sack of Constantinople, possibly acquired by the Knights Templar. It reappeared in historical records in 1353, displayed in a church in Lirey, France.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Image213
About the year 589 the Visigoth Church of Spain began to recite in their version of the liturgy (the Mozarabic or Rite of Toledo) the following statement:
“Peter ran with John to the tomb and saw the recent imprints (vestigia) of the dead and risen man on the linens”

Pope Stephan III, 769 AD: “A cloth on which the glorious image of our Lord’s face and the length of his body was so divinely transformed that it was sufficient for those who could not see the Lord’s body in the flesh to see the transfiguration made on the cloth.

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The Sacred Image of Edessa – Recognized as Acheiropoietos (meaning "not made by human hands")  

Edessa, currently known as Urfa in Turkey and situated about 145 miles northeast of Antioch, was an important early center for Christian evangelization. During the onset of the Christian era, Edessa was under Parthian influence, not Roman, and its inhabitants predominantly spoke Syriac instead of Greek. Despite this, the city became a focal point for Christian missionaries, largely due to its substantial Jewish community. The presence of this community facilitated the spread of Christianity in the region. A notable aspect of Edessa's Christian history is the widespread story of King Abgar V's conversion to Christianity. This story, which was well-documented and circulated, contributed to the belief that Edessa was the first kingdom to officially embrace Christianity as its state religion. The city's significant role in the early Christian world and this notable event in its religious history made Edessa a key location in the spread of Christianity during its early years.

"Acheiropoieta" (meaning "not made by human hands")

Whatever the truth about the Edessa Image’s existence in antiquity, most scholars concede there is sufficient evidence for its reality sometime in the 6th century. The primary document is Evagrius’ Greek Ecclesiastical History, written about 595. The Image of Edessa was officially recognized as "Acheiropoieta" (meaning "not made by human hands") by church historian Evagrius Scholasticus.  In it, he recounts the desperate attempts of the Edessans to stave off a 544 Persian siege. When the enemy built a large wooden siege ramp aimed at overwhelming their walls, the Edessans mined under it stacking wood with the hope of burning it down. However, their wood found too little air to burn:

So, when they came to complete despair, they brought the divinely created image, which human hands had not made, the one that Christ the God sent to Abgar .... Then, when they brought the all-holy image into the channel they had created and sprinkled it with water, they applied some to the pyre and the timbers. And at once ... the timbers caught fire ... (Whitby 2000: 226 – 227). The siege ramp was destroyed and city saved. This image's recognition significantly contributed to its historical and religious importance in the Christian world.

Evagrius’ Ecclesiastical History and the anonymous Acts of Thaddeus were the earliest Greek documents Wilson found referring to the Image.

Evagrius’ Ecclesiastical History and the anonymous Acts of Thaddeus were the earliest Greek documents Wilson found referring to the Image. Recently his confidence in this historical reconstruction was considerably enhanced with the 1994 translation of discarded Georgian texts found at St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt. They help confirm old Georgian traditions that Assyrian monks evangelized Georgia in the 6th century (Wilson believes the 530’s). One of the monks, Theodosius, was from Edessa where he was “a deacon and monk [in charge] of the Image of Christ,” a certain reference to the Edessa Icon (Wilson 2010: 135–36). Both Theodosius and a companion were tasked to paint religious art, and are rare examples of known individuals engaging in “icon evangelism” during this era. Additionally, the Syriac Acts of Mar Mari the Apostle (believed to be an early evangelist to the Assyrian region) briefly records the miraculous origins of the Icon and probably dates to the 6th century (Harrak 2005: xvii). In it Jesus is said to have made his image on a sdwn’ (linen cloth) (Drijvers 1997: 21–26). Although sometimes doubted in academic circles, the Holy Image of Edessa was a documented certainty no later than the 6th century.

Syriac documents and traditions continue to shed light on the Image for the next three centuries. 

Recently, Archbishop Gewargis Silwa, head of the Church of the East in Iraq, disclosed an unpublished mid-7th century letter addressed to Nestorian Christians in Edessa calling that city 
“a sanctified throne for the Image of his adorable face and his glorified incarnation,” an almost certain reference to the Icon (Wilson 2001: 34 – 35). 

The 8th and 9th centuries Jacobite Patriarch Dionysius of Tell-Machre (a town nearby Edessa) remembered that the Image of Edessa was in the hands of the orthodox Christian community going back to the late sixth century. His recollections mirror those of the Acts of Mari and recount 
Jesus making his swrt’ (Syriac for image) on a shwshaepha (piece of cloth or towel) (Drijvers 1997: 21 – 26). 

These accounts are almost identical to the image creation in Acts of Thaddeus, but without mention of a word like tetradiplon. Dionysius remembered one story told by his grandfather how a clever artist, in the employ of the fabulously wealthy Edessan Athanasius bar Gumoye, had made a copy “as exactly as possible [like the original] because the painter had dulled the paints of the portrait so they would appear old” (Segal, 1970: 213 - 214); he then tricked the Image’s original owners, the Orthodox Christian community, by exchanging the copy for the original. Whatever the full truth of this event, it would have occurred near the end of the 7th century. It indicates the Image had been revered for a considerable time, and it affirms that copies were being made. Additionally, having to “dull the paints” suggested to Wilson not just age, but the indistinct, faint image so characteristic of the Shroud face. Two early 8th century texts make it clear that the Edessa Image was a continuing and important religious object. 

The Church where it was kept was referred to as 
“The House of the Icon of the Lord” in manuscript BL Oriental 8606 dated to 723 (Drijvers 1997: 28). 

Scholar Hans Drijvers also knows of an unpublished text of an early 8th century dispute between a Christian monk and an Arab wherein the latter admits he has heard of the image made by Christ and sent to King Abgar (Drijvers 1997: 27). 4

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13th century

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The Cloth of Christ venerated in Santa Maria of Blanquernas. In the chapel of the imperial palace of Blanquernas (indicated by the red arrow in the plan), "the cloth in which the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped in the tomb" was displayed. This showing was well known to the Crusaders during their lengthy stay in the city.

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Robert de Clary, a chronicler of the Fourth Crusade, mentions having seen there the "Sydoines in which Our Lord was wrapped in the tomb." In this manuscript of The Conquest of Constantinople, kept in the Royal Library of Copenhagen, it is noted that "on each side appeared as if standing, so that one could perfectly see the figure of Our Lord."

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Robert de Clary adds in his "History of the Fourth Crusade" that "every Friday it was raised vertically." This could be a simple method to transition from a cloth "folded in four" to an image that is raised "vertically" to display the entire figure. This practice implies that the Shroud, which was usually kept folded, was unfolded and displayed in a manner that allowed for the full image on it to be viewed by onlookers. The vertical display would have been a significant aspect of the veneration ritual, enabling devotees to see the complete imprint, believed to be that of Christ. This method of display not only enhanced the visibility of the Shroud's details but also lent a sense of presence and life-size representation to the image. Such practices highlight the importance of the Shroud in religious ceremonies and the profound impact it had on believers who witnessed it during these events.

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Dr. Jackson asserts that in 1978, the folds in the Turin Shroud were still visible. A researcher from the STURP team (which we will discuss later) examined the creases of the Shroud (see photograph and schematic drawing) and claimed to have identified the marks of these folds. The Cloth underwent stretching during the restoration in 2002, and it's possible that these traces may have disappeared, but photographs from before the restoration remain. This attention to the folds and creases provides insight into the Shroud's history and handling over the centuries. The fact that these marks were still discernible decades ago suggests the Shroud had been stored or displayed in a consistent manner, possibly folded in a specific way that left these lasting impressions. The preservation of these photographs is crucial, as they provide a historical record of the Shroud's condition prior to the 2002 restoration, offering valuable information for ongoing research and study of this enigmatic artifact.

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The Sack of Constantinople in 1204 saw the Crusaders plunder the capital of Byzantium for three days starting from April 12, 1204. "Never, since the world was created, has so much wonder been seen or conquered," declared the chronicler. It's known that the French primarily divided among themselves the relics, while the Venetians focused mostly on the wealth they had seen on display in the preceding months. This event marked a significant moment in history, illustrating the intersection of religious zeal, warfare, and the quest for riches. The distribution of spoils reflects the differing priorities of the French and Venetian forces. For the French, the relics held immense religious and spiritual value, being tangible connections to the Christian narrative and history. The Venetians, renowned for their trade and commerce, were more inclined towards the material wealth and treasures of Byzantium. The Sack of Constantinople dramatically altered the cultural and religious landscape of the region. It led to the dispersal of countless artifacts, including relics revered in Christian tradition, across Europe. This event not only had immediate impacts on Byzantium but also left a lasting legacy on Christian history, reshaping the distribution and ownership of religious and cultural artifacts. The chronicler's statement underscores the unprecedented scale and impact of the plunder, a testament to the magnitude of loss and transformation experienced during this period. A relative of the Byzantine Emperor complained to the Pope about the theft of the Shroud. This is a copy of the letter that Theodore Angelos, nephew of Isaac II Angelos Comnenus, sent to Pope Innocent III in 1205. In the letter, Theodore laments the unchristian behavior of the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade and requests the return of, at the very least, the "cloth in which Our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death and before his resurrection"... "which is in Athens." This historical document highlights a moment of contention and cultural loss during the tumultuous times of the Crusades. The letter illustrates the significance of the Shroud, not just as a religious artifact but also as a symbol of Christian heritage and reverence. Theodore's appeal to the Pope reflects the desperation and helplessness in trying to recover a relic of immense religious importance. His specific mention of the Shroud's location in Athens at that time provides a clue to its journey and the complex history of religious artifacts during periods of war and conflict. This correspondence serves as a testament to the historical and spiritual value attributed to the Shroud and the efforts made to reclaim it from those who had taken it.

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The Medallion of Lirey
The medallion (see Figure 1, below) was found in the Seine river, under the “Pont-au-Change” bridge, in 1855. This medallion was most probably from a pilgrim who went to Lirey, France, to see the Shroud, and lost it, or intentionally tossed it, in the Seine river thereafter. This is the only known exemplar to have been found. It is interesting to note that several similar medallions were also found around the same time in the Seine, one representing the Sainte Tunique. But this is a completely different subject.

On the medallion of Lirey, the reproduction of the Shroud is unmistakable as we can clearly see the frontal and dorsal of a body very similar to the Turin Shroud along the coats of arms of the families (i.e. de Charny, de Vergy) who owned the Shroud in France around 1350-1450. It is difficult to date the medaillon precisely, but based on coats of arms, it was likely produced between 1350 and 1418, the period that the Shroud was in Lirey. The medallion's dimensions are 4.5 cm high and 6.2 cm wide. Interestingly, it is one of the largest medallions in the Cluny's museum collection. Perhaps this large dimension attests the importance that was given to the relic by its owners.

Important note: in the following, it is important to correctly identify the left and right arms on the Shroud of Turin. We interpret the image on the Shroud as if the body imprinted itself on the cloth (some parts did this impression at a small distance, a few centimeters, from the cloth). When looking at the image on the Shroud, the left arm is on the left of the image (correspondingly, the right arm is on the right of the image). The error would be to interpret the image as in a photograph (i.e., a positive photograph): the sides would be inverted, which is not correct. In that sense, the Shroud image is like a negative photograph. It is more precisely an imprint.

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Marinelli, E. (2014) In the midst of World War II, a curious artifact was discovered in Templecombe, England, carved into a slab of oak. This village derived its name due to hosting a Templar Preceptory from 1185 to the early 1300s. The carving features a face with a beard, notable for its indistinct edges, hinting at the enigmatic presence of the Templars in the area. It is unequivocally similar to the Shroud: with the technique of the superimposition in polarized light 125 points of congruence between the two images have been found. 1

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A painting found in Templecombe (Somerset, England), once the property of the Templars. Many clues lead us to believe that this knightly order, condemned in 1307 as heretical for the secret worship of a Holy Face, hid the Shroud, which disappeared from Constantinople in 1204. (I. Wilson). Many of the Templars denied the existence of Bafometto, a mysterious and bearded idol worshiped with the title of “our Savior”; others described it in great detail, illustrating it even in demonic hues. One hypothesis states that the Bafometto could be the Shroud that, when folded, was shown during the rites of the Order. In the previous appointment we have indicated some tracks that can connect the Shroud with the Templars. We cited Guillaume de Beaujeu and Amaury de la Roche as two possible junctions and, having summarized a historical picture of the Templar Order, we came between the 13th and 14th centuries, when the Templars began to lose their charisma and the French king Philip IV the Fair, without delay, began his persecution against them. We also mentioned a mysterious bearded idol: the Bafometto. On 13 October 1307 the order of arrest of the Templars and confiscation of their property by Filippo IV was carried out. The Knights were subjected to terrible torture until they confessed the accusations that had been made against them: sodomy, heresy and idolatry.

In 1312 Pope Clement V suppressed the Order of the Templars and subsequently decreed the transfer of its assets to the Knights Hospitallers. Philip IV could finally destroy the accounting books of the Templars (where his debts to the Order were shown) and their banking system. The date of 18 March 1314 marked the final act against the Templar Order: Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Order, and Geoffroy de Charnay, Preceptor of Normandy, took the stake before Notre-Dame of Paris. The homonymy of the latter with Geoffroy I de Charny – it was not uncommon to write “Charny” even in the form “Charnay” or “Charney” – or the probable family relationship between the two, could confirm an additional Templar track for the arrival of the Shroud in the hands of the Lord of Lirey. Icons (Greek for ‘images’) are known to us since at least the 6th Century. The sacred image, the liturgical icon, principally represents Christ.  The first record of the existence of a physical image in the ancient city of Edessa (now Urfa) was by Evagrius Scholasticus, writing about 593, who reports a portrait of Christ of divine origin (θεότευκτος), which effected the miraculous aid in the defence of Edessa against the Persians in 544

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The Shroud of Turin and Ancient Coins: Tracing the Shroud's History Before the 13th Century

In ancient times, several coins depicted the face of Christ.  Byzantine coins back to about 692 AD contain images very similar to the image on the Shroud. Many believe that the Shroud of Turin is a medieval artifact of the 1300s and is therefore after the Byzantine Empire that flourished until to 1204, the year of the fall of its capital, Constantinople. Some experts have claimed that the image of the face on the Byzantine coins of the first millennium is remarkably similar to the face on the Shroud probably because the fourteenth-century artist who produced the Shroud had copied it from the image on the coins! This is absurd because of what we now know about the image. Experimental tests have shown that the image is not due to pigment so could not have been made by paint, dye, or stain, It does not fluoresce under ultraviolet light so could not be scorched from a hot object. And it contains 3D information so could not be a common photograph. In addition, attempts by scientists and artists over many decades have been unable to reproduce the very peculiar characteristics of the Shroud’s body image. This indicates there is no known method for an artist or forger to have made the image on the Shroud so that the image could not have been copied from the effigy on a coin. This is a very important fact because it indicates that the effigies of Jesus Christ on the coins must have been copied from the Shroud rather than the reverse. The coins minted from the seventh century onwards are not only a clear proof of the existence of the Shroud in the Byzantine period but also they add new interesting information on the topic. The Shroud must have already existed in 692, when the emperor Justinian II coined the first face of Christ, in agreement with the fact that the Shroud is Jesus’ burial sheet showing His image formed during the Resurrection. The official period of the Byzantine Empire started in 395 AD and ended in 1453 AD. 

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Solidus coin issued in 437 to commemorate the wedding of Emperor Valentinian III to Licinia Eudoxia. The figure of Christ, depicted as clean shaven and with short hair, is shown standing between the married couple.

Byzantine Coins

The features of Christ as depicted on Byzantine Solidus coins show an astonishing correspondence to the image on the Shroud of Turin, providing compelling evidence of the Shroud’s influence on early Christian iconography. When examining the numismatic imagery, we notice several key characteristics that mirror those on the Shroud—a testament to its authenticity and its role as a template for these ancient depictions. The enthroned position of Christ on the coins resembles the posture of the man of the Shroud, as if the cloth itself captured a sovereign yet suffering figure. The detail of the right feet titled aligns with the positioning of the feet on the Shroud, which are not placed flat but are overlapped and set at an angle, just as one would expect if they had been nailed to a cross. The swollen eyebrow on the coins also corresponds to the swelling visible on the forehead of the Shroud’s figure, possibly indicating the same individual, who had suffered blows to the head. This is further supported by the wounds on the forehead of the coin’s imagery, reminiscent of the puncture wounds that would be consistent with a crown of thorns, as seen on the Shroud. Furthermore, the locks of hair represented as wounds on the coins could reflect the blood flows on the Shroud, which trail down in the hair in a manner consistent with gravity if the person had been in an upright position, as during crucifixion. The absence of ears in the coin depictions may not be a mere artistic omission but could suggest adherence to the Shroud’s image, where the hair and blood flows make the ears less discernible.
The detached hair and lowered right shoulder on the coins find parallels in the Shroud’s image, where the hair appears separated from the scalp—possibly due to the blood and fluids present during the burial—and the right shoulder carries the burden of a heavy object, likely the cross. Notably, the beard, crooked nose, and the long hair on one side are features distinctly captured on the Shroud and reproduced on the coins. Even the tears and the “T” shaped eyebrows of the numismatic portraits can be traced back to the Shroud, where similar marks are present. This confluence of details between the Shroud and the coinage of the period not only underscores the Shroud’s venerated status in the Byzantine era but also its potential as a visual source for the artists of the time. The fidelity of these features suggests that the artisans who minted the coins might have had direct access to the Shroud or to accurate copies of its image, cementing its place in the visual language of Christian iconography.

Council in Trullo or Quinisext (692 A.D.)
The Quinisext Council or Trullan was held in 692 A.D. under Justinian II.
“Thou shalt not paint a lamb for the type of Christ, but himself.” (Canon eighty-second.)
Jesus Christ had therefore to be represented as Himself BUT without the signs of His Passion.

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Byzantine bronze follis struck AD 969-976 and the face on the Shroud of Turin

At some time during the short but distinguished reign of Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimiskes (AD 969- 976), an artist working at the Constantinople Mint was entrusted with the task of engraving an image of Jesus Christ for a new bronze follis. Earlier emperors had depicted Christ on gold and silver coins, but this was the first time that his likeness would appear on a mass-produced circulating coin.  The Emperor’s decision to depict Christ on his coinage instead of his own portrait may have been prompted by an exciting new acquisition. Constantinople had recently taken ownership of the holiest relic in Christendom, a mysterious image of Christ ‘not made by human hands’ but miraculously transferred onto a cloth, it was said, by Christ himself. Although it was considered too holy to go on public display at the time, our coin engraver would almost certainly have been granted the privilege of entering the Pharos chapel of Constantinople’s Imperial Palace for a special viewing in order to capture a good likeness. The cloth had arrived in Constantinople amidst much rejoicing on 15th August 944 after being acquired from the city of Edessa (today, Urfa in Southern Turkey).  

Two of the oldest known coins featuring depictions of Jesus Christ date back to the mid-5th century. These coins were minted to celebrate significant imperial weddings. The first, from 437, commemorates the marriage of Emperor Valentinian III and Licinia Eudoxia. The second, from 450, marks the union of Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria. On these coins, Christ is represented standing between the emperor and his bride, placing His hands on their shoulders. The inscription "FELICITER NUBTIIS" (meaning 'Happily Married') accompanies this imagery. The portrayal of Christ on these coins is consistent with the artistic representations of that era, depicting Him as clean-shaven with short hair, resembling the contemporary styles seen in paintings and mosaics.

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In 692, Byzantine Emperor Justinian II, during his reign from 685-695 and 705-711, held the Council of Trullo, also known as the Quinisext Council, in the Trullan hall of his palace in Constantinople. This council, notable for being held without papal authority from Rome, is not classified as an ecumenical council. One significant outcome of this council was Canon 82, which later gained recognition from Pope Adrian I in a letter to Patriarch Tarasius of Constantinople. Canon 82 advocated for depicting Jesus in human form rather than as a lamb, to better remember his life, passion, and redemption.

Around the same time, Justinian II introduced a groundbreaking design for the Byzantine solidus coin. This coin, first established by Constantine I around 309-310, was a key gold currency in the Eastern Roman Empire until the tenth century, eventually giving rise to the word "soldier" due to its role in military pay. The Justinian II solidus featured a novel depiction of Christ in a frontal position, with a cross behind his head, long, wavy hair, a beard, and a mustache. The image of Christ showed him bestowing a blessing with his right hand and holding the Book of the Gospels in his left, reminiscent of the Pantocrator icon. Encircling Christ's head were the words “Christ, King of those who rule.” The reverse side of the coin featured an effigy of Emperor Justinian II himself, accompanied by the inscription “Lord Justinian, the servant of Christ”.

One of the first official images depicting Jesus Christ on coins are those minted in 692 by Emperor Justinian II, including the gold solidus reproducing the bust of the blessing Christ on the obverse side.
There were two reasons for Christ’s appearance on Justinian II coins. The first reason is that the empire was threatened by Muslims who had become militarily aggressive, so the emperor needed a powerful symbol that God would protect the Byzantine population, which could be used and recognized everywhere. What symbol could better represent the power of God than the image of Christ minted on the highest-valued coins like the gold solidus?
The second reason is that Egypt was the source of paper (papyrus) for the Byzantine Empire and Egypt was controlled by Muslims. The emperor was irritated that Muslims had written a verse from the Koran on each of the papyrus sheets sold to him. Therefore, as a reaction, the emperor decided to pay for those paper sheets with gold coins portraying the image of the face of Christ. This reply was considered by Muslims to be offensive, so they melted the gold coins and used the metal for minting others with verses from the Koran.

Over two centuries after the fifth-century coins depicting Christ, new coinage emerged during the reign of Emperor Justinian II, between 692 and 695. These coins presented a markedly different image of Christ, closely resembling the visage seen on the Shroud. Justinian II was overthrown in 695, and during the rule of his successor, Leontios, coins ceased to feature Christ's image. However, when Justinian II reclaimed the throne in 705, Christ's likeness reappeared on coins, this time portrayed with a short beard and curly hair. This depiction aligns with the images of Christ found in two Syrian manuscripts from 586 and 634. The practice of depicting Christ on coins was discontinued after Justinian's death in 711, coinciding with the era of Byzantine Iconoclasm initiated by Emperor Leo III, which saw a ban on religious images. It was not until 843, with the restoration of icon veneration, that coins bearing Christ's image reemerged under Emperor Michael III (856–867), once again showing the Shroud-like face. This tradition of minting coins with Christ's image, including variations showing Him seated on a throne, persisted until the fall of the Byzantine Empire after the conquest of Constantinople in 1204.

Art historian Professor James Breckenridge was one of the pioneers in suggesting a connection between the lifelike image of Christ on coins from Justinian II's first reign and an acheiropoietos (not made by human hands) image, like the Image of Edessa. These coins, minted between 692 and 695, display a detailed facial depiction of Christ, with features resembling those on the Shroud of Turin. Dr. Alan and Mary Whanger conducted a thorough comparison between the Shroud image and high-resolution photographs of these early coins from Justinian's era. They employed a polarized image overlay technique, similar to their study of the Christ Pantocrator icon from St. Catherine’s Monastery. Their findings led them to believe that the coin's depiction was likely inspired by the Shroud. Specifically, Dr. Alan Whanger, in his 1983 research, pointed out that the coin image and the Shroud shared at least 65 points of congruence. He theorized that the coin's image was a numismatic icon possibly copied from the Edessan image, suggesting that the coin's die cutter might have directly referenced the Shroud while crafting the coin.

This theory, however, is not universally accepted. Some researchers have expressed skepticism about the 'points of congruence' argument used to establish this link. Nonetheless, recent research by Professor Giulio Fanti supports Whanger's hypothesis, indicating that the coin's die cutters might have indeed had access to the Shroud image. The coins from Justinian II's reign show Christ's face with some unique features also found on the Shroud, while other features are omitted or altered. This variation suggests subjective decisions by the engravers about which elements to include or exclude. The existence of multiple versions of these coins, each with slightly different depictions of Christ's face, could be explained by different die cutters interpreting the original image in their own ways.

The comparison between a gold solidus minted during 692 to 695 and the face on the Shroud of Turin reveals several striking similarities in their features. These shared characteristics include an unattractive appearance, asymmetric facial features, absence of royal symbols like a crown, long and uneven hair, and other specific details like a tuft of hair, large, round eyes, a long nose, and a sparse beard on the right side. Additionally, there is a noticeable swollen right cheek and a beardless area below the lower lip, with the beard being parted in two and longer on the left side.

The Byzantine coin engravers, known for their skill and attention to detail, are unlikely to have unintentionally included these irregular features. These were master craftsmen capable of producing highly detailed and symmetrical images, as seen in other portraits of emperors on coins of that era. The decision to depict Christ with these particular features suggests a deliberate choice to replicate the image of the Man of the Shroud, believed by some to be the true likeness of Christ, including its visible imperfections.

Professor Fanti addressed the similarity between the image on the solidus and the Shroud by calculating the probability of these features being coincidentally replicated without copying. He assessed each feature, assigning a probability to the likelihood of its random replication. For instance, the beardless area below the lower lip was given a one in four chance of replication, while the beard parted in two and longer on the left side was assigned a much lower probability. Combining these probabilities, Fanti calculated the overall likelihood that the solidus could have been produced without referencing the Shroud, considering all the outlined features. This analysis suggests that the engraver might have intentionally reproduced features from the Shroud.

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Some representations of the bust of Christ from 692 to 1423 on Byzantine coins. From the left to the right, solidi of Justinian II (692–695), Michael III (842–867) and Basil II (976–1025), bronze follis of John I (969–976) and silver half stavraton of Manuel II (1391–1423).

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On the left, the Russian icon of the nineteenth century shows an example of Mandylion; on the right, gold histamenon nomisma minted by Michael VII (1071–1078) showing Christ with a long beard.

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Shroud face on the top and Christ Pantocrator in Saint Caterina’s Monastery in Sinai on the bottom. In the center are the original images; on either side the symmetrical images of the right and the left side of the face, highlighting the asymmetry.

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On the center, the Cross of Justin II also known as “Crux Vaticana” (568–569). The front of the Cross (lower left) contains a Relic of the Christ’s Cross while the back is interesting because shows two medallions with busts of Christ similar to the Shroud (upper and lower right in the ϐigure). The medallion on the center (upper left) shows the Lamb of God as it was used to represent Christ at that time.

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Christ Pantocrator reproduced on a silver vase of the sixth to seventh century from Emesa, the modern Homs in Syria (Louvre, Paris).

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This overview of the face of Christ iconography from the first millennium shows the close connection of the typical features of these depictions with those of the Shroud face. The results clearly demonstrate the Relic had often been a model for the representations of Christ.

Right Shoulder Lowered

Another interesting detail of the bust of Christ shows His right shoulder lowered, not common in reproductions of ϐlawless men, but of Jesus Christ shown on the Shroud.
A recent study [Bevilacqua et al., 2014], disclosed that the Man of the Shroud has just the right shoulder lowered because it was probably dislocated after a fall while carrying the cross to Calvary. An anthropometric analysis report conϐirms glenoidal dislocation of the humerus of nearly 3 cm (about 1 in.). In agreement with this dislocation visible on the Shroud, some Byzantine coins report this peculiar feature in the depictions of Christ, see, for example, Fig. 3.49. In particular, the first coin from the left shows evidence of the protuberance of the lowered shoulder typical of dislocation, while the third coin accentuates this feature.

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Examples of Christ showing the right shoulder lowered in agreement with the Shroud body image. From the left, gold solidus and gold semissis of Justinian II (692–692); gold solidus of Constantine VII (955–959); gold histamenon nomisma of ROMANUS III, 1028-1034. AV Histamenon Nomisma, Constantinople Mint.

Face details

Tuft of Hair on the Forehead

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In 692, the Quinisext Council, also referred to as the Council in Trullo, brought about a significant shift in Christian art and iconography through Canon 82. This canon mandated that Christ should be depicted in human form in religious imagery, moving away from earlier symbolic representations such as the lamb. This change was a move towards a more literal depiction of Christ’s image.

In the same year, Emperor Justinian II initiated a significant change in the realm of coinage by minting the first gold solidus to feature the bust of Christ. Notably, these coins portrayed a distinctive tuft of hair on Christ's forehead. This detail, which became a recurring feature in subsequent coin designs, is thought to have been inspired by the imagery of the Shroud, particularly the 'blood flow' seen on Christ's forehead.

This depiction of the tuft of hair on the coins can be seen as aligning with the Council's directive to portray Christ in human form while avoiding the explicit representation of His Passion. Instead of depicting bloodstains, the engravers may have chosen to represent these markings as tufts of hair, subtly acknowledging the Shroud's influence while adhering to the Council's guidelines. This interpretation of the tufts of hair around Christ's head, avoiding a direct portrayal of His suffering, supports the idea that these artistic choices were influenced by the Shroud's imagery. This approach in numismatic and religious art suggests a nuanced understanding and representation of Christ in this period.

This tuft of hair, more than a mere artistic detail, signifies a deeper connection with the Shroud's depiction of Christ. It became a recurring element in many portrayals of Christ throughout the Byzantine Empire and beyond. Intriguingly, the 'Syrian Christ' coins, minted during Justinian II's second reign from 705 to 711, which did not follow the Shroud-like imagery, lack this distinctive tuft of hair. This absence further emphasizes the unique influence of the Shroud's depiction on the iconography of Christ, especially in the years following the Quinisext Council's decree.

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During the reign of Emperor Constantine VII (920–959), a significant development occurred in the portrayal of Christ's face in Byzantine art, particularly noticeable after the triumphal arrival of the Mandylion-Shroud in Constantinople around 944. A key feature of the Shroud’s depiction of Christ’s face, a distinct “T”-shape formed by the eyebrows and nose, started to appear in these representations. This is particularly evident when examining the positive image of the Byzantine coins from this period. An example of this artistic influence can be seen in three gold solidi coins from the reign of Basil II (976–1025). These coins,  show a clear "T" shape in the area of the nose and eyebrows, closely resembling the facial features of Christ as seen on the Shroud. This stylistic element indicates a direct influence of the Shroud's imagery on Byzantine numismatic and religious art, reflecting a shift towards incorporating specific, recognizable features from the Shroud into depictions of Christ.

Swelling on the Right Cheekbone

The Gospel of Mark (15:19) describes an incident where Christ was struck on the head, which some believe is reflected in the Shroud's imagery, particularly in the form of a swelling on the right cheekbone. This detail is notably present in the depiction of Christ in Byzantine art, especially in the numismatic representations from the reign of Emperor Constantine VII (949–959).

This swelling on the right cheekbone is evident in the Shroud image. Further supporting this observation, the Figure below showcases two gold solidi minted during Constantine VII's reign, where the bust of Christ clearly exhibits a swelling in the corresponding area of the right cheekbone.

This specific detail of the swelling on Christ's right cheekbone has been replicated on many coins, particularly those minted between 949 and 959 under Constantine VII. This period follows shortly after the arrival of the Mandylion-Shroud in Constantinople in 944, suggesting that the coin engravers had direct access to the relic. This access likely enabled them to incorporate additional details, such as the swelling on the cheekbone, into their representations of Christ, drawing a closer connection between the Shroud's image and Byzantine iconography.

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From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Byzant10
Byzantine Empire. Constantine VII. AV Solidus, Constantinople AD 945-959. Another example of the swelling on Christ's right cheekbone.

Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, with Romanus II - AV Solidus - AD 945-959 - Constantinople Obverse: Ih. S SPE REX REGNANTIUM, facing bust of Christ, nimbate with three dots in each limb of the cross, raising right hand in benediction and holding book of gospels Reverse: CONSTANT' CE ROMAN M AVGG b. Rn, Facing, crowned busts of Constantine VII with short beard on left, wearing loros, and Romanus II, wearing chlamys, unbearded, on right, holding long patriarchal cross between them. struck on a broad flan with strong details and exceptionally fine and attractive portrait of Christ.

In the Byzantine representations of Christ's face, particularly on coins from the reign of Emperor Constantine VII, a notable feature is the elongation of the nose, which is often asymmetrical and sometimes curiously integrated with the mustaches. This characteristic is believed to be in line with the depiction of Christ on the Shroud, which shows a similar asymmetry, especially notable in the left nostril.

Figure 4.16 illustrates this detail. On the left side of the figure, two gold solidi from the period of 913–959 AD show Christ with a prominently long and asymmetric nose, closely resembling the Shroud's depiction. This is contrasted on the right side of the figure, where two coins from the reign of Romanus I Lecapenus minted on behalf of Michael III, known as histamenon nomisma, are displayed. These coins also feature a distinctively elongated and asymmetric nose, emphasizing the influence of the Shroud's imagery on Byzantine coinage and religious art during this era.

This detail's replication across various coins suggests a conscious effort by Byzantine engravers to capture the unique facial features of Christ as represented on the Shroud, further cementing the relic's influence on the artistic portrayal of Christ in this period.

Protruding Lower Lip and Gap in the Beard below It

Typical of the Jews is the protruding lower lip. Jesus Christ, a Jew, shows this peculiar feature on the Shroud body image that is evidenced by the gap in the beard below the lower lip.
The Byzantine engravers noticed this detail on the Shroud body image and reproduced it on their coins depicting our Savior. 

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Three examples of the faces of Christ showing a prominent lip are evidenced by the lower gap in the beard. From the left, respectively, gold solidus and silver hexagram of Justinian II (692–695); gold histamenon nomisma of Basil II (976–1025).

Bipartite beard

Some faces of Christ on Byzantine coins, particularly those reproduced on the bronze follis, did not always receive direct approval from the Byzantine Emperor. As a result, they exhibit a greater variety of depictions, especially in details like the beard on Christ’s face. Some coins reproduce the bipartite, non-symmetric beard of the Shroud image, especially those of Justinian II (685–695, 705–711) and of Michael III (842–867). Others show a more common form of beard, as seen in some examples, indicating that the engraver of these coins focused their attention on reproducing other facial details, which they considered more significant.

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Three examples of bipartite beard on Byzantine coins. From the left, respectively, gold solidus and tremissis of Justinian II (692–695); electrum histamenon nomisma of Michael VII (1071–1078).

Christ’s Face in the World’s Coins

Many of the world’s medieval coins show the face of Christ. 

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ANGLO-SAXON, Primary Sceattas. Circa 705/10-715. AR Sceatt (12mm, 1.09 g, 10h). Series Z, type 66a. Mint in East Anglia. Facing head of Christ

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An Exceptional Anglo-Saxon Silver Sceatt  Circa 715-720. Mint in East Anglia or Mercia. East Anglia and Mercia were two of the seven kingdoms that existed in Anglo-Saxon England during the early Middle Ages Facing the head of Christ with a curled mustache and forked beard. Similar to the Shroud, the face of Christ shows a forked beard, a relatively long nose, pronounced annulets forming the eyes, a complex shape of the mustache, and long hair.

Bronze Follis Coins

The bronze Follis coins minted during the reign of Emperor John I, unlike the more detailed gold solidus coins from Emperor Justinian II's era, displayed a somewhat different approach to coin engraving. These coins, produced between 969 and 976 AD, were not crafted with the same level of precision as the gold solidi but still depicted an image of Jesus Christ. The facial representation of Christ on these coins, while not as finely detailed, included notable features that suggest a direct influence from the Shroud of Turin.

Key characteristics on the bronze Follis coins that align with the Shroud’s depiction include a distinctive cross-shaped pattern formed by the eyebrows across the forehead, a small square beneath the moustache, and a noticeable injury on the cheek. Additionally, the coins show two parallel strands of hair on the left side of Christ's face and a forked beard. The inclusion of these specific features implies that the coin engraver might have deliberately chosen to replicate aspects of the Shroud's imagery in his representation of Christ. This suggests a conscious decision to incorporate elements from the Shroud, providing an intriguing link between these numismatic artifacts and the famous relic.

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An analysis comparing the features on a bronze follis coin from the reign of Byzantine Emperor John I (969–976 AD) with similar features visible on the Shroud of Turin's facial image, as studied by Justin Robinson.

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Schematic showing the date-stamped historical snapshots revealed by studies comparing the Shroud with several historical artefacts bearing a close correlation with features seen on the Shroud.

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A Probabilistic Analysis of the Shroud of Turin’s Influence on 7th-Century Byzantine Solidus Coin Imagery

Upper image
Shroud face on the top and Byzantine Solidus Coin on the bottom. The Solidus coin was a widely circulated gold coin used during the late Roman Empire and into the Byzantine era, with the first Christian images appearing on them from the reign of Justinian II starting in 692 AD.
In the center are the original images; on either side the symmetrical images of the right and the left side of the face, highlighting the asymmetry. 

The bottom image 
Shows the transition the face on the Shroud of Turin into the gold Solidus coin featuring a representation of Christ. Both images depict a man with a long nose, full beard, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. The styling of the hair and beard is particularly similar, with wavy locks and a beard that is not too full but has several strands. Both images show a forward-gazing face with a solemn expression. The eyes are slightly open, and the eyebrows are straight, giving a sense of serenity. The proportions of the face, such as the distance between the eyes, the length of the nose, and the width of the mouth, are quite similar. These points of congruence suggest that the Solidus coin  has with high certainty been influenced by the likeness depicted on the Shroud.

1. Asymmetry of face. A comparison with the almost entirely symmetrical faces of the Byzantine emperors evidences the distinctiveness of the face of Christ in question, which is also asymmetrical on the Shroud. 
2. Facing Head with Mustache and Beard: Both the Shroud and the coin depict a face with a mustache and a forked beard, which was a common way to represent Christ during certain historical periods.
3. Quadruped Symbol: The reverse side of the coin features a quadruped, which is not directly related to the Shroud but is indicative of the iconography used during the period.
4. Cross-Shaped Nose: A "T" shaped or cross-shaped nose is noted on the coin, which is a stylistic feature found in some Byzantine representations of Christ. The man on the Shroud has also a long nose. 
5. Long Nose: Both images feature a long nose, which is a typical characteristic of Byzantine iconography of Christ.
6. Swollen Right Cheek and Sparse Beard: The Shroud depicts a swelling on the right cheek, possibly relating to the Gospel account of Christ being struck. Some coins also show the swollen cheek.  The coin also shows a beard that is sparser on the right side, potentially aligning with this depiction.
7. Bipartite Beard: The beard on the Shroud is depicted as divided, which is also seen on the coin.
8. Other Features: Additional features such as a long mustache, a flattened and slightly curved nose, and a high-arched left eyebrow are mentioned that can also be noted on the eyebrow of the man on the Shroud.

The congruences between the images are compelling evidence of direct artistic borrowing.  The similarities in the facial features—long nose, full beard, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle—suggest a common source or inspiration. The proportions and the solemn expression of the face are remarkably similar, which indicates that the artists who designed the coin were either influenced by the Shroud or both the Shroud and the coin were based on a widely recognized iconographic tradition. The unique asymmetry observed in the face on both the Shroud and the coin could imply that the coin's engraver was referencing a real-life model, possibly the Shroud, rather than adhering to the more symmetrical and idealized Byzantine artistic conventions. The specific way the mustache and beard are rendered—forked and not too full—is a distinctive characteristic that could suggest the Shroud's influence if it predated the coins. These specific features, including the long nose and the depiction of a swollen right cheek, seem too specific to have been independently replicated by chance. The divided beard is another particular element that is present on both the Shroud and the coin, adding to the list of shared characteristics. A long mustache, a slightly curved nose, and a high-arched eyebrow are details that add to the complexity of the image and are evidence of a common prototype if they were not standard for the time.

Statistical Analysis and Odds
Given these points of congruence, a statistical analysis could be attempted to estimate the probability of these features occurring together by chance. For each feature, we could assign a probability of independent occurrence. Assuming, hypothetically, that each feature has a chance of 1 in 10 to occur independently, the combined probability of all these features occurring together would be  (1/10)n, where n is the number of independent features. With eight distinct features, the odds would be  ( 1/10) 8 , or 1 in 100,000,000, which is highly improbable.

Using polarized light superimposition, it has been shown that the face on the Shroud aligns with the one depicted on the Pantocrator coins when appropriately magnified. There are over 140 points of congruence—points that can be superimposed—between the Shroud face and the solidus and tremissis coins from the first reign of Justinian II. This number far exceeds the criteria set by U.S. forensic standards, which state that 45 to 60 points of congruence are enough to establish the identity or similarity between two images.

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Byzantine Follis (AD 1028-1041) showing detail on the forehead that matches a bloodstain on the Shroud

A later bronze follis struck in Constantinople about fifty years later incorporates additional details that suggest that coin artists continued to have access to the original image. Intriguingly, there is a tiny mark in the centre parting of the hair in the forehead that resembles the inverted “3” shaped bloodstain that appears on the Shroud in the same area. In addition, the coin artist has replicated the way that the long hair appears to bunch at the shoulders. The eyebrows are represented with a long horizontal line, and there is the suggestion that the right eyebrow is slightly higher than the left. There is also a wound-like mark on the right cheek, a moustache that appears to slope down to the left and, most striking of all, a horizontal band across the throat.

1. Marinelli, E. (2014). La Sindone e l'iconografia di Cristo. [The Shroud and the Iconography of Christ]. October 2014. Link

Further sources: 

The Tradition of the Image of Edessa MARK GUSCIN 2014 Link

The Shroud of Turin A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses Link

The Shroud of Turin's Earlier History: Part One - To Edessa Link

Last edited by Otangelo on Tue Jan 30, 2024 3:48 am; edited 1 time in total


9From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Empty Chapter 3 Tue Jan 23, 2024 6:37 pm



Chapter 3

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Secondo Pia's Photonegative Discovery

In 1898 Secondo Pia took the first official photograph of the Shroud

During the 1898 Exposition of the Shroud from 25 May to 2 June, Turin lawyer, city councillor and amateur but expert photographer, Secondo Pia (1855–1941), photographed the Shroud. Pia's first attempt to photograph the Shroud on 25 May was only partially successful. But he "managed two exposures and although they were less than perfect, already evident on these negatives was a rather strange effect".

"On the evening of 28 May he [Pia] returned to the cathedral and tried again. This time his equipment worked perfectly. Having exposed four photographic plates, he returned to his studio around midnight and began the process of developing them. What Pia saw that night in his darkroom astounded him. For, as the image on the negative plate took shape before his eyes, he found himself staring not at a confusing array of lights and darks, the usual effect of a photographic negative, but at a coherent likeness of a crucified man. Instead of the flat, enigmatic image seen on the cloth, the negative plate gave the impression of a substantial figure emerging from the background, a figure that looked like a real human body lit from in front ... Instead of the glaring mask of the Shroud, the negative revealed a remarkably convincing, three-dimensional image of man's face, his eyelids closed ... It was as if the Shroud itself was a photographic negative that could be developed into a breathtaking, positive image of the crucified Jesus. `Shut up in my darkroom,' Pia later recalled, 'all intent on my work, I experienced a very strong emotion when, during the development, I saw for the first time the Holy Face appear on the plate, with such clarity that I was dumbfounded by it...".

 Secondo Pia's 1898 negative photograph of the Shroud's face. Note that the bloodstains, which are dark red on the Shroud as one looks at it, being white on this negative, prove that the blood is not part of the image.
In the Museum of the Holy Shroud in Turin, which is located a short distance from the cathedral housing the Shroud itself, there is an antique plate camera with a precision Voigtländer lens dating back to the late nineteenth century. This camera played a pivotal role in reshaping the understanding of the Shroud's imprint in 1898. In that year, Italy was celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its constitution, and as part of the festivities in Turin, there was a plan to publicly exhibit the Shroud. Don Nogier de Malijai, a twenty-seven-year-old Salesian priest and an enthusiastic amateur photographer, saw this as a unique opportunity to capture the Shroud's image through photography, a first of its kind. This concept wasn't entirely new, as back in 1842, during the celebration of the marriage of Savoy's Prince Victor Emmanuel, the Shroud had been displayed from the balcony of the Turin Royal Palace. At that time, a local instrument maker named Enrico Jest had developed equipment that could replicate France's innovative daguerreotype photographic process. If the Shroud had been displayed on a brighter day and for a longer duration, Jest might have had the chance to create the very first photograph of it.

However, even half a century later, the idea of allowing the Shroud to be photographed was met with reluctance, as it was considered inappropriate for such a sacred relic. In the late 19th century, the Shroud of Turin, then owned by King Umberto I of Savoy of Italy, was a subject of great intrigue. Despite his initial reluctance, King Umberto eventually allowed an official photograph of the Shroud. This task was unexpectedly given to Secondo Pia, a 43-year-old lawyer with a passion for amateur photography, who had never seen the Shroud before. Pia faced several technical challenges during this assignment. He could only photograph the Shroud as it was displayed behind glass, above the altar in the dimly lit cathedral. The need for electric lighting, then a novel and unreliable technology, added to the complexity. Additionally, Pia had to construct a three-meter-high platform for his camera to capture the image from the appropriate angle. The first attempt to photograph the Shroud took place on May 25, 1898, but it was fraught with difficulties, including issues with the electric lamps. Despite these challenges, Pia managed two exposures. These initial photographs already hinted at an unusual effect, though they were not perfect. Pia returned on the night of May 28, accompanied by Don Nogier and Felice Fino, a cathedral security guard and fellow photography enthusiast. Starting at about 9:30 p.m., Pia conducted two trial exposures, followed by Nogier and Fino who also took some unofficial photos. For the final, official shots, Pia used a high-quality Voigtländer lens and took four exposures, each lasting between eight and fourteen minutes, but only officially recorded two of them. Later that night, in his darkroom, Pia developed the best of the four plates. Instead of the faint impressions of the Shroud's imprints, he observed an extraordinary effect. The images revealed something far more remarkable than anyone could have anticipated.

The negative images of the Shroud of Turin, captured by Secondo Pia, revealed a transformation of its enigmatic imprints. Where previously the figures appeared as indistinct shadows, difficult to interpret and often perceived as grotesque, they now exhibited clear, natural light and dark shading, adding depth and realism. The bloodstains, now white in the negative, seemed to flow authentically from the hands, feet, and around the crown of the head. The man in the Shroud, instead of appearing flat and undefined, was now seen as a well-built, proportionate figure. Most striking was the face, dignified even in death and remarkably lifelike against the dark background of the negative image. Pia felt a profound sense of history, believing he was witnessing the true appearance of Christ as he was laid in the tomb, captured in a photograph hidden within the fabric. The discovery quickly made headlines, with the first report appearing in L’Italia Reale Corriere Nazionale on June 1, followed by an unofficial photo. However, skepticism soon arose. The Italia Corriere suggested on June 15 that the effect was due to Pia using a yellow filter. Other theories proposed it was an accident of transparency, over-exposure, or refraction. More damaging were insinuations that Pia had tampered with the negative, creating a hoax. Over the next three years, even some prominent Roman Catholic churchmen expressed doubts, focusing on the Shroud's unclear historical origins before its appearance in 14th-century France. This skepticism cast a shadow over the Shroud and Pia's reputation, similar to the controversy following the 1988 radiocarbon dating. A new opportunity to examine the Shroud arose in 1931 during the wedding of Prince Umberto of Piedmont to Princess Maria José of Belgium. The event drew millions to Turin, and the Savoy family chose to display the Shroud publicly. Giuseppe Enrie, a professional Turin photographer, was appointed to take new, official photographs. Between May 21 and 23, Enrie captured a series of definitive black-and-white photographs, with the Shroud free from any protective glass, using advanced photographic equipment. He took twelve official photos, including full and sectional views of the Shroud, the complete back body imprint, and various close-ups of the face and wounds, all showcasing pre-digital-era photographic excellence. Enrie's work, especially the natural-size negative of the Shroud man's face, was highly acclaimed. The crown prince Umberto, for whom the exhibition was held, was reportedly overwhelmed with emotion upon seeing these images.

The historic glass plate is now a significant artifact housed in Turin’s Museum of the Shroud. This plate, along with thousands of other negative photographs of the Shroud's face taken over the years by both professionals and amateurs, has helped to dispel any lingering notions that the phenomenon first revealed by Secondo Pia in 1898 was a hoax. Remarkably, Pia, then aged seventy-six, lived to see his work vindicated. He was invited to witness the exhibition along with a public notary and photographic experts, ensuring that Giuseppe Enrie's process was free from any deception.

Four decades later, in 1973, Pope Paul VI expressed his profound reaction to Enrie’s photograph of the Shroud, which he first saw as a young priest in 1931. During a televised address accompanying the Shroud's first color television broadcast, he described the image as strikingly authentic and deeply moving, possessing both human and divine qualities unmatched by any other image. Similarly, Leo Vala, a well-known London photographer and self-professed agnostic, praised the image in a photographic journal in the same decade. Vala, experienced in various visual processes, attested to the authenticity of the Shroud's image, asserting that it could not have been fabricated with any contemporary technology, highlighting its precise photographic quality and the perfection of its negative.

In Turin's Holy Shroud Museum, located near the cathedral where the Shroud is kept, there's an interesting artifact from the late 19th century: a plate camera equipped with a Voigtländer precision lens. This camera played a pivotal role in changing the way the world saw the Shroud of Turin. In 1898, as Italy celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its constitution, the Shroud was publicly displayed for the first time in thirty years, coinciding with Turin's festivities. Don Nogier de Malijai, a young 27-year-old Salesian priest and photography enthusiast, saw this as a perfect chance to photograph the Shroud, something never done before. The idea wasn't entirely new, though. Back in 1842, during a display of the Shroud for the wedding of Prince Victor Emmanuel of Savoy, local craftsman Enrico Jest, who had replicated France's daguerreotype photographic process, almost managed to photograph it. However, the notion of photographing the Shroud was controversial, considered inappropriate for such a sacred artifact. King Umberto I of Savoy, the owner of the Shroud and son of Victor Emmanuel, was initially against the idea. After much persuasion, he allowed an official photograph to be taken, and the task unexpectedly fell to Secondo Pia, a 43-year-old lawyer and amateur photographer. Pia faced several challenges, including photographing the Shroud behind glass and suspended above the altar in dim cathedral lighting. He needed to use electric lighting, which was unreliable in 1898, and build a three-meter-high platform for his camera. His initial attempt on May 25 faced issues, but he managed two exposures which revealed a strange effect on the negatives. Pia, along with Don Nogier and Felice Fino, a cathedral security guard and camera hobbyist, returned on the night of May 28. They conducted trial exposures, with Pia using his best Voigtländer lens for the final, official shots. He took four exposures, varying from eight to fourteen minutes, though only two were officially recorded. These photographs of the Shroud marked a significant moment in its history, altering perceptions of this mysterious and sacred artifact.

That night in his darkroom, as Secondo Pia developed the best of the four plates, he could finally confirm the unusual effect he had noticed in his initial trial negatives. As the image developed, it revealed not the faint, hard-to-decipher imprints he had expected but something far more remarkable. In its negative form, the Shroud’s images, with their head-to-head double figures, transformed dramatically. The vague, shadowy outlines, often interpreted grotesquely by copyists, now displayed clear, natural shading, offering a sense of depth and relief. The bloodstains, appearing white on the negative, looked realistically as if they were flowing from the hands, feet, side, and around the head. The figure on the Shroud, previously perceived as almost cartoonish, now appeared as a proportionate, robust individual. Most striking was the face - dignified, lifelike, set against a dark background, yet all captured in a photographic negative. Pia felt an eerie sensation, believing he might be the first person in nearly 1,900 years to see the actual appearance of Christ's body as it was laid in the tomb. He had uncovered what seemed to be a real photograph, concealed within the cloth, only to be revealed by the camera's lens.

News of this discovery spread quickly. The first media coverage appeared in L’Italia Reale Corriere Nazionale on June 1, followed soon by one of the unofficial photos. Skepticism wasn't far behind, with the Italia Corriere on June 15 suggesting the effect was due to Pia's use of a yellow filter. Various scientific explanations were proposed, such as transparency, over-exposure, or refraction. More damaging were insinuations that Pia had tampered with the negative, implying the effect was a hoax. In the following three years, even prominent Roman Catholic church figures joined the skeptics. They pointed to the Shroud’s questionable historical record before its emergence in northern France in the mid-14th century, a time when it faced allegations of being a forgery. This skepticism cast a shadow over both the Shroud and Pia, akin to the doubts following the Shroud's 1988 radiocarbon dating. This cloud of controversy lingered for three decades, only beginning to clear when a new opportunity to exhibit the Shroud arose. In 1931, an event of great significance in Italy coincided with a momentous opportunity for the Shroud of Turin: the wedding of Prince Umberto of Piedmont, later King Umberto II, to Princess Maria José of Belgium. This event drew around two million visitors to Turin. To commemorate this occasion, the Savoy family decided to display the Shroud publicly from May 3rd to 14th. Additionally, they aimed to address the controversies surrounding Secondo Pia’s photograph by commissioning Giuseppe Enrie, a professional photographer from Turin, to take new, official photographs of the Shroud.

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Altar with the exposure, 1898

Between May 21st and 23rd, Enrie embarked on this task, capturing a series of definitive black-and-white photographs. Unlike Pia's earlier work, these images were taken with the Shroud out of its protective glass, using significantly advanced photographic equipment. Enrie produced a total of twelve official photographs: four capturing the entire Shroud, segments of the Shroud in three parts, the full imprint of the body’s back, close-ups of the face and chest, the face at two-thirds and natural size, and a detailed sevenfold enlargement of the nail wound in the left wrist. These photographs represented the pinnacle of pre-digital black-and-white photography. One of the most striking images was the natural-size negative of the Shroud man’s face. Enrie described the moment he presented this plate to the Archbishop and other dignitaries as one of the most beautiful and moving of his career. Among the audience was Prince Umberto, for whom the Shroud display was organized, who was reportedly overwhelmed with excitement and emotion. The glass plate that Enrie used, which I had the chance to examine in 1994 at Enrie’s old studio, is now considered a historic artifact and is displayed in Turin’s Museum of the Shroud. This plate, along with thousands of similar negative photographs taken by professionals and amateurs alike, has helped to dispel the notion that the phenomenon Pia first observed in 1898 was a hoax. Pia, then 76, was alive to witness this vindication. He attended the showing with a public notary and photographic experts to ensure the integrity of Enrie’s process. Four decades later, in 1973, Pope Paul VI, during a televised address about the Shroud’s first color television broadcast, recalled his own reaction as a young priest to Enrie’s photograph in 1931. He expressed his awe at the image's authenticity and its blend of human and divine qualities. Similarly, Leo Vala, a well-known London photographer and an agnostic, commented in a photography journal that the image couldn’t have been faked, stating that even with modern technology, replicating such a perfect negative would be impossible. Vala emphasized the photograph's precise photographic quality, underscoring its authenticity.

The image is a photo-negative

The negative of Secondo Pia's full-length photograph of the Shroud [provided by Barrie Schwortz] taken in Turin Cathedral on the evening of 28 May 1898 during the 1898 Exposition. That this is a true negative is evident in that the black burnt areas from the 1532 fire are white and the white patches applied in the 1534 repair. And yet the Shroud man's image in Pia's photograph is a positive, which means that the image is a photographic negative

In 1898 Secondo Pia took the first official photograph of the Shroud. 

During the 1898 Exposition of the Shroud from 25 May to 2 June, Turin lawyer, city councillor and amateur but expert photographer, Secondo Pia (1855–1941), photographed the Shroud. Pia's first attempt to photograph the Shroud on 25 May was only partially successful. But he "managed two exposures and although they were less than perfect, already evident on these negatives was a rather strange effect".

"On the evening of 28 May he [Pia] returned to the cathedral and tried again. This time his equipment worked perfectly. Having exposed four photographic plates, he returned to his studio around midnight and began the process of developing them. What Pia saw that night in his darkroom astounded him. For, as the image on the negative plate took shape before his eyes, he found himself staring not at a confusing array of lights and darks, the usual effect of a photographic negative, but at a coherent likeness of a crucified man. Instead of the flat, enigmatic image seen on the cloth, the negative plate gave the impression of a substantial figure emerging from the background, a figure that looked like a real human body lit from in front ... Instead of the glaring mask of the Shroud, the negative revealed a remarkably convincing, three-dimensional image of man's face, his eyelids closed ... It was as if the Shroud itself was a photographic negative that could be developed into a breathtaking, positive image of the crucified Jesus. `Shut up in my darkroom,' Pia later recalled, 'all intent on my work, I experienced a very strong emotion when, during the development, I saw for the first time the Holy Face appear on the plate, with such clarity that I was dumbfounded by it...".

 Secondo Pia's 1898 negative photograph of the Shroud face. Note that the bloodstains, which are dark red on the Shroud as one looks at it, being white on this negative, prove that the blood is not part of the image.

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Giuseppe Felice Pia, born in 1855 to an important family in Asti, Italy, and a lawyer by profession, chose photography as his passion. He began his journey in a challenging era for those who had to navigate through chemicals and prepare plates on the spot in itinerant workshops. Driven by his love for art history, he captured both well-known and unknown monuments in the region throughout his life, thus undertaking an extensive photographic campaign of the cultural heritage of Piedmont. The National Cinema Museum of Turin holds over 13,000 photographs taken by Pia, which help reconstruct the urban and architectural history of Piedmont.

However, what immortalized Secondo Pia in history was certainly his photograph of the Shroud of Turin, which revealed for the first time its nature as a photographic negative. This occurred in 1898: during the marriage of Prince Vittorio Emanuele III of Savoy to Princess Elena of Montenegro, it was decided to solemnly exhibit the sacred relic, as was the custom of the House of Savoy during major events and jubilees, for the veneration of the faithful. In this context, the idea, sponsored by Baron Antonio Manno, to photograph the Shroud was born. King Umberto I, despite some initial hesitations, granted permission, and the lawyer Secondo Pia, a skilled photographer who had already demonstrated great expertise without being a professional, was chosen for this prestigious task. Pia thus embodied two fundamental qualities: ability and disinterest.

To accomplish this truly "titanic" feat (remember, the Shroud measures 4.37 meters in length and 1.10 meters in height), a special photographic device capable of mounting a "giant" 50x60 cm plate was specifically constructed. After an initial failed attempt, on the evening of May 28, 1898, Pia finally succeeded in his task despite a series of technical problems. In the light of two electric headlights, an absolute novelty for the time, he exposed two 50x60 plates, one with a 14-minute exposure and the other with a 20-minute exposure. As soon as he finished, he immediately took the plates to the darkroom for fixing. The grandson of one of Pia's assistants, who was waiting outside the darkroom, recounted the event: "Pia stood on the threshold of the darkroom, his hands clutching the large plate still dripping with fixative. As my grandfather approached him, he was struck by the strange expression on his face. He looked down at the plate and saw. Standing there, one in front of the other, they couldn't take their eyes off that wonderful negative image, which, according to their photographic experience, should have been negative, and yet... It was Pia who broke the silence first: 'Look, Carlino, if this isn't a miracle!'" Secondo Pia was the first man in history to contemplate the Sacred Face of the Lord in "positive" after 19 centuries.

Secondo Pia (1855–1941), a lawyer from Asti, went down in history as the first photographer of the Shroud of Turin, the author of the image that received approval from the Church as a devotional part of the Holy Face of Jesus.

His achievement (for it was such) was made possible thanks to the support of Baron Manno, his patron in the difficult negotiations with the House of Savoy, the owner of the relic. Thanks to the negative, the photograph revealed details that could only be perceived with great approximation by the naked eye.

These details, after the dissemination of the image taken by Pia, sparked great controversy in public opinion, so much so that in 1901, Pia decided to authenticate the testimonies of those who were with him the night he photographed the Holy Shroud, to attest to the absence of trickery in the execution of the plates. In the act collected by the royal notary Giuseppe Cantù, it reads:

"On the night of May 28, 1898, at nine-thirty in the evening, Mr. Lawyer Secondo Pia set out to photograph the Holy Shroud. For this purpose, a special platform was constructed at a distance of eight meters and opposite the main altar, on which the Sacred Relic was exposed behind the Crystal, within a frame. On the said platform, Lawyer Pia placed his camera of fifty by sixty format, the Sacred Relic was illuminated by two electric spotlights each with its own reflector masked by frosted glass screens [for better light diffusion, ed.] placed in front of and to the side of the S. Relic and at a distance of about ten meters from the same, and with the caution that the one placed in cornu evangelii had a luminous power superior by about fifty candles to the opposite one, as is clearly seen from the photographic cliché. In preparing for the operation, Lawyer Pia took two poses, one of fourteen prime minutes and the other of twenty prime minutes. It is absolutely excluded that negatives were taken for transparency or in any other way different from the one mentioned above, the Holy Relic never having been removed from its frame and the crystal that guarded it."

According to the same report by Pia, the lens he used was a Voigtlander "with a two-millimeter diaphragm" and the plates were produced by Edward and developed in a solution of ferrous oxalate. To highlight the tones, he also placed a straw-yellow filter in front of the lens. The emotion upon discovering that on the first plate appeared a perfect "positive" portrait of the body made the lawyer drop it from his hands. The Shroud body image seen with the unaided eye is itself a photographic negative that becomes a photographic positive image only when photographed. On Pia's and Solaro's negatives, the bloodstains appear as white blotches, the camera therefore does record a negative image of these positive stains, which means that on the Shroud the bloodstains are not an image of blood, but the remains of blood.

The general public became aware of the Shroud. 

The Shroud had become an obscure relic by 1898, its owners the House of Savoy having before 1898 publicly exhibited it only five times in the nineteenth century, in 1814, 1815, 1822, 1842 and 1868. But Pia's photographs made the Shroud famous. The realization that the Shroud contained a negative image was shocking not only to Pia but to the owner of the Shroud, King Victor-Emmanuel III (1869–1947) and his advisors. They agreed that no public announcement should be made until they had considered the implications, but the news soon leaked out anyway. Newspapers around the world announced Pia's exciting discovery and the reading public was tantalized by the description of the mysterious, if not miraculous, nature of the Shroud's image. However, no newspaper published Pia's photographs in 1898-99, as photographs had not yet begun to appear in that medium. Only two magazines carried Pia's photographs, but one was a very poor reproduction of the full-length Shroud and the other was only of the face. Nevertheless, as newspapers and journals around the world began to publish Pia's photographs, a better understanding of his discovery and the Shroud gradually spread.

Beginning of scientific study of the Shroud. 

The Shroud entered the field of science on 28 May 1898, when Secondo Pia found that the image of the man on the Shroud was a photographic negative. Indeed it was not until the advent of photography in the 19th century that scientific study of the Shroud could begin. Pia's photographing the Shroud was the first scientific experiment on the Shroud without him realising it. The clarity of detail in Pia's negative photographs of the Shroud enabled it to be an object of serious scientific study for the first time. Scientific interest was aroused by the fact that Secondo Pia's photographic negative of the body showed details more clearly and gave a more natural appearance than the visually observed image on the cloth. Medical experts studied Pia's photographs and discovered that the image on the Shroud contained a degree of anatomical detail that far surpassed the medical knowledge of the fourteenth century. As the Shroud's known history from the mid-1350s predated by over 400 years the invention of photography in the 1820s, this observation stimulated scientific inquiry. In 1900, Yves Delage (1854–1920), an agnostic professor of anatomy at the Sorbonne and a director of the Museum of Natural History, showed his assistant, Paul Vignon (1865-1943), a Roman Catholic, the Pia photographs and encouraged him to begin a scientific investigation of the Shroud. From 1900 to 1902, Vignon and Delage, assisted by other scientists, undertook their investigation, based solely on Pia's Shroud photographs. In 1902 Delage reported to the French Academy of Science their findings which concluded that "The man of the shroud was the Christ"!

Sceptics attacked Pia and his photograph 

Scholars were also forced to take notice of Pia's photographs. Those scholars who were opposed to the Shroud's authenticity accused Pia of having forged his photographs or dismissed it as a hoax. Even the evidence of Solaro's negative photograph of the Shroud was not sufficient to convince those who didn't want the Shroud to be authentic. Doubts were expressed about Pia's amateur status as a photographer. In an age when most were still ignorant of photography, some claimed that Pia's photographic plate had been 'over-exposed'; others that it had been made by `transparency' with the light source behind the cloth. But as Pia pointed out, the Shroud had a red silk backing sewn on to it (in 1868 by Princess Clotilde of Savoy (1843–1911)), which had not been removed and would have prevented any transparency In 1899, in response to Pia's photographs, a Roman Catholic historian, Ulysse Chevalier (1841–1923), published his edition of a memorandum purportedly written c.1389 by a Bishop of Troyes Pierre d'Arcis (r. 1377-1395), which claimed that one of his predecessors, Bishop Henri de Poitiers (r. 1354–1370) had in c. 1355 investigated and discovered that the Shroud had been "cunningly painted" and had even obtained the confession of "the artist who had painted it". But in this, Chevalier was guilty of "intellectual dishonesty" in that he failed to disclose that the d'Arcis memorandum was an unsigned, undated, unaddressed, draft. And what's more, Chevalier committed academic fraud in that he had without disclosing it, combined two documents and had added a date of "1389" and an address to Pope Clement VII (r. 1342-94) on the new combined document. Moreover, there is no evidence for (and much evidence against) that Bishop de Poitiers conducted an investigation into, or had a problem with, the Shroud. The final refutation of the d'Arcis memorandum is that the Shroud image is not painted! Chevalier's attack on the authenticity of the Shroud was taken up in England by Fr. Herbert Thurston (1856–1939), who translated Bishop d'Arcis's memorandum from Latin into English. Thurston therefore must have known that Chevalier was guilty of dishonesty and fraud regarding the d'Arcis memorandum but covered it up and therefore Thurston was also guilty of being an accessory to Chevalier's dishonesty and fraud. And just as the d'Arcis memorandum was wrong about the Shroud being a painting, so were Chevalier and Thurston also wrong about that, which was the basis of their entire argument! Chevalier did present one item of non-literary evidence against Pia's photographs, an opinion by a friend, amateur photographer Hippolyte Chopin. But Dorothy Crispino (1916-2014) called Chopin's 1900 letter of reply to Chevalier a "dizzy juggling of positive-negative," "a photographer's nightmare" and a "pretentious muddle"! Vignon summarised Chopin's argument into two parts. First, "under certain conditions ... [photographic] plates may give direct positives," but as Vignon pointed out, "Such exceptional conditions were not present, since M. Pia's plate is really a negative"(see above Pia's photograph where the black burn marks on the Shroud are white and the white repair patches are black). Second, "although a plate may be generally negative, certain parts of it may not be perfectly so, owing to the effect of color — yellow, for instance, often comes out black". But as Vignon pointed out, "The argument is only tenable if parts of the object are many colored, which is not the case here".

Confirmed in 1931 by Giuseppe Enrie 

Despite what we now know was the weakness and indeed fraudulence of the Chevalier-Thurston arguments against Pia's photographs, it was they who prevailed in scholarly and public opinion. Chevalier was even awarded in 1901 a gold medal of 1,000 francs by the Academie des Inscriptions with a censure against any future attempt to impose upon the credulity of the faithful by a fraudulent misrepresentation! In 1912 Thurston wrote an article against the Shroud for the Catholic Encyclopedia and for the next three decades, few Roman Catholics and even fewer Christians of other denominations believed in the authenticity of the Shroud. Then, after 33 years the Shroud exhibited in 1931 for 21 days from 4 to 24 May in Turin cathedral. The exposition was to mark the wedding on 8 January 1930 of the Crown Prince and later King of Italy, Umberto II (1904–83) and Princess Marie Jose of Belgium (1906– 2001). A Turin professional photographer, Giuseppe Enrie (1886-1961), was commissioned by the Shroud's owner, King Victor-Emmanuel III (1869–1947) to take a new definitive set of black-and-white photographs of the Shroud. They were to confirm (or otherwise) the results Pia had obtained over 30 years previously and to improve on them given the technical advances in photography over that time. Enrie was one of the foremost photographers in Italy, the editor of Vita Photographica ltaliana, and the owner of a studio and laboratory in Turin. On the night of 3 May 1931, Enrie took twelve photographs of the Shroud: four of the whole Shroud, three of sections of the image, the whole dorsal image, the face and chest, the face two-thirds size; the face full-size and the nail wound in the left wrist enlarged sevenfold. Enrie's camera had large glass photographic plates with filters designed to enhance image details. Princess Clotilde had insisted that there be a glass screen between Pia's camera and the Shroud but there was nothing between the Shroud and Ernie's camera. Enrie's photographs turned out to be of excellent quality and far superior to Pia's. 

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Erie_s10

Enrie's photographs and many others taken by visitors to the 1931 exposition, proved that the Shroud image is a photographic negative (compare Pia's full-length negative with Enrie's) and disproved anti-authenticists' accusations of fraud and a hoax against Pia. To prevent any accusation of fraud against Enrie, as had been made against Pia, Enrie developed his photographs immediately in a dark room set up in the sacristy of the cathedral. Also, Enrie took and developed his photographs in the presence of many witnesses, among whom were Prince Umberto II, Paul Vignon and Secondo Pia aged 76! In addition, Enrie had invited five professional photographers to attend and study his plates to verify his work. They each testified in writing before an invited public notary that none of Enrie's plates had been retouched and all had accurately captured what they could see on the Shroud.

The agnostic, yet pro-authenticist art historian Thomas de Wesselow has stated that "The negative photo of the Shroud is Exhibit A in the case for the cloth's authenticity":

"The negative photo of the Shroud is Exhibit A in the case of the cloth's authenticity. It demonstrates that the image possesses a hidden structure, which could hardly have been conceived in the fourteenth century when the relic was first documented in Europe. Simply glancing at the automatic inversion of the image is enough to dispel the idea that it is a regular work of art. If it is a fake, it would have to be the most ingenious and improbable fake in history, a work of supreme skill and cunning. If it is not a fake, then the chances are that it is connected, as traditionally supposed, with the death and burial of Jesus."

First, since photographic negativity was not invented until the early nineteenth century, a medieval artist/forger could not have conceived of the Shroud Man's image being a photographic negative. The very concept of a photographic negative only came into existence with the discovery of photography in the early nineteenth century. A negative image therefore would have been an unimaginable conception before the invention of photography. Those who maintain that the Shroud is a medieval forgery must assume that it was made by an artist whose grasp of the negative-positive properties of photography was five centuries in advance of his time!

Second, a medieval artist/forger could not have created a photographic negative of the Shroud Man. Since the very concept of photographic negativity only came into the range of human knowledge when photography was invented in the early nineteenth century, it is impossible that a medieval artist/forger could have created the Shroud's photographic negative image. A medieval artist/forger creating a photographic negative of the Shroud man would not have been able to see what he was doing, so he could not have included the fine detail that there is on the Shroud. Moreover, a medieval forger creating a photographic negative Shroud image, centuries before the age of photography, would have had no means of checking his work. Modern artists who have tried to depict the Shroud with its negative image have all failed, even though they had a copy of the Shroud's negative photograph before them, their positive copies of the Shroud when photographed were very different from that of the Shroud. They all failed because the Shroud's photographic negative has a realistic perfection that no artist can achieve and which is only found in photographs. Indeed, when in the late 1970s the British artist John Weston, an agnostic, was commissioned to produce, tone by tone, a duplicate Shroud for the television documentary The Silent Witness, he became convinced of the Shroud's genuineness!

Third, a medieval artist/forger would not have wanted to create a photographic negative of the Shroud man, Jesus. An artist/forger depicting Jesus' body as it might have appeared on his burial garment, would not have chosen to do so with an artistry and detail that would have not been discovered for another 500 years, until the invention of photography which his age knew nothing about. Even if a medieval artist/forger could have created the Shroud image as a photographic negative, why would he have done so when no one of his time would have been able to appreciate his cleverness?

The evidence is overwhelming that the Turin Shroud is authentic! That is, it is the very burial sheet of Jesus Christ, bearing the photographically negative imprint of His dead body as it lay wrapped in a linen shroud in His tomb (Mt 27:59-60; Mk 15:46; Lk 23:53) awaiting His resurrection (Mt 28:6-7; Mk 16:5-7; Lk 24:4-7; Jn 20:5-9). And therefore that photographically negative image is "a literal `snapshot' of the [Jesus'] Resurrection"!

"Even from the limited available information, a hypothetical glimpse of the power operating at the moment of creation of the Shroud's image may be ventured. In the darkness of the Jerusalem tomb, the dead body of Jesus lay, unwashed, covered in blood, on a stone slab. Suddenly, there is a burst of mysterious power from it. In that instant ... its image ... becomes indelibly fused onto the cloth, preserving for posterity a literal `snapshot' of the Resurrection."

That is, the photographically negative image on the Shroud is that of "the body of the Lord Jesus" imprinted on His burial shroud when He "was raised [from the dead] by the glory of the Father":

"... in the Turin Shroud we have not only the linen cloth in which the body of the Lord Jesus was wrapped but also a representation of that body portrayed by other than human hands, by some supernatural process which confounds all explanation. ... the radiant incandescence of that almighty act of love and power when the Son of God `was raised by the glory of the Father' [Rom 6:4] has scorched his image and likeness on the Shroud, a sign for our scientific century which demands scientific proof ...".

That the Shroud image is a photographic negative is explained by STURPJohn P. Jackson's "Cloth Collapse Theory":

"Jackson believes that today, twenty centuries later, we may have in our possession an image analogous to [a photograph taken by] a camera that recorded, in the darkness of the tomb, something that no human eye had ever seen. What John describes in the tomb [Jn 20:5-7] is that the burial cloths of Jesus were seen lying on the shelf where the body had been placed, but clearly flattened or deflated, without the body that they once contained. For Jackson, this is precisely the end condition of the Shroud after it has fallen through the body it wrapped, according to his hypothesis of image formation."

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Poster created for the display of the Shroud of Turin in 1898. As can be observed, the negative image of the Shroud that became popular following Secondo Pia's photographs is not yet present. Upwards in the middle one sees the upper part of Bertola’s altar inside the Holy Shroud Chapel. Behind the grille, clearly visible, is placed, not visible, the case that contains the reliquary with the Holy Shroud. At the sides, with a writing, there is Sainte Chapelle of Chambéry and Turin Cathedral with the Holy Shroud Chapel’s dome. In the middle, below representation of the transport to the sepulchre. Between the two side writings commenting on the drawings; only the left one is historical: “meeting between Duke Emanuele Filiberto and St. Carlo Borromeo at the Palatina Gate”. The right one is a legendary hypothesis: “Presentation of the Shroud to Goffredo di Buglione in Jerusalem”. The long underlying writing is a Prayer approved by Pius IX on September 16, 1859, that recalls in its expressions the “Oremus” of the Mass in honor of the Shroud. The magazine of Sacred Art, published in that year (p.104), dedicated to the event the few following words mentioned by the newspaper “Italia Reale” - National Courier on June 1, 1898. “For a charge of the Committee, the only one who gets this authority, the Holy Shroud’s photograph was taken by the lawyer Secondo Pia, a distinguished and skilled student of photographic art. The photograph was a success and has exceptional importance for religion, history, and science. 1

The earliest photographs of the Shroud of Turin are not only a historical reference but also mark a pivotal moment in the commencement of scientific investigations (Barberis, 2001). The discovery of negative images and the ability to produce photographs with finer details have been crucial in advancing our understanding. By the late 19th century, photographic plates, recording instruments, and lenses had achieved significant quality. In 1898, Turin hosted the General Italian Exhibition to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Albertine Statute. Turinese Catholics showcased their vibrancy through a major Sacred Art Exhibition. A viewing of the Shroud was organized from May 25 to June 2, drawing about 800,000 visitors, half from outside Turin, averaging over 95,000 per day (Zaccone, 2001). Secondo Pia, a lawyer from Asti and a well-known semi-professional photographer, was appointed as the official photographer for the event. He requested permission from the king to take photographs during the viewing. Initially, the Royal House was hesitant due to potential speculations about the images, but ultimately, permission was granted.

Pia was authorized to take photographs on May 25 and May 28, 1898. A sliding platform was set up in front of the Shroud displayed in the cathedral. Lighting posed significant challenges; between the first and second sessions, at the insistence of Princess Clotilde of Savoy, the cloth had to be protected with a glass that reflected light. Additionally, unidentified vandals had removed the rods securing the platform. Using a large photographic instrument mounted on the platform and two lenses, first Dalmayer and then Voigdander, Pia conducted several test photographs with varying exposure times on the opening day of the viewing. Some of these were highly satisfactory. Upon review, it was noted that these photographs exhibited the characteristics of a photographic negative of the Shroud. Pia did not discuss these first two plates further. It is speculated that, in his great prudence, humility, and honesty, he did not feel capable of announcing such a sensational discovery (Zaccone, 1998) and waited for confirmation with subsequent photographs.

On the night of May 28, Pia had enough time for a second session. He conducted two tests and then four passes on large plates, clearly showing the Shroud's images as photographic negatives. This was because, in black and white photographic negatives, the images appear as positives, while in the original and photographic positives, they have a negative character. This behavior does not apply to the stains, traditionally believed to be blood. In areas corresponding to bloodstains, there's an actual transfer of blood material from the Man of the Shroud to the fabric. Unlike the body images, these stains appear negative in the photographic negative and positive in the positive, just like in the photograph of any biological sample. Pia was immediately struck by the results, as were the authorities and those informed about the discovery. There was a growing conviction among them of the absolute authenticity of the image captured through a technical procedure - the true and unique photograph of Jesus Christ, hidden for nearly two millennia. After some initial leaks in the "Cittadino di Genova," the news was officially published by "L’Osservatore Romano" on June 14, with an article titled "A Marvelous Fact."

Meanwhile, the June 1898 issue of the "Rivista di Fotografia," the bulletin of the Lombard Photographic Circle, detailed the sessions' technical challenges and informed specialists that the negative obtained by Pia, "seen in its luminous transparency in the dark environment where it was observed," had "a very powerful suggestive effect." However, there remained a certain skepticism about the seriousness and validity of Pia's work within the photographic community.

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Expositions in the Middle Ages

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The Shroud of Turin: A History of Devotion, Art, and Dynasty

The Shroud of Turin, an enigmatic and revered religious artifact, has a complex and fascinating history. The first documented evidence of its existence is a medieval lead pilgrimage medallion found in 1855 at the bottom of the Seine in Paris, near the Pont au Change, and currently housed in the Musée de Cluny. This medallion, along with numerous other artifacts discovered in the same location, attests to the tradition of pilgrims throwing such items into the river as part of an apotropaic rite upon entering Paris. These findings underscore the devotional significance of the Shroud in France since the 14th century. The Shroud is primarily renowned for being an extraordinary image. It is a direct and objective representation that requires no mediation for recognition. Its existence as an image is undeniable, and it has been replicated in various forms since its appearance. The Shroud began to be reproduced in different styles, materials, and techniques, aimed at making this image widely accessible, especially to those unable to attend its public displays.

Initially, depictions of the Shroud were devotional in nature, a trend that persisted for a long time. The production of various images of the Holy Shroud began in the 16th century, peaked in the Baroque period, and then declined until it was virtually replaced by photographs in the late 19th century. These images were primarily designed for religious practices. Apart from devotional reproductions, a substantial number of images were created to commemorate historical events, particularly highlighting the relationship between the Savoy dynasty and this dynastic relic. The Savoy acquired the Shroud from Marguerite de Charny, a granddaughter (but not a direct descendant) of Geoffroy de Charny. The circumstances of the acquisition were complex, given Marguerite's precarious claim and legal challenges from the canons of Lirey.

Initially, the Shroud played a private, predominantly female devotional role in the Savoy household, often traveling with the court. Its public significance grew over time, notably after the 1503 public display in Bourg-en-Bresse and the 1506 granting of the liturgy of the Shroud. It gradually assumed its role as a dynastic relic, symbolizing the divine favor and legitimacy of the Savoy dynasty. The presence of such a significant religious object was a common practice in European courts, signifying divine favor and entrusting the dynasty with its care. For the Savoy family, guardianship of the Shroud, which bears the image of Christ's face and wounds, was particularly prestigious. However, this also obligated the sovereign to embody the virtues of a true Catholic prince, recalling figures like St. Charles Borromeo or Blessed Sebastiano Valfrè.

From a devotional standpoint, the Shroud of Turin has been represented in a multitude of ways. Frescoes, adorning both public and private spaces, serve as significant testimonies to the Shroud, although many have deteriorated or become illegible over time. These frescoes, often placed in highly visible areas like house doors or town entrances, served an apotropaic purpose. Representations of the Shroud alone are rare; it is usually depicted alongside the Virgin Mary, who helps present it, or with saints who had some connection to it. These saints might be linked to devotions to the Incarnation and Passion of Christ, like St. Francis, or to other local or popular devotions, or even to figures associated with the dynastic pantheon. Occasionally, these depictions include historical elements, such as public displays of the Shroud. These frescoes are found across various regions, from Savoyard France to Piedmont and even Lombardy, with less presence in areas more recently acquired by the Savoy State. Frescoes are also a part of the interior decoration in places of worship. However, the knowledge and depiction of the Shroud extended far beyond these regions, as evidenced by artworks like the large canvas attributed to Francesco Bassano the Younger in Treviso Cathedral or the late 16th-century depiction in the Vatican's Gallery of Maps. The latter illustrates the growing religious significance of the Shroud within the Savoy territories.

Additionally, there are paintings of various sizes, sometimes created by notable artists, and a variety of personal devotional items like Books of Hours, small paintings, prints, and embroideries. With the advent of printing, the reproduction of Shroud images became widespread, enabling mass dissemination. The increase in Shroud representations in the mid-16th century coincided with various needs. With Emanuele Filiberto moving the capital to Turin and asserting his dynasty after challenging years, there was a keen interest in promoting the dynastic relic. This policy continued with his successors, coupled with a genuine personal devotion shared by the sovereign, court, and public. For instance, King Charles Felix's deep religious devotion led to a public display of the Shroud during his unexpected accession. Public displays of the Shroud, especially during dynastic events, became increasingly elaborate, reflecting the relic's attributed significance. After relocating the capital from Chambéry to Turin, symbolizing a new political will, Emanuele Filiberto commissioned three works from court historian Emanuele Filiberto Pingon. These works aimed to strengthen the dynasty's image and the new political direction. They included a reconstruction of the Savoy genealogy, a text on Turin highlighting its role and antiquity, and a book on the Holy Shroud – the first dedicated entirely to the relic. Pingon's efforts, despite some challenges and lack of documentation, laid the foundation for subsequent reconstructions of the Shroud's history and confirmation of its status as a relic. Beyond the "Savoyan need," the ecclesiastical perspective played a role. Post-Council of Trent, the Church saw representations of relics and images as powerful tools for catechesis and strengthening spirituality and doctrine.

The Shroud, with its unique characteristics, emerged as a key instrument in the Catholic Reformation. Esteemed figures like St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis de Sales championed its significance, reinforcing its role in applying the canons of the Catholic Reformation. The Shroud's influence was further amplified through literature, including the publication of sermons that, while often initiated by dynastic interests, delved into theological and pastoral perspectives. A notable example is the sermons of Camillo Balliani, a Dominican and Inquisitor of Turin, who was committed to upholding correct doctrine and promoting the Council's directives. Alongside these theological works, devotional prints featuring the Shroud, accompanied by prayers, became popular. These prints served as aids for meditation and as introductions to the mystery of salvation represented by the Shroud. Another significant method of dissemination were full-sized copies or scaled-down versions of the Shroud on canvas. These replicas, prevalent from the 16th to the 19th centuries, were often produced for solemn expositions. The Savoy family used these copies as prestigious gifts for kings, foreign ambassadors, and apostolic nuncios, employing them strategically to strengthen dynastic ties established through matrimonial and military alliances.

However, these political and diplomatic practices only partly capture the essence of replicating the Shroud. Creating a copy was seen as an act of engaging with the mystery of the Shroud, transcending mere practical or secular purposes to attain a deeply religious dimension. The process of replicating the Shroud was not just an artistic endeavor commissioned by the Prince; it was a sacred act that brought the artist's eye and hand into close contact with the image of Christ, necessitating spiritual awareness and preparation. This reverence is exemplified by the ritual prescribed by Emanuele Filiberto for creating a copy for Philip II. The Shroud was displayed in a private chapel, illuminated by numerous chandeliers and lamps. While the royal painter worked on the replica, kneeling and with an uncovered head, pious clergymen recited the prayer of the forty hours. This solemn process was intended to ensure respect and devotion during the replication, contrasting with previous instances where painters approached the task casually and subsequently encountered misfortune, believed to be a sign of divine displeasure. This anecdote, detailed in Bonafamiglia's "La Sacra historia della Santissima Sindone," highlights the profound respect and solemnity accorded to the task of reproducing the Shroud's image.

The replication of the Holy Shroud of Turin involved a unique ritualistic process, where copies were often physically placed against the original Shroud. This act was believed to transfer some of the Shroud's sacredness to the copies, allowing them to partake in and convey the mystery the Shroud represents.

These authorized and certified copies are highly valued, as not all replicas can claim direct lineage from the original due to the absence of objective verification. Around these copies, various stories, including tales of fraudulent productions or miraculous occurrences, have emerged, adding to local folklore. In some communities, these replicas of the Shroud have been integrated into official liturgical practices, particularly on Good Friday, and into various devotional forms developed by popular piety, such as the Entierro rite, mysteries, and penitential processions. Special brotherhoods have even been established to oversee the care and devotion to these copies. The oldest known copy of the Shroud dates back to 1516, currently preserved in Lierre, Belgium. While few copies bear the artist's signature, many include inscriptions affirming their resemblance to the original in Turin or come with documents of authentication, other writings, or dedications. These copies are often adorned with intricate borders and ornaments. One notable example is the copy believed to have been received by Charles Borromeo from the Bishop of Vercelli, Carlo Francesco Bonomi. Borromeo venerated this copy in his private chapel, making it a Borromean relic in its own right. Additionally, princesses Maria Apollonia and Francesca Caterina, daughters of Charles Emmanuel I and declared venerable in 1838, were known for their devotion to the Shroud. During their travels, they carried copies of the original and presented them as gifts to their hosts. Interestingly, the characteristic of the original Shroud behaving like a photographic negative was not understood during the peak period of these copies' production. This feature was only discovered after the first photograph of the Shroud was taken by Secondo Pia in 1898. Pia's subsequent attempt to photograph a reproduction of the 1670 painting by Count Gay of Montariolo revealed that these copies lacked the original's negative-like quality. Not all copies were likely made directly from the Shroud but rather using preparatory drawings or sketches. This could account for certain discrepancies between the copies and the original, often seen in groups of replicas from specific periods. These painted copies of the Shroud hold significant historical and documentary value. They are essential for understanding the evolution and spread of devotion to the sacred linen and its establishment in communities responsible for these revered objects.

Shroud Exposition in 1931

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Ostens10

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Ostens11

In 1931, a grand exhibition in Turin celebrated the nuptials of Prince Umberto II of Savoy and Princess Maria José of Belgium. The majestic Duomo of Turin played host to not just scores of pilgrims but also an assembly of nobility and clergy, making for a grand public spectacle. The air buzzed with anticipation as many had journeyed to witness the splendor of the royal court. Newspaper headlines heralded an unparalleled procession, a cavalcade of knights, soldiers, and clerics, arrayed in their most ornate uniforms. The scene was one to behold, with throngs of pilgrims thronging the Duomo's steps, orderly managed by a robust security detail, as the devout trickled in from every direction, by foot and by carriage. The event, commencing on the 3rd of May, was a magnet for the masses, drawn to the rare public display of the Shroud from the cathedral's grilles. To accommodate the overwhelming turnout, the sacred relic was exhibited in this manner throughout. Spanning a fortnight, the exhibition was a Papal decree by Pope Pius XI, Achille Ratti, to mark the extraordinary Holy Year and the nineteen centuries since the Christian narrative of redemption. The opening day was a gathering of monarchs and the clergy, with the presence of five queens, a cardinal, and numerous bishops, as reported by the press. The cathedral was bathed in radiance, the holy linen veiled under a colossal cover. Notably striking was the sight of crutches abandoned by those who had been healed, a testament to the sanctity of the event. These were prominently displayed on June 6th, a testament from devotees hailing from Switzerland, Spain, France, and Ireland. The newspapers painted a vivid picture of the international crowd, unprecedented in its diversity. Tokens left by the Italian faithful bore the names of their hometowns, a poignant touch to the miracle-woven narrative. The humeral veil, initially presented to the gathered multitudes in Piazza San Giovanni, was later elevated by the bishops and paraded down the main aisle in a solemn procession. It was a moment of profound reverence, punctuated by the pealing of the Duomo's bells, quickly echoed by the tolling from across the city.

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From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Sem_t151

Hidden in The sanctuary of the Madonna of Montevergine during WWII

The sanctuary of the Madonna of Montevergine at the peaks of Mount Partenio is one of the most visited monasteries in Southern Italy. Every year, millions of pilgrims and devotees visit the Marian complex to pay homage to the Virgin Mary.

Many of these faithful are unaware that an indelible bond ties the abbey to the sacred Shroud, the linen cloth preserved in the Cathedral of Turin on which Christian tradition recognizes the image of Christ. For seven years, from 1939 to 1946, the Shroud was secretly hidden in the Marian complex, identified by the Church as one of the safest places to protect the relic from the ambitions of the Germans. It was well known that Hitler was obsessed with all objects connected to the figure of Jesus, a fact confirmed in 1938 when the Fuhrer, during his visit to Italy, made unusual and persistent inquiries about the Shroud, enough to suggest his personal designs on it.

The Pope, alerted to the possibility that Italy could enter the war, warned King Victor Emmanuel III, the owner of the relic at the time. This led to a top-secret operation, one that was even kept from Mussolini. It was September 1939, Germany had just crossed into Poland, officially starting the Second World War. Despite the neutrality declared by the Italian government, few were under any illusion that Mussolini would spare Italy the tragedy of conflict, which is why, in the utmost secrecy, on the night of September 6, the Shroud was removed from the Guarini Chapel to be transported to the Royal Chapel of the Quirinal Palace.

The King's idea was to hide the relic in the Vatican, but even within the sacred walls, the holy linen could fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, the Pope thought to move the Shroud to a lesser-known place: the Sanctuary of Montevergine. The Shroud arrived at the Benedictine monastery on September 25, where it was hidden behind the choir altar, where the monks recited Vespers. In the delivery report signed by Abbot Marcone, Canon Paolo Brusa, guardian of the Sacred Shroud, Prior of Montevergine, Bernardo Rabasca, and the King's chaplain, Giuseppe Gariglio, all provisions were written: the Shroud, rolled up, was placed in a silver box lined with brocade.

It was to be placed in a larger wooden box, wrapped in a canvas envelope sealed with lead seals and bearing the inscription: Reliquiarii, which would be hidden in the monastery's enclosure under the wooden altar of the Coretto da notte, locked with a sturdy wooden front. In an additional report, it was also established that, in the event of bombings or dangers, the abbot was authorized to move the Shroud to an even safer place: an artificial gallery dug into the living rock a hundred meters from the Coretto, which could be accessed through the monastery corridor, without the need to go outside.

Only on October 31, 1946, was the Shroud returned to Turin. For seven long years, the relic was kept safe from enemy designs, and everyone, including the monks of Montevergine, remained in the dark about the operation.

In 1943, the Germans, unaware and searching for partisans, came close to the coveted object. The soldiers entered the sanctuary during a raid, ascended the stairs leading to the room of the night choir, but finding the monks in prayer and moved by respect, they closed the door and left. They were so close to their goal, yet the operation was so well executed that it never crossed their minds that the Shroud could be hidden right there, in that room of prayer under the vigilant protection of Mamma Schiavona. The House of Savoy is the owner of the Shroud. During World War II, King Vittorio Emanuele III fears for the safety of the Shroud: he wants to protect it from bombs, but also from other threats, such as the fact that Hitler was searching for well-known relics. Only he, Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Secretary of State Luigi Maglione and Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (later Pope Paul VI), know about the operation. Not even Cardinal Fossati, archbishop of Turin, is informed. Initially one thinks of the Quirinal Palace, the Vatican or the Abbey of Montecassino, but they do not seem like safe places.

On September 7, 1939, two cars leave the Quirinal: their destination is the Monastery of Montevergine, where the Shroud remains hidden until the end of the war in a secondary chapel. In a letter dated June 10, 1946, just three days before his departure into exile, King Umberto II writes to Cardinal Fossati giving his consent for the Shroud to find its location in the Chapel that bears the name of him.

Cardinal Fossati arrives in Montevergine to bring the Shroud back to Turin but, before embarking on the return trip by car to Rome and by train from Rome to Turin, he authorizes an extraordinary display only for the religions of the monastery, which during those years They have hidden and protected the Shroud. It is the night between October 28 and 29, 1946: the Shroud is shown for only ten minutes.

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The Shroud stayed in the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montevergine in Mercogliano during the Second World War. In September 1939, King Vittorio Emanuele III was convinced that the sacred object placed in the chapel near the Royal Palace of Turin should be sheltered in a quieter place, that is, away from any Anglo-American aerial bombings. An extremely secret operation began, the Duce himself knew nothing of it. Some men took care to move the relic to Rome on 7 September, then the following day to the Quirinale. Before transferring it, it was well protected, I go over the words in the "delivery and temporary storage report of the Holy Shroud":
“…And therefore, after having been removed from its usual place, the silver box containing the said Relic was placed in a wooden box, closed with screws, lined with white cloth stitched all around and surrounded with string with knots the lead seal with the initials of the Count General Giovanni Amico di Meane, Regent of the Administration of the Royal House in Turin...".

Crown Prince Umberto I consulted Giovanni Battista Montini (future Pope Paul VI), then deputy of the Secretariat of State of His Holiness for Ordinary Affairs, so that the Vatican would take care of safeguarding the sacred object. The proposal was rejected, as Vatican City ran the same risk as Turin.

At this juncture, the Holy See summoned the abbot of Montevergine Ramiro Marcone. Without hesitation, the abbot went to his destination and communicated with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Maglione. The latter informed him of the invitation to move the relic to Montevergine, well the abbot was quick to accept the invitation. The choice fell on Montevergine not only because it presented itself as a safe place, but also because of the historical relationship that linked the House of Savoy with the Black Madonna. To tell one of her stories, in 1433 Margaret of Savoy donated a fresco by Pietro Cavallino dei Cerroni to the Sanctuary to express her devotion, as she escaped a shipwreck thanks to the intermediation of Mamma Schiavona.

On September 25th the sacred object was hidden in the religious building, in particular under the Coretto altar at night. If the structure were bombed, the sacred object would have to be moved to a safer place than the sacred place, in an artificial corridor 145 meters deep. The operation was so delicate that only a few members of the Sanctuary were informed of it. In 1943 during the Nazi-Fascist occupation of Italy, the Germans did not discover the Shroud during their routine checks in the Sanctuary. At the end of the war, it was not known what the fate of the relic would be, meanwhile in early June 1946 the House of Savoy abandoned its homeland and throne, after the Italian people expressed their opinion in favor of the Republic through a referendum. In these anxious moments, on 10 June 1946 a letter arrived at the Sanctuary, the House of Savoy clarified the fate of the Shroud, well the order was to return it to Turin.

The archbishop of the city of Turin, Maurilio Fossati, personally showed up in Montevergine on October 28, 1946, to bring the Shroud back to Turin. The abbot of the Sanctuary, Roberto D'Amore, asked the Cardinal to be able to see the Relic, Fossati with extreme benevolence agreed to the request. The reception hall was prepared for the Shroud display ceremony. At the end of the conference, at midnight the Cardinal opened the urns and discovered the Shroud. At 1.30 am the singular event ended, a documentary film immortalized everything. This was followed by the moving of the Shroud to the Chapel of the Madonna, the Cardinal celebrated mass at 5.30 am then came the moment of farewell, some present loaded the sacred object into the car. The trip included a short stop in Rome before arriving in Turin.

Between the 16th and 18th of June, the revered Shroud was displayed within the hallowed confines of the Royal Palace's Chapel of the Holy Shroud. This display was not just for public veneration but also for a meticulous examination by a study committee, overseen by Cardinal Michele Pellegrino. The fabric was subject to a battery of photographic techniques, this time using color imagery, under the expert guidance of Giovanni Battista Judica Cordiglia, who was tasked with the official photographic reproduction. The photographic endeavor was comprehensive, employing various lighting conditions, including normal and infrared light, to capture and elucidate as many details as possible from both the fabric and the enigmatic image it bore. These photographs, preserved to this day, serve as a testament to this detailed analysis. Giovanni Battista Judica Cordiglia, not only an esteemed member of the Commission but also an acknowledged photographer, was specifically called upon due to a provocative hypothesis put forth by Kurt Berna, the president of Switzerland's 'Foundation of the Holy Shroud.' Berna, claiming a close friendship with Cordiglia, promulgated pamphlets bearing his controversial theory: that the Shroud had enfolded not the remains of the deceased, but a body that was still alive.

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The exhibition marked a historic milestone as it became the first ever to be broadcast via television. Millions of individuals watched from the comfort of their homes, while thousands of devout followers gathered in the hall of the Swiss at the Royal Palace in Turin. In a break from tradition and to facilitate the television broadcast, the Shroud was displayed vertically rather than in the horizontal orientation that had been customary until then. The live transmission, showcasing what is believed to be the image of Jesus, was initiated abruptly following scholarly studies. As reported by Ugo Buzzolan of 'La Stampa', who is recognized as a pioneer in television criticism, this strategic approach was adopted because, during the initial official display, a small fragment of the Shroud's fabric was sampled. This was done in order to conduct analyses on the material present on the fabric and to examine the numerous particles embedded within the linen's weave. Among the microtraces discovered, particularly notable were the pollen grains, meticulously identified by Swiss biologist Max Frei Sulzer, who was the head of the Zurich Scientific Police. His studies revealed the presence of over fifty distinct pollen types.


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In a moment of profound synchronicity for those of the Catholic faith, a remarkable event unfolded on August 27, 1978. It was the day following the appointment of the 264th pontiff, Albino Luciani of Venice, who took the papal name John Paul I. This was also when the venerated Shroud underwent a public display, marking 400 years since its relocation from Chambéry to Turin, a ceremonial exhibition that drew over three million pilgrims to the city over a span of forty-two days. Following the period of public veneration, an international cohort of over two hundred scholars, along with the esteemed president of the Tribunal and the director of Turin's International Center of Sindonology, embarked on a meticulous examination of the Shroud's fabric, particularly areas marked by blood. Their investigations yielded findings consistent with human biochemistry, noting the presence of calcium, protein, and iron in proportions typical of the human constitution, further determining the blood type to be AB.

At the dawn of the Internet age, a significant event marked the close of the second millennium: the final exhibition of the Shroud and the inaugural online transmission of the Holy Mass led by Pope John Paul II in the Duomo. This event also commemorated the 100th anniversary of Secondo Pia's pioneering photograph of the Holy Shroud. Over the course of forty-five days, Turin became a focal point for over 1.5 million individuals, including pilgrims, the inquisitive, and the scientific community, who came to witness and scrutinize the relic. Despite extensive analysis, a consensus on the Shroud's authenticity remained elusive. The preservation of the Shroud was enhanced by innovative means: encased in a dual-layered, five-millimeter-thick acrylic, with a small gap of air in between for protection, and an inner layer made of a resilient acrylic material. A specialized crystal overlay, designed to be anti-reflective and to shield against ultraviolet light, ensures the safeguarding of the fabric. Henceforth, the revered image on the Shroud, known as the Holy Face, will be securely displayed within this protective enclosure.

The turn-of-the-millennium exhibition orchestrated just a couple of years after its predecessor, was a heartfelt wish of Pope John Paul II, coinciding with the Jubilee, a significant event in Catholicism symbolizing forgiveness and spiritual renewal. This display made history not only for its unprecedented 72-day duration but also for its groundbreaking presentation: it marked the first use of a specialized aluminum case with slats, providing a new way for the public to view the mysterious image on the Shroud. As devotees made their pilgrimage from the Royal Gardens to the Cathedral, kneelers were thoughtfully provided along the path to invite moments of reflection and prayer. Despite the past adversity of a fire in the Guarini Chapel, the city proved its resilience, successfully hosting over two and a half million visitors. Turin was lauded for its exemplary management; throughout this extensive period, no untoward events occurred. Local businesses participated wholeheartedly, ensuring continuous service during the late August sales, while the city administration adeptly catered to every need of the vast crowds, offering an array of services including transportation, information booths, accommodations, and community dining experiences.

Recent scientific discoveries of the Shroud

1898: The Shroud was photographed for the first time. These first pictures led to the discovery that the image on the cloth is actually a negative. The image becomes positive in a photographic negative. This discovery startled the scientific community and stimulated worldwide interest.

1931: Guisseppe Enrie photographed the Shroud again with more advanced film technology confirming that the Shroud is indeed a negative image. Copies of Enrie's photos were circulated throughout the world prompting more scientific inquiry and interest. 

1950: Dr. Pierre Barbet, a prominent French Surgeon, published 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 as "anatomically perfect". 

1973: Max Frei, a noted Swiss criminologist, was given permission to take dust samples from the Shroud that contained much pollen. He discovered 22 pollen species from plants that are unique to areas around Constantinople and Edessa, and 7 pollen species from plants common only in Israel. The pollen trail appears to corroborate the historical trail. 

1975: Air Force scientists John Jackson and Eric Jumper, using a VP-8 Image Analyzer designed for the space program, discovered the Shroud image contained encoded 3-D data not found in ordinary reflected light photographs. This discovery indicated that the cloth must have wrapped a real human figure at the time the image was formed. 

1978: The Shroud was on public exhibit for the first time since 1933 and was displayed for six weeks. At the close of the exhibition, 24 scientists comprising the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) analyzed the Shroud for five continuous days (122 hours) working in shifts around the clock. 

1980: National Geographic magazine published a landmark article on the Shroud further propelling the cloth into the science limelight calling it "One of the most perplexing enigmas of modern times". 

1980: This same year, microscopist Walter McCrone who was not part of the Shroud Project was given several fibers to analyze. After finding iron oxide particles and a single particle of vermilion paint, he broke ranks with the Shroud scientists who had agreed to make all findings public the following year. McCrone proposed that the Shroud was a painting of red ochre paint created from iron oxide particles suspended in a thin binder solution. However McCrone's findings in no way agreed with any of the highly sophisticated tests conducted by two dozen other scientists. His claims have all been dismissed. It turns out the iron oxide is a natural result of soaking the linen for days (retting) where iron ions from the water attach to the fibers and oxidize. The particles are randomly distributed over the entire cloth. 

1981: After three years analyzing the data The Shroud of Turn Research Project (STURP) made their findings public at an international conference in New London, CT. All the scientists agreed upon the following statement: "We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and give a positive test for serum albumin." 

1988: The Shroud was carbon dated by three laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona. They indicated a date range from between 1260 to 1390 indicating the cloth to be only about 700 years old. This earth shattering news seemed to contradict the conclusions of STURP that gave support to the Shroud's possible authenticity. 

1997: Avinoam Danin, prominent Israeli Botanist and a professor at Hebrew University confirmed the presence of flower images on the Shroud. He verified 28 different pollen species and/or plant images. Many are from plants that grow only around Jerusalem. 

2002: The Shroud was restored to remove charred debris from the fire of 1532 to aid in the cloth’s preservation. All the burns and patches from the 1532 fire were removed. The shroud was attached to a new backing cloth as well.

2004: Textile expert Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, revealed that the stitching of a seam on the Shroud that runs the entire length known as the side strip is typical of Jewish burial shrouds found in Masada, Israel.

2004: Chemical research on image fibers offers clues as to how the image was formed. The entire cloth is covered with a razor thin layer of carbohydrates that adhered to the linen after being soaked in a soap weed detergent as part of an ancient manufacturing process. Something has interacted with this carbo-layer resulting in a discoloration of the cloth near or in direct contact with the body and is what causes the image to be visible on the cloth. 

2005: Thermal Chemist, Ray Rogers, followed up on new spectroscopic data showing the material of the corner cut for carbon dating may be different from the rest of the Shroud. He obtained thread samples from the C-14 corner and thread samples from the interior of the Shroud. Additional micro-chemical and spectroscopic tests showed the samples were not the same. Results published in a peer-reviewed journal confirmed initial concerns. The sample cut for C-14 dating appears to be from a medieval reweave instead of the original shroud.

"The radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud.” 

The carbon labs violated the original sampling protocol. Three different samples were to be cut; instead only one sample was used. Ignoring caution from archaeologists, they cut the sample from the most handled area of the cloth, the outside corner edge exactly where it had been grabbed and held by Church authorities for numerous public exhibitions. It was an area that had the most potential for contamination, damage and repair.

2011: European researchers with the ENEA were able replicate the depth and coloration of the Shroud image using a 40 nanosecond burst from an UV excimer laser. This is the first time any aspect of the image has been reproduced using light. 

2013: Researchers with Padua University in Italy, using multiple samples from other linens of a known age ranging from the current era to 3000 BC, were able to develop a predictable rate of chemical and mechanical decay. Comparing fibers from the Shroud, they determined an estimated date range of 280 BC to 220 AD.10

1. Joseph G. Marino: If an Artist Created the Shroud of Turin: Some Specific March 13, 2022
2. Stephen E. Jones: The man on the Shroud: The evidence is overwhelming that the Turin Shroud is Jesus' burial sheet!
3. The Mystery Man Exhibition
4. Pierre Barbet : A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ As Described by a Surgeon  1950

5. http://www.shroud.it/FOSSATI2.PDF

Further literature: 

Last edited by Otangelo on Tue Jan 30, 2024 4:22 am; edited 2 times in total


11From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Empty Chapter 4 Tue Jan 23, 2024 6:57 pm



Chapter 4 

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Panel_18

3D Information encoded in the Shroud

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Barbara M. Sullivan (1933-2016), with tracing paper and a photograph of the Shroud, was the first in 1973 to provide evidence that the entire image of the Shroud is three-dimensional. Alan D. Adler credited Sullivan with providing ‘the first evidence for 3-D information encoded in images of the Shroud.

Barbara M. Sullivan's pioneering work in 1973 marked a significant advancement in the study of the Shroud of Turin. Sullivan, utilizing a combination of tracing paper and a photograph of the Shroud, was the first to provide concrete evidence suggesting that the image on the Shroud contained intrinsic three-dimensional properties, a discovery that was groundbreaking at the time. Her method involved carefully analyzing the variations in the intensity of the image on the Shroud, which led her to propose that these variations corresponded to the distance from the cloth to the body it would have covered. This implied that the image formation process, whatever its nature, encoded spatial information, a concept that was revolutionary for the study of the Shroud. Alan D. Adler, a renowned chemist and Shroud researcher, recognized the significance of Sullivan's findings. He credited her with uncovering the first evidence of three-dimensional information encoded within the Shroud's images, which opened new avenues for scientific inquiry. This acknowledgment by Adler, a respected figure in the scientific community studying the Shroud, underscored the importance of Sullivan's contribution. Sullivan's work laid the groundwork for further research using more advanced technologies. Following her initial discovery, various researchers and scientists employed sophisticated image analysis techniques, such as the VP-8 Image Analyzer in the late 1970s, to further explore the three-dimensional aspects of the Shroud's image. These studies have contributed to a deeper understanding of the Shroud's properties and continue to fuel debates about its origins, the method of image formation, and its significance. The implications of Sullivan's discovery extend beyond the academic and scientific communities. For believers and enthusiasts, the possibility of the Shroud containing three-dimensional information adds to the mystery and intrigue surrounding the relic, providing a tangible link between science and faith. It raises profound questions about the nature of the image and its formation, contributing to the ongoing debate about the Shroud's authenticity and its place in history and religion. Barbara M. Sullivan's innovative approach and findings in 1973 have had a lasting impact on Shroud studies, bridging the gap between art, science, and spirituality, and inviting a multidisciplinary approach to understanding one of the most enigmatic relics in human history.

The Shroud of Turin continued to astound the world of photography throughout the 20th century. In 1976, after the Shroud had been captured in color for the first time, its unique photographic imprint caught the attention of a group of science educators at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, USA. Among them was physicist Dr. John Jackson, who gained access to the VP-8 Image Analyzer, an advanced device originally developed for NASA's space program. This technology was designed to convert shades of black and white into levels of vertical relief, viewable and adjustable on a television screen. Normally, a photograph, that records variations in light, does not contain depth information. Therefore, when analyzed with the VP-8, most images appear distorted, as the device is not intended to create a true 3D display but only a semblance of it.

However, the outcome was extraordinary when the Shroud's negative image was placed under the VP-8. It produced a consistent 'true' 3D effect. This effect allowed observers to move around the image on the TV monitor, similar to viewing a mountain range from a moving helicopter. The varied tones of the Shroud's image, referred to as 'intensity levels' by the scientists, seemed to encode the body's relief about its distance from the cloth at each corresponding image point.

This discovery was groundbreaking for the physicists and technicians who first experienced it. John Jackson likened his reaction to that of Secondo Pia when he first saw his photographic image of the Shroud in 1898. Peter Schumacher, the inventor of the VP-8 Image Analyzer, who personally brought the device to Jackson's team, shared similar sentiments. He was astounded when he saw the Shroud's full-body image on his system’s TV monitor, noting the relief of the nose, the proper contouring of facial features, and the body shapes of the arms, legs, and chest. He had never seen anything like it, either before or after, on the VP-8. The Shroud of Turin is the only item that has ever produced such results on this device. Schumacher, unfamiliar with the Shroud before this, expressed doubt about the possibility of a medieval artist-forger creating such a sophisticated image.

One must consider how and why an artist would embed three-dimensional information in the ‘grey’ shading of an image [when] no means of viewing this property of the image would be available for at least 650 years after this was done. One would have to ask why is this result not obtained in the analysis of other works. … Why would the artist make only one such work requiring such special skills and talent, and not pass the technique along to others?
How could the artist control the quality of the work when he or she could not ‘see’ grey scale as elevation? … Would an artist produce this work before the device to show the results was [even] invented?

Shortly after their groundbreaking discovery, John Jackson, along with approximately two dozen colleagues, found themselves in Turin, having obtained permission for the most comprehensive scientific examination of the Shroud to date. Their investigative methods encompassed a diverse array of photographic techniques, ranging from standard color photography to x-radiography, transmitted light photography, ultraviolet light photography, and photomicroscopy. Among the ‘STURP’ team’s professional photographers was Barrie Schwortz, a Los Angeles native of Jewish descent with no Christian affiliations. Initially skeptical, Schwortz expected to quickly debunk the Shroud’s authenticity. However, he became deeply engrossed in the research, working tirelessly throughout the team's 120-hour study period. His subsequent conviction in the Shroud's authenticity led him to establish the first website dedicated to the subject, which remains active. Thanks to STURP's efforts, a multitude of high-quality color photographs, including detailed close-ups of the Shroud, were disseminated widely. These images, along with more specialized photographic work from the team, are discussed in subsequent chapters of this book. While STURP's work was groundbreaking for its era, photographic exploration of the Shroud continued to evolve in the following years.

On June 25, 1997, shortly after the Shroud narrowly survived a significant fire in Turin Cathedral’s Holy Shroud Chapel, the relic was unexpectedly brought to Turin’s Church of the Confraternity of the Holy Shroud. Photographer Gian Carlo Durante summoned on short notice, captured the Shroud in its entirety and a close-up of the face in both color and black and white, using 13 × 18 and 10 × 12 format transparencies, respectively. Within a year, Durante's exceptional color photograph of the Shroud's face was featured on the cover of Time magazine, reaching over four million households worldwide. As Durante undertook this impromptu task, the dawn of digital photography was emerging, and he quickly embraced this new medium. In 2002, his expertise was sought again for extensive digital photography and scanning required to document Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg’s conservation work, which involved removing the Shroud’s sixteenth-century patches and backing cloth. This process revealed the Shroud's previously unseen underside for the first time in over four centuries. Durante's photographs, along with others, were swiftly compiled into a large-format color publication. In 2007, a mere fifty-five miles from Turin in Novara, a company named HAL9000 undertook a pioneering digital photography project of Leonardo da Vinci’s massive mural, The Last Supper, capturing it in 1,677 separate sections and digitally combining them to create a multi-gigabyte image available online. This technique allowed for a detailed examination of even the smallest segments of Leonardo’s deteriorating masterpiece on a personal computer. This method was well-suited for the Shroud. Consequently, on January 22, 2008, HAL9000 technicians were granted one day of direct access to the Shroud. They amassed 158 gigabytes of photographic data, capturing details as minute as one five-hundredth of a millimeter. A twenty-three-foot-long print of this image has been exhibited in Novara, and online access or a DVD, akin to the da Vinci project, is anticipated to be available by the time of this book's publication.

The advent of high-definition (HD) filmmaking has revolutionized the visual representation of moving images, bringing an unprecedented level of detail to the screen. Following in the wake of the HAL9000 team’s efforts, a British television crew, under the leadership of seasoned producer David Rolfe – a recipient of a BAFTA award for a Shroud-related documentary three decades earlier – embarked on a pioneering project. This marked the first instance of an English-speaking documentary team being granted permission to film the Shroud directly. On January 24, 2008, Rolfe’s lead cinematographer, David Crute, accompanied by a second cameraman, journeyed to Turin equipped with cutting-edge Sony HD 750 cameras. Their filming took place in the same sacristy room where I had viewed the Shroud in daylight back in 2000. However, for this television project, the room’s high windows were completely obscured, and the Shroud was illuminated using eight high-frequency Kino Flo fluorescent lights, selected for their minimal heat emission and steady light. Despite facing unforeseen challenges with the power supply, reminiscent of the difficulties Secondo Pia encountered a century earlier, Crute and his team successfully captured exceptionally high-quality footage of the Shroud. Portions of this footage were featured in a BBC documentary, presented by the renowned journalist Rageh Omaar, which aired on Easter Saturday in 2008. Even more fascinating is the comprehensive footage that remains unseen by television audiences. Rolfe instructed Crute to meticulously film every aspect of the Shroud's surface, from wider views to extreme close-ups. It’s in these close-up shots that the latest HD technology reveals novel insights. Viewing these images on a computer monitor, one can scrutinize the body image areas and the unique coloration of the bloodstains with such clarity and ease that it surpasses direct examination with a high-powered magnifying glass. Both Rolfe and Crute recognized that the extraordinary level of detail now accessible, coupled with the myriad of analysis techniques afforded by modern technology, has opened up new avenues for Shroud research. As Crute noted, within their footage lies additional layers of the image yet to be explored, suggesting a wealth of information still to be uncovered.

The advancements in high-definition technology have incontrovertibly corroborated the discoveries of Secondo Pia and Giuseppe Enrie regarding the Shroud's hidden negative imagery in a remarkably compelling manner. Despite the widespread replication of Enrie’s exceptional life-size negative plate, there have been sporadic skeptics who questioned its authenticity, suggesting that the orthochromatic plates used might have artificially enhanced the impression of detail. In the realm of digital photography, the absence of any chemical intermediary stands out. When examining a high-definition close-up of the Shroud's face captured by Crute, displayed in its natural color on a computer monitor, we can effortlessly transition the image to a greyscale, or black and white, with a simple keystroke. Another keystroke allows us to invert these tones to their negative form, revealing the same mirrored representation of the original body that the Shroud itself seems to capture. A further keystroke to reverse this mirror image presents us with the identical, remarkable visage that once astonished Pia, Enrie, and numerous others. This process provides immediate and straightforward validation that the Shroud's 'hidden photograph' phenomenon emerges whenever its image is converted to black and white and these colors are inverted. Using a sophisticated editing suite, typical in professional television production, it is even feasible to mimic the VP-8 Image Analyzer’s method of rendering the Shroud in three-dimensional relief. Given such compelling evidence, the burden of proof undoubtedly shifts to those who assert the Shroud to be a fabrication. They must account for how an individual, potentially as early as the Middle Ages and centuries before the advent of photography, could have engineered such a ‘hidden photograph effect’.

The VP-8 Image Analyzer is an analog device that was designed in the 1970s for evaluating X-rays and other imaging purposes. It converts image density (lights and darks) into vertical relief (shadows and highlights). When applied to normal photographs, the result was a distorted and inaccurate image. However, when it was applied to the Shroud of Turin, the result was an accurate, topographic image showing the correct, natural relief characteristics of a human form. These results are often referred to as "three-dimensional".

In 1976, a group of scientists who were using a VP-8 at Sandia Laboratories to evaluate x-rays put a 1931 Enrie photograph of the Shroud of Turin into the device and were able to visualize the three-dimensional properties that exist in the Shroud image1. This particularly intrigued two of the researchers present at the test, Dr. Eric Jumper and Dr. John Jackson. Stimulated by their startling discovery, they decided to form a research team to investigate what might have formed the image on the cloth, and within a few months, the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) was born. The image on the Shroud of Turin yields a very accurate dimensional relief of a human form. One must conclude from this that the image density on the cloth is directly proportionate to the distance it was from the body it covered. In essence, the closer the cloth was to the body (tip of the nose, cheekbone, etc.), the darker the image, and the further away (eye sockets, neck, etc.), the fainter the image1. This spatial data encoded into the image eliminates photography and painting as the possible mechanism for its creation and allows us to conclude that the image was formed while the cloth was draped over an actual human body.

So the VP-8 Image Analyzer not only revealed a very important characteristic of the Shroud image, but historically it also provided the actual motivation to form the team that would ultimately go and investigate it.

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The extraordinary image of the Shroud has been a constant source of intrigue for scientists. In 1976, physicist Dr. John Jackson and thermodynamicist Dr. Eric Jumper gained access to a VP-8 Image Analyzer, a device capable of converting two-dimensional black and white images into three-dimensional representations by generating a vertical relief profile based on the intensity of shading. When this device was used on normal photographs or paintings, it invariably produced a distorted result, rather than a recognizable three-dimensional version of the source image. However, when a negative of the Shroud was loaded into the device, it produced an accurate three-dimensional representation, with the facial features, arms, legs, and chest of the Shroud Man all contoured correctly (Fig. below).

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The front image of the Shroud of Turin as it appears on the screen of a VP-8 Image Analyzer.

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Display of 3D model based on the Shroud brightness map. The result astonished the VP-8 Image Analyzer’s inventor, Peter Schumacher, who had never heard of the Shroud of Turin before that moment. He stated, "I had no idea what I was looking at. However, the results are unlike anything I have seen before or since. Only the Shroud of Turin has produced these results when processed through the VP-8 Analyzer." This led to an isometric projection study of the Shroud.

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At the conference in Albuquerque, a cardboard statue was displayed, showcasing the details of the face of the statue. A complete figure of the "Man of the Shroud" was created, based on the data regarding the body's relief. Unfortunately, the image of the arms, which was damaged in the fire of 1532, significantly alters the overall appearance. Despite the rudimentary method used to recreate the figure, it remains a highly suggestive image. This statue represents an attempt to bring to life the figure imprinted on the Shroud of Turin. The creation of such a three-dimensional representation aims to provide a more tangible and realistic view of the "Man of the Shroud," based on the imprints and measurements derived from the Shroud itself. The damage to the Shroud, particularly the burns and alterations from the 1532 fire, poses challenges in accurately reconstructing the full image. However, efforts like this statue showcase the continuous interest in and fascination with the Shroud, as well as the desire to understand and visualize the figure it bears. This reconstruction, even with its limitations, offers a unique perspective on the Shroud, inviting viewers to engage with the artifact more physically and visually.

Only the frontal image of the Shroud man is three-dimensional. The dorsal or back image is not three-dimensional, having been formed by direct contact. The frontal image cannot have been formed by direct contact because it has areas that could not have been in contact with the cloth: for example the recessed areas between the nose and cheeks, the eye sockets and ears, the ribs, and part of the neck. This is consistent with STURP's John P. Jackson's "cloth collapse theory". Leo Vala In 1967, Leo Vala, a professional photographer and an agnostic made the first three-dimensional reproduction of the Shroud face by projecting a Shroud negative photograph onto a lump of clay and sculpting it. Vala published his experiment in the March 8, 1967 issue of Amateur Photographer, stating in the article:

"I've been involved in the invention of many complicated visual processes, and I can tell you that no one could have faked that image. No one could do it today with all the technology we have. It's a perfect negative. It has a photographic quality that is extremely precise.Vala became a critic of anyone who thought the image could have been produced by human hands.

VP-8 Image Analyzer 

In 1976 Robert William (Bill) Mottern (1924-2015), an image-enhancement specialist at Sandia Laboratories in Albuquerque, offered Jackson the use of an Interpretation Systems VP-8 Image Analyzer, an instrument that translates light intensity into vertical relief, to help in their investigations. Mottern was using the VP8 to analyze X-rays in his work at Sandia Laboratories. When a negative transparency of a Shroud photograph provided by Jackson was processed by the VP-8, they were amazed that on the VP-8's computer screen, they saw a correctly proportioned, three-dimensional image of the Shroud man. Being a transparency, Mottern was able to rotate the image and view it from the side and back. This proved that the Shroud image contains three-dimensional information since ordinary photographs processed by the VP-8 >appear distorted because they contain only light, not distance, information. A separate photograph of the face was later processed by the VP-8 and it also showed the same three-dimensional relief effect. That face photograph also confirmed the presence of unnatural bulges over the eyes, which they later proposed were coins placed over the eyes. For three-dimensional relief information, Jackson and others were able to construct a three-dimensional model of the Shroud image. Their work attracted the attention of other scientists and led to the formation in 1977 of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP).2

Mark Niyr (2020): How was the three‐dimensional aspect of the image produced? It would be the quantity/density number of radiation strikes that would encode the three‐dimensional distance information between the body and the cloth. Since proton radiation rapidly attenuates and dies out (especially in air), more radiation strikes would impact the cloth where the Shroud was originally closer to the body and fewer radiation particles would strike where the body was originally further away from the cloth—thus encoding distance (three‐dimensional) information based on the quantity/density of colorized fibers. As the Shroud continued to pass through, it would also reach and encode parts of the body that were not originally touching the draped cloth. Altogether, this indicates that every pinpoint part of the body (including the hair) had to emit its own particle radiation upon the Shroud and do so in proportion to its distance from the Shroud, impacting the cloth in a straight‐line vertical manner between the body and the Shroud. Physicist Thomas Phillips (of the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Harvard University), biophysicist Jean-Baptiste Rinaudo (of the Center for Nuclear Medical Research in Montpellier, France, and the Grenoble Nuclear Studies Center in France), and Dr. Kitty Little (retired nuclear physicist from Britain’s Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell) have each hypothesized that particle radiation irradiated the Shroud and that the source of the particle radiation was the body itself.  Dr. Little stated, “that the source of the illumination that had formed the image came from within—that is, from the body . . . as a whole.” In other words, the radiation did not come from some external source; rather, the radiation’s origin was directly from the body—from every pinpoint location of the body.  This facet (wherein each micro part of the body—the source of the radiation—radiates directly and exclusively from its specific point on the body to that corresponding exclusive point on the Shroud, thus irradiating an image) is something that no one has yet been able to reproduce. (How could a medieval artisan accomplish this? There is no technology yet in existence that can reproduce this.) STURP chemist Dr. John Heller remarked: “It is as if every pore and every hair of the body contained a microminiature laser.”1

Challenges in the Medieval Creation of the Shroud of Turin's 3D Encoding

During the Middle Ages, there was a limited understanding of optics, photography, and the concept of encoding three-dimensional data into a two-dimensional medium. The knowledge and techniques required to create a 3D image in a fabric medium would have been far beyond the capabilities of artists and craftsmen of that era. The Shroud's image is not a simple two-dimensional depiction. Analyses suggest that the intensity of the image encodes spatial information about the distance between the cloth and the body. Such a level of detail and understanding of spatial encoding is unprecedented and unexplained in medieval art. There are no known works from the Middle Ages, or any time before the invention of modern photography, that display a similar type of 3D encoding. If the Shroud were a medieval forgery, it would be unique not just in its subject and method of creation, but in the technology it implied. The physical and chemical properties of the image on the Shroud are distinct. The image is superficial, affecting only the topmost fibers, and does not penetrate the cloth like paint or other known substances used by medieval artists would. The concept of 3D rendering and encoding information related to depth in a flat image is a relatively modern concept, closely tied to the development of photography and computer imaging. There is no evidence to suggest that such concepts were understood, let alone applied, in medieval times.

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A high-definition, precision three-dimension rendering of the face on the Shroud of Turin was created from a digitized version of the photograph of the Shroud taken by Giuseppe Enrie in 1931. Microsoft 3D Builder, a software app, was used to plot the brightness values in the photograph, similar to the VP-8 Image Analyzer.

3D images by Thierry Castex

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Shroud is the discovery of 3D information encoded in its imagery, a feature that was only uncovered with modern technology. This discovery raises significant questions about the origins and authenticity of the Shroud, particularly concerning the feasibility of a medieval forger creating such a sophisticated image.

The argument against a medieval forger successfully embedding 3D information in the Shroud is multi-faceted:

Lack of Technological Means: In the Middle Ages, the level of technological and scientific understanding was not advanced enough to conceive of 3D imaging, let alone implement it in an artwork. The process of creating a 3D encoded image requires a sophisticated understanding of light, shadow, and perspective, far beyond the capabilities of artists and craftspeople of that era.
Discovery with Modern Technology: The 3D information in the Shroud was only discernible with the advent of modern imaging technology. This suggests that if the Shroud were a forgery, the forger created features that they could not have understood or visualized, and which remained undiscovered for over 700 years. It seems implausible that a forger would embed features into the image that were not only beyond their comprehension but also undetectable by contemporaries.
Complexity of 3D Encoding: The 3D encoding on the Shroud is not a simple or random occurrence. It shows a nuanced understanding of spatial relationships and how these would be represented in varying shades of color and intensity. Such an encoding suggests an advanced, almost anachronistic understanding of imaging techniques that were unavailable in the Middle Ages.
Purpose and Motivation: If the Shroud were a medieval forgery, the motive behind creating it would likely be religious or financial gain. However, embedding undetectable 3D information into the fabric serves no purpose in this context. It wouldn't have made the forgery more convincing or valuable to a medieval audience, who had no way of perceiving or appreciating this aspect of the work.
Historical Consistency: There is no known precedent or parallel from the Middle Ages or earlier periods where such complex imagery with hidden 3D features was created. The art and crafts of that time, while often sophisticated in their way, do not display anything close to this level of complexity in image encoding.

The presence of 3D information in the Shroud of Turin adds a layer of complexity to its already mysterious history. The argument that a medieval forger could have created such an image with embedded 3D properties, only discoverable with modern technology, appears highly implausible given the technological and conceptual limitations of the time.

3D Processing applied to the Shroud of Turin / 3D Processing of the Shroud of Turin

The image of the body on the fabric of the Shroud of Turin contains 3D (three-dimensional) information whose amplitude is inversely proportional to the distance between the fabric and the body. That is to say that the parts of the body that are close to the fabric will have a dark tint, while the parts further away will have a lighter appearance. For example, the nose which touches the fabric will be darker than the eye sockets which will be further away. In other words, we can consider that there is a three-dimensional coding of the image distributed over a range of 256 gray levels (8-bit coding) in the case of a black-and-white photograph. Black will have level 0 and white will have level 255. For a color print, we will talk about coding on 3 x 8 = 24bits, because there are 3 fundamental RGB colors (red, green, blue).

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In fact, to carry out the 3D processing in color, I first decomposed the images into R, G, B. I processed them one by one as 8-bit images (in gray level), then I recombined them all three to find the color (on 24 bits).

The processing of each R, G, B component consisted of applying a two-dimensional filter (FK) in the Fourier domain to remove the frame and the chevrons, then equalizing the amplitudes of the pixels in the image (in L2 quadratic norm) . This treatment amounts to eliminating the effects of scratches or streaks on the image and to harmonizing the amplitudes along the fabric. This also has the effect of reducing the level of background noise in the image.

This 3D view of the lying body shows that the tips of the knees are raised because the legs are bent. Bending your knees causes your knees to tighten and your thighs to spread.

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3D Dorsal Views of the Front Side of the Shroud of Turin

By applying 3D processing to the digital image of the dorsal side we obtain a relief that is a little less pronounced than on the 3D images of the ventral side. The 3D dorsal image is a little distorted at the buttocks and back because of the numerous traces of flogging which disrupt the 3D conversion. However, thanks to 3D vision, we can see the thickness of the hair made up of a long ponytail that goes down to the middle of the back. Hair color appears to be somewhere between chestnut and red, but to be more precise it would be necessary to carry out an RGB chromatic calibration of the negative image printed on the linen fibers with a spectrophotometer.

In Figure 4 we observe an area without traces of flagellation which corresponds exactly to the location of the two symmetrical "L"s formed by 4 holes at right angles, which were drawn on the Codex Pray. According to the study that we carried out with Eric De Bazelaire and Marcel Alonso in 2007 (published in the CIELT journal of December 2007) this area without traces of flagellation would correspond to a fold which was made with the fabric to place there a kind of diaper (made of cotton) to absorb body fluids. If we remove this area from the image, the abnormally long legs return to normal proportions. This working hypothesis was presented at the MNTV Association Forum on February 6, 2010, in Paris, and was the subject of an article in the MNTV magazine 2

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Original 3-dimensional statue that STURP members at the Air Force Academy as well as a handful of Cadets created using the data from the VP-8.

"The detailed study of the imprint left by the body on the shroud shows a variable intensity inversely proportional to the distance between the cloth and the body. In 1973, the face's relief was obtained from the photograph of G. Enrie from 1931 with the measurement of different intensities (work by P. Gastineau). In 1974, with the help of a microdensitometer (an instrument that measures the intensity of an image) and accurate reconstruction of the modalities with which a cloth similar to the Shroud is placed on a body, the American physicist John Jackson and his team demonstrated that the intensity of the image varies inversely proportional to the distance between the cloth and body, with a high level of correlation. This correlation can be demonstrated using a particular image processing technique that consists of transforming the various intensity levels of the image into different planes of a three-dimensional topographic relief. If the intensities of the image of the Shroud are correlated to the distance between the cloth and the body, then the relief image should correspond to the actual three-dimensional form of a human body (except for the secondary effect due to the draping of the fabric). On February 19, 1976, Jackson brought a photograph of the Shroud to the image processing laboratory of Bill Mottern. The image of the Shroud was analyzed with the VP-8 image analyzer, an analog computer that directly transforms image intensity into vertical relief. Surprisingly, the relief image appeared to possess perfect anatomical characteristics, even in correspondence with the most complex details of the face. The relief of the entire frontal imprint of the Shroud compared with the negative photograph of Enrie from which it was drawn. It is interesting to note how the intensities of various characteristics of the image in the photograph of Enrie (such as the face, torso, hands, etc.) were interpreted by the VP-8 analyzer as different levels of relief. It is evident how the entire structure of the three-dimensional image processed by the VP-8 analyzer resembles an extremely realistic human body.

1. https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/niyr.pdf
2. https://www.linceul-de-turin.fr/page/1512703-cahiers-sur-le-linceul-de-turin

Last edited by Otangelo on Wed Feb 21, 2024 3:55 pm; edited 6 times in total


12From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Empty Chapter 5 Tue Jan 23, 2024 7:05 pm



Chapter 5

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Panel_19

The STURP ( Shroud of Turin Research Project)  from 1978

On the 19th of February in 1976, John Jackson, a physicist, held a crucial meeting with William Mottern, an expert in radiographic analysis at the Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico. Mottern was utilizing an innovative piece of equipment known as the VP-8 Image Analyzer to assess X-ray images for his research. This device had the intriguing ability to process images from various sources, not just X-rays, through input from a video camera. During an experiment with a 1931 photograph of the Shroud by Enrie, they discovered that the VP-8 could render image densities into a three-dimensional vertical relief. This resulted in a striking display on the VP-8's green screen—a detailed three-dimensional representation of a human figure. This indicated that the Shroud's imagery was embedded with spatial or topographical data that diverged from conventional photographs or artistic representations. The remarkable outcome from the VP-8 Image Analyzer galvanized Jackson and his team to pursue more in-depth research. In a serendipitous parallel, Professor Giovanni Tamburelli was undertaking an analogous study of the Shroud's imagery in Turin, utilizing advanced computer analysis techniques. During the period when physicist John Jackson was immersed in his research, another member of the team, Don Devan—who had recently finished a project at Los Alamos—was involved. It was around this time that a call came from Don to one of their colleagues, catching them somewhat off guard. The topic of conversation was the Shroud of Turin, which prompted an initial response of laughter from the colleague, given both their Jewish backgrounds and the religious nature of the Shroud.

Don elucidated that there had been a breakthrough in understanding the Shroud's imagery. A group of scientists who had made this discovery were in the process of forming a voluntary research team dedicated to a thorough examination of the cloth to decipher the creation of its image. He reassured that the exploration was to be conducted with a scientific lens and indicated the need for a proficient technical photographer to aid in the endeavor. The colleague was then presented with the inquiry of whether they had an interest in contributing their expertise to this scientific pursuit.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Panel_17

The use of the VP-8 Image Analyzer was a pivotal moment that led to the creation of the STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) team. Spearheaded by Jackson, the objective was clear: to gather a diverse group of experts, develop a series of non-invasive experiments within a comprehensive test plan, and ultimately obtain permission to physically examine the Shroud in an effort to understand how its image was formed. Eric Jumper quickly came on board as a co-founder, and together with Jackson, they started recruiting specialists capable of conducting scientific experiments to explore the mechanisms behind the Shroud's image formation. The team's goal was not to prove the Shroud's authenticity or to verify whether the image was that of Jesus. Over the next eighteen months, the team expanded, adding members on an as-needed basis. They operated in small regional groups across the United States, coordinating their efforts through telephone and postal mail. Remarkably, the entire team only met in person for the first time a month before they were scheduled to depart for Turin to begin their hands-on investigation of the Shroud.

In 1978, the Shroud of Turin Research Project (often abbreviated as STURP) made a scientific examination of the Shroud of Turin. It  was performed by an international team of experts. For five consecutive 24-hour days, they used the latest technology to study the front and back image.

The STURP Team

The team for the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) comprised a diverse group of experts from various fields. Key participants included

The quotes are from Joe Marino's paper: STURP Members’ Quotations from Early Popular Secular and Religious Literature 

Joseph S. Accetta from the Lockheed Corporation,
Steven Baumgart and John D. German from the U.S. Air Force Weapons Laboratories, and
Ernest H. Brooks II, Mark Evans, and Vernon D. Miller from the Brooks Institute of Photography.

Vern Miller
 “What really astounds me about the image is its sheer beauty. Artistically, it’s comparable to the great masterpieces—the proportions, for instance. It’s better than a Michaelangelo or a Rafael. (…) I believe it’s the natural image of a man – as opposed to supernatural – and given enough time and study, we’ll find out how it was done. The reason I feel it is Jesus is I can feel its power. I have no proof of that. It’s just so beautiful to look at – pleasing. I know it’s not faked.”

Robert Bucklin represented the Harris County, Texas, Medical Examiner's Office, while
Donald Devan was from Oceanographic Services Inc.
Rudolph J. Dichtl from the University of Colorado,
Robert Dinegar, Donald & Joan Janney, J. Ronald London, Roger A. Morris, Ray Rogers, Larry Schwalbe, and Diane Soran from Los Alamos National Scientific Laboratories.

Ray Rogers
"What I have done was go ahead with the list of hypotheses that I put in the 1977 proceedings and looked at the (acts I thought were sort of incontrovertible. Here I listed facts: color on one side only, no capillary flow of the colored medium, no diffusion into the fibers of the Shroud; .... The color is discontinuous on the fiber bundles."

“It is a very steep gradient and this should have made a tremendous effect on anything that was there either as a natural pigment, or a large natural organic molecule, or any of the materials to paint with.”*

“The probability of having a natural iron pigment that was available at the time of say 1300 (or something like that) is zilch . . . because you can see a blackening of iron pigments ...”**

“There was no movement of the color, no color change, and movement of the blood stains with the water that was poured on to put the fire out . . . There was no impedance to the flow of the water and I
think this is tremendously important, too because if any vehicle or medium had been used as the painting system . . . the water flow through it would have been impeded by the medium that was absorbed."

"In the fibers and the medulla of these fibers. There was impedance to the water flow of the image for the watermarks are symmetrical.”

“There's one way that I've been able to find so far of making linen fluorescent in that color, and that's only by scorching. The scorches on the Shroud are fluorescent, the image is fluorescent, the blood marks are fluorescent, and that's the only way I can get there.***

“Every one of those blood spots that I have been able to look at microscopically in photographs do not saturate the cloth. You can still see uncolored threads in the zone of the blood spots. Blood doesn't fluoresce. There is only one way that it fluoresces naturally, and that's in a disease called porphyria. My bets are that it is a metaporphyrin that causes the fluorescence in the porphyria of blood, and that is not one of the world's most stable compounds either to heat or formaldehyde. I think that it would be quenched of fluorescence by the heating, water, etc.”

“When I first heard about the shroud project, I didn’t want to get involved. I don’t like being identified with the lunatic fringe. Then I was told about the 1532 fire and that changed my mind. It seemed to me that the fire was a beautiful little unintentional natural experiment. There was hardly any oxygen inside the casket and chemically you just knew what was going on and what kind of thermal products were being left behind. Thanks to the molten silver, you could calculate the temperature gradient inside the casket. Knowing that, I figured that you ought to be able to tell what effect the fire would have had on the image, if it was painted. That’s when I decided to join the team.”

“We all agree that there’s blood on the shroud. We’ve found iron and protein in the blood area, we’ve found porphyrin, which is a constituent of hemoglobin, and we’ve even found what looks like bilirubin in the places that have been scorched. But then you say so what? The most fascinating observation about the image is the distribution of color, the fact that it just rests on top of the fibrils, and that there are fibrils in the off-image areas that look exactly like those that make up the image itself. That suggests that what we’re dealing with is some change in the chemistry of the cloth itself. It has been ‘aged.’ For some reason, the fibrils that make up the image got older faster than the rest of the fabric. By aging, I basically mean losing water. The reason why there’s an image is because in those places and only those places the cellulose in the flax has been dehydrated, giving you conjugated carbon double bonds. I think everyone in STURP concurs that the image is just degraded cellulose, that there’s actually nothing ‘on’ the linen. But there’s no consensus on just how the cellulose was degraded.”

“There are any number of ways to degrade cellulose apart from doing nothing and just letting it age. You can bake it or burn it or irradiate it and produce a scorch; or, you can add something to it that soil it or alter it chemically. The problem with chemically induced aging is that we can’t find anything on the shroud to account for it. We’ve spot tested with reagents looking for likely materials. Mass spectrometry, conducted at the University of Nebraska, tested for aloes, myrrh, oils, and so on—things that might produce some kind of contact image. Everything came out negative. You’d think we would have found something. I mean aloes, for example, has a bunch of glycosides in it that should stand out like a sore thumb. And these tests are sensitive. We picked up traces of the polythene bag the threads were wrapped in.”

“A scorch seems a bit more promising. If a scorch is produced at moderate temperatures, the predominant result is creation of conjugated double bonds, which is what we have. Roger and Marion Gilbert say the reflectance and fluorescence curves of the image and the area burned in 1532 are similar, although under ultraviolet light the scorches and the image behave differently. That’s a minus. There’s still the problem of actually making the image, even if it is a scorch. The image is too sharp and too uniform for any of the hot statue theories. I incline toward the idea of a scorch, but I can’t think how it was done. At this point you either keep looking for the mechanism or start getting mystical.”

“We may never figure out how the cellulose was altered, but the process seems to have stopped. The rest of the cloth is continuing to age naturally. In relation to the background the image is getting dimmer and dimmer all the time. Someday the aging fabric is going to catch up with it and obliterate it.”

Robert Dinegar
“As an unbiased scientist, I cannot state that the shroud is authentic. I know of no way we could prove it. I can’t think of a way. I can’t think of anyone who could think of a way. Personally, I have
this gut feeling that it’s the real thing.”
“For me it was the culmination of my career being able to put science and religion together, whether the shroud is a hoax or is not. Sure, I worried that some people would feel betrayed if it turned out to be a fake, and I worried that that sense of betrayal could even extend to their faith. But as a scientist I felt I had a duty to investigate and report. As a churchman …? Well, I’ve always known that the path to both ends was more dangerous than you’d think. Still, Christianity never depended on the shroud. And if it turned out to be real …?”

Larry Schwalbe
“We can see iron signatures everywhere and iron oxide is used in some pigments. But there is no difference between the iron concentrations in the image and the clear areas, so it doesn’t seem very likely that the color comes from iron-based pigment. The only place where iron concentrations are significantly higher than background is in the dark ‘blood’ areas. There is iron in blood, of course, and the amount of iron we found is consistent with what you’d expect from whole blood. But all we can really say for sure is that there’s iron.”

Joan Janney
 “I was looking at the shroud for an hour one night in Turin. The closer you get the less you see. How could you paint it in such a way that while you’re painting it you can’t see it? I’m not saying the shroud’s authentic. I’m just asking.”

Kenneth E. Stevenson came from IBM
"Scientists can (obtain three-dimensional information) from photographs of stars and planets, where the object is far enough away from the astronomer’s lens that its distance measurably affects the intensity of the light image received. But a three-dimensional image cannot be created from any normal photograph, negative or positive. Modern lenses, films and photographic papers simply are not sensitive enough…."

Al Adler from Western Connecticut State University,
Thomas F. D'Muhala from the Nuclear Technology Corporation.
Jim Drusik was part of the Los Angeles County Museum team,
Joseph Gambescia from St. Agnes Medical Center

Joseph Gambescia
“What science does is disprove. But from a scientific standpoint, we could never prove it. That [his belief that the Shroud is authentic] is an assumption I make from the facts. Science can only disprove that assumption. Scientifically, all we can say at this point is we’ve been unable to demonstrate that the Shroud is not authentic.”

Roger & Marty Gilbert from Oriel Corporation,
Thomas Haverty from Rocky Mountain Thermograph,
John Heller from the New England Institute.
John P. Jackson and Eric J. Jumper from the U.S. Air Force Academy

 Eric Jumper
“We had expected to find elements of dye or maybe body spices. But what we eventually found out was that there wasn’t anything to find. [He thinks the] Shroud is too good to be true. Personally, I wish we’d found it a painting. We’d be finished. But we’ve checked those claims. They just aren’t valid. We’ve not been able to close the door.”

John Jackson
“I got interested in the shroud when I was thirteen or fourteen when my mom showed me a picture of it. It made a great impression on me. Then, around 1968, I read a book about the shroud by John

Walsh and I was struck by the details you could glean from photographs. The whole field of image processing was just opening up then, and I knew I wanted someday to do some kind of analysis of the shroud. In early 1974 I met Don Devan from Information Sciences, Inc. in Santa Barbara, and we started doing some image-intensity works. Then I met Eric. And then the whole project took off.”

“You can take the image [from the “VP-8 Image Analyzer] and tilt it, turn it around, look at it in profile, make it do somersaults.”

“My responsibility is to scientific rigor. Let’s look at the whole picture. We know that the shroud has 3-D information on it. That could have happened by accident, but it took us a long time to figure out a way to duplicate the effect, even knowing what we were trying to do. The image is also a photographic negative, again something hard to produce before you had photography. Of course, that could have been an accident, too. Then there are the scourge marks. They’re the right shape and they change angles with elevation. The nail holes are in the right place. The ‘blood’ flows correspond with the angle of crucifixion. Remember that the Romans stopped crucifying people during Constantine’s reign, so it wouldn’t be easy for a medieval artist to get the procedure straight. Somewhere along the way, you’d think a forger would have made some mistake. But there aren’t any. And some of the little touches are very nice. There’s a bit of dirt near the soles of the feet. The blood from the lance wound runs along the side of the body and onto the back. Some of the scourge-mark structures

are so fine you can pick them up only under UV. Any one of these things you can explain away. But when you add up everything we know, the argument against a forgery acquires a certain force. As for whether the image is Christ’s, all I can say is that the wounds are consistent with the gospel accounts. I mean this was no ordinary execution. Look at the guy! Somebody really wanted to do him in, not just kill him but torture him to death.”

Jean Lorre and Donald J. Lynn from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Donald J. Lynn

“You could see the lash marks vividly – like splattered blood! The images- body and blood do not fluoresce but the background of the Shroud does. The blood marks are definitely different from the body marks – no doubt about it. The blood marks seem to flake. We discovered dirt at one of the footprints! It is quite clear where the Raes’ samples were removed and the larger is indeed from the major portion of the cloth. The blood marks clearly go through the other side of the cloth but the body images do not. We want to further explore how linen was made in Jesus’ day. The computer broke down but we were able to get all the data gathered, anyway. It’s going to take years to assess this material.”

Robert W. Mottern from Sandia Laboratories,
Samuel Pellicori from Santa Barbara Research Center,
Barrie M. Schwortz from Barrie Schwortz Studios were also integral to the project.
 "I was a skeptic when I went to Turin. I’m not now, at least not in terms of whether it’s a fake or not. It’s not.”
“One newspaper said I’d converted because of the shroud. That’s not true. I was brought up in an Orthodox Jewish home and I’m still Jewish. But the shroud forced me to look at what I believed. I had never done that before. I tend to think it is Jesus – not categorically – but it probably is.”

The STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) team dedicated a year and a half to meticulously planning a comprehensive set of non-destructive tests to be executed within a limited yet effective timeframe. They meticulously developed protocols for each experiment, strategically scheduling them to fit within a 96-hour testing window. All these preparations were compiled into a detailed, 65-page spiral-bound notebook. This notebook was not only a guide for the team's examination but also a document submitted to Turin for final approval.

The team's efforts paid off when they received permission to examine the Shroud. The approval came from King Umberto II, Duke of Savoy, who was the owner of the Shroud in 1978. To facilitate effective communication with the Church and the custodians in Turin, the STURP team also collaborated closely with the Holy Shroud Guild based in Esopus, New York. This collaboration was crucial in navigating the complexities of the project, given the Shroud's religious and historical significance. In September 1978, just under a month before their departure to Turin, the entire STURP team convened for the first time in Amston, Connecticut, at an event informally known as the “Dry Run.” This gathering was a pivotal moment for the diverse group of team members, who until then had been collaborating remotely. It provided them with the opportunity to meet face-to-face, which was crucial for the team's cohesion and effectiveness. More importantly, the Dry Run served as a rehearsal stage where they could set up and test their various instruments, many of which had been custom-designed and built specifically for the Shroud project. It was also an opportunity to practice the procedures they planned to implement during their examination of the Shroud. This meeting in Connecticut was a critical step in ensuring that every aspect of their meticulously planned investigation was ready and functional, setting the stage for their imminent work in Turin.

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Informal group portrait of the STURP team at Kennedy International Airport  -Sept. 29, 1978

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Prof. Giovanni Riggi’s endoscopic camera focusing light transilluminates the #3 bloodstain on the forehead, revealing higher density in blood areas

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Max Frei, during the examination of the Shroud, employed a technique where he used commercial sticky tape, applying it to the cloth. He controlled the pressure of application with his thumb. Years later, Alan Adler observed and noted that the application of this tape left behind a residue of gum on the cloth. This residue subsequently attracted dirt and dust to the areas where the tape had been applied.

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Surrounding the cloth and preparing to begin the analyses, here we see a significant part of the STURP team observing the Shroud for the first time. In a last-minute decision, the Archdiocese of Turin allowed an Italian group to take some samples before the American team began their detailed work. Max Frei was a part of this initial group. This moment marks a critical juncture in the scientific study of the Shroud of Turin. The involvement of both Italian and American researchers underscores the international interest in the Shroud and the importance placed on its analysis. The decision by the Archdiocese to allow preliminary sampling by the Italian team reflects the careful and controlled approach to studying this revered artifact. Max Frei's participation in the initial sampling adds to the significance of this phase, given his expertise and contributions to the field. This collaborative and multinational effort to analyze the Shroud demonstrates the blend of scientific rigor and respect for religious sentiment that characterizes the ongoing research into this enigmatic and revered piece of history.

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Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy
Infrared Thermography
Infrared Photography 3

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A Summary of STURP's Conclusions

Editor's Note: After years of exhaustive study and evaluation of the data and the submission of their research to highly regarded peer-reviewed scientific journals, the following official Summary of STURP's Conclusions was written by John Heller (in non-technical language) and distributed at the press conference held after STURP's final meeting in October 1981:

No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils. X-ray, fluorescence, and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultra Violet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies. Computer image enhancement and analysis by a device known as a VP-8 image analyzer show that the image has unique, three-dimensional information encoded in it. Microchemical evaluation has indicated no evidence of any spices, oils, or any biochemicals known to be produced by the body in life or death. There has been a direct contact of the Shroud with a body, which explains certain features such as scourge marks, as well as the blood. However, while this type of contact might explain some of the features of the torso, it is incapable of explaining the image of the face with the high resolution that has been amply demonstrated by photography.

The basic problem from a scientific point of view is that some explanations which might be tenable from a chemical point of view, are precluded by physics. Contrariwise, certain physical explanations that may be attractive are completely precluded by chemistry. For an adequate explanation for the image of the Shroud, one must have a scientifically sound explanation, from a physical, chemical, biological, and medical viewpoint. At present, this type of solution does not appear to be obtainable by the best efforts of the members of the Shroud Team. Furthermore, experiments in physics and chemistry with old linen have failed to reproduce adequately the phenomenon presented by the Shroud of Turin. The scientific consensus is that the image was produced by something that resulted in oxidation, dehydration, and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself. Such changes can be duplicated in the laboratory by certain chemical and physical processes. A similar type of change in linen can be obtained by sulfuric acid or heat. However, there are no chemical or physical methods known that can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances explain the image adequately.

Thus, the answer to the question of how the image was produced or what produced the image remains, now, as it has in the past, a mystery.

We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved. 1 2

1. https://www.shroud.com/78conclu.htm
2. https://docplayer.net/49057880-The-shroud-of-turin-research-project-1978-scientific-examination-of-the-shroud.html
3. https://sabanasanta.org/carbono-14/
4. https://discover.lanl.gov/publications/heritage-series/heritage-series/roger-morris/?fbclid=IwAR3BEAhdtNSOVRLpjpdEvWg5eJOMWls9hqvxhGYrrjYYUXSN6hQUDmU0iww
5. https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,968744,00.html
6. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ten-years-on-the-debunked-turin-shroud-gets-a-second-coming-1142298.html

Last edited by Otangelo on Mon Jan 29, 2024 2:05 pm; edited 9 times in total




Chapter 6 

The Radiocarbon dating from 1988

Hypotheses to Reject the Carbon Dating

Several hypotheses have been proposed to account for the carbon dating results of the Shroud of Turin, which suggest a date range of 1260-1390 AD, significantly later than the death of Jesus around 33 AD. These hypotheses, presented in their rough chronological order of proposal, include:

Neutron Absorption Hypothesis: Initially posited by Tom Phillips in 1989, this hypothesis suggests that neutron radiation could have increased the Shroud's C14 levels, thus skewing the carbon dating. This idea was introduced in a letter to the editor in the same issue of the journal Nature that published the original carbon dating results by Damon and colleagues.

Contamination Hypothesis: It has been speculated that substances such as wax or talc, added through handling or preservation efforts, might have contaminated the Shroud, affecting the carbon dating results. However, this hypothesis is largely dismissed due to the improbability of such significant contamination and the rigorous cleaning methods applied to the samples before testing.

Fire Damage Hypothesis: The Shroud was damaged in a fire in 1532, leading some to suggest that carbon from the fire might have altered the carbon dating. Like the contamination hypothesis, this idea has been largely set aside for similar reasons.

Bioplastic Coating Hypothesis: This hypothesis posits that a film of bioplastic material, produced by bacteria, could have formed on the Shroud's fibers, thereby altering the carbon dating. This hypothesis has been generally dismissed after detailed fiber analysis showed minimal evidence of such coatings.

Invisible Reweave Hypothesis: Suggests that the section of the Shroud sampled in 1988 had been expertly rewoven with a mix of original and newer threads—the latter from around the early 1500s. The high-quality reweaving, potentially using techniques from that period, might have been indiscernible, leading to mixed dating results. This "invisible reweave" hypothesis accounts for the discrepancy by proposing that the sampled area was not purely of ancient origin.

Carbon Monoxide Interaction Hypothesis: This hypothesis proposes that variations in the C14/C12 ratio could result from interactions with carbon monoxide, which might differ from those with carbon dioxide. This could potentially skew carbon dating results. However, this hypothesis is broadly rejected due to the lack of credible mechanisms and evidence from other historically dated fabrics not showing similar discrepancies.

Each of these hypotheses attempts to reconcile the carbon dating results with the belief that the Shroud is much older than the medieval period, though not all have been widely accepted by the scientific community.

Among the various hypotheses proposed to explain the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin, hypotheses 2, 3, 4, and 6 have largely been dismissed by the scientific community. The most discussed remaining hypothesis is the invisible reweave hypothesis, which posits that parts of the Shroud were expertly rewoven in the 16th century, mixing newer threads with the original ones. This could potentially account for the carbon dating results, which placed the Shroud's creation between 1260 and 1390 AD. However, this hypothesis struggles with the uniformity of the subsample dates, which ranged only from 1155 to 1410 AD, not extending to either the era of Jesus around 33 AD or the early 1500s, when the reweaving was purported to have occurred. Furthermore, this hypothesis does not address the dating of the face cloth associated with the Shroud, which has been dated to 670 AD, and there is no evidence of reweaving on the Shroud itself upon close examination by textile experts.

Invisible reweaving, a technique known from the 16th century, could potentially make alterations to a garment hard to detect at a glance, especially on a thick fabric with a simple pattern. However, the Shroud's fine 3-to-1 herringbone twill weave would likely reveal such changes under detailed scrutiny by specialists, particularly with modern microscopy. Despite thorough examinations, no conclusive evidence of such reweaving has been found near the area sampled for carbon dating in 1988, leading to skepticism about this hypothesis.

The neutron absorption hypothesis remains as the only other significant explanation. Initially proposed in 1989 by Tom Phillips, it received minimal attention until recent advancements in computer and nuclear analysis technology made detailed simulations possible. The hypothesis suggests that neutron radiation might have altered the Shroud's carbon-14 levels, thus affecting the dating results. Advanced simulations using MCNP (Monte Carlo N-Particle) software, developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory and validated by numerous nuclear experiments, have lent some support to this theory. MCNP, endorsed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for various nuclear analyses, allows for detailed modeling of nuclear interactions, including those that could affect carbon dating results. This hypothesis, revitalized by recent computational studies, offers a potential explanation for the dating discrepancies without the inconsistencies associated with the invisible reweave hypothesis.

The neutron absorption hypothesis
The neutron absorption hypothesis suggests an intriguing explanation for the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin. According to this idea, the very same event that created the Shroud's mysterious images might have also emitted a tiny amount of neutrons. These neutrons, upon interacting with the nitrogen present in the Shroud's linen fibers, could have converted some of that nitrogen into new carbon-14 atoms through a specific nuclear reaction. This additional carbon-14 would make the Shroud appear much younger in carbon dating tests than it is. For instance, to shift the Shroud's dating from the time of Jesus (around 33 AD) to the period of 1260-1390 AD suggested by carbon dating, there would need to be a 16.9% increase in the density of carbon-14 atoms in the tested samples. This scenario could happen with the emission of just two quintillion neutrons, which sounds like a lot but is a tiny fraction compared to the total number of neutrons in a human body—about one neutron for every ten billion in a 170-pound person. Such a neutron release could theoretically come from a minuscule amount of the body's deuterium, a type of hydrogen, undergoing fission. Deuterium is particularly interesting because it splits apart more easily than other atoms. This hypothesis is compelling for explaining the Shroud's carbon dating results because it aligns with several key observations: the overall dating to 1260-1390 AD, the consistent pattern in the dating across different samples from the Shroud, and the dating results of the Sudarium, another ancient cloth believed to be related to the Shroud. Advanced computer simulations, using a program known as MCNP developed by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, support this theory by showing how such neutron emissions could indeed lead to the observed carbon dating results.

The neutron absorption hypothesis offers an explanation for the intriguing carbon dating results of the Shroud of Turin. This hypothesis suggests that a burst of neutrons was emitted from the body wrapped in the Shroud, possibly at the time of the images' formation. These neutrons, upon colliding with the nitrogen atoms in the linen fibers, could have transformed some of the nitrogen into new carbon-14 atoms, thereby altering the Shroud's apparent age when measured through carbon dating. To be considered robust, a hypothesis must not only align with established facts but also offer predictions that can be empirically tested. The true test of a hypothesis lies in these predictions; if they are proven incorrect through experimentation, the hypothesis must be revised or discarded. Conversely, if the predictions hold up under scrutiny, the hypothesis becomes more credible, though never absolutely proven, as scientific inquiry always allows for future findings to provide new insights.

The neutron absorption hypothesis, in particular, makes several testable predictions:

Distribution of Carbon-14: If neutrons were indeed emitted from the body and absorbed by the Shroud, the distribution of newly formed carbon-14 within the cloth should match the neutron distribution predicted by advanced computer simulations, specifically those conducted using the MCNP (Monte Carlo N-Particle) software. Therefore, carbon dating of various sections of the Shroud should reflect this distinct pattern of carbon-14 distribution.

Presence of Long-Lived Isotopes: Besides affecting the carbon in the linen, the emitted neutrons would likely interact with other elements present in the Shroud and its surroundings, including the limestone of the tomb. This interaction is expected to produce long-lived isotopes such as Chlorine-36 and Calcium-41, which have half-lives of approximately 99,400 and 301,000 years, respectively. Since these isotopes decay very slowly, a significant amount of them should still be detectable today. The hypothesis predicts that these isotopes would be found both on the Shroud and in the limestone of the tomb, with their distribution corresponding to the neutron distribution calculated by the MCNP software.

These predictions offer a pathway for testing the neutron absorption hypothesis. By examining the Shroud and its historical context for evidence of these isotopes and the predicted distribution of carbon-14, researchers can assess the validity of this hypothesis. Such investigations are crucial for advancing our understanding of the Shroud's history and the events that may have led to its unique characteristics. The neutron absorption hypothesis is built on the idea that an intense and short burst of radiation, possibly including neutrons, was emitted from the body that the Shroud wrapped. If these neutrons interacted with the nitrogen in the linen fibers, they could have converted some of it into new carbon-14 atoms through a nuclear reaction. Since carbon dating measures the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12, this additional carbon-14 could make the cloth appear much younger than it is. The hypothesis challenges a fundamental assumption of carbon dating—that the carbon-14 to carbon-12 ratio in a sample changes only due to the decay of carbon-14 over time. If new carbon-14 was indeed added to the Shroud, this would introduce a systematic error in the dating, making the Shroud seem younger. At the specific corner of the Shroud where samples were taken in 1988, it's estimated that a 16.9% increase in carbon-14 atoms would be needed to shift the dating from around 33 AD to the 1260-1390 AD range found in tests. Exploring the source of this hypothetical radiation burst and whether it's feasible remains a complex challenge, potentially involving advanced theoretical work in particle physics and string theory, as well as further empirical studies on the Shroud itself. This hypothesis stands out because it aligns with several observed facts from the carbon dating of the Shroud: the average dating range of 1260-1390 AD, the consistent pattern in the dating results across different Shroud sections, and the dating of the Sudarium of Oviedo, believed to be another cloth associated with Jesus. Testing this hypothesis could involve additional carbon dating at various Shroud locations and measuring specific isotopes like Chlorine-36 and Calcium-41 on the Shroud and in the limestone of the burial tomb. The broader questions about the Shroud of Turin touch on its authenticity as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ and whether the images on it could be the result of a unique event. The phenomenon of a body emitting enough neutrons to alter the carbon dating of its surroundings, or creating an image on a cloth, is unparalleled in known history, except in the case of the Shroud. This leads to fascinating speculation that the Shroud's mysteries could be tied to a unique event or process beyond current scientific understanding, potentially pointing to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This hypothesis not only aligns with scientific observations but also intersects with historical and religious accounts, offering a compelling piece of circumstantial evidence in the broader discourse on the Shroud's origins and significance. 20

Invisible reweaving repair with 16th-century cotton 

"Researchers, in large numbers, now believe that in the 16th century, a corner of the Shroud had been expertly repaired... leading to erroneous carbon 14 dating in 1988." -- Dan Porter, 2022

S. E. Jones (2015): In 1988 the Shroud of Turin was radiocarbon dated to 1260-1390. Between May and August 1988, three radiocarbon dating laboratories at universities in ArizonaZurich and Oxford, all using the same new Accelerator Mass spectrometry (AMS) method, radiocarbon dated samples that had been cut from the Shroud on 21 April 1988. At a press conference in the British Museum, on 13 October 1988, following leaks that the Shroud had been dated "1350", Prof. Edward Hall (Oxford), Dr Michael Tite (British Museum) and Dr Robert Hedges (Oxford), announced that the Shroud's radiocarbon date was "1260-1390!". In 1989 Nature reported that the Shroud was "mediaeval ... 1260-1390.". In February 1989 the scientific journal Nature reported:

"Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich ... The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390 ...".

The invisible reweaving repair theory requires that the repair be "approximately 60 percent of the C-14 sample consisting of 16th-century threads while approximately 40 percent were 1st century in origin". Oxford laboratory did find some old cotton threads in their sample, but they were only "two or three fibers". It would require "65 percent of the mass of the shroud ... to give a date of 1350 to a fabric originally dating from the time of Christ" but there was "less than 0.1 percent" of such contamination in the Shroud. Textile expert Mechthild Flury-Lemberg inspected the Shroud as part of its 2002 restoration and she denies there is any evidence of reweaving.

Jim Bertrand wrote an article for the website "Insidethevatican", where he reports: It is well known that the Shroud has undergone several repairs throughout history, including after a fire in 1532. The Shroud was owned in the 1500s by Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Savoy, whose weavers were experts in the technique known as “French invisible reweaving.” The late STURP chemist Raymond Rogers, who first called Marino and Benford part of the “lunatic fringe,” analyzed their hypothesis, and to his surprise, admitted they were probably right. After being given an actual leftover sample from the 1988 dating, he confirmed the hypothesis. In 2005, he authored a paper in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Thermochimica Acta. He concluded that the C-14 sample was not representative of the main cloth, thus invalidating the results. 2

Raymond N. Rogers (2004): Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud.3

An article in 2010 reported: that Christopher Ramsey, the director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory, thinks more testing is needed. So do many other scientists and archeologists. This is because there are significant scientific and non-religious reasons to doubt the validity of the tests. Chemical analysis, all nicely peer-reviewed in scientific journals and subsequently confirmed by numerous chemists, shows that samples tested are chemically unlike the whole cloth. It was probably a mixture of older threads and newer threads woven into the cloth as part of a medieval repair. Recent robust statistical studies add weight to this theory. Philip Ball, the former physical science editor for Nature when the carbon dating results were published, recently wrote: “It’s fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever.” If we wish to be scientific we must admit we do not know how old the cloth is. But if the newer thread is about half of what was tested – and some evidence suggests that – the cloth may be from the time of Christ. 8

Further robustness to the reweaving hypothesis comes from Eric Poggel's article in the website Bereanarchive:

1. King Umberto II of Italy, whose family used to own the shroud, says that in 1694 they repaired the shroud's heavily frayed and missing edges. The first three Savoy Lords who possessed it, although they, unlike some of their predecessor Guardians, never purposely removed fragments from their areas with the image of the Corpus Sancti (Holy Body.)  Another fact confirmed by His Majesty was that it was traditionally affirmed, that at one point in the past, the edges of the Lenzuoli (Sheet) had become so tattered as to cause embarrassment or criticism of the Custodians, and those areas were repaired and rewoven using identical techniques, but obviously with similar, yet newer, materials containing dyes and other medieval manufacturing ingredients, in an attempt to better blend the new sections in, as best possible, with the original fabric.  In truth, the presence of medieval dyes was detected in these areas and this fact has been already pointed out by Scientists as additional proof of the inaccuracy of the 1988 Carbon 14 dating test results that placed the samples taken from these areas, as having been fabricated sometime in the middle ages.  In truth, any one of the aforementioned practices alone would also account, for not only the contamination of the fabric resulting in inaccurate Carbon 14 dating results but also, the different types of linen, dyes, resins, and fabric patches discovered to have been present on the outermost edges of the sheet that usually held by Bishops during the exposition of the Sacred Relic to the public for veneration." From pages 265-267:  "The removal of all patches and of the reinforcement Holland Cloth backing of the Holy Shroud, in the year 2002, confirmed what King Umberto had stated, namely that small sections of the repaired and rewoven edges, had continually been removed from the Sacred Relic and probably as late as the second half of the 17th century. That the practice of removing small fragments and even full length or width threads from the outer edges [of] the Holy Shroud, was a family tradition only finally suppressed by Duke Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy, was another fact Umberto II of Savoy confirmed to Blue Army Founder and Shroud Devotee John Mathias Haffert, in the mid-1960’s.  It was the same Vittorio Amedeo II, who along with his wife, the Infanta Anna d’Orleans, personally assisted Blessed Sebastiano Valfre on June 6th, 1694, in repairing the Sacred Burial Cloth of the Christ, shortly before transferring the Sacred Relic to the new Chapel of the Guarini. Later, it became a tradition on June 6th of each year for the Savoy Royal Family to distribute relics of the backing cloth.  It was in 1694, that in accordance with the Savoy Family tradition, some of the removed sections of thread were then woven into full-size replicas of the Sindone (Shroud) for private or public veneration in Convents and Cathedrals during popular Holy Week celebrations.  Unlike the meticulous repair work that had been carried out in previous centuries by religious expert weavers following the damage caused to the Shroud by fires which left little trace of the removed sections, the intervention of the Savoy and the Blessed was aimed primarily at replacing the cloth backing of the Relic giving it added thickness and strength and also a better contrast to the image.  The last intervention by religious sisters had been considered poor by the various members of the House of Savoy since, rather than reweaving the areas nearest the outermost edges that were either missing or had frayed from manipulation and wear, they had camouflaged them with cloth coverings and patches.  The backing of black cloth added by Blessed Sebastiano Valfre was later removed by Princess Maria Clotilde di Savoia, (1843-1911) Consort of Prince Napoleon, who substituted it for pink silk on April 28th, 1868, on account of the backing having also become deteriorated from manipulation and removal of pieces for relics."

2. Before the 1988 carbon dating, archaeologists William Meacham and Paul Maloney, as well as textile expert John Tyrer each independently warned that the bottom left corner looked like it had non-original material added from a repair, and wouldn't be a good place to cut a sample for carbon dating.

3.  Chemists Ray Rogers, Robert Villareal, and Alan Adler, as well as microscopist John L. Brown, and Pam Moon each independently examined fibers from the shroud. They found pigments and large amounts of plant gum, likely from tempera paint, coating the fibers from the cloth near and on the carbon dating samples. This yellow coating was similar in color to the linen on the rest of the shroud but undyed white cotton was visible on the inner fibers and where the thread passed below another (image below). Brown described this as "obvious evidence of a medieval artisan’s attempt to dye a newly added repair region of fabric to match the aged appearance of the remainder of the Shroud."63a This dye/coating isn't found on the rest of the shroud.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Brown-2005-1b

4. Cotton fibers were found in the carbon-dated corner of the shroud by at least 8 different researchers, from 1975 to 2009. Not as a surface contaminant, but woven into the threads, and this cotton wasn't found in the rest of the otherwise linen shroud. 

Problems with the 1988 carbon dating procedures

They didn't follow the proper pre-arranged protocol to take multiple samples from multiple areas rather than taking one sample from the location most likely to be contaminated. Many suspicious and unscientific activities surrounded the 1988 carbon dating of the shroud, including The carbon-14 team excluded all previous researchers who had worked with the shroud, causing much protest. There was a laborious search for a 13th-century linen cloth that had the same color and rare 3-in-1 herringbone weave as the Shroud of Turin. From the same period when the Shroud was allegedly forged.19a 19b 19b 44 The entire ceremony to cut carbon-14 samples from the shroud was recorded on video, except when two men inexplicably took the cut samples to another room for 30 minutes and returned with them inside opaque containers. Together this evidence makes a powerful case the 1988 carbon date cannot be considered accurate and therefore should not be used as an argument against the Shroud of Turin's authenticity.  The remainder of this article outlines this evidence in great depth. Former BSTS (British Society for the Turin Shroud) editor Mark Guscin comments in reviewing Joe Marino's 2020 book on the 1988 carbon dating: There is a very widespread idea that Shroudies are a group of religious fanatics, while "scientists" are a homogenous group of people (in clean white coats and in nice clean laboratories) who are extremely knowledgeable, calm and never moved by such earthly concerns as money, fame or personal ambition. And they all agree with each other because science is one and true. No matter what you think about the Shroud, this book should shatter that illusion forever. The scientists involved in the carbon dating were as human as you could imagine; fame-seeking, selfish, money-grabbing, and disloyal. They were hopelessly disorganized, seemed to have little idea about what they were dealing with, and to care about it even less, they showed an unbelievable lack of respect for anyone who didn't share their ideas, and that includes other scientists involved in the dating.

"Secret" 1982 carbon dating

A "secret" and poorly documented carbon dating was performed on two ends of an 8cm thread given to STURP chemist John Heller, who was given the thread by STURP chemist Alan Adler, who received the thread from yet another STURP chemist, Ray Rogers, who collected the sample.  John Heller gave the thread to mineralogist George Rossman, who used Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FTMS), a non-typical carbon dating technique, to date each end of the thread separately.  One end of the thread which was covered in starch dated to either 1000 AD or 1200 AD (reports vary), while the other non-starchy end dated to 200 AD.  An 8cm thread can be seen missing from the shroud near the bottom left corner. 12

Recent tests contradict the C14 test from 1988

Robert J. Spitzer (2015): Four contemporary dating tests: The vanillin dating test of Dr. Raymond Rogers, the two spectroscopic analyses (of Dr. Giulio Fanti, et. al), and the compressibility and breaking strength tests (of Dr. Giulio Fanti, et. al) date the Shroud to a time commensurate with the life and crucifixion of Jesus.13

Myra Adams wrote an article for the website Christianity.com in 2019, where she reported: In 2017 French researcher, Tristan Casabianca filed a legal action against the British Museum, which oversaw the C-14 testing labs in 1988. The museum complied and finally released all the raw data. Casabianca’s research team ran new tests and concluded in their 2019 report that numerous dates fell outside the range published in “Nature.” They prove that the Shroud cloth sample is not homogenous, and the 1988 results, famously reported with “95% confidence” are suspect. Casabianca’s team supports the widely-held belief that something went awry with the C-14 tests, which for the ensuing decades discouraged Shroud research and disparaged the Shroud as a medieval fake. Casabianca and his team are advocating that the Vatican authorize a variety of new 21st-century testing methods not available in 1988 or 1978 during STURP’s testing. 4

T. CASABIANCA (2019): Recently, we obtained the raw data and, for the first time, measured their convergence with the radiocarbon dates published in Nature.
Our results, which are compatible with those previously reported by many other authors (Brunati 1996; Van Haelst 1997, 2002; Riani et al. 2013), strongly suggest that homogeneity is lacking in the data. The measurements made by the three laboratories on the TS sample suffer from a lack of precision which seriously affects the reliability of the 95% AD 1260–1390 interval. The statistical analyses, supported by the foreign material found by the laboratories, show the necessity of a new radiocarbon dating to compute a new reliable interval. This new test requires, in an interdisciplinary research, a robust protocol. Without this re-analysis, it is not possible to affirm that the 1988 radiocarbon dating offers ‘conclusive evidence’ that the calendar age range is accurate and representative of the whole cloth. 5

Bryan Walsh (2019): The Shroud became, and remains, the focus of scientific inquiry because it is not known how the images on it were formed. Most recently Casabianca et al. (2019), based on information obtained after a legal filing with the British Museum, showed that some of the original Shroud date measurements reported by the three laboratories to the British Museum were modified from their original ‘raw’ laboratory values and transformed into their published form using an unstated methodology. Our review and analysis of the Shroud radiocarbon data reveal a significant shortcoming in the original report by Damon et al. (1989). The shortcoming begins with the lack of adherence to the protocol that W-W define for combining the inter-laboratory data sets.

The overall conclusion is that Damon et al. (1989) did not follow the W-W recommendation to reconsider the data. Rather, they chose to weight equally each of the three means – the scatter-weighted Tucson data and the quoted error-weighted Zurich and Oxford data – to find their arithmetic mean. They then estimated the standard error of that mean by combining the standard errors of those means as if all the data were drawn from the same population. This procedure is inappropriate since it deliberately ignores the heterogeneous nature of the data uncovered by the analysis and introduces errors into the statistical analysis.

Our analyses correct this deficiency, and in the process identify a statistically significant heterogeneity in the dates reported for the Shroud sample.  ( heterogeneity: The quality or state of consisting of dissimilar or diverse elements) Technically, this finding would preclude the step of combining the individual data sets and reporting the mean date as was done. Lacking this adherence to protocol, the finding of heterogeneity should, at the very least, have prompted a strong qualification to the reported final result. At this time, the source of the heterogeneity is unknown, but we consider two hypotheses either of which could account for the effect. One is that some inherent variation was present in the carbon isotopic composition of the samples themselves. The other is that some differences in the sample cleaning may have introduced differences in residual contamination. As an example of the latter, we recall that Oxford used petroleum ether as part of its pre-cleaning procedure whereas the other two laboratories apparently did not.

Fanti et al. developed a series of relationships between characteristics of fiber over time and a method of estimating the age of the fabric. He subsequently applied these techniques to a series of fibers extracted from the Shroud and derived an estimated calendar age of 90 AD +/− 200 yrs (Fanti et al., 2015). 6

Quoting from the abstract of the article: Giulio Fanti ( 2015): 
The present paper discusses the results obtained using innovative dating methods based on the analysis of mechanical parameters (breaking strength, Young modulus and loss factor) and of optochemical ones (FT-IR and Raman). To obtain mechanical results it was necessary to build a particular cycling-loads machine able to measure the mechanical parameters of single flax fibers 1-3 mm long.  two optochemical methods have been applied to test the linen fabric, obtaining a date of 250 BC by a FT-IR ATR analysis and a date of 30 AD by a Raman analysis. These two dates combined with the mechanical result, weighted through their estimated square uncertainty inverses, give a final date of the Turin Shroud of 90 AD ±200 years at 95% confidence level. 7 The study from 2015 was preceded by Fanti et al., by an earlier study from 2013, which made the news in several newspapers. For example, the Huffington Post reported:  Fanti and a research team from the University of Padua conducted three tests on tiny fibers extracted from the shroud during earlier carbon-14 dating tests conducted in 1988 The first two tests used infrared light and Raman spectroscopy, respectively, while the third employed a test analyzing different mechanical parameters relating to voltage. The results date the cloth to between 300 B.C. and 400 A.D.. Fanti said that researchers also found trace elements of soil "compatible with the soil of Jerusalem." "For me, the [Shroud] comes from God because there are hundreds of clues in favor to the authenticity," he wrote, adding that there also "no sure proofs." Much of the controversy about the Shroud centers around carbon-14 dating tests from 1988 that concluded the piece of linen was a medieval forgery. However, those results may have been contaminated by fibers used to repair the cloth during the Middle Ages.9

The above results were published in the book:  Il Mistero della Sindone 10 

A press release about the book in 2013 reported: The Shroud shows a not reproducible double image of a man who lived from 280 BC and the year 220 AD (rounded to the nearest tens), a period compatible with the documented presence of Jesus in Palestine. The carbon 14 dating performed in 1988 is not statistically reliable. Mineralogical investigations on dust vacuumed from the Shroud, show the coincidence in dozens of items with those made of dust picked up in Jerusalem and under the Holy Sepulchre. DNA studies on the same samples show an exposition of the Shroud to the Middle East region. These are the sensational results reported in an Italian book entitled "IL MISTERO DELLA SINDONE – Le sorprendenti scoperte scientifiche sull’enigma del telo di Gesù (THE MYSTERY OF THE SHROUD – The amazing scientific discoveries on the enigma of the Jesus’ cloth) written by Giulio Fanti and Saverio Gaeta.

The studies led by Professor Giulio Fanti have been performed by the Universities of Padua, Bologna, Modena, Udine, Parma, and London. These studies show methodological errors in the radiocarbon data released in 1988 by three laboratories (Tuxon, Oxford and Zurich), that subjected to Carbon 14 test samples of the Shroud, placing it an age between 1260 and 1390. Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical and thermic measurements at the Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Padua studied the Shroud for fifteen years and thanks to a multidisciplinary project on the Shroud assigned to him by the University of Padua in 2009 obtained these results. Using this project it has also been possible to study and partially reproduce the double body image of the Shroud. Dozens of tests have been conducted in 2010-2013 in the Laboratory of High Voltages of Padua University to explain the origin of the mysterious image. If we want today to reproduce a quite similar image on fabric in 1/2 scale, we require a voltage of about 300,000 V, but according to the American scientist Igor Bensen, a voltage of 50,000,000 would be necessary for the Shroud body image in a 1/1 scale.

Now Fanti focused his studies on the dating of the Shroud. After robust statistical analyses in collaboration with the Universities of London (Anthony Atkinsons), Parma (Marco Riani) and Udine (Fabio Crosilla), he has shown, through robust statistics, the origin of the difference of more than 200 years between the laboratories of Arizona and Oxford in the response of carbon 14 on the Shroud. A statistical model has highlighted the systematic tendency to change: if for a few centimeters of fabric there are differences in 200 years, it’s easy to think that there are thousands of years of variations along the nearly 4.5 m of the Shroud, possibly caused by the mysterious energy that produced the image.

To date the Shroud using alternative methods both Raman and FT-IR tests have been used to obtain two different chemical datings with the collaboration of professors Anna Tinti and Pietro Baraldi respectively of the universities of Bologna and Modena. In addition, a multiparametric mechanical method have been used at Padua University after the construction of a new ad-hoc machine capable of acquiring the results of loading and unloading cycles of single linen fibers. Using a petrographic microscope Fanti was able to separate Shroud linen fibers from dust particles vacuumed from Shroud; the fibers were mounted on suitable supports and then, with Dr. Pierandred Malfi performed tests of tension and compression after analyzing about a dozen of antique fabrics (from bandages of mummies Egyptians of 3,000 BC, linens of Masada (Israel, 70 AD) and Medieval tissues up to recent ones.

Five mechanical parameters (tensile strength, Young’s modulus in direct and reverse cycle, loss factor, and loss factor in reverse cycle) have been selected to obtain five different age-dependent curves of the samples. After this Fanti has measured the corresponding mechanical properties of the Shroud finding the corresponding point on the scales just determined. Combining the five mechanical results, the following date for the Shroud results: 400 AD with an uncertainty of plus or minus 400 years at a 95% confidence level. With Raman and FT-IR spectra the Italian team measured the concentration of particles of particular atomic groups of flax fibers. At the same confidence level, the first produced the date of 200 BC with an uncertainty of plus or minus 500 years, the latter that of 300 BC with swings forward and back of 400 years. Combining the two chemical methods with the mechanical one it results a mean date of 33 BC with an uncertainty of plus or minus 250 years at 95% confidence level that is compatible with the period in which Jesus Christ lived in Palestine. About the mineralogical investigations, the dust vacuumed from the Shroud revealed traces of limestone and clay minerals showing high iron content that is consistent with dust present in Palestine. 11

Liberato De Caro (2022): The experimental results are compatible with the hypothesis that the TS is a 2000-year-old relic, as supposed by Christian tradition.14 

In a private email exchange, Barrie Schwortz listed the following peer-reviewed papers as the five most important articles that challenge the c14 date:

ROGERS, Raymond N. - “Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin” [January 20, 2005] Thermochimica Acta 425 (2005) pp.189-194. (Includes 5 illustrations)
BENFORD, M. Sue and MARINO, Joseph G. - Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin shroud - Chemistry Today, vol 26 n 4, [July-August 2008]
CASABIANCA, Tristan - MARINELLI, Emanuela - PERNAGALLO, Giuseppe - TORRISI, Benedetto - Radiocarbon Dating of the Turin Shroud: New Evidence From Raw Data - Archaeometry, 22 March 2019
WALSH, Bryan and SCHWALBE, Larry - An instructive inter-laboratory comparison: The 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin - Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Volume 29, February 2020
SCHWALBE, Larry A. and WALSH, Bryan - On Cleaning Methods and the Raw Radiocarbon Data from the Shroud of Turin - International Journal of Archaeology 2021; 9(1): 10-16 - March 12, 2021.

Modern Scientific Shroud Investigations

J. Marino (2022): The age of modern scientific investigation of the Shroud of Turin began in 1898, with Secondo Pia, an Italian amateur photographer, taking the first public photographs of the Shroud. When it was discovered that the Shroud image turned positive on the negative glass plate, science began to show an interest, primarily in finding how the image was imprinted on the cloth. Although the House of Savoy owned cloth until 1985 (the last King died in 1983 and willed it to the living Pope), the Church authorized a group known as the “Turin Commission” to do some limited scientific examination of the cloth in 1969 and 1973. According to archaeologist William Meacham in a 1983 article:

The Turin Commission conducted a series of tests aimed at clarifying the nature of the image. Thread samples were removed from the "blood" and image areas for laboratory investigation. Conventional and electron microscopic examination revealed an absence of heterogeneous coloring material or pigment. The image and "blood" stains were reported to have penetrated only the top fibrils; there had been no capillary action, and no material was caught in the crevices between threads. Both paint and blood seemed to be ruled out, and magnification up to 50,000 times showed the image to consist of fine yellow-red granules seemingly forming part of the fibers themselves and defying identification. Finally, standard forensic tests for haematic residues of blood yielded negative results.

In 1978, a group known as the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), mainly from the United States and most of whom worked in the U.S.’ space and nuclear programs, was given access to the cloth for five straight days (one hundred and twenty hours) to do non-destructive multi-disciplinary studies on the cloth. They published their findings in more than twenty peer-reviewed papers. Their conclusion stated:

No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils. X-ray, fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultra Violet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies. Computer image enhancement and analysis by a device known as a VP-8 image analyzer show that the image has unique, three-dimensional information encoded in it. Microchemical evaluation has indicated no evidence of any spices, oils, or any biochemicals known to be produced by the body in life or in death. It is clear that there has been a direct contact of the Shroud with a body, which explains certain features such as scourge marks, as well as the blood. However, while this type of contact might explain some of the features of the torso, it is totally incapable of explaining the image of the face with the high resolution that has been amply demonstrated by photography. The basic problem from a scientific point of view is that some explanations which might be tenable from a chemical point of view, are precluded by physics. Contrariwise, certain physical explanations that may be attractive are completely precluded by chemistry. For an adequate explanation for the image of the Shroud, one must have an explanation that is scientifically sound, from a physical, chemical, biological and medical viewpoint. At present, this type of solution does not appear to be obtainable by the best efforts of the members of the Shroud Team. Furthermore, experiments in physics and chemistry with old linen have failed to reproduce adequately the phenomenon presented by the Shroud of Turin. The scientific consensus is that the image was produced by something which resulted in oxidation, dehydration, and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself. Such changes can be duplicated in the laboratory by certain chemical and physical processes. A similar type of change in linen can be obtained by sulfuric acid or heat. However, there are no chemical or physical methods known that can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances explain the image adequately. Thus, the answer to the question of how the image was produced or what produced the image remains, now, as it has in the past, a mystery. We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved.

Since the testing had to be non-destructive, the much-hyped radiocarbon dating test (C-14), which had only been invented in the late 1940s, was believed to date most objects within about a one-hundred-year range accurately, was not done at that time. However after 1978, more scientists and researchers continued to study the cloth. It was stated in the renowned Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology that it’s widely believed: “The Shroud of Turin is the single, most studied artifact in human history” (page 200). 15

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Rweddf12
Cutting and weighing the sample for its subsequent division and distribution. After making the appropriate cut, Professor Testare weighs the removed fabric on a precision scale. This small strip was later divided into several fragments and sent to three laboratories. Unfortunately, four different official versions of the weights and measurements of each fragment were released, which at the time fueled rumors of a possible fraud in the laboratories' actions.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Rweddf14
The particle accelerator used in the Oxford laboratory. Three laboratories volunteered to analyze the Shroud for free: those in Tucson (Arizona), Oxford (England), and Zurich (Switzerland). They used the carbon-14 dating method through the particle accelerator (AMS), which had recently been launched.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny G1080110
Clarification from Professor Michael Tite. As the coordinator of the test and the director of the research laboratory at the British Museum, Professor Michael Tite acknowledged - after the complete report was published in Nature - that the C-14 dating was not sufficient to establish that the Shroud of Turin was a fake. He clarified that such a claim goes beyond the evidential scope of the results obtained and attributed the misinterpretation of his words to the media. Presented here is the letter he sent to the scientific advisor of the Archbishop of Turin, apologizing for this misunderstanding. In it, he specified that he did not believe the Shroud to be a forgery.

He wrote in the letter, dated 14th of September 1989: 
Following our recent meeting in Paris, I am writing to put my record the fact that I do not consider that the result of the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud shows the Shroud to be a forgery. As you have correctly pointed out, to describe the Shroud as a forgery implies a deliberate intention to defraud and the radiocarbon dating clearly provides no evidence in support of such a hypothesis. I myself have always carefully tried to avoid using the word forgery in discussing the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud but I fear that the description of the Shroud as a forgery has still crept into a number of newspaper articles based on interviews that I have given. I can therefore only apologise once again for any problems that such reports have caused you and others in Turin. I was very pleased to meet you and Professor Testore again in Paris. 18

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Gasdfa10

What are the main reasons for unreliable radiocarbon test results?

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny G2328_10

Rogue dates are common in archaeology and geology … Such has been my experience as an archaeologist who has excavated, submitted and interpreted more than one hundred carbon 14 samples from Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Historical sites. Of the dates obtained, 78 were considered credible, 26 were rejected as unreliable and 11 were problematic. I mention this merely to inform the non-specialist …1
William Meacham, archaeologist, Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong, 2000

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14From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Empty Chapter 6 Wed Jan 24, 2024 2:22 pm



Chapter 7

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Panel_23

The Shroud, a forgery? 

The Chronicles of Frank: The Mastermind Behind the Forgery of the Shroud:  Millennium's Greatest Riddle

Once upon a modern Monday, I, a brilliant yet underappreciated inventor, decided to unravel history's most persistent prank—the Shroud of Turin. So, I cranked up my time machine (which closely resembled a retrofitted refrigerator) and set the dial to Ye Olden Times.

Whoosh! With a sputter and a cough, the machine deposited me into a medieval atelier where I found an artist, let's call him "Frank," a man whose beard was as majestic as his ambition. Frank was in the middle of creating the biggest oopsie-daisy of the millennium. There he was, dabbing away at a piece of linen with the focus of a cat chasing a laser pointer. Little did he know, his paint concoction had the magical ability to embed 3D information, a feature that would bamboozle scientists for ages. I approached Frank, clearing my throat. "Good morrow, sir! I see thou art crafty with thine brush." Frank, startled by my sudden appearance yet proud of his work, puffed out his chest and declared, "Behold, the future marvel of the world! It shall be my greatest masterpiece!" "I'll say," I replied, inspecting the cloth. "Your work will cause quite the stir in... um, future art circles." Frank grinned, a twinkle in his eye. "Oh, it's just a little something I whipped up between other, less important projects—like inventing the toothbrush." I chuckled. "Well, you've certainly outdone yourself. Scholars will scratch their heads, scientists will squabble, and historians will haggle over this little number for centuries." Frank looked puzzled. "Really? But it's just a mix of wine, berries, and a pinch of—" "No, no, don't tell me! The mystery is half the fun," I interrupted, winking. "Plus, you wouldn't want to spoil the surprise for all those PhDs." As I prepared to leave, I couldn't help but admire Frank's unwitting genius. His artistry would become a time-traveling troll, a historical hiccup that echoed through the ages. I hopped back into my time fridge, leaving Frank to his devices, his brush still in hand, and his destiny as history's greatest artistic prankster assured. And so, with a flicker and a flash, I returned to the 21st century, just in time for lunch. As for the Shroud, well, let's just say it remained the ultimate conversation starter at every science convention.

While the whimsical tale of Frank and his medieval artistry makes for a delightful romp through time, the reality of the Shroud of Turin's authenticity is subject to serious debate and scientific inquiry. The hypothesis that the Shroud is a medieval forgery, crafted by a talented artist capable of embedding 3D information into the cloth, is not plausible by any means and should cause skepticism.  The level of scientific knowledge and artistic sophistication required to create a forgery with 3D encoding capabilities would be anachronistic for the Middle Ages. No known artistic techniques from that time could accomplish this feat. Medieval artists often created works for financial gain or ecclesiastical commission. A forgery of such complexity, without clear financial or social reward, would be unusual for the time. Pollen grains found on the Shroud are from plant species native to the areas surrounding Jerusalem. The weave and style of the linen cloth also correspond to ancient textiles from the Near East, rather than European methods prevalent in the Middle Ages. The image on the Shroud contains no pigment, suggesting it was not painted. The coloration of the fibers is only superficial, affecting only the topmost fibers, which would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with known medieval techniques. While radiocarbon dating tests performed in 1988 suggested a medieval origin, subsequent analyses have pointed out potential flaws in the testing process, including the possibility of contamination or the testing of repaired patches rather than the original cloth. The image on the Shroud displays detailed anatomical correctness that would be unlikely for a medieval artist to fabricate, given the limited medical knowledge of the time. Despite numerous attempts, modern artists and scientists have been unable to replicate the Shroud's imagery fully, using either medieval or modern techniques. While the middle age forgery hypothesis presents an entertaining narrative, the complexities and peculiarities of the Shroud of Turin are not plausible. The evidence points to the authenticity, and a correct date back to 33D, when Jesus left his imprint as testimony of his supernatural power, and truthfulness of the biblical identity, and historicity.

Requirements for a Hypothetical Medieval Forger of the Shroud of Turin

Knowledge of 1st Century Crucifixion: Understand Roman crucifixion methods, including nail placement and crown of thorns.
Multi-Disciplinary Expertise: Master over 100 scientific fields to ensure detail accuracy.
Modern Medical Insight: Possess advanced medical knowledge comparable to a contemporary surgeon.
Unparalleled Artistic Technique: Utilize an unknown art process to create a detailed negative image with 3-D effects.
Predictive Photographic Understanding: Anticipate principles of photographic negativity before their invention.
Ancient Cloth Acquisition: Obtain and use authentic Middle Eastern cloth from the relevant era.
Heat-Resistant Coloring Agent: Employ a unique, heat-resistant coloring substance.
Inclusion of Microscopic Details: Incorporate minute details visible only under modern scanning technology.
Authentic Blood Application: Accurately apply blood from a trauma victim.
Matching Sudarium Creation: Craft the Sudarium of Oviedo with corresponding features to the Shroud.
Specific Geological and Botanical Materials: Source Jerusalem limestone and specific Middle Eastern pollen, especially from thorn-bearing plants blooming in spring.

Is the Shroud of Turin a Genuine artifact or a manufactured relic? 

The forger first painted the bloodstains before he painted the image.
The forger integrated forensic qualities to his image that would only be known as 20th-century science.
The forger duplicated blood flow patterns in perfect forensic agreement to blood flow from the wrists at 65° from vertical to suggest the exact crucifixion position of the arms.
The forger "painted" the blood flows with genuine group AB blood that he had "spiked" with excessive amounts of bilirubin since the forger knew that severe concussive scourging with a Roman flagrum would cause erythrocyte hemolysis and jaundice.
The forger "plotted" the scourge marks on the body of the "man in the shroud" to be consistent under forensic examination with two scourgers of varying height.
The forger also duplicated abrasion and compression marks on the scourge wounds of the shoulders to suggest to 20th-century forensic examiners that the "man in the shroud" had carried a heavy weight following the scourging.
The forger, against all conventions of medieval artistry, painted the body he was "hoaxing" as Jesus of Nazareth, nude to conform to genuine Roman crucifixions.
The forger, as the forensic genius he was, illustrated the nails of crucifixion accurately through the wrists rather than the hands as in all other conventional medieval representations. He also took into account that the thumbs of a crucified victim would rotate inward as a result of median nerve damage as the nails passed through the spaces of Destot.
The forger was clever enough to "salt" the linen with the pollens of plants indigenous only to the environs of Jerusalem in anticipation of 20th-century palynological analysis.
The forger was an artist who surpassed the talents of all known artists to the present day, being able to "paint" an anatomically and photographically perfect human image in a photographic negative manner, centuries before photography, and be able to do so without being able to check his work, close up, as he progressed.
The forger was able to paint this image with some unknown medium using an unknown technique, 30-40 feet away to discern the shadowy image as he continued.
The forger was clever enough to depict an adult with an unplaited ponytail, sidelocks, and a beard style consistent with a Jewish male of the 1st century.
The forger thought of such minute details as incorporating dirt from the bare feet of the "man in the shroud" consistent with the calcium carbonate soil of the environs of Jerusalem.
This forger was such an expert in 20th-century biochemistry, medicine, forensic pathology and anatomy, botany, photography, and 3-D computer analysis that he has foiled all the efforts of modern science. His unknown and historically unduplicated artistic technique surpasses all great historical artists, making the pale efforts of DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Botticelli appear as infantile scribblings.

If the Shroud of Turin is a forgery of the 14th century, as the radiocarbonists claim, and not a genuine artifact of the 1st century, all of these qualities of the purported medieval "forger" must be accepted.  If the Shroud was "forged" it would have to have been painted.

Required Knowledge for a Medieval Forger to Create the Shroud of Turin and the Probability of Its Forgery

How to create an image that is completely inverted (perfect negative)

The pathologic details of death by Roman crucifixion including
-Flagra markings and dimensions
-Blood Present on Cloth Before the Image
-High blood bilirubin content indicative of trauma victim
-Nail in wrist center causes thumb adduction
-Lancea spear dimensions
-Nails at appropriate sites
-Specific goniometry of blood flow patterns from wrist
-Post-mortem pooling of blood
-Distinct blood stains over the cap of the skull suggestive of “cap of thorns”

The Shroud of Turin is renowned for its unique characteristic: it bears a negative image of a man, where the dark and light areas are inverted compared to a normal photograph. This inversion means that what would typically appear light in a regular image appears dark on the Shroud, and vice versa. Replicating such an image requires a deep understanding of photographic negative techniques, a challenging feat in both historical and contemporary contexts. In traditional photography, negatives are used to achieve this effect. In these negatives, colors, and brightness are inverted, making dark areas in the real world appear light, and light areas appear dark on the negative. However, translating this concept into painting or drawing is a much more complex task. It demands a meticulous and counterintuitive approach to the standard practices of art. An artist would need to intentionally reverse the usual patterns of light and shadow. This process requires visualizing the scene as if it were being viewed through a photographic negative, with every tone and shade flipped. Creating such an inverted image by hand, especially in historical times, presents a significant challenge. It necessitates not only exceptional artistic skill but also a profound understanding of how light interacts with objects and how this interaction would be represented in an inverted format. This knowledge of photographic techniques, which were not widely understood or available until centuries later, makes it exceedingly unlikely that a forger, particularly from an earlier historical period, could have accurately produced such an inverted image. The complexity involved in creating a perfect negative image by hand adds to the mystery and ongoing debate surrounding the Shroud of Turin. It underscores the enigmatic nature of the Shroud, contributing to its status as an object of enduring fascination.

The pathological details of crucifixion as observed on the Shroud of Turin provide a compelling, albeit gruesome, insight into the methods and consequences of Roman crucifixion practices. These details align with historical accounts and forensic analysis, adding a layer of authenticity to the Shroud's depiction.

Flagra Markings: The Shroud displays markings that are consistent with wounds inflicted by a Roman flagrum. This whip typically featured multiple leather thongs with metal balls or bone pieces at the ends. The markings on the Shroud reflect the distinctive size, shape, and pattern of these tips, suggesting a repeated lashing that was standard in Roman scourging practices. This would result in deep, contused lacerations across the body, particularly the back, buttocks, and legs, reflecting the brutal efficiency of the flagrum in inflicting pain and injury. The presence of flagra markings on the Shroud of Turin not only suggests the use of a Roman flagrum in the infliction of wounds but also raises a profound mystery about how these marks were accurately transferred from the body to the cloth. The Shroud displays a detailed and precise set of markings consistent with the size, shape, and pattern of a flagrum's tips, indicating repeated lashing. These markings, observed as deep, contused lacerations, are especially pronounced across the back, buttocks, and legs, aligning with the known brutality of Roman scourging practices. The enigma lies in understanding how these detailed impressions could have been transferred onto the fabric of the Shroud with such accuracy and clarity. Traditional methods of contact transfer, such as pressing a cloth against a wounded body, are unlikely to yield such precise and well-defined imprints. Furthermore, the nature of the wounds, involving contusions and lacerations, complicates the idea of a simple direct transfer mechanism. Several theories have been proposed to explain this phenomenon, but none have been conclusively proven. Some suggest a chemical interaction between the body (possibly through post-mortem changes) and the fabric, while others hypothesize a yet-to-be-understood physical or energetic process that occurred at the moment of the body's wrapping or thereafter. What adds to the mystery is the consistency and uniformity of the wound imprints on the Shroud. If they were the result of a direct transfer from a body, the distortion and variance due to the folds and drapes of the cloth would be expected. Yet, the markings on the Shroud display a near-photographic precision that defies simple explanations based on known physical and chemical processes of image transfer from a three-dimensional body to a two-dimensional cloth. This unexplained aspect of how the flagra markings were accurately transmitted from the body to the Shroud remains one of the many enigmatic features of this ancient artifact, contributing to its enduring intrigue and significance in both religious and scientific communities.

Blood Evidence and Bilirubin: The presence of high bilirubin levels in the bloodstains on the Shroud could be indicative of severe physical trauma. Bilirubin is a byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells, and its elevated levels are often found in individuals who have experienced significant physical stress or injury. In the context of the Shroud, these high levels suggest the individual had undergone severe physical abuse prior to death, consistent with the brutal nature of Roman crucifixion and scourging. The hypothesis of high bilirubin levels in the bloodstains on the Shroud of Turin, indicative of severe physical trauma, adds a layer of complexity to the discussion of the Shroud's authenticity and the challenges a potential forger would face. If the presence of elevated bilirubin is accurate, it implies that the individual whose image is on the Shroud experienced extreme physical stress or injury, consistent with the brutal practices of Roman crucifixion and scourging.

To authentically replicate the bloodstains with high bilirubin levels, a forger would need access to the blood of a person who had undergone severe physical trauma, akin to the brutality depicted in Roman crucifixion. This requirement presents not only a logistical challenge but also a deeply unethical and criminal one, essentially requiring the forger to be complicit in murder or severe abuse. During the time periods when forgery of the Shroud is often hypothesized to have occurred (Middle Ages, for instance), there was no known scientific understanding of bilirubin or its relationship to physical trauma. A forger would have to possess advanced biomedical knowledge that was centuries ahead of its time, making it highly improbable. From a forger's perspective, there would be little to no benefit in going through the considerable trouble of obtaining blood from a tortured individual. The nuances of bilirubin levels and their implications would not have been understood or appreciated by observers at the time. Using blood from any source would have achieved the visual effect of bloodstains without the added complexity of ensuring it came from a specific type of trauma. The act of obtaining blood from a tortured individual would carry immense risk and complexity, far exceeding the challenges of traditional forgery techniques. It would involve not just the act of forgery, but also engaging in or commissioning acts of extreme violence, which would significantly increase the risk of exposure and punishment. In light of these hurdles, the theory that the bloodstains on the Shroud were the result of a forgery becomes increasingly implausible. The specific details, such as the elevated bilirubin levels indicative of severe trauma, add layers of complexity that would be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to fabricate with the knowledge and resources available in historical periods when such a forgery could have been attempted.

Nail Wounds: Contrary to popular depictions of crucifixion, historical and anatomical evidence suggests that nails were driven through the wrists, not the palms. This method was more structurally sound for supporting the weight of a body during crucifixion. The Shroud shows evidence of nail wounds in the wrist area. Moreover, it depicts a specific detail - the adduction of the thumb (inward movement towards the wrist) - which is a known anatomical reaction when nails are driven through the wrist's median nerve. This detail corroborates the historical accuracy and physiological realism of the Shroud's depiction. The depiction of nail wounds in the wrist area on the Shroud of Turin, as opposed to the palms, is a significant detail that adds to the debate over its authenticity. This anatomical accuracy, particularly the specific detail of the thumb adduction (inward movement towards the wrist), is a crucial element that aligns with modern medical understanding but would have been highly unlikely for a forger from the Middle Ages to know or understand. During the Middle Ages, the common artistic representation of crucifixion almost invariably showed the nails being driven through the palms of the hands. This was the widely accepted and depicted method, influenced by religious iconography and theological interpretations rather than anatomical accuracy. A forger in this era, therefore, would likely have followed this conventional depiction and placed the nail wounds in the palms in any fabricated relic. The level of anatomical detail necessary to depict the effects of nailing through the wrists, including the thumb's adduction due to median nerve injury, was far beyond the medical knowledge of the Middle Ages. This specific detail is consistent with modern medical understanding but was not known or understood until much later. Therefore, a forger from this period would not have the requisite knowledge to accurately represent this detail. The medical understanding in the Middle Ages was rudimentary compared to modern standards. Knowledge of the intricate details of nerve damage and its specific effects on hand movement was not within the scope of medieval medicine. The depiction of such details in the Shroud suggests a level of anatomical and physiological understanding that would be extraordinary and highly unlikely for a forger of that era. Artists and craftsmen in the Middle Ages were heavily influenced by religious and cultural norms. The portrayal of crucifixion in art and artifacts was more about theological symbolism and less about historical or anatomical accuracy. A forger, seeking to create a believable relic, would likely adhere to these norms rather than deviate based on anatomical accuracy. If a forger had, by some chance, stumbled upon this anatomical detail, depicting the crucifixion in a manner contrary to the accepted norms would have been a significant risk. It could have led to skepticism and disbelief, as it would have contradicted the widely held and depicted beliefs of the time.

Lance Wounds: The Shroud features a side wound, likely inflicted by a Roman lancea. This type of wound is consistent with the historical use of a spear to either hasten death or confirm death in crucifixion victims. The size and shape of the wound on the Shroud align with the dimensions of Roman spears used during the period. The location of the wound, traditionally near the heart, suggests a deliberate action to either cause death or verify it, which was a common practice in Roman executions to ensure the victim did not survive the crucifixion. Each of these details - from the flagra markings to the lance wound - contributes to a forensic narrative that aligns closely with what is known of Roman crucifixion methods. The accuracy of these details in the Shroud suggests a deep familiarity with these practices, further intensifying the mystery and historical significance of this enigmatic artifact. The depiction of a side wound on the Shroud of Turin, consistent with being inflicted by a Roman lancea, poses significant challenges for a hypothetical forger, particularly from the Middle Ages.

The precise replication of a wound inflicted by a Roman lancea requires detailed knowledge of Roman crucifixion methods and the tools used. In the Middle Ages, detailed historical knowledge about Roman execution practices was limited. A forger would need to have a very specific and accurate understanding of these practices, which were not commonly detailed in historical texts available at the time. The wound's location near the heart is anatomically significant. It suggests a deliberate action to either cause death or verify it. For a forger to accurately place this wound, they would need advanced knowledge of human anatomy, specifically the location of vital organs, which was not common knowledge in the Middle Ages. Medical knowledge of the time was rudimentary compared to today, and the accurate placement of such a wound would be unlikely. The size and shape of the wound as depicted on the Shroud are consistent with the dimensions of Roman spears. Replicating this would require the forger to have access to accurate replicas of Roman weapons or detailed knowledge of their design, which would be uncommon and difficult to obtain during the Middle Ages. If a forger were attempting to create a believable relic, deviating from the common perceptions and artistic representations of crucifixion at the time would have been a significant risk. During the Middle Ages, crucifixion was often depicted in a stylized, non-anatomical manner in art. A more accurate depiction, such as the side wound consistent with a Roman lancea, would have been out of the norm and might have invited skepticism and scrutiny. Creating a realistic-looking wound on a linen cloth that mimics the appearance of an actual spear wound is a complex task. It requires not just artistic skill but a deep understanding of how such a wound would appear on fabric after coming into contact with a body. This level of technical skill and understanding of forensic pathology would be highly unusual for a forger in the Middle Ages.

Blood Flow Patterns: Understanding the goniometry (measurement of angles) of blood flow from wounds, including those on the wrists and head, is crucial. This involves knowing how blood flows and pools under gravity, especially post-mortem. The accurate representation of blood flow patterns, including the goniometry (measurement of angles) of blood from wounds, presents a considerable challenge for a potential forger, particularly in historical contexts like the Middle Ages.  Accurately depicting blood flow patterns from wounds requires a sophisticated understanding of how blood behaves under various conditions, including the influence of gravity, body position, and the effects of injury and death. In the Middle Ages, such knowledge was not well developed or understood. This lack of understanding would make it exceptionally challenging for a forger to replicate realistic blood flow patterns, especially those from specific wounds like those on the wrists or head. Post-mortem blood flow is particularly complex. After death, blood pooling and flow are affected by factors like gravity, the rigidity of tissues, and the cessation of circulatory pressure. Replicating the nuances of post-mortem blood flow on a linen cloth, as seen on the Shroud, would require not only artistic skill but also a deep understanding of forensic pathology. This level of knowledge was not available in the Middle Ages. The goniometry of blood flow refers to the angles at which blood flows from wounds, influenced by the body's position and the force of gravity. Accurately representing these angles on a flat surface like the Shroud would require a forger to understand and calculate how blood flows from wounds on a three-dimensional body and then realistically transpose this onto a two-dimensional surface. Such calculations are complex and were beyond the scope of knowledge in historical times when forgery is suspected. The blood flow patterns on the Shroud are consistent with wounds inflicted in a crucifixion, including the specific locations and types of wounds. A forger would need to replicate not just generic blood patterns, but specific ones that correspond to known wounds, like those on the wrists and head from crucifixion. This requires a level of detail and anatomical accuracy unlikely to be possessed by forgers in the past. Beyond the scientific understanding, the technical execution of painting or imprinting blood flow patterns on fabric in a way that remains realistic over centuries is a significant challenge. The Shroud's bloodstains have been preserved in a manner that still allows for forensic analysis, suggesting a level of sophistication in the materials and methods used that would be atypical of medieval forgeries.

Cap of Thorns: Distinct stains on the head area of the Shroud suggest a cap or crown of thorns. These markings would reflect the pattern of such an object being pressed onto the scalp. Creating convincing stains on the Shroud of Turin to represent a cap or crown of thorns involves challenges that would have been extremely difficult for a forger to overcome, especially in historical times like the Middle Ages.  The pattern created by a crown of thorns would be complex and irregular, with multiple points of contact causing various wounds on the scalp. Replicating this pattern accurately would require a detailed understanding of how such an object would interact with the human head, including the specific points where thorns would penetrate the skin and how blood would flow from these wounds. Blood flow from scalp wounds behaves differently compared to other parts of the body due to the scalp's unique structure and blood supply. A forger would need to understand these specific dynamics to create realistic bloodstain patterns. In the Middle Ages, knowledge about the circulatory system and blood flow dynamics was limited, making it highly improbable for a forger to accurately replicate these patterns. If a forger attempted to create a physical crown of thorns to make the pattern, they would need to construct an object that closely mimicked the real thing in terms of size, shape, and the distribution of thorns. This task requires not only artistic skill but also a deep understanding of the morphology of such a crown, which was not a common object and had no standard design. Transferring the blood pattern from a three-dimensional object like a crown of thorns onto a two-dimensional surface like a cloth in a realistic manner is a complex process. The forger would have to master the technique of transferring bloodstains from the three-dimensional contours of a scalp onto the cloth without smudging or distorting the pattern, which would be a difficult task given the technology and materials available in the Middle Ages. The bloodstains suggesting a cap of thorns on the Shroud are consistent with what would be expected anatomically if such an object were pressed onto a person's head. A forger would need a sophisticated understanding of anatomy to ensure that the stains matched the locations where thorns would realistically penetrate and cause bleeding on a human head. The depiction of a cap or crown of thorns is specific to the narrative of Jesus' crucifixion. A forger would have to be motivated not only by the desire to create a convincing relic but also by the need to align it with specific theological and historical narratives. This requires a deep understanding of Christian iconography and the cultural context of the time.

Overall Image Creation: The Shroud is a full-body image, front and back, of a crucified man. The overall creation of such an image involves not only understanding these specific details but also how they interact to create a coherent, life-sized image. The creation of the full-body image on the Shroud of Turin, representing both the front and back of a crucified man, presents a series of significant challenges that would make forgery particularly difficult, especially in historical contexts like the Middle Ages.  Creating a life-sized, full-body image that is anatomically proportional and consistent from both front and back views is a complex task. It requires not only artistic skill but also a deep understanding of human anatomy and proportion. In the Middle Ages, while there were skilled artists, the level of anatomical precision needed for such a task was not commonly achieved. The Shroud depicts a three-dimensional figure on a two-dimensional surface. This requires sophisticated knowledge of perspective and shading to convey depth and form accurately. Such techniques were not fully developed or understood in the Middle Ages as they are in modern art. The image on the Shroud shows a consistent placement of wounds and bloodstains that align from the front to the back of the body. Achieving this level of consistency would be extremely challenging, as it requires precise alignment and understanding of how wounds would appear on a body subjected to crucifixion, including the effects of gravity and body positioning. The technique by which the image was transferred onto the Shroud is still a subject of debate and research. It is not consistent with painting, rubbing, or any known medieval image-making techniques. For a forger to create such an image, they would have needed to discover and apply a sophisticated and unknown method of image transfer. The Shroud displays detailed and accurate pathological features consistent with crucifixion, such as nail wounds in the wrists, scourge marks, and a side wound. Replicating these features with historical and medical accuracy would require knowledge that was not available in the Middle Ages. The image on the Shroud, despite being full-body, is remarkably uniform in its intensity and detail. This uniformity is difficult to achieve in a forgery, especially on such a large scale, as it would be easy to introduce inconsistencies and irregularities in the image-making process. The image on the Shroud lacks the stylistic elements typical of medieval artwork. It does not resemble paintings or drawings of the era but instead appears more as a detailed, photographic negative. A forger would have to consciously avoid any contemporary artistic styles, which would be an unusual and difficult approach.

Historical and Artistic Context: Understanding the historical context of Roman crucifixion methods and the artistic techniques available during the time believed to be the origin of the Shroud is also essential. When considering the historical and artistic context of the Shroud of Turin, especially in relation to the skills and knowledge available during the period believed to be its origin (often argued to be the Middle Ages), several factors significantly complicate the notion of it being a forgery. The Shroud depicts details of Roman crucifixion with a level of accuracy that would require detailed knowledge of these practices. During the Middle Ages, the comprehensive understanding of Roman execution methods, especially the specifics of crucifixion, was limited. Detailed information about practices like nailing through the wrists, the use of the Roman flagrum, or the spearing of the side was not commonly or accurately recorded in available texts. The artistic techniques available during the Middle Ages were largely incapable of producing the detailed, photonegative-like image seen on the Shroud. Medieval art, particularly in the realm of lifelike representation and detailed anatomical accuracy, was not as advanced as what the Shroud's image would require. The Shroud lacks brushstrokes, pigments, or other indications of being a painted or drawn piece, which were the common artistic methods of the time. The Shroud displays a detailed and anatomically accurate full-body image. In the Middle Ages, the understanding of human anatomy was rudimentary, as dissections and detailed anatomical studies were rare or even forbidden. The level of anatomical precision evident in the Shroud was not typical of the artistic or scientific knowledge of that era. The accurate representation of blood flow patterns, wounds, and the effects of torture on the Shroud would require advanced knowledge of forensic pathology, which was not available in the Middle Ages. The understanding of how blood flows from specific wounds, how it pools post-mortem, and how wounds inflicted by specific implements like the Roman flagrum or nails would appear, was beyond the scope of medieval knowledge. One of the key challenges for a forger would be to avoid anachronisms – that is, the inclusion of details or elements that did not exist or were not known during the supposed time of creation. The Shroud, however, does not display such inconsistencies, further complicating the notion of forgery. The Shroud had to align with the religious and cultural expectations of its time to be considered authentic. A forger would need not only the technical skill to create the image but also a deep understanding of the theological and iconographic elements relevant to the narrative of Christ's crucifixion. The Shroud is made on a fine linen cloth, and the image is embedded within the fabric in a way that is not consistent with known painting or image-making techniques of the Middle Ages. Creating such an image on linen without modern tools or chemicals would be exceptionally difficult.

Calculating the Odds of Forgery

For a forger to create the Shroud of Turin in the Middle Ages, they would have to possess advanced knowledge of Roman crucifixion methods, human anatomy, forensic pathology, and artistic techniques far beyond what was available at the time. They would also need to meticulously avoid anachronisms and align the image with contemporary cultural and religious beliefs, all while executing the image on linen in a manner not consistent with the art-making technologies of the era. These factors make the notion of the Shroud being a medieval forgery highly implausible. To provide a speculative calculation on the likelihood of the Shroud of Turin being a forgery, we need to consider several factors and estimate the probability of each being successfully forged in the medieval period. It's important to remember that this calculation will be highly speculative and not based on precise statistical data, as the actual likelihood involves a multitude of unknown and possibly unknowable variables.

Creating a Perfect Negative Image: Let's assume the knowledge and skill required for this would be extremely rare in medieval times. Probability of successful forgery: 5%.
Accurate Pathological Details of Crucifixion: Given the limited medical knowledge of the time, accurately representing these details would be quite difficult. Probability: 10%.
Flagra Markings and Dimensions: This requires specific historical knowledge and skill. Probability: 15%.
Blood on Cloth Before Image Formation: Replicating aged blood stains accurately would be challenging without modern chemical knowledge. Probability: 10%.
High Blood Bilirubin Content: This detail would be virtually impossible to replicate intentionally in the medieval period due to lack of biochemical knowledge. Probability: 5%.
Nail Wounds and Thumb Adduction: Accurate depiction would require advanced anatomical knowledge. Probability: 10%.
Lancea Spear Dimensions and Wound Representation: Requires specific historical and anatomical knowledge. Probability: 15%.
Appropriate Placement of Nails: Some historical knowledge required, but possibly achievable. Probability: 20%.
Goniometry of Blood Flow: Complex understanding of physics and anatomy needed. Probability: 10%.
Post Mortem Blood Pooling: Understanding of post-mortem physiology would be rare. Probability: 10%.
Blood Stains from a 'Cap of Thorns': This requires both artistic skill and a creative interpretation. Probability: 20%.

Using these speculative probabilities, we can calculate an overall likelihood. However, these probabilities are not independent - the likelihood of achieving one could affect the others. For a simplified calculation, we could multiply these probabilities. But in reality, the interdependence of these factors would make the actual calculation much more complex. The speculative calculation, based on the individual probabilities assigned to each factor, results in an extremely low overall probability of about 0.000000225% that the Shroud of Turin could have been successfully forged in the medieval period with all these specific details accurately replicated. To achieve one successful outcome with this success rate, approximately 440 million trials would be necessary. ​​

This calculation illustrates just how unlikely it would be for a medieval forger to possess the necessary knowledge and skills across multiple disciplines to create the Shroud as it exists today.  This is a highly speculative and simplified calculation, not taking into account the complex interdependencies between these factors or the unknown aspects of medieval technology and knowledge.

This calculation, despite speculative, underscores the unlikelyness of a forgery from medieval times. ​

The intersection between faith, and tangible, verifiable evidence

We are told that John entered the Tomb, where Jesus was buried, and “he saw and believed” (εἶδεν)17 (v. 8 ). Ὁράω serves well as a climax for all that has proceeded. This verb communicates the idea of “mental and spiritual perception.” It is sometimes used for the “supernatural.” Second, we should take note of the fact that there is no object for the verb ὁράω in verse eight: “He saw and believed!” But what exactly did he see? We are not told!  The burial Shroud was lying on the stone slab undisturbed, exactly as it had been before (bound with a couple of thin, linen wrappings), except now lying flat—“sunken down”—without the body.  The scene conveyed the conclusion that, somehow, the body had dematerialized and passed through the burial cloth to release itself from the bonds of death and imprisonment. Also, the identity of the “face cloth” is crucial in understanding this passage, but a crux interpretum concerns what one decides to do with the perfect tense of the verb “rolled up” (ἐντετυλιγμένον) in verse seven.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Sem_t168

The body had not been stolen! Contrary to what Mary had concluded from her quick appearance at the tomb earlier in the day, the grave clothes are lying in such a way that theft of the body is ruled out. Besides, who would first unwrap the body and then take only the corpse, leaving the Shroud behind? And even if so, the cloth would have appeared smeared with blood, which, as we can see on the Turin Shroud, was not the case.  Second, no one had unwrapped the linens to set Jesus free! His glorious, resurrected body is now able to pass through shut doors. His glorious body had done the same regarding its captivity with the Shroud! His body had dematerialized and passed right through the linen. John could see how the bands of cloth used to secure the corpse to the Shroud were still tied. It is as though the body had somehow vaporized and gone right through the cloth! Now the linens are lying there entirely undisturbed in any way.

This is consistent with the only explanation that begins to answer how the image on the Shroud of Turin was formed (with all its inexplicable characteristics). Based on extensive scientific research over forty years, physicist John Jackson put forward an unconventional hypothesis:
I propose that, as the Shroud collapsed through the underlying body, radiation emitted from all points within that body and discolored the cloth so as to produce the observed image.
The face cloth had probably been used by Joseph of Arimathea when taking the body down from the cross. Once inside the tomb, before enveloping the corpse with the Shroud, the face cloth was removed, rolled up, and set aside.
Since the face cloth was not on the corpse when the Resurrection took place, it does not have an image on it like the Shroud of Turin.
This is in keeping with the Sudarium of Oviedo, a face cloth that has been in Spain since 616 AD. Scientific tests done on both the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo demonstrated that “both cloths touched the same face.”
The subsequent story of “Doubting Thomas” should not be divorced from our current passage.

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 20:24-29. is a unique account in the New Testament, emphasizing the relationship between belief and having seen. Thomas wasn't present when Jesus first appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. Upon hearing from others that Jesus had risen, Thomas expressed skepticism. He declared that he would not believe it until he saw the nail marks in Jesus' hands and put his finger where the nails were, and his hand into Jesus' side. A week later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time with Thomas present. He invited Thomas to touch His wounds and stop doubting but believe. Thomas responded by acknowledging Jesus as "My Lord and my God!" Jesus then spoke of the blessedness of those who have not seen and yet have believed. This account emphasizes the importance of faith and belief, even in the absence of physical evidence. This incident is unique to the Gospel of John and does not appear in the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—where Thomas is mentioned only in the listings of the apostles. It's noteworthy that this story illustrates a significant moment of personal transformation for Thomas, moving from doubt to profound faith upon encountering the risen Christ.

In John 20:27, the Greek word used for "see" is ἴδε (ide). This word carries the sense of visual perception or observation. When Jesus tells Thomas to "see" His hands, He is inviting Thomas to not just look, but to observe and understand the reality of His resurrected body. This invitation is a direct response to Thomas's earlier expression of doubt, where he stated he wouldn't believe unless he could see and touch the wounds of Jesus. The use of ἴδε in this context is significant as it addresses Thomas's skepticism and the need for physical proof of Jesus' resurrection. Jesus' words "reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing" further emphasize the call for Thomas to move from doubt to belief through physical and visual evidence. This moment highlights the compassionate and understanding nature of Jesus, as He addresses Thomas's doubts directly and provides him the evidence he sought to believe in the resurrection. The exegesis of this passage often focuses on the interplay between faith and doubt, sight and belief. While Jesus provides the physical proof to Thomas, His words also stress the blessedness of those who believe without seeing, thus setting a foundation for faith that goes beyond physical evidence.

The narrative showcases Jesus' understanding of human doubts and His willingness to meet people where they are, providing what they need to move towards faith. This incident with Thomas thus becomes a powerful example of how Jesus responds to human frailty and skepticism with grace and patience, inviting a deeper, faith-based understanding beyond mere physical perception. The incident with Thomas in the Gospel of John highlights Jesus' understanding and compassionate response to human doubts and skepticism. This narrative showcases a significant aspect of the Christian faith: Jesus' willingness to meet people at their point of need and doubt, providing tangible evidence to nurture faith. This approach underscores a profound respect for the human condition and its inherent fragilities.

The Shroud of Turin provides us tangible, physical evidence of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, much in the vein of Jesus' response to Thomas's doubts. Powerful evidence indicates that the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus, bearing the image of a man who suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. The Shroud of Turin aligns with the perception that Christ understands and accommodates human needs for physical evidence. Just as Jesus invited Thomas to touch and see His wounds, the image on the Shroud offers physical evidence of the Gospel narratives. Faith comes ultimately by the action of the holy spirit, by hearing the word of God, but is also a result of the careful, rational examination of physical evidence in the world around us. As the apostle Paul writes in Romans 1.19-22:  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.

This passage offers a perspective on how the physical world and human reasoning can lead to an understanding of God's existence and attributes.  The creation of the world reveals God's "invisible qualities," specifically His eternal power and divine nature. By observing the world around us, its complexity, beauty, and order, we can infer the existence of a divine creator. The natural world acts as a testament to God's power and divinity, and through reason and observation, humans can come to an understanding of these attributes. This passage has been influential in shaping Christian thought on how faith and reason interact. It suggests that faith in God is not irrational or based solely on internal belief but is also supported by rational observation of the world.  Paul's message in Romans 1:19-22 is a call to observe the world and use reason as tools to understand and acknowledge the divine. It is a reminder that the physical world is not just a backdrop to human existence but a canvas that, to those who believe, reveals the handiwork of a divine creator.

The Shroud of Turin, much like the concept discussed in Romans 1:19-22, provides a physical, tangible element that invites observation and study, potentially leading to rational inferences about Christ's historicity and biblical identity. The Shroud represents a convergence of faith, history, and science, offering a unique opportunity for believers and skeptics alike to engage with the Christian narrative in a tangible way. The Shroud can be physically examined, studied, and tested. Its existence provides a tangible connection to the past, a physical object that can be scrutinized using scientific methods. The Shroud offers a direct link to the events of the Gospels, serving as a material witness to Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. It engages with the human desire for concrete evidence, particularly events of such significant impact. Over the years, the Shroud has been subjected to various scientific analyses. This scientific engagement embodies the interplay of faith and reason, where faith does not negate the need for rational inquiry, but rather, invites it. The Shroud offers a focal point for personal reflection on the life and suffering of Jesus. This aspect resonates with the notion that the physical world, in all its complexity and mystery, can lead to profound spiritual insights and strengthen faith. The Shroud provides an opportunity to meditate on the nature of Christ's sacrifice and the central tenets of the Christian faith. The Shroud reflects the dynamic nature of faith, which accommodates questioning, discussion, and diverse viewpoints. This debate can be constructive, as it encourages deeper exploration and understanding of the historical foundations of Christianity. The Shroud serves a function similar to the role of the natural world as described in Romans 1:19-22. It stands at the intersection of faith and reason, inviting individuals to explore, question, and reflect. The Shroud challenges to consider the historical and spiritual dimensions of the Christian narrative, integrating scientific inquiry with spiritual contemplation.

The distinction between the creation of images and the prohibition against idolatry in the Bible is an important one, particularly when considering representations like those based on the Shroud of Turin.

Exodus 20:4-6 and Deuteronomy 5:8-10 explicitly forbid the making of idols. This commandment is rooted in the belief that God is transcendent and beyond any physical representation. The concern was that creating images or idols could lead to them being worshipped as gods, which would be a form of idolatry, a practice strictly forbidden in Judaism.  The New Testament does not specifically address the creation of religious images. Any image, icon, or representation should not be an object of worship. Images based on the Shroud of Turin are not objects of worship but aid in a deeper understanding of the suffering of Christ. These representations are not meant to be divine or to possess any power in themselves. Instead, they are reminders of the historical Jesus and his sacrifice.In the history of Christianity, particularly within the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, the use of religious images (icons, statues, paintings) has been a common practice for centuries. These images are not meant to be worshipped. The Second Council of Nicaea in 787 AD addressed the use of icons and distinguished veneration from worship, which is due to God alone. While some Christian denominations avoid the use of religious images almost entirely, others embrace them as powerful tools for spiritual engagement and education. This diversity reflects the broader Christian understanding that the relationship with God is personal and transcends physical representations. While the Old Testament prohibits the creation of idols for worship, the New Testament and Christian tradition do not explicitly forbid the creation of religious images. Instead, these images, like those based on the Shroud of Turin, aid in understanding, provided they are not themselves objects of worship.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Sem_tg10

Last edited by Otangelo on Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:29 pm; edited 4 times in total




Considerable efforts have been made to demonstrate that the Shroud is a fraud. The investigations to reproduce the Shroud of Turin only demonstrate that the best efforts do not suffice to come even close to the image of the original. The results are far away from the original, very poor, and can be easily identified as made by an artist. Copies have been made that look like it but they lack all of the image characteristics that make the shroud image unique. Science cannot explain nor replicate the image..the closest we have come to replicating it (allegedly) is by bombarding linen samples with VUV Excimer Lasers.

How was the image made?

It's not a painting  If this were true, it should be possible to identify the pigments used by chemical analysis, just as conservators can do for the paintings of Old Masters. But the Sturp team found no evidence of any pigments or dyes on the cloth in sufficient amounts to explain the image. Nor are there any signs of it being rendered in brush strokes.
The entire image is very superficial, Around 20 - 30 microns in-depth is approximately 0.2 thousandths of a millimeter (about 0.000008 inches) only on the uppermost surface of the fibrils, the inner side is not, thus it could not have been formed by chemicals, The image resides on the outermost layer of the linen fibers.
It's not a photograph: Secondo Pia's photograph showed that the image on the cloth is a negative: dark where it should be bright.
It was not made by a natural chemical process It has been confirmed that the image is the result of oxidation, dehydration, and conjugation of the fibers of the shroud themselves. It is like the imaged areas on the shroud suddenly rapidly aged compared to the rest of the shroud. The image on the shroud is the only one of its kind in this world, and there are no known methods that can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological, or medical circumstances explain the image adequately (S.T.U.R.P's conclusion)
The image was not produced by vapors from chemicals or vapors from the corpse itself. Vapors from chemicals, or from the corpse itself, do not explain how the image is present on parts of the body where the cloth clearly did not touch the body (i.e. areas on either side of Christ’s projected nose).
A burst of 34 thousand billion Watts of vacuum-ultraviolet radiation produced a discoloration on the uppermost surface of the Shroud’s fibrils (without scorching it), which gave rise to a perfect three-dimensional negative image of both the frontal and dorsal parts of the body wrapped in it.” We currently do not know of any natural cause for a human corpse producing ultraviolet radiation like this. A very short and intense flash of directional VUV radiation can color the linen fabric. The total power of the VUV radiation required for instantly color the surface of a linen corresponding to a human body of medium height, equal to the corporate body surface area = 2000 MW / cm2 x 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion Watts. 

Key points why the Shroud is not a forgery

1. We have good evidence that the Shroud existed before 1260, the earliest dating of the carbon C14 test from 1988. The Hungarian Pray Manuscript, or Codex, is dated 1192-95. The Codex was compiled at the ancient Benedictine monastery in Hungary. Two pen and ink drawings on one page of the Codex document the existence of the Shroud in 1192. The upper drawing is a depiction of Jesus' body being prepared for burial. Correspondences between the Pray Codex and the Shroud include 1. Jesus is nude; 2. His hands are crossed awkwardly at the wrists, right over left (as it appears on the Shroud), covering His genitals; 3. No thumbs are visible on Jesus' hands; 4. His hands and fingers are unnaturally long; 5. Jesus is about to be wrapped in a double body-length shroud and 6. Red marks on Jesus' scalp and forehead are in the same position as the bloodstains (including the "reversed 3") on the Shroud. In the lower drawing, an angel is showing three women disciples of Jesus' empty tomb symbolized by a sarcophagus with an open lid. Correspondences between this lower drawing and the Shroud include: 7. The sarcophagus lid has a herringbone weave pattern; 8. Red zigzags match the inverted V-shaped blood trickles down the Shroud man's arms and 9. L-shaped patterns of tiny circles in the herringbone weave of the sarcophagus lid match the `poker holes' on the Shroud. It is inconceivable that all these detailed links with the Shroud, several of which are found nowhere else, could have occurred on a single manuscript page by chance.

2. Christ Pantocrator, St Catherine's monastery, Sinai Dated c. 550, is nearly perfectly congruent to the Shroud-face, for example, the high right eyebrow, the hollow right cheek, and the garment neckline. Using his polarized image overlay techniqueDr Alan Whanger found over 200 points of congruence between this icon and the Shroud. Even creases and wrinkles on the Shroud cloth have been rendered by the artist. Flower images in the halo around the head (nimbus) of this icon are found at the same locations on the Shroud. The artist has even rendered the x-ray images of the Shroud man's teeth as chapped lips! This means that this icon must have been copied directly from the Mandylion/Shroud in the mid-sixth century and so, once again, refutes the radiocarbon dating's 14th-century date of the Shroud.

3. In the Cathedral of Oviedo, Spain, is a linen cloth called the Sudarium Christi, or the Face Cloth of Christ. The Sudarium Christi has a well-documented history.  One source traces the cloth back as far as 570 AD. According to Jewish custom, blood lost while a person was alive was not as important as blood lost after a person dies, when the death was violent. Any blood or bodily fluid that came after death had to be buried with the body, so it had to be recovered. Blood Type: The blood type of the shroud - namely AB blood - matches the blood type of the Sudarium. Dr. Alan Whanger performed Polarized Image Overlay Technology which revealed seventy points of congruence between the blood stains on the Shroud as compared to the Oviedo head cloth on the front of the head, and fifty points of congruence between the blood marks on the back of the head. There is a deposit of dirt on the nose area bearing a large excess of calcium and low concentrations of strontium. This discovery matches the previous discovery of dirt on the nose of the Turin Shroud.

4. Bloodstains on the forehead of the man on the shroud, including the "reversed `3'", which perfectly show the distinction between arterial and venous blood, were discovered by Andrea Cesalpino (1519-1603) in 1593. So the unknown medieval or earlier forger of the Shroud would have discovered the circulation of blood, at least ~238 years before Cesalpino!

5. The scientific consensus is that the image was produced by something that resulted in oxidation, dehydration, and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself. There are no chemical or physical methods known that can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological, or medical circumstances explain the image adequately.  It's not a painting.  If this were true, it should be possible to identify the pigments used by chemical analysis, just as conservators can do for the paintings of Old Masters. However, the Sturp team found no evidence of any pigments or dyes on the cloth in sufficient amounts to explain the image. Nor are there any signs of it being rendered in brush strokes. The entire image is very superficial, Around 0.2 thousandths of a millimeter (about 0.000008 inches) only on the uppermost surface of the fibrils.   A burst of 34 thousand billion Watts of vacuum-ultraviolet radiation produced a discoloration on the uppermost surface of the Shroud’s fibrils (without scorching it), which gave rise to a perfect three-dimensional negative image of both the frontal and dorsal parts of the body wrapped in it.” We currently do not know of any natural cause for a human corpse producing ultraviolet radiation like this. A very short and intense flash of directional VUV radiation can color the linen fabric. The total power of the VUV radiation required to instantly color the surface of linen corresponding to a human body of medium height, equal to the corporate body surface area = 2000 MW / cm2 x 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion Watts. 

6. Botanist A. Danin of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem determined the origin of the Shroud based on a comprehensive analysis of pollen taken from the Shroud and plant images associated with the Shroud. The most frequent pollen on the Shroud is identical to the most frequent pollen in sediments of the lake of Gennesaret sedimentary layers of two thousand years ago.  Danin's analysis suggests that flowers and other plant materials were placed on the Shroud of Turin, leaving pollen grains and imprints of plants and flowers on the linen cloth. Gundelia tournefortii and Zygophyllum dumosum coexist in a limited area, according to Danin, a leading authority on plants of Israel. The area is bounded by lines linking Jerusalem and Hebron in Israel and Madaba and Karak in Jordan. Frei was able to identify 49 species of plants, the pollen of which is represented in the dust of the Shroud. From the list of these plants it can be deduced that half of them do not grow in Europe, while it is present in the Middle East; in the other half, there are many Mediterranean plants. The first sampling on the Shroud On November 23, 1973, with the consent of the competent authorities, Frei took some dust samples from the Shroud’s margins using adhesive tapes. 

7. The yarn used to weave the Shroud of Turin is of very high quality, evenly spun, and it has been woven into an unusual, fancy weave for the time, called 3 to 1 herringbone twill.  There are no examples of herringbone twill weave from France up to and including the fourteenth century. The yarn was bleached before weaving rather than after the cloth was taken from the loom. This is a significant clue to the age of the cloth because medieval European linen was field bleached, a process that eliminates banding. The measurements of the Shroud are approximately 8 x 2 of the Assyrian standard cubit.  Such conformity to an exact 8 by 2 cubits is yet another piece of knowledge difficult to imagine of any medieval forger. A medieval artist/forger would be most unlikely to know the length of the standard cubit of Jesus' day, as this was only discovered by archaeologists in the 19th century!! Textile expert Mechthild Flury-Lemberg revealed that the stitching of a seam on the Shroud that runs the entire length known as the side strip is typical of Jewish burial shrouds found in Masada, Israel.

What the Forger in middle age would have needed to know

1. How to create an image that is completely inverted (perfect negative)
2. The pathologic details of death by Roman crucifixion including
3. Flagra markings and dimensions
4. Blood Present on Cloth Before the Image
5. High blood bilirubin content indicative of trauma victim
6. Nail in wrist center causes thumb adduction
7. Lancea spear dimensions
8. Nails at appropriate sites
9. Specific goniometry of blood flow patterns from wrist
10. Post-mortem pooling of blood
11. Distinct blood stains over the cap of the skull suggestive of a “cap of thorns”

Each of these details - from the flagra markings to the lance wound - contributes to a forensic narrative that aligns closely with what is known of Roman crucifixion methods. The accuracy of these details in the Shroud suggests a deep familiarity with these practices, further intensifying the mystery and historical significance of this enigmatic artifact.

Leo Vala

In the fifties of the last century, LEO VALA, a professional photographer in London, did the first 3-dimensional experiments with the image on the Shroud of Turin. Vala employed a process that he called the Transflex Process of front projection. Using two positives of the 1931 Shroud photographs of the head, made by Giuseppe Enrie, and then projecting them on a bed of clay, using two projectors to create the matrix for a sculpture. After that he could sculpt the head. The result was quite stunning and showed the complete face image with lots of detail.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Leoval12

" I’ve been involved in the invention of many complicated visual processes and I can tell you that no one could have faked that image. " Leo Vala, a well-known London photographer and self-professed agnostic, 1967 was involved in the creation of three-dimensional photographs of the Shroud of Turin and he made an offer to donate proceeds from the public sale of his photographs to a Shroud investigation fund.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Adfada10

7TH APRIL 1967 Proceeds from the public sale of what Knightsbridge photographer Leo Vala claims to be a profile of Christ are to be donated to a Shroud investigation fund under which a photographic unit may be set up to make further studies of the Shroud in Turin. Mr. Vala made his offer to Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, V.C. who first obtained pictures of the Holy Shroud from which Vala produced his three-dimensional photographs. "I hope in this way to make some financial contribution towards helping to further the overall investigation. Meanwhile, I shall continue with my photographic studies In a determined effort to establish how this remarkable image was formed."

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny 1_mio_11

The 1mio$ challenge: If the Shroud is a forgery, show how it was done

"It was one of the most eagerly awaited scientific announcements of all time, and it pitted the world of faith against the world of rational thought, under the glare of the media. So when cutting-edge carbon-14 tests found that the Shroud of Turin was a forgery, it seemed like the final chapter for a relic that had been revered for centuries as the cloth in which Christ’s body had been wrapped when he supposedly rose from the dead at the first Easter almost 2,000 years ago. But one man – David Rolfe, a filmmaker whose documentary The Silent Witness had brought the shroud into the public eye in modern times, and who had converted to Christianity as a result of his research – wasn’t prepared to give up on it. He was convinced the carbon dating, carried out in 1988 under the direction of the British Museum and Oxford University, had been flawed. And now he claims he has the evidence to prove it. This week sees the release of a new film, Who Can He Be?, in which Rolfe argues that, far from the shroud being a definite dud, discoveries in the past few years have again opened the question of its authenticity.

So convinced is Rolfe that he’s issuing a challenge worth $1m to the British Museum. “If... they believe the shroud is a medieval forgery, I call on them to repeat the exercise, and create something similar today,” he says. “Because from all the evidence I’ve seen, if this is a forgery it’s the most ingenious forgery in history – and of course it dates back almost 2,000 years, to a time of far less sophisticated forgery techniques. “They said it was knocked up by a medieval oilman, and I say: well, if he could do it, you must be able to do it as well. And if you can, there’s a $1m donation for your funds.” According to the gospel accounts, it was when they discovered Christ’s burial cloth on the floor of his tomb that his followers first believed he had risen from the dead. Across the centuries, the shroud has been venerated as that very piece of fabric.

Rolfe became aware of it about 45 years ago after he put out a request for ideas for documentaries, and the writer Ian Wilson, who had investigated the shroud – by then being kept at Turin Cathedral – got in touch. Rolfe was not a believer, but he found the history of the shroud fascinating. The documentary he went on to make won a Bafta in 1978 and brought the relic to international attention. “My program at no point said it was authentic, it said it was authentic, but it did pose questions, such as how did the image of the crucified man get onto the cloth, and did its provenance fit with the timeline of Christ?" says Rolfe. The most powerful moment for him came when he took photographs of the four-meter-long shroud for the first time and saw that the image of the dead man’s face was much more pronounced in the negatives. “It was almost as though it had been created for the photographic age,” says Rolfe. In the mid-1980s the Vatican, the owner of the shroud, agreed in principle that it could be dated using the latest technology. A few years later, the verdict made headlines around the world: the cloth dated from the 13th or 14th century, and could not possibly be authentic. It seemed the relic had had its day.
But Rolfe, who is now in his early 70s, was determined to debunk the debunking. “Five [testing] protocols were agreed on, but they were all abandoned,” he says. In the glare of world publicity, the tests became a political hot potato for the British Museum. The sample used for the tests, Rolfe argues in his new film, was too small and taken from a corner likely to have been repaired over the centuries.

Many would argue that, even if the shroud could be proved to be the burial cloth of the man named Jesus, that doesn’t amount to proof of his resurrection, the central tenet of Christian belief. “The carbon dating could show it was definitely from the time of Christ, but it’s still a stretch to go from that to seeing it as proof that he rose from the dead,” says Richy Thompson of Humanists UK. “What many non-religious people would say is, where is the evidence? Because if you’re going to make extraordinary claims, you need strong evidence to back it up.” Rolfe is unperturbed: he says the image on the cloth seems to have come from a massive burst of radiation, emitted in a fraction of a second. When it comes to dating, he’s certainly not alone in his skepticism. Barrie M Schwortz, a photographer who documented the shroud in 1978, says “murky” would be a good word to describe the events of 1988. “Today there are at least six peer-reviewed scientific articles that challenge the results of the carbon dating,” he says. In his view, the players involved were in a hurry to get the job done, because they wanted to get carbon dating on the map. “Those tests made it a household name,” he says. “I’m Jewish, so I don’t have a horse in this race, but I’ve come to believe it’s the authentic burial cloth because I’ve looked at the science.” The British Museum is less willing to get involved this time around. “Any recent questions about the shroud would be best put to those who currently care for it in the royal chapel of the cathedral of Turin,” a spokesperson said.

What, if the Shroud were a forgery?

In the Middle Ages, during centuries, indulgence was a BIG business for the catholic church. They were granted on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church in exchange for money, which is claimed to allow a remission of sin, the guilt of which has been forgiven. Typically a writ of indulgence was issued by the Church and given to an individual who had demonstrated some type of penance, or good work.  Usually, priests were traveling from one town to another in middle age Europe, visiting the four corners of the known world with an entire entourage.   One method employed to finance the building of St. Peter's Basilica was the granting of indulgences in return for contributions.  A succession of popes and architects took 120 years to build it, their combined efforts resulting in the completion in 1590. It would cost an estimated 5,4 billion US$ today to build it.  One of the tools to collect money was also when priests were traveling to carry relics of the saints with them, usually consisting of the physical remains of a saint or the personal effects of the saint or venerated person preserved for purposes of veneration as a tangible memorial, and showing to the population. Of course that was an important tool. To show a piece of wood that was claimed to pertain to the cross of Christ, or a spine of Christ's crown, and so on. Now imagine, there would have been a way to produce such an amazing forgery of the linen cloth burial shroud in which  Jesus of Nazareth was wrapped after crucifixion. bearing his negative image. That, of course, would have been a tool of general amazement everywhere, were it would have been carried and shown. After showing it to the crowd, asking for indulgences and funds would have been much easier.  If there were a method to produce such an imprint, Rome would have built a FACTORY to make the artifact in considerable numbers, and given it to the traveling priests as relics to be shown. There would not be just one shroud known, but hundreds, maybe thousands and many still exist today. Each is a little bit different, but the technique, and consistency, are the same, and as such, comparable to each other. That would be a GREAT argument to deny the authenticity of all of them.

But there are many things unique on the shroud.  The blood strains can only be seen with UV light. Why would an artist back then ever put blood there which would not be visible, and provide no advantage at all? But even more remarkable than that, the wide presence of creatinine particles bound to ferrihydrite particles is not a situation typical of the blood serum of a healthy human organism. Indeed, a high level of creatinine and ferritin is related to patients suffering from strong polytrauma-like torture. Hence, the presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments points to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin shroud.” What appears to be blood on the Shroud has passed 13 tests proving that it is real human blood.  The presence of "X" and "Y" chromosomes indicates that the blood is from a male.  The blood type is AB.  Most significantly, the blood is high in bilirubin which is a compound produced by the liver when it processes damaged red blood cells,  which occurs when a victim is severely beaten, as Jesus was.  There is pollen from Jerusalem, Palestine, and Edessa. Pollen is on the Shroud that is unique to the area around Jerusalem.  Pollen from a plant with long thorns was found around his head. The place where the nails are in the hands is anatomically correct. The image is NOT  there are no pigments whatsoever on the Shroud. If it were a forgery, with high certainty, it would have been painted. Who of the lay population would have perceived it?  The image resides on the outermost layer of the linen fibers and the image goes just two or three fibers deep into the thread. The superficial image then disappears if a colored thread goes under another thread. The polysaccharide cover is approximately 0.2 thousandths of a millimeter (about 0.000008 inches) the inner side is not.

Secondo Pia's first photograph in 1898 showed that the image on the cloth is negative. The front and back (dorsal) images of the crucified man are negative images and contain 3D or topographical information content related to the distance of the cloth from the body.  Two nails are through one foot, but only one of the nails is through the other foot.  This allows one foot to rotate so that the victim can push up and down on the cross to breathe during crucifixion.  If the victim of crucifixion is not pushing up and down, then it is clear that he is dead.  The soldiers did not doubt that Jesus was dead. All paintings of the Middle Ages showed the nails through the center of the palms, but nails through the palms do not support sufficient weight since there is no bone structure above this location.  Archeology has confirmed that during crucifixion, the nails were driven through the wrists.  The Shroud shows the correct nail locations - through the wrist instead of through the palm. On the Shroud, the thumbs are folded under, contrary to all paintings of the Middle Ages.  Nails through the wrists automatically fold the thumbs under due to contact of the nail with the nerve that goes through the wrist.

In 2013, a research team from the University of Padua conducted three tests on tiny fibers extracted from the shroud during earlier carbon-14 dating tests conducted in 1988 The first two tests used infrared light and Raman spectroscopy, respectively, while the third employed a test analyzing different mechanical parameters relating to voltage. The results date the cloth to between 300 B.C. and 400 A.D.. Fanti said that researchers also found trace elements of the soil "compatible with the soil of Jerusalem." "For me, the [Shroud] comes from God because there are hundreds of clues in favor to the authenticity," he wrote, adding that there also "no sure proofs. The 1988 carbon C14 results may have been contaminated by fibers used to repair the cloth during the Middle Ages. The Shroud has four sets of burn holes in an L-shaped pattern.  This same pattern of holes appears on a picture in a document known as the Hungarian Pray Manuscript, which is dated to 1192-1195 AD.  This indicates that the Shroud of Turin ought to be identified as the cloth, sometimes called the Mandylion, that was in Constantinople until the city was sacked during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 AD.  It is generally believed that this cloth was brought to Constantinople from Edessa, Turkey, in 944 AD.  In Edessa, it was called the Image of Edessa.  Thus, the Shroud of Turin is the same as the Image of Edessa, so it can be historically traced back before 944 AD.  The stitching used to sew the 3-inch wide side piece onto the main Shroud is nearly identical to that found at Masada which was destroyed in 73-74 AD. The size of the Shroud is very close to 2 by 8 cubits - the ancient unit of measurement  The Shroud shows 100 to 120 scourge marks from two Roman flagrums, one striking from each side, with dumbbell-shaped weights on the ends of the straps.  The blood marks from these wounds show blood serum rings (visible only under UV) around the dried blood exudate. There are abrasions on both shoulders caused by the victim carrying a heavy rough object. The side of the front image on the Shroud shows a 2-inch wide elliptical wound - the size of a typical Roman spear. The blood running down his arms is at the correct angle for a crucifixion victim.  Two angles for the blood flow can be seen on his arms.  These two angles are consistent with the crucifixion victim shifting between two positions while on the cross to breath.

The Shroud is anatomically correct

Starting with French biologist Dr. Paul Vignon in the early 20th century, most medical doctors who have studied the Shroud believe that the image accurately depicts anatomically and physiologically an actual human body that has undergone the torture of crucifixion. Drs. Robert Bucklin and Dr. Frederick Zugibe, who each studied the Shroud for about 50 years and who performed a combined approximate 50,000 (!) autopsies, both believed that the Shroud image was that of a real, crucified man who died. It seems bizarre that some skeptics will bring up the aforesaid point about a difference of beliefs of where the hand wound was located as if that also practically disauthenticates the Shroud.  It’s fair to say that an overwhelming number of medical doctors believe that it’s not a forgery. In 1933 Pierre Barbet, a surgeon who spent years of research and experiments to prove the medical accuracy of the image on the Shroud and published a book, “Doctor of Calvary” concluded: “It was the homogeneous group of verification without one single weak link among them that made me decide to declare that authenticity of the Shroud from point view anatomy and physiology is scientific fact. It is my firm opinion that this shroud contains the dead body of Jesus as well as his divinity. I believe this just as I believe in law gravity.”

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny G463610

Barbet, Pierre. A Doctor at Calvary. New York: Image Books), 1963, pg. 185
Here, then, is the result of my anatomical and other research on the subject of the Wounds of Christ. I hope I have given the impression that I have conducted them with full independence of mind and with all possible scientific objectivity. I started out with a certain skepticism, more or less with a Cartesian doubt, to examine the images on the shroud; I was quite ready to deny their authenticity if they disagreed with anatomical truth. But, on the contrary, the facts gradually grouped themselves into a bundle of proofs, which carried increasing conviction. Not only was the explanation of the images so natural and simple that it proclaimed them to be genuine; but, when at first they seemed to be abnormal, the experiment demonstrated that they were as they should be, that they could not be different and as a forger would have portrayed them, following the current iconographic traditions. Anatomy thus bore witness to their authenticity, in full agreement with the Gospel texts. We possess, then, the shroud of Christ, bearing the image of His body and the marks of His blood. It is the noblest relic in the world, a corporal relic of Our Lord. For him who can read and can reflect, it is the most beautiful, the most moving of the meditations on the Passion.

Question: Why is the right arm longer than the left arm?
Answer: The observation that the right arm of the man depicted on the Shroud of Turin appears longer than the left has intrigued researchers and scholars. This apparent disparity in arm lengths is not merely an artistic anomaly but aligns with clinical findings associated with crucifixion, particularly when considering the physical ordeal that would involve carrying the patibulum (the horizontal beam of the cross). Crucifixion, as a form of execution, was designed to be torturous and prolonged, causing extreme physical strain. Carrying the patibulum, often a heavy wooden beam, would have been an arduous task, especially after enduring severe physical abuse like scourging. This act of carrying the crossbeam to the crucifixion site, as described in the biblical account of Jesus' crucifixion, could lead to shoulder dislocation, particularly under the weight and stress placed on the arms. Clinical research into the effects of crucifixion reveals that the positioning and nailing of the wrists, combined with the weight of the body hanging from the cross, would likely result in dislocation of the shoulders. Dislocation can cause one arm to appear longer than the other, a condition known as "visually apparent limb length discrepancy." This condition is consistent with what is observed on the Shroud. The right arm's apparent elongation on the Shroud could thus be a direct consequence of the shoulder dislocation, likely exacerbated by the weight of carrying the patibulum and the subsequent crucifixion. This detail not only aligns with what is known about the physical effects of crucifixion but also adds to the Shroud's historical and anatomical accuracy. Such clinical correlations lend credence to the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin and its depiction of a crucified man. The consistency of these findings with the known effects of crucifixion supports the argument that the Shroud is indeed a genuine relic of a crucifixion, closely paralleling the biblical account of Jesus Christ's death.

Methods attempted to replicate the image on the Shroud

Researchers have attempted various methods to duplicate the image of the Man in the Shroud of Turin when multi-disciplinary research began in 1898. Here are some of the methods that have been attempted, and by whom, and their results, as they compare to the features of the Image of the Shroud of Turin, as determined by STURP, and other researchers:

The Ammonia hypothesis

The ammonia hypothesis is one of the many scientific hypotheses proposed to explain how the image of the Shroud was formed. It suggests that the image was created through chemical reactions involving ammonia vapors, which could have been produced by a decomposing body wrapped in the cloth. The hypothesis was first proposed by chemist John Heller and physicist Alan Adler. Heller and Adler were part of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) team. They suggested that the image could have been formed by a Maillard reaction, a type of chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars. The hypothesis posited that ammonia released from the decomposing body reacted with the carbohydrate layer on the linen fibers, leading to a yellowed image of the face and body. Researchers attempted to replicate the conditions of the Shroud by applying ammonia and other chemicals to linen samples in controlled laboratory settings. They aimed to observe whether similar image characteristics could be produced. Microscopic and chemical analyses were conducted on fibers taken from the Shroud to detect any residues or compounds that would support the ammonia reaction theory. Experiments were also done comparing the results of the ammonia-based reactions with the actual properties of the Shroud image, including its superficiality, the lack of directionality, and the resolution of the image. Despite initial interest, the ammonia hypothesis faced several critical shortcomings that led to its decline in acceptance among the scientific community studying the Shroud: The detailed analyses of the Shroud fibers did not reveal the presence of chemical residues that would be expected from ammonia-based Maillard reactions.  The hypothesis struggled to account for specific characteristics of the Shroud image, such as its three-dimensional information and the extreme superficiality of the coloration, which only affects the topmost fibers without penetrating the cloth. Attempts to reproduce images with the same clarity, detail, and durability of the Shroud image through ammonia-based reactions were largely unsuccessful. The experiments could not replicate the nuanced features of the Shroud image, such as the precise definition of the wounds and the subtlety of the facial features. The hypothesis did not adequately align with historical and archaeological evidence related to burial practices and materials available in the 1st century, raising doubts about its plausibility. Other hypotheses and explanations, ranging from artistic creation to more complex chemical or physical processes, seemed to provide more convincing explanations for the Shroud's image. Due to these and other challenges, the ammonia hypothesis is not widely accepted as a satisfactory explanation for the formation of the Shroud's image. 

The Vapograph hypothesis

The "vapograph" hypothesis is another scientific hypothesis proposed to explain the formation of the image on the Shroud. This hypothesis suggests that the image was created by vapors, possibly from aromatic spices or oils used in ancient burial practices, or from a decomposing body, which reacted with the surface of the linen cloth to produce the image. The vapograph hypothesis was proposed by researchers who were exploring natural or chemical processes that could lead to the formation of the Shroud's image without human or artistic intervention. The exact originator of this hypothesis is less well-defined compared to more prominent hypotheses like the Maillard reaction theory proposed by Heller and Adler. The vapograph theory emerged as part of a broader investigation into how ancient burial practices, involving the use of spices and oils, might leave imprints on burial cloths. To test the vapograph hypothesis, several experiments were conducted: Application of Aromatic Spices and Oils: Researchers applied various spices and oils known to be used in ancient Jewish burial practices to linen cloths to see if they could produce an image similar to that on the Shroud. Some experiments involved controlled decomposition of animal bodies or human analogs wrapped in linen to observe whether any kind of imprint or image could be formed through natural processes. The hypothesis also led to experiments focusing on the chemical reactions that might occur between the linen and the substances released by a body or applied as part of burial rites, including gases and vapors. The vapograph hypothesis, while intriguing, faced significant challenges: The experiments often resulted in stains or discolorations on the linen, but these lacked the specificity, detail, and clarity seen in the Shroud's image. The images produced were typically diffuse and lacked the resolution and definition of the Shroud. The Shroud of Turin's image has unique three-dimensional properties that have been demonstrated through image analysis. The vapograph hypothesis struggled to account for how a vapor-induced image could contain encoded three-dimensional information. The chemical reactions proposed by the vapograph hypothesis did not align well with the known properties of the Shroud's image, such as the superficiality of the coloration, which affects only the topmost fibers of the linen. The use of specific spices and oils in burial practices does not necessarily support the formation of an image, and there is no strong historical precedent or archaeological evidence for such images being produced through this method in other contexts. As with the ammonia hypothesis, alternative explanations for the Shroud's image, ranging from artistic creation to more complex physical or chemical processes, seemed to provide more plausible explanations. Given these shortcomings, the vapograph hypothesis has not gained widespread acceptance as a definitive explanation for the image on the Shroud of Turin.

The Volksinger hypothesis

The "Volckringer pattern" hypothesis, sometimes referenced in discussions about the Shroud of Turin, is related to the phenomenon discovered by Jean Baptiste André Volckringer in the 19th century. Volckringer noticed that when leaves or flowers were pressed between the pages of books, particularly those with certain types of paper, detailed images of the plants could be transferred to the paper. This effect was attributed to the combination of pressure, moisture, and the release of volatile compounds from the plants, leading to a chemical reaction with the paper that produced an image. In the context of the Shroud of Turin, a similar hypothesis was suggested that the image on the Shroud could have been formed by natural processes involving the body's sweat, oils, and possibly other substances (like aloes and myrrh, mentioned in biblical accounts of Jesus' burial), reacting with the surface of the linen cloth under the conditions of the tomb. This hypothesis posits that these substances could have created an image through a process akin to the one observed by Volckringer with plant materials. To explore the Volckringer pattern hypothesis, researchers conducted various experiments: Experiments involved using models or analogs of the human body coated with substances that might simulate sweat, oils, or burial ointments, and then wrapping these models in linen to see if an image could be formed. Chemical analyses were conducted on the Shroud's fibers to identify any residues that might support the presence of substances consistent with those proposed by the hypothesis. Some experiments specifically looked at the effects of pressure and moisture, variables central to the original Volckringer patterns, to see if they could play a role in image formation on linen. The Volckringer pattern hypothesis, while intriguing for its naturalistic approach, encountered several challenges: While the hypothesis could potentially explain some vague imprints or patterns, it struggled to account for the fine detail, clarity, and resolution seen in the Shroud's image. The Shroud's image contains encoded three-dimensional information, which is difficult to explain through a process akin to the Volckringer patterns, where the resulting images are typically two-dimensional. Direct evidence linking the substances found on the Shroud to those necessary for a Volckringer-like reaction is limited. The chemical residues identified on the Shroud do not clearly support the specific reactions proposed by this hypothesis. The hypothesis does not adequately address the precise mechanism by which the image's superficiality is achieved, affecting only the topmost fibers of the linen, nor does it explain the absence of image under the bloodstains. Other theories, including artistic creation, advanced photographic-like processes, or more complex chemical reactions, provide alternative explanations that some researchers find more plausible.

The Hot Statue hypothesis

The "hot statue" hypothesis is a relatively less conventional hypothesis proposed to explain the formation of the image on the Shroud of Turin. It suggests that the image was created by thermal energy or radiation emanating from a heated statue or three-dimensional object, which then imprinted the image onto the cloth. The hypothesis was proposed by some researchers outside the mainstream scientific community studying the Shroud. The idea was based on the notion that if a cloth were draped over a hot, three-dimensional object resembling a human body, it could create an image with some similarities to the one seen on the Shroud, especially considering the Shroud's image's unique three-dimensional qualities when analyzed through certain imaging techniques. To test the hot statue hypothesis, a few key experiments were conducted: Researchers created sculptures or mannequins that approximated the size and shape of a human body and then heated these objects before draping linen cloths over them to see if an image could be transferred. Various temperatures were tested to determine at what heat levels the linen might begin to change color or scorch, and how these changes compared to the subtle coloration of the Shroud's image. The resulting images were analyzed to compare their resolution, depth, and detail against the characteristics of the Shroud's image, including the specificity of facial features, wounds, and other details. The hot statue hypothesis encountered significant challenges and criticisms: The images produced by the hot statue method were generally far less detailed and lacked the resolution of the Shroud's image. The technique struggled to reproduce the fine nuances of the face, hands, and other intricate details present on the Shroud. At temperatures high enough to cause color changes in the linen, the fabric often scorched or burned, leading to damage rather than the subtle coloration seen on the Shroud. The Shroud's image does not exhibit characteristics typical of scorch marks. While the hypothesis aimed to explain the three-dimensional properties of the Shroud's image, the resulting images did not capture the same kind of depth information that can be extracted from the Shroud's image through modern image analysis techniques.  The chemical makeup of the Shroud's image, as analyzed in various scientific studies, does not align well with what would be expected from an image created by heat-induced scorching of linen. The hypothesis lacks historical and archaeological evidence to support the idea that such a technique would have been used or known in the 1st century, making it an unlikely explanation for the Shroud's origin. Due to these and other issues, the hot statue hypothesis is not widely accepted within the scientific community as a viable explanation for the Shroud of Turin's image.

The scorching hypothesis

The "scorching hypothesis" regarding the Shroud of Turin posits that the image on the Shroud was created by some form of heat or thermal radiation, resulting in a scorch-like effect on the linen fibers. This idea suggests that the image was formed through a process akin to mild burning or singeing, which only affected the surface of the cloth, without damaging the linen structure. The scorching hypothesis has been proposed and explored by various researchers over the years, with no single individual credited with its inception. It gained attention as scientists and historians sought naturalistic explanations for the Shroud's image, considering the known effects of heat on linen and the superficial nature of the Shroud's image.  Researchers applied controlled heat sources to linen samples to observe the effects and to see if they could replicate the characteristics of the Shroud's image, such as the superficiality and the detailed pattern. Some experiments explored the possibility of thermal radiation (from natural or supernatural sources) as the cause of the scorching, testing how radiation might affect linen in ways similar to the Shroud. The scorched linen samples were analyzed to compare their physical and chemical properties with those of the Shroud, including the nature of the fibers, the coloration, and the penetration depth of the image. The scorching hypothesis, while offering a plausible mechanism for image creation, faces several significant challenges: The images produced by scorching techniques often lack the fine detail and clarity of the Shroud's image. Scorching typically results in more diffuse edges and lacks the precise resolution seen in the Shroud. The Shroud's image has unique three-dimensional information encoded in its intensity, which has not been satisfactorily replicated by any scorching experiments. The mechanism by which a scorching process could encode such information remains unexplained. Scorched images tend to have some degree of directionality and depth, which the Shroud's image lacks. The Shroud's image is extremely superficial, affecting only the topmost fibers, without any sign of heat damage that would typically accompany scorching. Chemical analyses of the Shroud have not shown the presence of substances or changes in the linen fibers that would unequivocally indicate a scorching process. The chemical markers typical of heat-induced changes in linen are not consistent with those found on the Shroud. The scorching hypothesis does not align well with historical or archaeological evidence regarding the known use and capabilities of linen in the relevant period, nor does it offer a plausible explanation for how such an image could have been created accidentally or intentionally in a historical context. Due to these and other issues, the scorching hypothesis is not universally accepted as a comprehensive explanation for the Shroud's image. 

Leonardo da Vinci

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Sem_t197

The Leonardo da Vinci hypothesis regarding the Shroud of Turin is a speculative idea suggesting that the famed Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci created the Shroud's image using his knowledge of science, anatomy, and art, along with early photographic techniques. This hypothesis posits that da Vinci, known for his innovative experiments and inventions, could have employed a form of camera obscura along with his understanding of chemistry to produce the Shroud's image, potentially as a commission or a personal experiment. The hypothesis was popularized by books and documentaries, notably by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince in their book "The Turin Shroud: In Whose Image?" published in the 1990s. They speculated that da Vinci, given his interest in optics, anatomy, and illusion, might have had both the motive and the means to create the Shroud as a form of "supreme illusion" or to question the Church's relics. Some researchers attempted to use materials and methods that would have been available to da Vinci, such as using a camera obscura and applying chemicals known in the Renaissance period to linen, to see if a similar image could be produced. The Shroud's image was analyzed from an artistic and anatomical perspective to see if it bore any resemblance to da Vinci's known works or his studies of the human body. The Shroud of Turin is mentioned in historical records that predate Leonardo da Vinci's birth in 1452. The earliest undisputed mention of the Shroud dates back to the 1350s, nearly a century before da Vinci's time. There is no documentary evidence to suggest that Leonardo da Vinci was involved with the Shroud or that he had the inclination to create such a relic. None of his extensive notebooks contain references to the Shroud or to the techniques that would be required to create it. While da Vinci was undoubtedly a genius in many fields, the specific techniques required to create the Shroud's image—especially its subtle gradations of tone and the precise anatomical detail—would be extraordinary, even for him. The hypothesis assumes a level of photographic understanding and chemical manipulation that is not documented in da Vinci's known works. The Shroud's image does not reflect Leonardo da Vinci's artistic style. Da Vinci was known for his detailed, dynamic compositions and his use of sfumato, characteristics not evident in the Shroud's image. The hypothesis suggests that da Vinci would have created the Shroud as a form of deception or to challenge the Church, which is at odds with what is known about his character and his relationship with his patrons, many of whom were prominent religious figures. Due to these and other issues, the Leonardo da Vinci hypothesis is widely regarded as speculative and not supported by historical evidence or scientific analysis.

The "brilliant painting" hypothesis by Walter McCrone

The "brilliant painting" hypothesis regarding the Shroud of Turin was proposed by Walter McCrone, an American microscopist and expert in chemical microscopy. McCrone analyzed samples of the Shroud and concluded that the image was created with red ochre (iron oxide pigment) and vermilion mixed with a collagen tempera medium. He suggested that the Shroud was a work of medieval art, painted by a skilled artist to represent the crucified Christ. McCrone's hypothesis emerged from his extensive analysis of the Shroud's fibers in the late 20th century. Using polarized light microscopy, he identified what he believed to be pigment particles consistent with red ochre and vermilion on the fibers of the Shroud, leading him to conclude that the image was a "brilliant painting." To support his hypothesis, McCrone conducted several tests: He examined individual fibers from the Shroud under a microscope, identifying pigment particles that he claimed were consistent with those used in medieval paintings. Further tests were conducted to analyze the chemical composition of the particles found on the Shroud's fibers, aiming to match them with known pigments. McCrone compared the Shroud's fibers with those from known painted artworks to ascertain similarities in pigment composition and application techniques. Despite McCrone's expertise and thorough analysis, his "brilliant painting" hypothesis faced significant criticism and challenges: Critics pointed out that McCrone's analysis did not convincingly demonstrate the presence of a binding medium that would be expected if the image were a painted work. Subsequent chemical analyses of the Shroud have not confirmed the presence of organic binders typical of painted artworks. The Shroud's image has unique properties, such as its superficiality (affecting only the topmost fibers) and the lack of directionality (consistent with brush strokes), which are not typical of painted artworks. The image also contains three-dimensional information, which would be difficult to achieve with paint. The Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), a team of scientists who examined the Shroud in 1978, did not find evidence to support the presence of paint pigments or media. Their findings suggested that the image was not produced by substances applied to the surface of the cloth. The hypothesis does not account for the historical documentation of the Shroud predating the time frame in which McCrone suggested it was created. Additionally, no known medieval artist has been associated with the creation of the Shroud, nor is there a record of such a complex and anatomically accurate "painting" being produced during the period. The Shroud's image has not flaked, cracked, or faded in ways typical of painted surfaces, especially considering its age and the fact that it has been subjected to numerous foldings, rollings, and environmental exposures over the centuries. While McCrone's hypothesis contributed to the debate over the Shroud's origins, it has not been widely accepted by the scientific community.

Just as the STURP team tested every known pigment known to the Middle Ages – and proved that the Image of the Shroud of Turin – was not a painting, in the same way – it can probably be shown to the public that no form of energy or radiation known to modern world – could produce image if Shroud if Turin- along with all other methods that have been tried.

Nicholas P L Allen's camera obscura hypothesis

Nicholas P. L. Allen's camera obscura hypothesis for the Shroud of Turin is a theory suggesting that the image on the Shroud could have been created using medieval photographic techniques involving a camera obscura. Allen, a South African art historian, proposed that an artist in the 14th century could have used a camera obscura, equipped with a lens and a pinhole, to project the image of a crucified man (either a statue or a volunteer coated with a substance responsive to light) onto the linen, thus creating the Shroud's image. Allen's hypothesis emerged from his studies on medieval art techniques and the history of photography. He was intrigued by the negative image on the Shroud, which resembles the photographic negatives developed centuries later. Allen conducted experiments to demonstrate that the materials and knowledge required for such a process could have been available in the 14th century.

He constructed a large camera obscura that could accommodate a human-sized object. This device was designed to project an image onto a surface, mimicking the conditions under which the Shroud's image might have been created. Allen applied chemicals known to be photosensitive (such as silver nitrate) to linen, which were available in some form in the medieval period. These chemicals could darken when exposed to light, potentially allowing the image to be "fixed" onto the cloth. He experimented with projecting the image of a three-dimensional object (representing the body of Christ) onto the chemically treated cloth to see if a Shroud-like image could be produced. Despite the innovative approach, Allen's camera obscura hypothesis faces significant challenges: There is little historical evidence to suggest that the camera obscura was used for complex photographic processes in the 14th century, particularly with the level of sophistication required to produce an image like the Shroud's. The hypothesis assumes the availability of advanced optical components (like lenses capable of producing a clear, focused image over a large surface) and a detailed understanding of light-sensitive chemicals, which certainly were not developed or understood in the medieval period.  Analyses of the Shroud do not show the presence of silver nitrate or other chemicals that would be expected if a photographic process had been used. The actual chemical nature of the Shroud's image remains a point of debate among researchers. The Shroud's image contains three-dimensional information and lacks directionality (shadowing effects that would be expected from a single light source), which are difficult to account for using a simple photographic projection. The use of a human model or a statue, along with complex photographic techniques, to create a religious relic would be highly unusual and controversial within the medieval religious and cultural context.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny 4_byax12

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Nichol11
Hypothetical model. illustrating how the Shroud of Turin was manufactured c 1 260-1320 AD.

Professor Allen was notably reticent about certain details, particularly because it was contentious whether the supposed photographer used a real corpse or a human-like model. It's highly improbable that a corpse was used, considering that after "several days" in the blazing sun, it would likely have been half-decomposed and would have emitted an overwhelming stench. Additionally, this would have been a radical violation of medieval religious taboos. Moreover, a hung corpse, due to rigor mortis, wouldn't have remained in the same position for long and thus couldn't have looked like a lying figure. If it were a real crucifixion victim, the corresponding "bloodstains" wouldn't have likely transferred over the required focal distance of twice 15 meters onto the shroud. Another possibility is that the shroud was made in the Middle Ages using Allen's method, but with the aid of a plaster model of a living (or perhaps dead) man, which brings its contradictions. As Cennino Cennini wrote in his work "Il Libro dell'Arte," the technical means to make plaster face masks of living people were only developed in the 14th century. The model would have had straws in their nose to breathe while the plaster set on the face. Still, it would have been challenging to make a truly good plaster model, even without the advanced process Professor Nicholas Allen suggested was used for the shroud, which would have required at least basic knowledge of techniques to create a photo-like image. However, it's critical to consider the following: Assuming, albeit very unlikely, that a person in the late Middle Ages had such extensive knowledge of photographic technique - only to then completely forget this knowledge! - why did this suffice only to produce a "negative" that wouldn't have convinced any viewer at that time? The hidden "positive," where everything is clearly visible, would have remained unseen for the next 500 years, even by the photographers themselves. Combining Professor Allen's theory that the shroud is the projection of a plaster model with the hypothesis that the shroud is a "virtuoso painting," the "bloodstains" on the shroud would be mere smudges applied for effect. Yet, pathologists and doctors have sufficiently confirmed the medical authenticity of the stains, not to mention historical evidence that such an object as the shroud was in circulation before it was supposedly made as an impressive forgery. Without diminishing Allen's contribution, it can be summarized that his thesis has significant weaknesses, as do all other theories circulating to date that suggest the shroud image originated in the Middle Ages or later.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny 4_byax11

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny G69ff910
On the left: Photograph of the life-size body cast of a human subject (1993-4) based on the image as found in the Shroud of Turin.
Middle: Photograph of the Shroud of Port Elizabeth showing the negative, frontal image of the body cast of a tortured man.
Right: Photograph of the Shroud of Port Elizabeth showing the negative, dorsal image of the body cast of a tortured man.

Last edited by Otangelo on Mon Jan 29, 2024 3:06 pm; edited 11 times in total




Is The Shroud of Turin a Medieval Photograph?
A Critical Examination of the Theory Barrie M. Schwortz

The proto-photography theory proposed by Prof. Nicholas Allen indeed demonstrated an ability to create images on linen cloth using medieval materials, but it fell short of replicating all the unique properties of the Shroud of Turin's image. To fully understand and provide a viable image formation mechanism for the Shroud, it's crucial to account for all of its distinctive features. Allen's approach, while impressive in its own right, may not have encompassed all the complexities of the Shroud's image. Just as it takes a professional artist to evaluate a painting comprehensively, the evaluation of a photographic theory like this should involve professional photographers who can scrutinize it from a technical perspective. Other professionals who have assessed Allen's theory have also arrived at similar conclusions. It's worth noting that while Allen was able to create a photographic image using medieval materials, he did so with the advantage of 21st-century scientific knowledge and techniques. It's akin to the idea that certain raw materials may exist on our planet today that could potentially lead to interstellar travel in the future, but their mere existence doesn't guarantee the immediate development of such technology. Achieving interstellar travel or replicating all aspects of the Shroud's image would require advancements in technology and knowledge that surpass our current capabilities. The argument that the mere existence of specific raw materials implies that someone from the past could have used them to invent technology far ahead of their time doesn't hold up. If we were to accept this premise, we might find ourselves searching archaeological sites worldwide for remnants of medieval cellular phones, microwave ovens, and nuclear weapons. Just because the raw materials for advanced technologies exist doesn't mean someone created them, especially if human knowledge and technological capabilities were not advanced enough to make it possible at that time. 1

1. https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/orvieto.pdf

The powdered statue hypothesis

The "powdered statue" hypothesis is a theory proposed to explain the formation of the image on the Shroud of Turin. This hypothesis suggests that the image was created by dusting a statue or a bas-relief with a powdered substance that could then be transferred onto the linen cloth, creating an image. It was proposed by Italian researcher Luigi Garlaschelli, who aimed to demonstrate a possible medieval method for creating the Shroud's image. Garlaschelli's work was part of an effort to explore naturalistic and artistic methods that could have been used to produce the Shroud's image, considering the historical context and the materials available during the medieval period.

Garlaschelli conducted a series of experiments to test the powdered statue hypothesis: He used a bas-relief model of a human figure to simulate the body that would have been wrapped in the Shroud. A mixture of substances, including sulfur, vermilion, and a binder, was dusted onto the model. The choice of materials was based on substances known to have been available in the medieval period. Linen cloth was then pressed onto the powdered model to transfer the image, simulating how the Shroud might have been in contact with the body it was believed to have wrapped. The cloth with the transferred image was then artificially aged to give it a more authentic appearance and to test the durability of the image over time. While Garlaschelli's experiments provided a plausible method for creating a Shroud-like image, several shortcomings were noted: Although the method could produce an image with some resemblance to the Shroud, critics argued that it lacked the subtlety, detail, and three-dimensional qualities of the actual Shroud's image. Analyses of the Shroud have not detected substances like sulfur or vermilion, which were used in Garlaschelli's experiments. The chemical makeup of the Shroud's image does not align well with the materials proposed by the powdered statue hypothesis. The Shroud's image has unique physical properties, such as the superficiality of the coloration, affecting only the topmost fibers of the linen, and the lack of image under the bloodstains. These characteristics were not fully replicated by the powdered statue method. There is no historical or archaeological evidence to support the use of a powdered statue technique for creating religious artifacts or artworks during the period in which the Shroud is claimed to have been made. Despite these shortcomings, Garlaschelli's work contributed to the ongoing debate about the Shroud of Turin by demonstrating a hypothetical possibility for medieval technologies and artistic techniques to create complex images.

Garclaschelli seems to have made it a life mission to discredit the Shroud of Turin. His book, The Shroud on Trial, was published in 1998. In 2010 he published a Science paper: Life-size Reproduction of the Shroud of Turin and its Image. His thesis was that linen can be aged artificially by heating it and then washing it in water. Next, red ochre (i.e., iron oxide) could be applied to a body, and the linen cloth then could be rubbed over the body’s prominent features. After that, the bloodstains, burn holes, scorches, and water stains could be added for the final effect. Garlaschelli tried to reproduce the image on the Shroud. He ordered a "herringbone" linen cloth the same as that of the Shroud, both in terms of yarn type and weight. The cloth was spread over a volunteer, and only the most prominent parts were rubbed with a reddish ocher pad. The image was then finished freehand after having spread the cloth on a flat surface. We have ascertained that it is not possible to apply the color with the pad in a uniform way when the body is still under the cloth. The face alone was made with a plaster bas-relief. This is the only way to avoid a complete distortion of the features and obtain a result similar to the face of the Shroud.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Semff_10
Garlaschelli claimed in the paper that the image on the Shroud is made up of two components: an iron oxide pigment on the fibers and a uniform yellow coloring throughout many of the fibers. It’s common knowledge that iron oxide was a regular ingredient in many medieval paints. Garlaschelli was not the first to come up with that hypothesis. McCrone, in the eighties, also concluded that the Shroud was simply a “beautiful painting.” He then celebrated the result on TV, claiming: Our results seem encouraging and should be welcomed as an interesting contribution to the resolution of doubts about what is the mysterious object par excellence. The premise of the iron oxide argument is simple, some iron oxide is rubbed on the Shroud. Except that virtually no iron oxide particles have been found on the Shroud at all, let alone the millions of particles you'd expect would cover it all. Professor Garlaschelli tried to explain the absence of any traces of iron oxide on the original Shroud by stating that the pigment on the original Shroud faded away naturally over the centuries. This is not a statement that you would expect from a serious scientist. The spectroscopic investigations being done in 1978 would not even show the slightest traces of iron oxide present on the Shroud and it is unscientific to state that they disappeared naturally, being an unsupported “ just so” assertion.   This also doesn't explain the bloodstains. There's no image under the bloodstains, whilst every attempt to replicate the Shroud by using iron oxide always adds the bloodstains AFTER. A forger would have to add the bloodstains in the correct positions, and then rub iron oxide around it perfectly. And around the bloodstains are fluorescent 'serum halos', which haven't been explained or replicated by proponents of this theory either.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Semff_11
The opinion of many is that the "second" Shroud is so unsuccessful that it should not appear among the evidence against but among those in favor of the authenticity of the find. However, as could have been foreseen, the new reproduction was soon archived and forgotten and a lot of criticism rained down on the association, especially from many experts, believers, and non-believers. Several studies have also certified the total diversity between the Shroud of Turin and the aping of Professor Garlaschelli. 3

The D'Arcis Memorandum

Joseph G. Marino (2022):  In an online article, historian Jack Markwardt, discussed, “[…] D’Arcis Memorandum, a medieval document in which Pierre d’Arcis, bishop of Troyes, alleged that an unnamed artist had once admitted to having painted the double body image that appeared on a cloth owned and exhibited by Geoffrey II de Charny, Lord of Lirey. Since this cloth and the Turin Shroud were then, and still are, generally considered as the same, the D’Arcis Memorandum, if authentic and credible, would rather decisively lay to rest the relic’s claim to first-century provenance.” 5

D. Selwood (2015): Our first definite knowledge of the shroud is an event in around AD 1355, when it was put on show in the tiny French village of Lirey, in Champagne. Its owners were the local knight, Geoffrey de Charney, and his wife, Jeanne de Vergy. Despite the insistence of the conspiracy brigade, there is no known connection between this Geoffrey de Charney (or his son of the same name) and the famous Knight Templar called Geoffrey de Charney, who was the preceptor of Normandy and was burned alongside Grand Master Jacques de Molay as a relapsed heretic in 1314, three-quarters of a century earlier. At the time of the 1355 exhibition, Henry de Poitiers, bishop of Troyes, conducted an inquiry into the cloth, concluding that it was a ‘fraud’ which had been ‘cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, that it was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought or bestowed. Nothing more is known of this episcopal inquiry, but in 1389 one of Henry’s direct successors, Bishop Peter d’Arcis, wrote to Antipope Clement VII in Avignon to tell him of Bishop Henry’s inquiry, and to complain that the linen was being displayed again. It seems that Peter did not succeed in getting the exhibition closed down, as Clement replied that he was happy for the cloth to be shown as ‘an image or representation’ of the true shroud. After around 60 years of being moved about, in 1453 Geoffrey’s granddaughter, Margaret, finally passed the shroud to the ducal house of Savoy, who took it to their capital at Chambéry in the Alps. 6

Stephen E. Jones (2022):  The d'Arcis Memorandum. One of two copies found only in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France), of a draft, unsigned, undated, unaddressed document. Which was 1900 published in its original Latin by French Roman Catholic anti-authenticist historian Ulysse Chevalier (1841–1923), who fraudulently added title to make it appear to have been sent by Bishop d'Arcis to Pope Clement VII at the end of 1389. Chevalier's fraud was continued by Fr Herbert Thurston (1856–1939), another leading Roman Catholic opponent of the Shroud, who in 1903 published his translation of Chevalier's Latin into English. There is no evidence in either the Troyes or Papal archives of a final version of the d'Arcis memorandum that was sent to Pope Clement. However since the Pope did reply to d'Arcis' appeals it presumably is a record of d'Arcis verbal complaints to Clement VII through his nuncio, Cardinal de Thury. The value of the d'Arcis memorandum is that it is the earliest undisputed historical reference to the existence of the Shroud in c.1355.

In the memorandum, Bishop d'Arcis stated that "thirty-four years or thereabouts ... to the present year"(i.e. c.1355) at the Lirey church, an exhibition was held by its Dean of:

"... a certain cloth cunningly painted, upon which by a clever sleight of hand was depicted the twofold image of one man, that is to say, the back and front, he falsely declaring and pretending that this was the actual shroud in which our Saviour Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb, and upon which the whole likeness of the Saviour had remained thus impressed together with the wounds which He bore"

D'Arcis appealed to Pope Clement VII to stop the exposition, claiming that one of his predecessors, Bishop Henri de Poitiers (r. 1354–1370) had discovered that the Shroud was "cunningly painted": 

"... Henry of Poitiers ... then Bishop of Troyes ... after diligent inquiry and examination, he discovered the fraud and how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, that it was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought or bestowed"

But d'Arcis provided no evidence in his memorandum to substantiate his claims, which he would have if there had been any. D'Arcis did not provide the name of the artist, nor a record of his confession, nor the source of his allegations. There is also no record of Henri de Poitiers conducting any inquiry into the origin of Shroud and d'Arcis did not even know its date! But there is a record of a letter of 28 May 1356, from Bishop Henri de Poitiers, praising Geoffroy I, ratifying the Lirey church, and approving its "divine cult", which presumably refers to the Shroud! It is also highly unlikely that Geoffrey I de Charny, the owner of the Shroud in the 1350s, one of France's most ethical knights, and a devout author of religious poetry, was complicit in forging Jesus' burial shroud. The final refutation of the d'Arcis memorandum is that the image of the man on the Shroud is not painted! .

In October 1389 Bishop d'Arcis appealed to Pope Clement VII about the current exhibition of the Shroud at Lirey, describing it as bearing the double imprint of a crucified man and that it was being claimed to be the true Shroud in which Jesus's body was wrapped, and was attracting crowds of pilgrims. But according to d'Arcis' information it had been discovered to be the work of an artist. 

In 1389,  Pope Clement VII allowed expositions of the Shroud to continue as a "figure" and "representation" of Jesus' burial shroud and commanded Bishop d'Arcis to "perpetual silence" on this matter. This unexpected siding of the Pope with the de Charnys against a senior bishop is explained by Clement, as Robert of Geneva, being not only a nephew of Jeanne de Vergy's second husband Aymon of Geneva, but also having been their neighbour. So Clement presumably had a private viewing of the Shroud and was told by Jeanne that her ancestor, Othon de la Roche (c.1170-1234) had looted the Shroud in the 1204 sack of Constantinople. The problem for the Pope was that the Byzantine Empire (c.330–1453) still existed and its Emperor John V Palaiologos (1332–1391) lived in Chambéry, France! So if the de Charny's continued to claim that the Shroud was Jesus' burial Shroud, John V would have known it was the one looted from Constantinople and demanded it be returned to him, creating a diplomatic crisis for the Pope!. It may be no coincidence that the year the Byzantine Empire ended, 1453, was the same year that Geoffroy II's daughter, Marguerite de Charny, transferred the Shroud to Duke Louis I of Savoy (1440-1465).7

Stephen E. Jones (2016):  d'Arcis, Pierre According to the 1389 memorandum of Bishop Pierre d'Arcis (r. 1377–1395), one of his predecessors Bishop Henri de Poitiers (r. 1354–1370) had "thirty-four years" earlier, i.e. in 1355, discovered the forger who had painted the Shroud which had been exhibited in the Lirey church in 1355. But this predates the benevolent letter from Bishop Henri of Poitiers of 1356 in which he had praised the Lirey church, the indulgences granted by Pope Clement VII to pilgrims in 1357. Also, if the Shroud had been painted by a then-living forger, the Lord of Lirey, Geoffroy I de Charny (c.1300-56) and the canons of the Lirey church, would have known that and would not have exhibited the Shroud in 1355. If someone in the 1350s had publicly confessed to having painted the Shroud's image, why did pilgrims flock to see the Shroud when it was again exhibited in 1389? Nor would Pope Clement VII (1478-1534), having heard Bishop d'Arcis' objections, enjoined "perpetual silence" about this matter on Bishop d'Arcis and "allowed the second exposition to continue in 1389 until at least 1390 since there was in 1390 a Papal Bull granted new indulgences to those who visited the Lirey church and its relics. Neither Pope Clement VII nor Bishop d'Arcis' successor as Bishop of Troyes, Bishop Louis Raguier, considered the Shroud a fraud. Pope Clement VII was Robert of Geneva (1342–94), who was a nephew and neighbour of Aymon of Geneva (c. 1324-88), the second husband of Geoffroy I de Charny's widow, Jeanne de Vergy. So presumably the future Pope Clement VII had been given a private viewing of the Shroud in the ~20 years the Shroud was with Jeanne and Aymon in High Savoy from c. 1358 and Robert becoming Pope in 1378, and so knew about the Shroud, its history and how it came into the possession of Geoffrey de Charny and why this had to be kept secret. D'Arcis himself produced no proof that the Shroud was a painting nor did he mention the name of the supposed forger. There is no written record of any confession nor the name of the alleged artist. In fact the d'Arcis memorandum is the only medieval document alleging forgery of the Shroud. The most serious difficulty with Bishop d'Arcis' claim that Bishop Henri de Poitiers had discovered "the artist who had painted it" is that the Shroud's image is not painted. If d'Arcis had gained possession of the Shroud he would have found that it was not a forgery but the genuine burial cloth of Christ, which would have brought substantial financial benefit to his Troyes Cathedral. The coincidence between Bishop d'Arcis' false claim that the Shroud was painted in about 1355 and the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud to 1260-1390, i.e. 1325 ±65 (see radiocarbon dating) is used as the basis for claims that the Shroud is a medieval forgery. "But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn't be a coincidence ... Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, '1325 ± 65 years' is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve".8

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Sem_df10

De Charny kept the Shroud in his castle at Lirey and occasionally exhibited it to the public. The exhibitions of the Shroud in Lirey attracted thousands of pilgrims and visitors, who came to see the cloth and venerate it as a sacred relic.  In the meantime, in 1353, Henri of Poitiers, an abbey from the vicinity, was appointed Bishop of Troyes, Lirey’s nearest large city.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Sem_t195
De Charny kept the Shroud in his castle at Lirey and occasionally exhibited it to the public. The exhibitions of the Shroud in Lirey attracted thousands of pilgrims and visitors, who came to see the cloth and venerate it as a sacred relic.  In the meantime, in 1353, Henri of Poitiers, an abbey from the vicinity, was appointed Bishop of Troyes, Lirey’s nearest large city.

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The British Museum exposition about middle-aged forgeries in 1990, including the Shroud of Turin, was forced to retract

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From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Image118
Page 81: The recent radiocarbon tests on the Turin Shroud are an important exception to this rule, their results proving what medieval historians have long known from a documentary source, that the Shroud was made in the mid-fourteenth century
Page 284: A fragment of the cloth was recently removed for radiocarbon dating, and samples measuring only a few square centimetres (equivalent to about 50mg) were apportioned to three accelerator laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, Arizona. The British Museum was asked to participate in the certification of the sampling and the statistical analysis of the results. The calibrated radiocarbon result, published in the journal Nature in 1989, was AD 1260–1390, which corresponds well with the Shroud’s first appearance in France. However, until it can be properly established how this striking image came into being, the mystery remains incompletely resolved. 4

In 1990, following the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin, the British Museum, which had played a significant role in the dating process, organized an exhibition focused on forgeries. Within this exhibition, a large reproduction of the Shroud of Turin was displayed, prominently featuring the medieval date derived from the carbon-14 testing. This presentation implied that the museum considered the Shroud to be a forgery, based on the radiocarbon dating results. The inclusion of the Shroud in an exhibition on forgeries sparked controversy, particularly among those who believed in the authenticity of the Shroud. Arnaud-Aron Upinsky, president of the International Center for the Study of the Shroud of Turin (CIELT), was among the prominent voices that challenged the British Museum's portrayal of the Shroud. Upinsky wrote to the British Museum, providing what he argued was a scientific demonstration of the Shroud's authenticity. This demonstration aimed to counter the conclusions drawn from the radiocarbon dating and to present alternative viewpoints and evidence supporting the Shroud's authenticity. The pressure and arguments presented by Upinsky and others advocating for the Shroud's authenticity led to a significant response from the British Museum. The museum, facing criticism and possibly re-evaluating the evidence and the interpretations of the Shroud's history, was compelled to remove the reproduction of the Shroud from the exhibition on forgeries. 

The radiocarbon testing of the Turin Shroud, detailed in the book "Fake? The Art of Deception," presents a notable contradiction in its analysis and conclusions. On one hand, the book states that recent radiocarbon tests, which involved taking a small fragment of the cloth for analysis by three accelerator laboratories in Oxford, Zurich, and Tucson, Arizona, have provided results that align with the longstanding views of medieval historians. The British Museum played a role in overseeing the sampling process and analyzing the statistical data. The calibrated radiocarbon results, published in "Nature" in 1989, dated the Shroud to AD 1260–1390. This timeframe matches well with the Shroud's documented first appearance in France, suggesting a medieval origin. However, the book also acknowledges a significant unresolved aspect. Despite the radiocarbon dating aligning with historical records, the book admits, particularly on page 284, that the mystery of the Shroud is not fully resolved until the method of image creation is definitively understood. This acknowledgment highlights a contradiction. On one side, the radiocarbon dating is presented as conclusive evidence for the Shroud being a medieval artifact. Yet, on the other, the book concedes that the mystery surrounding the Shroud persists, primarily due to the unknown process through which the striking image was formed. This contradiction underscores a critical point in the study of historical artifacts: while scientific tests like radiocarbon dating can provide valuable chronological information, they may not fully answer broader questions about an artifact's origins or the methods used in its creation. In the case of the Turin Shroud, while the radiocarbon dating suggests a medieval origin, the mystery of how its image was produced remains an unresolved enigma, leaving room for further investigation and debate. 

In addition to the radiocarbon dating findings, recent scientific papers by researchers such as Tristan Casabianca, Giulio Fanti, and others have challenged the conclusions drawn from the radiocarbon tests on the Turin Shroud. These newer studies bring fresh perspectives and counterarguments to the debate over the Shroud's age and authenticity, indicating that the matter is far from settled. Tristan Casabianca and his team, in their research, have raised questions about the methodology and the sample selection used in the 1989 radiocarbon dating. They argue that the sample used for the dating might not have been representative of the entire cloth, possibly being contaminated or not original to the Shroud. This could potentially skew the dating results, leading to inaccurate conclusions about the Shroud's age. Similarly, Giulio Fanti's studies have employed alternative methods to date the Shroud. Fanti's approaches include mechanical and spectroscopic analysis, which suggest a much older age for the cloth, potentially aligning with the time of Christ. These studies propose that the Shroud could be ancient, contradicting the medieval date range suggested by the 1989 radiocarbon tests. The work of Casabianca, Fanti, and others represents a significant development in the ongoing debate over the Shroud of Turin. Their findings suggest that the Shroud's history and the process by which the image was created are complex and might not be fully explained by the radiocarbon dating alone. These contradictions highlight the importance of considering multiple lines of evidence and methodologies in historical and archaeological research.

William Meacham, archaeologist, Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong, wrote: Rogue dates are common in archaeology and geology … Such has been my experience as an archaeologist who has excavated, submitted and interpreted more than one hundred carbon 14 samples from Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Historical sites. Of the dates obtained, 78 were considered credible, 26 were rejected as unreliable and 11 were problematic. I mention this merely to inform the non-specialist … The case of the Turin Shroud exemplifies how new scientific insights can challenge established views, keeping the discussion open and dynamic.

The observations made by William Meacham, an archaeologist at the University of Hong Kong, shed light on a broader issue in the field of archaeology and radiocarbon dating, particularly relevant to the case of the Turin Shroud. Meacham notes that in his experience, which includes excavating and interpreting over a hundred carbon-14 samples from various archaeological sites, a significant portion of the dates obtained were either unreliable or problematic. Out of the samples he worked with, 78 were deemed credible, 26 were rejected as unreliable, and 11 were problematic. This experience is not unique in the field and highlights the challenges and uncertainties inherent in radiocarbon dating. In the context of the Turin Shroud, Meacham's insights are particularly pertinent. The 1989 radiocarbon testing of the Shroud led to the conclusion that the linen was produced in the medieval period, specifically between AD 1260 and 1390. This dating was presented with a high degree of confidence, often cited as being 95% certain. However, as Meacham's experience illustrates, radiocarbon dating can sometimes yield "rogue dates," which may not accurately reflect the true age of the tested material. The confidence with which the medieval date of the Shroud was presented potentially misled the non-specialist public. It suggested a level of precision and certainty that, as Meacham's experience indicates, may not always be warranted in radiocarbon dating. This is especially true considering the complex nature of the Shroud and the possibility of contamination or other factors that could have skewed the dating results. Furthermore, the subsequent challenges to radiocarbon dating by researchers like Tristan Casabianca, Giulio Fanti, and others, who presented alternative evidence and interpretations, underscore the dynamic nature of scientific inquiry. These challenges suggest that the story of the Shroud is not as clear-cut as the initial radiocarbon dating results indicated.

The Shroud is not a fake 

The Shroud image “has some features that we are not yet able to reproduce – they admit - for example, the gradient of the image caused by a different concentration of yellow-colored fibrils that alternate with unstained fibrils”. And they warn: “We are not at the conclusion, we are composing pieces of a fascinating and complex scientific puzzle”. The enigma of the image of the Shroud of Turin is still “a challenge for intelligence”, as John Paul II said. 1

G.Fanti (2015) The image is not made by pigments but is caused by oxidation, dehydration, and conjugation of the polysaccharides Primary Cell Wall PCW about 200 nm thick 2

Rucker, Robert. “Information Content on the Shroud of Turin.” 2016, pg. 19.
QUOTATION: (…) Since the image of the man on the Shroud of Turin indicates that he was crucified exactly as the gospels in the New Testament say that Jesus was crucified, the most reasonable explanation, if we allow ourselves to not be constrained by naturalistic presuppositions, is that this unique image encoding event is the result of a unique individual (Jesus of Nazareth) going through a unique event, such as the disappearance of his body from
within the Shroud as it lay in the tomb. Since this event must be outside of our current understanding of the laws of physics, we have no basis for rejecting the possibility of vertically collimated radiation being emitted from his dead body in such a unique event (…).

Is the man on the shroud Jesus?

The correlation between the wounds inflicted upon the Jewish man buried in the shroud and the wounds the New Testament reports as having been inflicted upon Jesus is remarkable: ‘comparison of the gospel accounts with the sufferings and burial of the man in the Shroud points to the strong likelihood that the man is Jesus Christ. The evidence is consistent at every point. The man of the Shroud suffered, died, and was buried the way the gospels say Jesus was.’53 These similarities don’t fit any other known victim of crucifixion, except Jesus.

The sufferings, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus, as described by the gospels, were different from the ordinary ways the Romans crucified criminals and the Jews buried their dead: ‘Jesus’ case was irregular. He was scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to his cross [rather than tied], stabbed in the side (instead of his legs being broken), buried well [rather than thrown to the dogs] but incompletely, and his body left the cloth before it decomposed.’54 Because we know quite a lot about Roman and Jewish customs in these matters, we can estimate the probability of two men being treated, crucified and buried in this way, and hence the probability that the Jewish man in the Shroud was Jesus.

Peter S. Williams The Shroud of Turin: A Cumulative Case for Authenticity 
Kenneth E. Stevenson and Gary R. Habermas note just eight irregularities present in both the New Testament and the Turin Shroud (there are others55 ) and make conservative estimates of the probability that these irregularities would occur in other crucifixion victims:

1. Both exhibit a severe beating and scourging (Matthew 27:26-30; Mark 15:15- 19; Luke 22:63-64; John 19:1-3). (1 in 2 probability that a crucified man other than Jesus was beaten in this way) 
2. Both had a crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17-20; John 19:2) – ‘Crowning indicates majesty and a crown of thorns would, of course, mock that proclaimed majesty. Jesus was crowned with thorns for this very reason. . . the man buried in the Shroud was also pierced through the scalp. If the man in the Shroud is not Jesus, what are the chances that this man, probably a criminal or slave, would have been crowned with thorns?’56 (1 in 400 probability) 
3. Many crucifixion victims were tied to their crosses with ropes, but both Jesus and the man in the Shroud were nailed there (Luke 24:39; John 20:20, 25- 27).57 (1 in 2 probability) 
4. Neither Jesus nor the man in the Shroud had their legs broken, the normal procedure for ensuring death (John 19:31-32). (1 in 3 probability) 
5. ‘To ensure that Jesus was dead, a soldier stabbed him in the side, and blood and water flowed from the wound (John 19:33-34). The same thing happened to the man in the Shroud.’ (The wound in the side of the Man in the Shroud exactly corresponds to the size of the tip of the Lancia, a Roman spear with a long, leaf-shaped head.) (1 in 27 probability) 
6. Few victims of crucifixion were given individual burials in a fine linen Shroud (Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:43-46; Luke 23:50-55; John 19:38-42). (1 in 8 probability) 
7. Both Jesus and the man in the Shroud were buried hastily (Mark 16:1; Luke 23:55-24:1). (1 in 8 probability) 
8. Neither man decomposed in their Shroud. (1 in 10 probability) Despite using ‘deliberately conservative’58 estimates of the probability that ‘are most likely too low’, Stevenson and Habermas observe that: ‘multiplying these probabilities, we have 1 chance in 82,944,000 that the man buried in the Shroud is not Jesus.’

Multiplying these probabilities, we have 1 chance in 82,944,000 that the man buried in the Shroud is not Jesus. 1

How can we be sure that the ‘Man of the Shroud’ is Jesus?

The latest and most dramatic discoveries concern a piece of writing on the Shroud itself. For years, people have been asking why below and to the sides of the chin there are three clear and regular lines where no imprint is present. The Paris-based organization CIERT (Centre International d’Etudes sur le Linceul de Turin, the International Centre of Studies on the Shroud of Turin), which I represent in Italy, has conducted studies in the most advanced institute in Europe for image analysis via computer, the Institut Optique d’Orsay, whose director is Professor André Marion. All official photographs of the Shroud were divided into tens of thousands of squares which were then given a corresponding optical density and transferred onto a visualization program. Using an extremely advanced program, some letters gradually began to emerge, in Latin and Greek: under the chin, we find written ‘Jesus’ and on one side, ‘Nazarene’. What is the explanation for this? The ‘exactor mortis’ the centurion charged with ensuring the execution of the condemned, had drawn strips of ‘glue’ onto the cloth on which he would write the name of the deceased with a red liquid. Where these strips were drawn, the cloth was impermeable and would not, therefore, be subject to the chemical process that subsequently formed the imprint.  I sent a photograph of these inscriptions to André Marion in Paris, and he has already discovered many similarities with the style of the writing only recently discovered on the Shroud. 2

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny G124510

The man on the Shroud was a Jew, according to the late Harvard physical anthropologist Carleton S. Coon. The man on the Shroud has shoulder-length hair which is parted in the middle, but of the numerous Greek and Roman portraits we have, there is not one of a man with middle-parted hair falling to the shoulders. Similarly, a full beard like that on the Shroud is rarely found in a Greek or Roman portrait, but Jews regarded a full beard as a mark of manhood. Also, the manner of the deceased lying on his back, his hands crossed in front covering his pelvic region, and his body covered with a single linen sheet.

Hair Style: The man has shoulder-length hair parted in the middle, which is not commonly seen in Greek and Roman portraits. Most depictions from those cultures show men with shorter haircuts and different styling, often without a middle part.
Facial Hair: The full beard represented on the Shroud is not typical of Greek and Roman portraiture, where beards, when present, were often closely trimmed or styled in a manner different from the full beard shown on the Shroud. In contrast, full beards were respected in Jewish culture as a symbol of manhood and maturity.

Nasal Features: While not explicitly mentioned in the excerpt, Middle Eastern individuals, including those of Jewish descent during the period, often had prominent nasal features. These are distinct from the typically depicted European features in Roman and Greek art, which tended to have straighter and narrower noses.
Burial Customs: The way the deceased is positioned — lying on his back with hands crossed covering the pelvic region, and the body covered by a single linen sheet — is consistent with Jewish burial practices of the period. In contrast, Roman and Greek burials often involved more elaborate practices, including the use of multiple garments and sometimes cremation, which was not a Jewish custom.

These observations are based on general historical and anthropological knowledge of the time and are used to differentiate cultural and ethnic characteristics commonly found in Jewish populations from those in Greek and Roman cultures.

There are three main alternatives regarding the identity of the person depicted on the Shroud of Turin, but the most widely accepted view is that it is a portrait of Jesus of Nazareth. 

While the image on the Shroud is faint, 30 features closely match the Gospel's description of Jesus' death. These features include the blood trails, which indicate the man's position when he bled, the puncture wounds on the forearms corresponding to crucifixion by wrists, the vertical torso indicated by the chest wound, the bloody feet and bent legs consistent with crucifixion on a vertical post, and the overall depiction of a crucified man. The facial abrasions and swollen features match the description of Jesus being beaten, the numerous scourge marks on the body correspond to the scourging Jesus endured, the head wounds align with the crown of thorns, and the scourge wounds on the shoulders and upper back suggest that Jesus carried his cross. Furthermore, the Shroud portrays a naked man, in line with the Gospel accounts. It also shows no broken bones, which agrees with John's statement that none of Jesus' bones were broken. The wound in the side, resulting from a soldier piercing Jesus, is also evident on the Shroud. Finally, the Shroud depicts a body that shows no signs of decomposition or animal attacks, indicating that it was recently deceased and kept safe, potentially in a sealed tomb. These connections between the Shroud man and Jesus provide strong evidence for their correlation.

Correlation of the man on the Shroud, with the narratives in the Gospels

1. He was beaten
2. He was whipped and scourged
3. Crown of thorns
4. He carried the cross
5. He was crucified
6. He was pierced on the side
7. Legs were not broken
8. Naked
9. He was buried soon after his death

The mentioned details (such as the injuries, crucifixion, side piercing, and non-breaking of legs) align with the biblical accounts of Jesus' crucifixion and burial. 

1. He was beaten

The New Testament includes several passages that mention Jesus being beaten prior to his crucifixion. Here are a few verses that describe this:

Matthew 27:26: "Then he [Pilate] released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified."
Mark 15:15: "So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified."
John 19:1: "Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him."

These passages indicate that Jesus was subjected to scourging or flogging before being handed over for crucifixion. The details of the beating are not elaborated upon in the Gospels, but it is clear that Jesus endured physical suffering as part of the events leading up to his crucifixion.

The Shroud does show markings consistent with physical trauma, including facial injuries and wounds on the body, which some interpret as signs of beating. We see a large hematoma on his right cheek, probably a damaged cartilage of the nose, and a part of his beard missing. 

2. He was whipped and scourged

Jesus was subjected to scourging, which involved being whipped or beaten with a scourge—a type of whip or lash typically equipped with sharp pieces of metal or bone. This brutal act of punishment was intended to inflict great pain and humiliation upon the condemned person.

Matthew 27:26: "Then he [Pilate] released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified."
Mark 15:15: "Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified."
John 19:1-3: "Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him scourged. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' and to give Him slaps in the face."

The purpose of scourging was to further humiliate and weaken the condemned person before crucifixion. The scourging itself was a severe form of punishment involving a whip or a lash with multiple leather thongs, often embedded with sharp objects such as metal or bone fragments. The lashes would cause deep cuts, bruises, and excruciating pain. The Roman authorities used scourging as a means to physically weaken and dehumanize the individuals who were about to be crucified. It served as a public display of power and a deterrent to potential criminals or rebels. The intent was to intensify the suffering and ensure a more prolonged and agonizing death on the cross.

The Shroud displays marks that are consistent with scourge marks. The abrasions on the chest, back, and lower limbs consisting of round, approximately 2cm long figures suggest injuries caused by a flagellum, a Roman torture instrument consisting of a wooden handle with cords at the end to which small metal balls were attached. The punishment was inflicted on a bent back and naked body, causing over a hundred such injuries. The detailed examination of the bloodstains and injuries on the subject's body provides valuable insights into the manner of his death and the torture he endured. 

3. Crown of thorns

The Gospel accounts mention the crown of thorns that was placed on Jesus' head as part of his suffering before the crucifixion. Here are the specific verses that describe this event:

Matthew 27:29: "And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!'"
Mark 15:17: "They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him."
John 19:2-3: "And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' and to give Him slaps in the face."

These verses describe how the soldiers, as an act of mockery and humiliation, twisted together a crown of thorns and placed it on Jesus' head. They intended to mock Jesus' claim to kingship, and they also dressed Him in a purple robe, which was a color associated with royalty. The crown of thorns added to Jesus' physical pain and served as a symbol of the suffering and mockery he endured before his crucifixion. The specific mention of a crown of thorns in relation to crucifixion is unique to the accounts of Jesus' crucifixion in the New Testament. There are no other documented cases in historical records or biblical accounts where the condemned individuals were specifically given a crown of thorns as part of their crucifixion.

The Shroud does show numerous sinuous bloodstains that can be seen on his forehead, the back of his neck, and throughout his hair, emanating from small wounds with pointed diameters. These stains radiate out from his head in a spoke-like pattern, suggesting that a helmet of sharp, pointed thorns was pressed onto his head.  The sinuous bloodstains on his forehead, neck, and hair suggest that the subject had a helmet of thorns pressed onto his head, causing small pointed wounds. The spoke-like pattern of the stains radiating from the head indicates the uniformity of the injury, possibly caused by the same object.

4. He carried the cross

The Gospel accounts describe Jesus carrying the cross or being made to carry the cross before his crucifixion. Here are the specific verses that mention this:

Matthew 27:32: "As they were going out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross."
Mark 15:21: "They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross."
Luke 23:26: "When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus."
John 19:17: "They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha."

These verses indicate that Jesus initially carried his own cross, but at some point during the journey to the crucifixion site, the soldiers compelled a man named Simon of Cyrene to help carry the cross. The weight and burden of the cross symbolize the suffering and sacrifice that Jesus endured in his crucifixion.

On the Shroud, at the height of the left scapular area and the right suprascapular area, quadrangular bruises can be observed. These marks are believed to have been left by the patibulum, the horizontal beam of the cross that the condemned sometimes carried on himself to the place of execution

5. He was crucified

Here are the verses from the Gospel accounts that describe Jesus being crucified:

Matthew 27:35: "And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots."
Mark 15:24: "And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take."
Luke 23:33: "And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left."
John 19:18: "There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them."

These verses explicitly state that Jesus was crucified, along with two other individuals who were criminals. 

The Shroud displays a full-body image that is consistent with the posture of a crucified individual. The long bloodstains on both forearms that appear to run upwards are actually formed when the body was hung on the cross, and therefore the wrists were higher than the elbows. The characteristic bloodstain on the left wrist formed by two divergent streaks is particularly noteworthy as it indicates two different positions assumed by the condemned on the cross. The characteristic bloodstain on the left wrist formed by two diverging streaks is particularly notable, as it indicates two different positions assumed by the condemned man on the cross. The blood flows from an oval-shaped wound caused by a pointed instrument, such as a nail. Particular attention should be paid to the location of this wound, which is not in the palm of the hand as depicted in the traditional iconography of crucifixion, but in the wrist. It is noteworthy that the image of the thumbs is absent from the shroud, which could be due to damage to the median nerve or tetanic contraction.

6. He was pierced on the side

John 19:34: "But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water."
In John 19:34, it is mentioned that one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear while he was on the cross. This event occurred after Jesus had already died. The purpose of piercing his side was to confirm his death and ensure that he had not merely swooned or fainted.

On the Shroud: On the right side of his chest, there is a large bloodstain that flows from an oval-shaped wound caused by a pointed and sharp object that struck between the fifth and sixth ribs, penetrating deeply. The characteristics of this wound indicate that it was inflicted after the man's death.

7. Legs were not broken

In the historical context of crucifixion during the time of Jesus, it was common for the legs of those who were crucified to be broken. Breaking the legs of the crucified individuals was a method used to hasten their death. When a person was crucified, their body weight was primarily supported by their arms and legs. Breaking the legs of the crucified person would prevent them from pushing up with their legs to relieve pressure on their chest, making it difficult for them to breathe. This would eventually lead to asphyxiation and a quicker death.

John 19:31-33: "Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs."

John 19:36: "These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: 'Not one of his bones will be broken.'"

On the Shroud, the depiction does not show any apparent signs of broken legs on the man. This aligns with the Gospel accounts, specifically in John 19:32-33, which state that the legs of Jesus were not broken during his crucifixion, unlike the legs of the two criminals crucified alongside him.

8. Naked

There are a couple of passages that suggest that Jesus was crucified without clothing.

In the Gospel of Mark (15:24), it is written: "And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take." This passage indicates that Jesus' garments were divided among the soldiers, implying that he may have been left unclothed.

Additionally, the Gospel of John (19:23-24) mentions the soldiers dividing Jesus' garments among themselves, but it also states, "But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.'" This verse implies that Jesus was wearing only a seamless tunic, which suggests he may have been without any other clothing.

However, it is important to note that the Gospels do not provide explicit details about Jesus' state of undress during the crucifixion.

9. He was buried soon after his death

Matthew 27:57-60:

"When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away."

Mark 15:42-46: "And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb."

Luke 23:50-53: "Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid."

John 19:38-42: "After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there."

These verses describe how Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, obtained permission from Pilate to take Jesus' body down from the cross and bury it. Joseph, with the help of Nicodemus, wrapped Jesus' body in linen cloths with spices and placed it in a new tomb. The burial took place quickly, as it was approaching the Jewish day of Preparation and the Sabbath.

1. http://docshare04.docshare.tips/files/14267/142675557.pdf
2. https://www.messengersaintanthony.com/content/man-shroud-has-name
3. https://www.uccronline.it/2010/04/10/la-sindone-della-uaar-e-del-cicap-e-una-perfetta-bufala/
4. https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_LaUnOztbkP4C/mode/2up?view=theater
5. https://www.academia.edu/49761930/The_c_1389_dArcis_Memorandum_and_the_Authenticity_of_the_Shroud_of_Turin_an_English_Language_Bibliography
6. https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/if-the-turin-shroud-is-the-work-of-a-medieval-artist-it-s-one-of-the-greatest-artworks-ever-created/
7. https://theshroudofturin.blogspot.com/search?q=Pierre+d%27Arcis
8. https://theshroudofturin.blogspot.com/2016/01/problems-of-forgery-theory-index-z.html

Last edited by Otangelo on Mon Jan 29, 2024 3:06 pm; edited 14 times in total


17From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Empty Chapter 7 Wed Jan 24, 2024 4:41 pm



Chapter 8

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Panel_24

Characteristics of the Image on the Shroud

• Superficial—penetrates only top 2 micro-fibers
• No directionality such as brush strokes
• No outline to image
• No cementing of fibers as with paint
• Uniform intensity
• No variations in density as with known art works
• No particles between the threads (dust rubbing)
• No capillary action (except for blood)
• Negative image present
• Blood from actual wounds
• AB blood type, human male DNA

Superficiality: The image on the Shroud is remarkably superficial, affecting only the top two micro-fibers of the cloth. This suggests a delicate and precise mechanism of image formation, unlike conventional painting techniques. The image affecting only the top micro-fibers suggests an extraordinarily delicate formation process, unlike any known artistic method from the medieval period. This could imply that the image was formed by a process not understood or replicable by medieval artists.
Lack of Directionality: The absence of brush strokes indicates that the image was not created by standard artistic methods. This challenges the notion of the Shroud being a medieval forgery, as some have proposed. The absence of brush strokes or any directional marks typically associated with painting challenges the idea that it was a crafted artifact. It implies a formation process that is more complex and less human-driven.
No Outlining: Unlike typical paintings, the image on the Shroud does not have clear outlines. This contributes to the three-dimensional quality of the image when analyzed using modern imaging techniques. The lack of clear outlines is not characteristic of medieval painting, which often emphasizes outlines. This feature adds to the mystery of its creation, suggesting a process that is not manually controlled.
No Cementing of Fibers: The fibers are not glued or stuck together, as would be expected if paint or other typical artistic media had been used. The fact that the fibers are not cemented together as they would be with paint demonstrates that the image was not painted. This is a significant point against the forgery theory.
Uniform Intensity: The image's intensity is remarkably uniform. This uniformity is hard to achieve with conventional artistic methods, where variations in brush pressure and paint application typically result in different intensities. Achieving such uniform intensity across a large cloth would be extremely challenging with medieval technologies, implying that the image was not the product of conventional artistic methods of the time.
No Variations in Density: Unlike known artworks where density varies, the image on the Shroud shows a consistent density, further supporting the idea of a non-conventional formation process. This consistency across the image is not typical of hand-made artworks, where variations are almost inevitable. It suggests a process that is uniform and not subject to human error or technique.
Absence of Particles Between Threads: The lack of particles between the threads (like dust rubbing) suggests the image was not formed by powders or applied materials. The lack of extraneous particles indicates that the image was not formed by any applied substance, like powders, again suggesting a non-artistic process.
No Capillary Action: Capillary action, typical in fluid-based images, is not evident on the Shroud, except for the bloodstains. This is unusual for an image formed by liquid mediums. The absence of capillary action in the image formation, except for blood, indicates a process distinct from typical liquid-based image creation, like painting.
Negative Image: The Shroud's image is a negative, meaning it shows more detail when viewed as a photographic negative. This characteristic is unique and baffling, as it implies a complex formation mechanism. The presence of a negative image is perhaps one of the most compelling aspects. This feature is highly sophisticated and would have been unknown in the medieval period, suggesting the image was not deliberately created by artists of that time.
Blood from Actual Wounds: The bloodstains on the Shroud correspond to wounds depicted in the image, suggesting a real human body as the source. This has been a significant point in arguing for the Shroud's authenticity. The bloodstains correspond to the type of wounds one would expect from a crucifixion, consistent with the narrative of Jesus Christ's death. This correlation provides a compelling connection to the Shroud's purported historical context.
AB Blood Type, Human Male DNA: Analysis has indicated the presence of blood type AB and human male DNA. This is intriguing, especially considering the rareness of AB blood type in the general population during the medieval period. The presence of human male DNA and particularly AB blood type, which was very rare in the general population during the medieval period, adds a layer of authenticity. It suggests that the bloodstains originated from a real person and not from an artist's materials.

These features collectively build a strong case for the Shroud's authenticity. They suggest a formation process that is extraordinarily delicate, sophisticated, and not replicable with known medieval art techniques. The combination of these unique characteristics makes the Shroud of Turin a compelling and mysterious artifact that continues to intrigue and inspire debates among scientists, historians, theologians, and the general public. 

The image was not  made by:

X Paint
X Stain
X Dye
X Oil
X Acid
X Powder
X Heat / Burn

Is it a painting?

If the image on the Shroud were the work of an artist, one would expect to find pigments and dyes through chemical analysis, similar to the way art conservators study the works of Old Masters. However, the team from the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) found no significant traces of any artistic materials on the cloth that could account for the image. Additionally, there are no indications of the image being created with brush strokes. The image on the Shroud is extremely faint and was not recognized until 1898 when it was revealed in the negative of a photograph taken by Secondo Pia, an Italian amateur photographer. The subtle coloration of the flax fibers does not result from any external substance applied or infused into them; rather, it's the fibers themselves that have undergone a color change. This alteration in the fibers does not behave like typical dyes or paints, as it cannot be removed or altered by common chemical treatments. The STURP team concluded that the image represents the actual form of a "scourged, crucified man" and is not an artistic creation. The cloth also bears authentic bloodstains, with the blood type identified as AB, and contains traces of human DNA, though heavily degraded. Despite these findings, Walter McCrone, a chemical and microscopy consultant who worked with STURP, argued that the red stains thought to be blood were small particles of iron oxide or red ochre. This claim, like many others surrounding the Shroud, is highly contested and generally not accepted by the scientific community. Other theories, such as the image being a rubbing from a bas-relief or created by scorching the fabric against a bas-relief, have also been proposed but are inconsistent with the known physical and chemical characteristics of the Shroud's image.

The image was made by radiation

The distinct straw yellow hue of the image on the Shroud of Turin exhibits an extraordinarily fine superficiality when examined under a microscope. A single thread from the linen shroud is composed of approximately two hundred individual fibers, each with a diameter of about 20 microns. Remarkably, the discoloration attributed to the image does not extend beyond the very outermost layer of these fibers, penetrating less than 0.2 microns deep. This level of superficiality is consistent across all the colored fibers and does not affect the fibers that lie beneath the surface or are obscured by other fibers. The hypothesis involving radiation suggests a mechanism that could account for this extremely localized color change. According to this theory, a form of radiation could have caused a chemical alteration in the very thin, topmost layer of the fibers, affecting only the outermost surface to a depth of 0.000008 inches. This would mean the image is not a result of substances applied onto the surface, such as paint, but rather a transformation of the linen's fibers at a molecular level due to some form of radiant energy. This theory aligns with observations of the image's properties: its extreme superficiality, the lack of penetration beyond the surface-exposed fibers, and the absence of coloration between the fibers, which would be present if the image were formed by liquid dyes or pigments. If such a radiation event occurred, it would have been finely tuned to affect only the most minute layer, suggesting an event that is not easily replicated or explained by contemporary science. This specificity has led to a variety of interpretations, ranging from those based on naturalistic explanations to those invoking miraculous events, all of which continue to be subjects of analysis and debate within the scientific community.

At the Grenoble Nuclear Studies Center in France, Dr. Jean‐Baptiste Rinaudo conducted experiments involving the radiation of proton beams onto white linen using a particle accelerator. These experiments were aimed at replicating the straw-yellow coloration observed on the external image fibers of the Shroud of Turin. Remarkably, the experiments yielded results consistent with the Shroud's characteristics: the exterior of the fibers turned straw-yellow, while the interior part remained white. Dr. Kitty Little, a retired nuclear physicist from Britain’s Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, conducted similar experiments. She also observed comparable effects of radiation on linen, leading her to conclude that radiation might have played a role in forming the Shroud's image.

Fine-tuning of the radiation energy to produce the image on the Shroud

The need for fine-tuning the radiation energy in these experiments arises from the unique characteristics of the Shroud's image. The image is only superficial, affecting only the topmost fibers of the cloth. This suggests that whatever process caused the image did so without penetrating deeply into the fabric, which requires a very precise application of energy. Too much energy and the radiation would penetrate too deeply, affecting more than just the topmost fibers. Too little, and the color change might not occur at all. Therefore, achieving the correct balance is crucial to get the Shroud's unique image properties. This fine-tuning of radiation energy is significant because it points to the complex and delicate nature of the image formation on the Shroud, suggesting a process that goes beyond simple physical or chemical reactions. If we wanted to describe the precision more quantitatively, we could discuss the proportion of the fiber affected by the coloration compared to its total diameter:

- The diameter of an individual fiber is approximately 20 microns.
- The depth of coloration is less than 0.2 microns.

Less than 1% of the radius of each fiber was affected by the coloring. This ratio points to a highly precise radiation mechanism since it would require a source of energy capable of causing changes in such a minute area without affecting the rest of the material. A particular radiation energy level had to be responsible. The energy had to be precisely enough to cause a chemical change in the top layers of the fibers without transferring enough energy to penetrate and affect the lower layers and blurring the image.

The diameter of an individual linen fiber is approximately 20 microns (20 x 10^-6 meters).
The depth of the coloration on the Shroud is less than 0.2 microns (0.2 x 10^-6 meters).

This ratio, 0.01 or 1%, indicates that the coloration process would have had to be extremely finely tuned to affect only 1% of the radius (since the radius is half the diameter) of the individual fibers, assuming uniform coloration around the fiber. This fine-tuning would suggest an incredibly precise and localized energy distribution. It implies that the radiation source would have to deliver energy that is sufficient to modify the very surface of the fibers but not powerful enough to penetrate beyond this extremely thin layer.  However, this doesn't take into account many variables such as the distribution of energy along the fiber, the non-uniformity of natural fibers, the geometry of the fabric weave, and the potential for energy absorption and scattering within the cloth. The fine-tuning would involve adjusting factors such as the wavelength, energy level, intensity, and exposure time of the radiation, as well as considering the environmental conditions and the specific properties of the linen. Achieving the precise effect observed on the Shroud would require the consideration of multiple variables with narrow ranges of acceptable values. This level of precision underscores the complexity of the task and the advanced understanding of materials science and radiation physics that would be necessary to replicate the Shroud's image.

Based on the data from the ENEA experiments, we can attempt to estimate the fine-tuning required for the radiation that may have created the image on the Shroud of Turin. The key factor here is the power level of the radiation, which, as per ENEA's findings, was extremely high.

Radiation Power Level: The ENEA experiments suggest that a power level of approximately 34 trillion watts (or 34 terawatts) of VUV radiation would be necessary to replicate the Shroud's image. This is an extraordinarily high level of power, far beyond the capability of any existing VUV light source.
Radiation Type: The type of radiation used in these experiments was VUV, which falls in the ultraviolet spectrum but has shorter wavelengths and higher energy than the typical UV light.
Energy Density: The power density estimated by ENEA was about 2000 MW/cm² over a surface area of 17000 cm². This high energy density indicates that the radiation would need to be extremely focused and precisely targeted.
Duration of Exposure: The ENEA's reference to a "short and intense burst" suggests that the exposure time would be very brief. This precise duration is critical, as too long an exposure could cause damage to the linen, while too short might not produce the desired effect.
Environmental Conditions: As with any fine-tuning estimate, environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and the specific composition of the linen would play a role in how the radiation interacts with the material.

The fine-tuning estimate based on ENEA's data involves extremely high power levels of VUV radiation, with a very high energy density, applied in a short, intense burst. The exact duration and environmental conditions would also be crucial, but these details are not specified in the ENEA report. This level of fine-tuning is currently beyond the capabilities of existing technology and highlights the unique and unexplained nature of the Shroud's image.

How to explain that the image on the Shroud is not distorted? 

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny 41151810

Claim: The cloth could not have been in touch with everything so closely. And if the fabric was in contact with the face, it would not look like the picture on the left, but the one on the right. A bit of the same principle as a bitmap image of faces to games.

Response: The image on the Shroud of Turin has been the subject of intense scrutiny and debate. The left-hand image appears to show a face with clear, proportional features, while the right-hand image appears distorted, as if the fabric was in direct contact with the features of a face, compressing and spreading the image as might happen with a cloth lying directly on a three-dimensional object. The undistorted appearance of the image on the Shroud of Turin suggests that the image formation process was not simply due to direct contact with a body. One hypothesis that has been put forward by researchers to explain the undistorted image of the Shroud is the idea of a radiation process or a burst of energy. This theory proposes that the image was formed by some form of energetic process that caused a reaction on the surface of the cloth itself, rather than through direct contact. Physicist John Jackson, for instance, proposed a "cloth collapse" theory, suggesting that as the Shroud collapsed through a dematerializing body, it could have recorded radiation emanating from all points within the body. This would create a more uniform and undistorted image, much like the one seen on the left-hand image of the Shroud. This idea is further supported by the unique superficiality of the image, with the discoloration of the linen fibers penetrating only slightly into the cloth, without any capillary action that would be expected if the image were formed by liquids (blood, oils, etc.). Ultimately, the exact process of image formation on the Shroud remains a mystery, and while the "radiation" or "energy burst" theories might offer a plausible explanation for the lack of distortion in the image, they are still a subject of research and debate within the scientific and scholarly communities. The blood strains can only be seen with UV light. Why would an artist back then ever put blood there which would not be visible, and provide no advantage at all? But even more remarkable than that, the wide presence of creatinine particles bound to ferrihydrite particles is not a situation typical of the blood serum of a healthy human organism. Indeed, a high level of creatinine and ferritin is related to patients suffering from strong polytrauma-like torture. Hence, the presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments points to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin shroud.” What appears to be blood on the Shroud has passed 13 tests proving that it is real human blood.  The presence of "X" and "Y" chromosomes indicates that the blood is from a male.  The blood type is AB.  

When a person is cruelly tortured, the blood undergoes terrible hemolysis, when the hemoglobin literally ‘breaks up’. In thirty seconds, the reaction reaches the liver, which doesn’t have time to deal with it and discharges a volume of bilirubin into the veins. Alan Adler has discovered a very high quantity of this substance in the blood on the Shroud. It is this substance that, when mixed with methemoglobin of a certain type, produces that vivid red color. The color of the blood belonging to the ‘Man of the Shroud’ is chemical proof that, before dying, he suffered terrible torture. According to Professor Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua, the analyses show how “the peculiar structure, size, and distribution of the nanoparticles cannot be artifacts made over the centuries on the fabric of the Shroud.” Many fanciful reconstructions of the Turin Shroud being a painted object are once again denied.” Additionally, Fanti says, “the wide presence of creatinine particles bound to ferrihydrite particles is not a situation typical of the blood serum of a healthy human organism. Indeed, a high level of creatinine and ferritin is related to patients suffering from strong polytrauma-like torture. Hence, the presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments points a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin shroud.”

New research from ENEA on the sacred Linen kept in Turin 14.12. 2011

Enea, the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, has published a report on five years of experiments conducted in the ENEA center of Frascati on the “shroud-like coloring of linen fabrics by far ultraviolet radiation”. “Simply put: we tried to understand how the Shroud of Turin was imprinted by an image so special that it constitutes its charm, and poses a great and very radical challenge, "to identify the physical and chemical processes capable of generating a color similar to that of the image on the Shroud. "

Scientists (Di Lazzaro, Murra, Santoni, Nichelatti and Baldacchini) start from the last (and only) comprehensive interdisciplinary exam of the sheet, completed in 1978 by a team of American scientists from Sturp (Shroud of Turin Research Project). A starting point that all too often those who write about and dissect the Shroud prefer not to take into account, in spite of what is evidenced by available information verified by an accurate control on “peer-reviewed” journals, that is, approved by other scientists in objective and independent ways. The Enea report, with a lot of fair play and almost "en passant", very clearly refutes the hypothesis that the Shroud of Turin might be the work of a medieval forger. The hypothesis was supported – against many weighted arguments – by the results of the disputable and probably biased - C14 measurements; a test whose credibility has been rendered ​​very fragile not only by objective difficulties (the possibility that the fabric is contaminated is very high, especially since its historical journey is only partially known), but also from proven factual errors of calculation and the inability to obtain “raw data” from the laboratories for the necessary controls. In spite of repeated requests. An omission which in itself can throw a heavy shadow over the scientific accuracy of the episode.

The report notes: “The double image (front and back) of a scourged and crucified man, barely visible on the linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin has many physical and chemical characteristics that are so particular that the staining which is identical in all its facets, would be impossible to obtain today in a laboratory, as discussed in numerous articles listed in the references. This inability to repeat (and therefore falsify) the image on the Shroud makes it impossible to formulate a reliable hypothesis on how the impression was made.

In fact, today Science is still not able to explain how the body image was formed on the Shroud. As a partial justification, Scientists complain that it is impossible to take direct measurements on the Shroud cloth. In fact, the latest in situ experimental analysis of the physical and chemical properties of the body image of the Shroud was carried out ​​in 1978 by a group of 31 scientists under the aegis of the Shroud of Turin Research Project, Inc. (STURP). The scientists used modern equipment for the time, made ​​available by several manufacturers for a market value of two and a half million dollars, and took ​​a number of non-destructive infrared spectroscopy measurements, visible and ultraviolet, X-ray fluorescence, thermograph, pyrolysis, mass spectrometry, micro-Raman analysis, transmission photograph, microscopy, removal of fibrils and micro-chemical tests”. The analysis carried out on the Shroud did not find significant amounts of pigments (dyes, paints) nor traces of designs. Based on the results of dozens of measurements, the STURP researchers concluded that the body image is not painted nor printed, nor obtained by heating. Furthermore, the color of the image resides on the outer surface of the fibrils that make up the threads of the cloth, and recent measurements of fragments of the Shroud show that the thickness of staining is extremely thin, around 200 nm = 200 billionths of a meter, or one fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter, which corresponds to the thickness of the primary cell wall of the so-called single linen fiber. We recall that a single linen thread is made ​​up of about 200 fibrils.

Other important information derived from the results of the STURP measurements are as follows: The blood is human, and there is no image beneath the bloodstains; the gradient color contains three-dimensional information of the body; colored fibers (image) are more fragile than undyed fibers; surface staining of the fibrils of the image derive from an unknown process that caused oxidation, dehydration and conjugation in the structure of the cellulose of the linen”. In other words, the color is a result of an accelerated linen aging process”. As already mentioned, until now all attempts to reproduce an image on linen with the same characteristics have failed. Some researchers have obtained images with a similar appearance to the image of the Shroud, but nobody has been able to simultaneously reproduce all microscopic and macroscopic characteristics. “In this sense, the origin of the Shroud image is still unknown. This seems to be the core of the so-called “mystery of the Shroud”: regardless of the age the Shroud, whether it is medieval (1260 - 1390) as shown by the controversial dating by radiocarbon, or older as indicated by other investigations, and regardless of the actual importance of controversial historical documents on the existence of the Shroud in the years preceding 1260, the most important question, the “question of questions” remains the same: how did that body image appear on the Shroud?”.

There are two possibilities, the scientists write, on how the sheet of the Shroud was placed around the corpse: placed above and below (not in full contact with the whole body stiffened by rigor mortis) or pressed on the body and tied in order to be in contact with almost the entire body surface. “The first method is supported by the fact that there is a precise relationship between the intensity (gradient) of the image and the distance between the body and the cloth. Furthermore, the image is also present in areas of the body not in contact with the cloth, such as immediately above and below the hands, and around the tip of the nose. The second method is less likely because the typical geometric deformations of a three dimension body brought into contact in two dimension sheet are missing. Moreover, there is no imprint of body hips. Consequently, we can deduce that the image was not formed by contact between linen and body”.

It is this observation, “coupled with the extreme superficiality of the coloring and the lack of pigments” that “makes it extremely unlikely that a shroud-like picture was obtained using a chemical contact method, both in a modern laboratory and even more so by a hypothetical medieval forger”. “There is no image beneath the blood stains. This means that the traces of blood deposited before the image was. Therefore, the image was formed after the corpse was laid down. Furthermore, all the blood stains have well-defined edges, no burrs, so it can be assumed that the corpse was not removed from the sheet. “There are no signs of putrefaction near the orifices, which usually occur around 40 hours after death. Consequently, the image is not the result of putrefaction gases and the corpse was not left in the sheet for more than two days”.

One of the assumptions related to the formation of the image was that regarding some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength), which could fit the requirements for reproducing the main features of the Shroud image, such as superficiality of color, color gradient, the image also in areas of the body not in contact with the cloth and the absence of pigment on the sheet. The first attempts made to reproduce the face on the Shroud by radiation, used a CO2 laser which produced an image on a linen fabric that is similar at a macroscopic level. However, microscopic analysis showed a coloring that is too deep and many charred linen threads, features that are incompatible with the Shroud image. Instead, the results of ENEA “show that a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including shades of color, the surface color of the fibrils of the outer linen fabric, and the absence of fluorescence”.

“However, Enea scientists warn, "it should be noted that the total power of VUV radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen that corresponds to a human of average height, body surface area equal to = 2000 MW/cm2 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion watts makes it impractical today to reproduce the entire Shroud image using a single laser excimer, since this power cannot be produced by any VUV light source built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts )”. 8

Resumed: Today Science is still not able to explain how the body image was formed on the Shroud.  The analysis carried out on the Shroud did not find significant amounts of pigments (dyes, paints) nor traces of designs.  Recent measurements of fragments of the Shroud show that the thickness of staining is extremely thin, around 200 nm = 200 billionths of a meter, or one-fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter, which corresponds to the thickness of the primary cell wall of the so-called single linen fiber.  We recall that a single linen thread is made ​​from 50 to 200 fibrils. the gradient color contains three-dimensional information of the body; colored fibers (image) are more fragile than undyed fibers; surface staining of the fibrils of the image derive from an unknown process that caused oxidation, dehydration and conjugation in the structure of the cellulose of the linen”. In other words, the color is a result of an accelerated linen aging process”. The “question of questions” remains the same: how did that body image appear on the Shroud?”. The image was not formed by contact between linen and body”. It is this observation, “coupled with the extreme superficiality of the coloring and the lack of pigments” that “makes it extremely unlikely that a shroud-like picture was obtained using a chemical contact method, both in a modern laboratory and even more so by a hypothetical medieval forger”.  “There are no signs of putrefaction near the orifices, which usually occur around 40 hours after death. Consequently, the image is not the result of putrefaction gases and the corpse was not left in the sheet for more than two days”. One of the assumptions related to the formation of the image was that regarding some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength), which could fit the requirements for reproducing the main features of the Shroud image, such as superficiality of color, color gradient, the image also in areas of the body not in contact with the cloth and the absence of pigment on the sheet. The first attempts made to reproduce the face on the Shroud by radiation, used a CO2 laser which produced an image on a linen fabric that is similar at a macroscopic level. However, microscopic analysis showed a coloring that is too deep and many charred linen threads, features that are incompatible with the Shroud image. Instead, the results of ENEA “show that a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including shades of color, the surface color of the fibrils of the outer linen fabric, and the absence of fluorescence”. “However, Enea scientists warn, "it should be noted that the total power of VUV radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen that corresponds to a human of average height, body surface area equal to = 2000 MW/cm2 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion watts

Turin Shroud really could be Jesus burial robe , says scientist

20/11/2011: A NEW study suggests that one of Christianity’s most prized but mysterious relics – the Turin Shroud – is not a medieval forgery and could be the burial robe of Christ. Italian scientists conducted a series of experiments that they said showed that the marks on the shroud – purportedly left by the imprint of Christ’s body – could not have been faked with technology that was available in medieval times. Sceptics have long claimed that the 14ft-long cloth is a forgery. Radiocarbon testing conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona in 1988 appeared to back up the theory, suggesting that it dated from between 1260 and 1390. But those tests were in turn disputed on the basis that they were contaminated by fibres from cloth that was used to repair the relic when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages. The new study is an intriguing piece of puzzle baffling scientists for centuries spawning an industry research books and documentaries. “The double image front and back of scourged crucified man barely visible on linen cloth Shroud Turin has many physical chemical characteristics impossible obtain staining,” concluded experts Italy National Agency New Technologies Energy Sustainable Development. The scientists set out to “identify physical-chemical processes capable generating colour similar to conundrum shade texture depth included. “Of the imprints on the cloth could be produced only with the aid of ultraviolet lasers producing extremely brief pulses of light. They said the image of the bearded man must therefore have been created by “some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength)”. Although they stopped short of offering a non-scientific explanation for the phenomenon, their findings will be embraced by those who believe that the marks on the shroud were miraculously created at…” The text seems to discuss a theory about how imprints on a cloth could only be made with ultraviolet lasers producing brief pulses of light. It mentions an image of a bearded man believed to have been created by some form of electromagnetic energy, such as a flash of light at short wavelength. The authors refrain from offering non-scientific explanations but note that their findings may appeal to those who believe in miraculous creation theories regarding marks on this particular shroud. The moment of Christ’s Resurrection. “We are not at the conclusion. We are composing pieces of a fascinating and complex scientific puzzle,” the team reported. Prof Paolo Di Lazzaro, who led the research, said: “When one talks about a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things such as miracles and resurrection. But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. “We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate but we will leave the conclusions to experts, and ultimately to conscience of individuals.” The research backs up outcome tests between 1978 and 1981 carried out by group American scientists who called themselves Shroud Turin Research Project. They conducted 120 hours X-rays ultraviolet light tests concluded that marks were not made paints pigments dyes that image was not “the product artist”, but at same time it could be explained modern science. One Christianity’s greatest objects veneration shroud shows imprint man whose body appears have nail wounds his wrists feet pinpricks thorns around forehead spear wound his chest Each year attracts millions pilgrims Turin cathedral where it kept climate-controlled case Vatican never said whether believes shroud authentic or not although Pope said image “reminds us always” Christ’s suffering.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Image214

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Image215

2012 - The Telegraph

Still in the news in December 2011 as new evidence is unearthed.

The following is reproduced from the Daily Mail
PETER STANFORD "The Turin Shroud DOES have miraculous powers... whether it is genuine or not"Face of Turin Shroud 22nd December 2011
Italian scientists claim shroud was created by 'supernatural event' as burst of ultra-violet light necessary to leave imprint on cloth wasn't then possible. Implication from research is that image of Jesus was scorched onto linen by divinely generated light given out by His body Shroud believers welcome new scientific research 'proving' its existence But Vatican still refuses to comment on the long-running saga

Puzzle: The Turin Shroud's origin is endlessly debated. Still, the Catholic Church has placed the cloth in a cathedral as an object of worship The Catholic Church has never publicly accepted or rejected popular belief that the Turin Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. But it has done everything short of that to encourage devotion to this ancient piece of linen, on display in Turin Cathedral, which bears the markings of a man who appears to have been crucified.  The extraordinary sepia image on the cloth is simply — as Pope Benedict XVI likes to put it in that careful, precise way of his — ‘an image that reminds us always of Christ’s suffering’.

Yet, this week, a group of Italian scientists claimed the shroud was created by a ‘supernatural event’ rather than the machinations of medieval forgers. The academics concluded that the sort of burst of ultra-violet light necessary to have left such an imprint on the cloth just wasn’t possible by any human endeavour in any age other than our own technically advanced one with its access to lasers. The implication of their findings is that the image was scorched on to the linen as a result of a divinely generated light given out by Jesus’s body when he rose from the dead. Believers in the shroud hail the research by scientists at Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) as proof that it is genuinely the cloth of Christ. They claim it backs up the work of a group of American scientists from the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) from the Seventies.
These scientists established by careful analysis of the fibres of the cloth that the image of the bearded, crucified man had not been painted on to the cloth. It was not, they concluded, ‘a natural formation’.  Science, say the believers, appears to have provided no reasonable answer to counter the belief of generations of Christians that this is the image of Christ on the shroud in which his body was wrapped when it was taken down from the cross.

Giving a closer look at flax fibers

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From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny G127dd13
Hierarchical structure of the flax plant ( Linum usitatissimum L.). The technically used fi bre bundles are located in the outer part of the flax stem and consist of several flax fibres 5

A single thread contains around a hundred hundred micro-fibrils, with only the top three micro-fibrils of the elementary fiber carrying the image. This level of superficiality makes it physically impossible for any artist to paint with such precision. The image on the Shroud of Turin is formed through a molecular modification of the surface linen fibrils. In this modification, single covalent bonds are transformed into double covalent bonds. As a result, it is the conjugated dehydrated cellulose within the linen that carries the image. Examining a photomicrograph of the nose region, one of the darkest areas of the image, it becomes apparent that the microfibrils are not held together with any paint or binder. Thus, it is the molecularly modified linen fibrils themselves that comprise the image visible on the shroud today. Flax fibers are natural fibers obtained from the stalks of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum), commonly used to produce linen. These fibers are valued for their strength, durability, and smoothness, making them ideal for textiles. Flax fibers are extracted from the bast or skin of the stem of the flax plant. This plant is cultivated specifically for its fibers, although its seeds (linseeds) are also harvested for oil and other uses. The fibers consist of elementary fibers, which are individual plant cells. These cells have a primary cell wall, a secondary cell wall, and a central hollow area called the lumen. Flax fibers are predominantly composed of cellulose, a natural polymer that gives strength and structure to the plant. They also contain hemicellulose and pectin, which bind the fibers together and add flexibility. Flax fibers are known for their strength, absorbency, and ability to dry faster than cotton. They are also naturally smooth and straight, which contributes to the quality of the linen fabric.

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cross-section of the stem of the flax plant. The fiber bundles, which are the fibers used for textiles are located just under the skin.

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Photographs of a cross section of a flax stem. (a) The white markers show the bast fibres bundles.  Clearly deducible is the ribbon-shaped morphology of the fibre bundles. The scale bar represents 0.1 mm. (b) Magnification of a, the white markers show spots where the interfibre bonding within the fibre bundle is virtually absent, the grey markers show the individual elementary fibres. The fibre bundles are packed together in a tape-like morphology. The scale bar represents 50 µm

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Stem-morphology-Cross-section-of-linseed-phloem-fibers-Linum-usitatissimum-L-A
Stem morphology. Cross-section of linseed phloem fibers ( Linum usitatissimum L.): (A ) epidermis (ep), hypodermis (hd), bundle of phloem fibers (bph), endodermis (en), primary phloem (pph), secondary phloem (sph), cambium (ca), secondary xylem (sxy); (B) a distinct border between G-layer and Gn-layer is visible in phloem fibers (arrows); (C) elementary phloem fibers (eph), middle lamellae (ml), plasmalemma (pm), lumen (lu), secondary cell wall (scw), primary cell wall (pcw); (D) elementary phloem fibers, gn – newly deposited gelatinous layer of secondary cell wall, g – mature gelatinous layer of secondary cell wall.

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Multiscale nature of flax fiber
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Single Linen Fiber ( Fibril) 1

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Schematic representation of a section of the elementary fibre ( 10 -20 nm) or plant cell. Shown is also the fibrillar structure in the secondary cell wall.

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Cross section of flax fiber as polygonal with 5–7 sides as is shown in Figure 1b.

Elementary fibers

Elementary fibers are the single cells of the flax plant, which are used to make linen. Each of these fibers is composed of a primary cell wall, a secondary cell wall, and a lumen, which is a hollow channel running through the center of the fiber. The lumen is quite small, making up only a tiny portion of the fiber's cross-section. These elementary fibers have a high cellulose content, ranging between 65-75%. They also contain about 15% hemicellulose (mainly xylan) and 10-15% pectin. Pectin is primarily found in the primary cell wall, along with some lignin and hemicellulose. The primary cell wall of these fibers is thin, measuring around 0.2 micrometers. Additionally, flax fibers contain 2-5% waxes, some of which are located on the surface of the primary cell wall. These waxes might come from the plant's cuticle, which consists of cutin (an aliphatic polyester) and soluble waxes, predominantly palmitic acid. The secondary cell wall forms the majority of the fiber's diameter in flax fibers and is primarily composed of cellulose and hemicelluloses. Cellulose, made up of the monosaccharide D-glucose, forms strong intra- and intermolecular hydrogen bonds. These bonds significantly influence the physical and chemical properties of cellulose, giving it considerable stiffness. The cellulose molecules are mostly arranged in crystallites, which are interspersed with amorphous regions.


In the secondary cell wall, the cellulose crystallites form highly crystalline microfibrils. These microfibrils are bonded together by an amorphous hemicellulose phase, which plays a significant role in the fiber's strength. Removing hemicellulose from the fiber greatly reduces its tensile strength and can cause the fiber bundles to disintegrate into microfibrils. Studies using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and transmission electron microscopy have shown that the cellulose microfibrils are very small, with a cross-section of approximately 1x5 nm² and a diameter between 1 and 4 nm. These microfibrils are tightly packed in a fibrillar structure, forming meso fibrils about 0.1 µm in size. These fibrils are oriented spirally around the fiber axis, a structure that is visible under a scanning electron microscope.

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From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny 1adaas10

Flax Stem: It starts with the flax plant, which has a stem diameter of approximately 1-3 millimeters.
Bundles: The stem is composed of bundles that are about 100-300 micrometers in diameter.
Fibers: These bundles are made up of individual fibers that have diameters ranging from 10-30 micrometers. The fibers are shown in more detail, displaying their microfibrils, lumen, and various layers such as the secondary wall, primary wall, and cell wall. The middle lamella is also indicated.
Individual Fibers: A closer look at the individual fibers before they are spun.
Spinning: The process of spinning these individual fibers into yarn is illustrated. The spinning action twists the fibers together to form a coherent and stronger yarn.
Fiber Yarn: A visual representation of the twisted fiber yarn is provided.
Natural Linen Thread: Finally, the image shows the finished product, a spool of natural linen thread labeled as "60/2", which indicates the thread weight and ply, along with the length of "1500 feet".

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The Shroud cloth is composed of threads of a nominal diameter of 0.15 mm, woven with fibers of linen with a diameter of about 10-20 µm.  The Shroud image is a faint and superficial image caused by a translucent and discontinuous yellow discoloration of the fibers. In the points where the image is present, the discoloration affects only 2 or 3 fibers on the topmost part of the threads of the cloth. In each fiber, the yellow discoloration penetrates only for 200 nm in the external cell layer.

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Approximately 50 fibers compose each thread in the Shroud of Turin, based on the average fiber diameter of 10-20 micrometers and the thread diameter of 0.15 millimeters.

From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Sturp_11

Phase-contrast microscopy of a single image fiber. Image is a reddish-brown caramel-like complex carbon bond, a chemical change within a super thin coating of crude starch on the fabric's outermost fibers. It is not paint or any kind of applied pigment. It is likely caused by bodily amine vapors reacting with saccharides in the starch.

Shroud of Turin Chemistry of the Images
A single image fiber from the Shroud of TurinSome of the cellulose fibers that when twisted together make up the threads of the Shroud's cloth are coated with a thin carbohydrate layer of starch fractions and various sugars. This chemical layer, which is about as thick as the transparent scratch-resistant coatings used for eyeglasses, is essentially colorless and is found only on the outermost fibers near the surface. In some places, the layer has undergone a chemical change that appears straw-yellow. This chemical change is similar to the change that takes place when sugar is heated to make caramel or when proteins react with sugar giving beer its color. And it is the straw-yellow, selectively present in some parts of the carbohydrate layer, that makes up the image we see on the Shroud. When scientists speak of image fibers they are referring to the coating on lengths of fiber that have undergone this chemical change. 6

The image on the Shroud is not a painting. The polysaccharide cover, approximately 0.2 thousandths of a millimeter (about 0.000008 inches), is colored; the cellulose on the inner side is not. To put that in perspective: Fine hair has a diameter of approximately 0.05 mm, is equivalent to 50 micrometers (µm). Medium hair, ranging from about 0.051 mm to 0.1 mm, is equivalent to 51 to 100 micrometers (µm). 0.2 thousandths of a millimeter, is 0.0002 mm, which is equivalent to 0.2 micrometers (µm) or 200 nanometers (nm) is significantly smaller than the diameter of human hair, whether fine or medium. For perspective, 0.2 micrometers (200 nm) is about 250 times smaller than fine hair and about 255 to 500 times smaller than medium hair. This size (200 nm) is much closer to the scale of very small particles, like some types of viruses or ultrafine dust particles, rather than the comparatively much larger scale of human hair.

Unique Method of Transfer of Blood from Body to the Cloth

The man depicted in the Shroud of Turin appears to have sustained over 130 distinct injuries, which can be categorized into five primary types: scourge marks, wounds on the side, head wounds, wounds on the feet, and wounds on the wrists. These injuries seem to have been inflicted sequentially, starting with the scourging, followed by the head wounds, then the crucifixion nail wounds in the wrists and feet, and finally, the postmortem side wounds. The pattern and direction of the blood flows, particularly from the side wound, appear to have been altered postmortem, especially when the body was carried horizontally, feet first. Given that crucifixion typically lasted several hours, medical experts estimate that bleeding from the various wounds could have continued for a period ranging from four to twelve hours. This suggests that the blood on the Shroud varied in age, from relatively fresh to coagulated blood that was up to twelve hours old. Remarkably, all these coagulations transferred to the cloth in a manner that is unprecedented in recorded history. The representation of these wounds on the Shroud aligns closely with natural physiological reactions to bleeding and changes in position. This ranges from the large side wound to the tiny scourge marks, all of which are anatomically accurate on the Shroud. Dr. Pierre Barbet, a battlefield surgeon, was one of the first to note the unique nature of the bloodstains on the cloth. He observed that the bloodstains on the Shroud did not mirror the kind of smearing or diffusion typically seen on bandages removed from wounds of various ages, from fresh to several days old. This led him to comment on the unusual correspondence between the bloodstains on the Shroud and the wounds. Paul Vignon and Pierre Barbet, in their attempts to replicate these kinds of blood marks on linen, found it impossible to achieve the same level of precision as seen on the Shroud. They noted that if the blood was too wet when it came into contact with the cloth, it would spread or run, while drier blood would only leave a smudge. The clearly bordered, picture-like clots on the Shroud seemed to defy reproduction by simple staining methods. The unique characteristics of these bloodstains suggest that they could not have been created simply through direct contact between a bloody body and the surrounding linen cloth. This observation, while initially seeming to challenge the notion of the Shroud as an actual burial cloth, might instead point to something more extraordinary and possibly miraculous.

The Enigma of the Shroud of Turin: Scientific Challenges and Unanswered Questions

No single theory comprehensively explains all the characteristics of the image on the Shroud of Turin. Before publishing their final report on the image in 1981, members of the STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) team dedicated over 150,000 hours to studying the Shroud and examined various theories in light of the characteristics just mentioned. In a graphical representation, these theories and characteristics were tabulated to assess their likelihood or incompatibility. Modern science, which adheres to the empirical method, requires the ability to replicate a phenomenon to assert that it occurred in a specific way. In the case of the Shroud, we have an imprint whose formation process remains unknown, yet its characteristics are well-documented. None of the proposed theories meet the requirement of explaining ALL these features, and therefore, no single theory can be deemed valid or complete.

The challenge lies in the Shroud's unique combination of features – its negative image, three-dimensionality, and detailed portrayal of wounds, among others. These characteristics are so specific and complex that they defy simple explanations or reproduction using current scientific knowledge and technology. The inability of existing theories to fully account for all aspects of the Shroud's image has kept the debate and research around it alive and ongoing. This situation exemplifies the limitations and challenges of scientific inquiry, especially when dealing with historical artifacts of unknown origin. The Shroud of Turin, therefore, continues to be a subject of fascination and mystery, not only for its religious significance but also for its enigmatic presence in the realm of scientific study.

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Dr. Robert Bucklin, M.D. In the film “The Silent Witness,” by David Rolfe.
The markings on this image are so clear and so medically accurate that the pathological facts that they reflect concerning the suffering and death of the man depicted here are in my opinion beyond dispute.

Dr. Robert Bucklin, M.D. as cited in Fitzpatrick, Marie. “The Shroud of Turin Controversy: Part 2.” Garabandal, October-December 1989, pg. 22.
The medical data from the Shroud supports the Resurrection. When this medical information is combined with the physical, chemical, and historical facts, there is strong evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection.

Dr. Robert Bucklin, one of the Shroud of Turin forensic experts, played a pivotal role in the analysis of the Shroud. The negative image of the Shroud often likened to a medical examination of a cadaver, has attracted significant attention from legal and medical professionals. These experts, intrigued by the anatomical precision of the image, are among the most convinced of the Shroud's authenticity. Their argument hinges on the notion that, until the modern era, no artist has been able to depict the wounds of Christ with such realism and accuracy. In their view, the Shroud contains no anatomical "errors." The Shroud, according to these specialists, not only reflects the physical suffering and death of Christ as described in the Gospels but does so with a level of medical and archaeological accuracy that is striking. This verisimilitude prompted Pope John Paul II to describe the Shroud as a "mirror of the Gospel." The comparison between the visible marks on the Shroud and the scriptural descriptions of Christ's Passion provides clear evidence that the man depicted in the Shroud is indeed Jesus.

1. https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/modern-science-cant-duplicate-the-image-on-the-shroud-of-turin
2.  Giulio Fanti Optical features of flax fibers coming from the Turin Shroud (2015)
3. https://edepot.wur.nl/517183
4. Chen, F. (2020). Unidirectional All-Cellulose Composites from Flax via Controlled Impregnation with Ionic Liquid. Polymers, 12(5), 10. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12051010.
5. https://sci-hub.wf/10.1533/9781782421276.1.35
6. http://www.factsplusfacts.com/shroud-of-turin-chemistry.htm
7. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2077341/The-Turin-shroud-DOES-miraculous-powers--Whether-genuine-not.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
8. https://www.sindone.info/DILAZZA2.PDF

Last edited by Otangelo on Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:30 pm; edited 4 times in total


18From Forensics to Faith: The Shroud of Turin's History and Authenticity Under Scrutiny Empty Chapter 8 Thu Jan 25, 2024 3:16 am



Chapter 9 

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Jesus Passion

Sufferings in the Night

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On the night of Good Friday, April 3, AD 33, a series of events unfolded, marking a culminating moment in Christian history. This period, from midnight to the early hours of the morning, involved Jesus Christ's journey and the ordeals he faced, as recorded in the Gospels.

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During the night of Good Friday, as recorded in the Gospels, Jesus Christ's journey took him through several significant locations in Jerusalem, beginning at midnight and continuing into the early hours of the morning.

Midnight to 1:00 AM - Journey from the Garden of Gethsemane to Annas' Residence:  After his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was taken to the home of Annas, the father-in-law of the then-high priest Caiaphas. Annas, who had significant influence despite being deposed as a high priest, interrogated Jesus. During this interrogation, an officer struck Jesus, challenging his response to Annas.  This location is believed to be near what is now known as the Wohl Archaeological Museum.

1:00 AM - Transfer to Caiaphas' Residence:  Following the initial questioning, Jesus was sent, still bound, to Caiaphas, the high priest. This site is currently identified with the Saint Peter in Gallicantu Monastery, a place thought to be where Caiaphas' house once stood.

2:00 to 3:00 AM - Interrogation at Caiaphas' Home:  At Caiaphas' residence, the chief priests and council sought evidence against Jesus to justify a death sentence. During this interrogation, Jesus affirmed his divine identity, which led to accusations of blasphemy and a unanimous decision of his guilt.

3:00 to 5:30 AM - Physical Abuse Under Caiaphas' House:  This period was marked by severe physical mistreatment. Jesus was subjected to spitting, mocking, striking, and blindfolding, as the guards and others reviled him, demanding he prophesy who had struck him.

Around Sunrise (6:30 AM) - Appearance before the Sanhedrin:  As dawn broke, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin, the assembly of Jewish leaders, in the Temple's Chamber of Hewn Stones. Here, he faced further questioning about his divine claims, which only solidified the leaders' resolve to condemn him. The Chamber of Hewn Stones, where this assembly took place, was a significant location within the Temple complex. After the Sanhedrin's interrogation, Jesus was taken to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, who resided at Herod's Palace. The location of this palace is now marked by the Tower of David Museum complex.

The Role of Judas in Locating Jesus: With a significant number of pilgrims in Jerusalem, finding a specific individual would have been challenging. However, Judas Iscariot, familiar with Jesus' habits and past resting places, led the soldiers directly to him in the Garden of Gethsemane. This was after the Last Supper, and Jesus had not returned to Bethany, where he previously stayed with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Background on Annas and Caiaphas: Annas, once the high priest, remained a figure of considerable authority despite his removal from the position by the Roman prefect Gratus. His relationship with Caiaphas, his son-in-law, and the current high priest, gave him continued influence in religious and political affairs.

This sequence of events, spanning the hours from midnight to sunrise, encapsulates a night of intense physical and emotional suffering for Jesus, as narrated in the Gospel accounts, culminating in his eventual trial and crucifixion.

This sequence of movements during the night represents a critical phase in the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. Each location played a key role in the narrative of his trial and condemnation, reflecting both the religious and political dimensions of the situation at that time. Jesus, after being apprehended in the Garden of Gethsemane, was first taken to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the reigning high priest. From there, he was transferred to Caiaphas' residence. During this harrowing night, Jesus endured intense physical abuse. As dawn approached, he was led to the Sanhedrin's council chamber within the Temple for further interrogation. Throughout this ordeal, Jesus traversed approximately 2.4 miles across the challenging topography of Jerusalem, characterized by its dark, uneven, and hilly streets. All this occurred while he was bound, without sleep, and suffering from hunger and thirst. The early morning hours brought cooler temperatures, around the mid-40s Fahrenheit, exacerbating his physical strain as he continued to lose fluids due to the night's abuse. Amidst this physical and emotional torment, a profound moment of personal betrayal unfolded. Peter, one of Jesus' closest disciples and the one he had chosen to lead after him, denied knowing Jesus, adding a layer of emotional anguish to the physical suffering he was already enduring. This denial happened as Jesus was facing one of the most challenging moments of his life, underscoring the depth of his isolation and suffering during these critical hours.

During the night leading up to Good Friday, the Gospels recount that Jesus experienced various forms of physical maltreatment. This began when an officer struck him at Annas' house, as mentioned in John 18:22. Throughout the night, as described in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus was subjected to spitting, blindfolding, slapping, and a barrage of punches. The guards, likely exhausted from their day's duties and frustrated by the late-night vigil, vented their aggravation on Jesus. The Greek terms used in the Gospels – 'rhapisma' and 'rhapizo' – are translated variably as 'slapped', 'received with blows', or 'struck with a hand'. These terms, as per Strong's Concordance, can imply striking with a rod, though typically they refer to slapping with an open hand. Another Greek word, 'kolaphizo', signifies brutal fist strikes and excessive force, translating to 'struck' in Matthew and Mark. Luke's Gospel uses two different terms for 'struck' – 'paio' and 'typto', both implying beating or striking, often with a fist. Collectively, these accounts indicate that Jesus was both slapped and punched.

Luke, known for his meticulous reporting, uses the term 'derontes' to describe Jesus' suffering. This word, derived from the root 'der' (related to skin, as in 'dermatologist'), primarily means 'flaying the skin' or 'beating'. Given that Matthew and Mark also mention face strikes, Luke's use of 'derontes' might suggest additional forms of physical abuse. In the New Testament, derivatives of 'dero' are used to describe various forms of punishment, including beating, flogging, and striking with great violence. According to the Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon and BDAG, 'dero' historically meant 'to skin or flay', but later evolved to imply significant skin damage through beating or whipping. There's a tradition in Jerusalem of two scourging pillars used for Jesus' torture – one beneath Caiaphas' house and the other near Pontius Pilate's praetorium, recently identified near the Tower of David in the Old City. The first pillar is located in the Crusader-era Chapel of the Apparition in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, while the latter is venerated in Rome's Basilica of Santa Prassede. This duality of locations reflects the intense and varied nature of the physical abuse Jesus endured during those hours.

Jesus is condemned to death

"So...Pilate...took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, 'I am innocent of this righteous man's blood; see to it yourselves.'... 'His blood be on us and on our children'" (Mt 27:24-25).

The water of political compromise became the betrayal of the known and proclaimed Truth, and signified the handing over of the Innocent One to ill-intentioned enemies: it became blood!

Historically this sad event was confined to a few Jews, even though they formed a cleverly manipulated crowd that day, and led to a wavering Roman judge. However, the fingers pointed at him are innumerable: those of the entire human race which, because of the mystery of sin, which involves everyone, accuses him, the Innocent, Holy One, King by divine origin and by the right of conquest, and points at him the finger of accusation as a mock king, rendered powerless, ridiculed, humiliated, rejected, condemned. Moreover, he is mystically condemned by our sinful judgments when these are passed on the actions and intentions of any innocent man, with whom he identifies himself: "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40).

We now examine the Shroud’s array of injuries, seemingly inflicted by a whip with hard, dumbbell-shaped objects attached to its lashes. The Christian Gospels, with their characteristic brevity, provide minimal detail about Jesus's scourging. The Gospel according to John succinctly states: ‘Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged.’ Similarly, Matthew’s account is terse: ‘And having Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.’ Yet, beyond the Gospel narratives, contemporary Roman-era historians and authors provide a more vivid depiction of the brutality of scourging. Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Jesus, described the Roman governor's merciless flogging of Jews: ‘He ordered them all to be stripped and lacerated with scourges... Some had to be carried out on stretchers and died at once, while others lay sick for a long time despairing of recovery.’ This account, along with others, indicates that victims were stripped naked, a state particularly degrading for Jews, which seems to be corroborated by the Shroud's imagery.

The lethality of scourging is clarified upon consulting historical sources. The term ‘flagrum,’ the Latin for ‘scourge,’ reveals the Roman scourge as a particularly gruesome instrument. Common to various designs was the incorporation of elements to enhance flesh damage, such as ‘tali’ (small sheep bones) and ‘plumbatae’ (lead pellets) – features consistent with the markings on the Shroud. The number of lashes in a Roman scourging varied based on the severity of the crime and the victim's citizenship status. Approximately a hundred individual dumbbell impressions are discernible on the Shroud, often appearing in pairs, suggesting a flagrum with at least two lashes. This is corroborated by a Roman coin depicting the flagrum in a gladiatorial contest. Saint Paul, a Roman citizen, recounted receiving ‘thirty-nine lashes by the Jews’ five times, but this limitation was specific to Jewish law. Therefore, we lack a definitive benchmark for the number of lashes Pilate might have ordered for Jesus, and by extension, what might be expected on the Shroud.

The flagellation

Date: Good Friday, April 3, AD 33
Time: Late morning
Location: The praetorium, located in Herod’s Palace, near the Jaffa Gate on the western side of Old Jerusalem, within the Tower of David complex.

Gospel Account: According to the Gospel of Luke, Pilate convened the chief priests, rulers, and people, declaring, “Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore chastise him and release him.” (Luke 23:13, 15–16). However, the people insisted on crucifixion. Pilate, in an effort to appease the crowd, agreed to their demands. Mark’s Gospel narrates that Pilate, after trying to understand the accusation against Jesus, eventually succumbed to the crowd's clamor for crucifixion. Jesus was scourged and handed over for crucifixion, and the soldiers escorted him inside the palace, also known as the praetorium (Mark 15:12–16).

Historical Context: Early on that fateful Friday, Jesus, after enduring a night of extreme suffering, was taken from the Temple’s Chamber of Hewn Stones to Herod’s Palace, a distance of approximately 800 meters. Pilate, who governed from this palace during his visits to Jerusalem, especially during Jewish festivals, was there to maintain order. This location, near the Jaffa Gate and the Tower of David on the west side of Old Jerusalem, is distinct from the traditional starting point of the Way of the Cross near the Church of the Flagellation, and about 400 meters from Calvary.

The Scourging: Roman punishment, designed to be a public spectacle as a deterrent, likely took place outside Herod’s Palace. Jesus, stripped of his clothing, was probably bound to a pole or column during the scourging, a method supported by ancient oral tradition, although the Gospels do not specify this detail.

Revised Understanding of the Passion: The instrument of torture, the Roman 'flagrum,' was believed to have lead balls or sheep bone ('talus') attached near the ends of its thongs. This design was intended to inflict severe wounds. It was a common belief that Jesus, after his arrest, was taken to the Praetorium of the Fortress of Antonia, where Pontius Pilate resided and governed. This was necessary since only the Roman authorities could sanction an execution. Archaeological findings, such as a flagrum discovered in Pompeii, suggest that it consisted of three leather cords tied to a handle, with sharp objects like bones, stones, glass, or metal tied into the strips to maximize injury and pain.

The Flagrum

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The Roman flagrum, also known as the flagellum, was a brutal instrument of torture and was likely used in the flagellation of Jesus, as described in the Biblical accounts of the Passion. This tool was infamous for its cruel efficiency in inflicting severe physical harm.

Description of the Flagrum

Design and Construction: The flagrum typically consisted of a handle made from wood, to which several leather thongs were attached. The length of these thongs varied, but they were generally long enough to wrap around the body and strike the front as well as the back.
Embedded Objects: What made the flagrum particularly vicious were the small objects, such as metal balls, sharp pieces of bone, or hooks, that were often woven or attached to the leather thongs. These objects ensured that each strike not only hit the skin but also tore it, leading to deep, painful lacerations.
Method of Use: The person administering the whipping, usually a Roman soldier or executioner, would lash the victim's back, buttocks, and legs. The flagrum was designed to inflict maximum damage with each strike, causing deep bruises, ripping the skin, and even tearing into underlying tissues and muscles.

Use in the Flagellation of Jesus

Historical Context: Roman scourging, as part of the process of crucifixion, was a form of severe punishment and humiliation. In Jesus' case, the flagellation was ordered before his crucifixion, as detailed in the Gospels.
Physical Impact: The use of the flagrum would have caused immense pain and significant blood loss. It was not uncommon for victims of such scourging to go into shock due to the intensity of the pain and the extent of the injuries.
Purpose: Beyond physical punishment, the flagellation served as a method of weakening a victim before the crucifixion and as a stark warning to others about the consequences of defying Roman authority. In the narrative of Jesus' crucifixion, the flagellation underscores the severity of his suffering before his death.

The flagellation of Jesus using a Roman flagrum, as described in the Christian tradition, stands as one of the most vivid and painful episodes in the Passion narrative, illustrating the extreme nature of Roman punitive practices and the extent of Jesus' suffering in the hours leading up to his crucifixion.

The Virgae

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The Roman virgae were a type of rod or whip used for corporal punishment and torture in ancient Rome. While the more commonly known flagrum (or flagellum) was a whip with multiple leather thongs, often embedded with metal balls or bone pieces, the virgae were somewhat different in their construction and use.

Material and Construction: The virgae were typically made from branches of trees, often those that were flexible yet strong. They were essentially slender, straight rods or sticks.

Purpose and Usage: Unlike the flagrum, which was designed to inflict deep, lacerating wounds, the virgae were used more for beating and causing pain through blunt force. The rods would cause bruising and surface-level trauma, which, while extremely painful, generally did not lead to the same level of physical damage as the flagrum.

Use in the Context of Jesus' Torture

Historical Accounts: While the Gospels primarily mention scourging, which typically refers to the use of the flagrum, it is plausible that the virgae were also used. The Roman practice of scourging often involved a variety of instruments to inflict pain and weaken a prisoner.
Severity of Punishment: The use of both the flagrum and virgae would suggest a particularly severe form of punishment. The flagrum would cause deep tissue damage, while the virgae would add to the physical suffering through intense beating.
Symbolic and Practical Implications: The Romans used such methods of torture not only to punish but also to instill fear and assert authority. In the case of Jesus, the use of these instruments would have been both a form of physical punishment and a means to make an example of him to the populace.

While the flagrum was known for its brutal efficiency in causing deep, lacerating wounds, the virgae were more associated with causing pain through blunt force. Their potential combined use in the torture of Jesus would signify a particularly severe and agonizing ordeal, reflective of the harsh methods of punishment employed in Roman times.

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Exterior of the Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation. This site, which marks the beginning of the modern Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem, is where Christians in the Middle Ages believed that the flagellation (scourging) took place. At that time, it was thought that Pilate would have judged and scourged Jesus at the Fortress of Antonia. That has now been demonstrated to be false.

The Praetorium, as detailed in the Gospels (Matthew 27:27, Mark 15:16, John 19:9), was the central setting for the trial and scourging of Jesus. This significant location comes into focus particularly on Good Friday morning, as described in John 18:28, when Jewish leaders presented Jesus to Pontius Pilate. Lacking the authority to impose capital punishment, they altered their accusation from blasphemy (Matthew 26:65) to sedition, framing Jesus as a challenger to Roman rule by claiming he was the King of the Jews (Luke 23:2–3). Historically, the term "praetorium" had dual meanings: it referred to a Roman general's tent within a military camp and also denoted the official residence of a Roman governor. This latter definition often implied a residence of considerable grandeur, such as a country estate or palatial home. The Christian tradition, particularly since the sixteenth century, has commemorated the Way of the Cross starting at the Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation in Jerusalem. This site, believed to be where the Fortress of Antonia once stood, is connected to the Temple and served as a strategic location for Roman soldiers to monitor the influx of pilgrims during major Jewish festivals like Passover. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon provides further insights, describing the praetorium in Jerusalem as a magnificent palace constructed by Herod the Great. This palace was reportedly used by Roman procurators, including Pilate, as their official residence during visits from Caesarea for public duties. Archaeological and historical evidence suggests that this palace, rather than the traditional site near the Fortress of Antonia, was the actual location of Jesus' trial and scourging. By the nineteenth century, scholars began to recognize that the traditional site of Pilate’s trial and Jesus’ scourging did not align with historical and archaeological findings, pointing instead to Herod’s grand palace as the more likely setting for these pivotal events.

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The practice of scourging before crucifixion, as described in historical texts, is a well-documented aspect of Roman execution procedures. In their 1986 article, "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ," William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel, and Floyd E. Hosmer offer a detailed account of this practice: “Flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, exempting only women, Roman senators, or soldiers (except in cases of desertion). The typical instrument for this was a short whip (flagellum) with various lengths of single or braided leather thongs. These thongs were embedded with small iron balls or sharp sheep bone fragments at intervals.”

This passage, frequently cited in scholarly discussions, draws from two key sources: Dr. Pierre Barbet’s “A Doctor at Calvary” and Martin Hengel’s 1977 work “Crucifixion: In the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross.” 

Edwards and his colleagues use the term “flogging” to describe this brutal act. It's crucial to note that flogging was a common form of punishment in both Roman and Jewish contexts during ancient times. The Gospels provide limited details about Jesus’ scourging, likely because the readers at the time were presumably familiar with such punishments. In the Gospels, Mark (15:15) and Matthew (27:26) use the term phragellosas, translating to “scourged.” John (19:1) employs emastigosen, which also means “scourged,” “whipped,” or “chastised.” Luke’s account (23:16, 22) is slightly different, merely stating that Pilate intended to have Jesus “chastised” (paideuo) as a means of reprimand rather than a death sentence. It is from Luke, often noted for his meticulous approach as a physician, that we understand Pilate’s intention for the scourging to serve as the entire punishment for Jesus: “A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him’” (Luke 23:22).

The Shroud of Turin shows fascinating details, especially when examined as a photographic negative. On the Shroud's dorsal side, from the shoulders down to the legs, including the exposed buttocks, round, dumbbell-shaped marks are observed. These marks are similarly present on the frontal image, covering the chest, abdomen, thighs, and legs, while sparing the head, neck, and groin. The arms, from shoulder to elbow, are obscured due to patches sewn onto the Shroud, though the forearms are visible on the front side. The nature of these marks has been debated: while some interpret them as evidence of scourging wounds, others, following a high-resolution examination, argue that they differ in appearance and origin from the dumbbell-shaped marks on other parts of the body.

The Shroud of Turin Research Project in 1978 made several key observations about these marks. Under UV fluorescence, these dumbbell-shaped "scourge" marks appear darker and more sharply defined than in visible light, consistent with the spectral characteristics of iron porphyrin compounds. The geometric similarity of these marks is also notable, with fine "scratches" emanating from their distal ends in UV-stimulated fluorescence photographs. Visually, these marks have a reddish, diffuse look with darker spots within, but under ultraviolet light, they absorb heavily and resolve into parallel scratch-like lines in groups of three or four. According to researchers Miller and Pellicori, the areas surrounding these marks fluoresce, indicative of serum separating from blood. The fine scratch marks might result from surface irregularities on the lead pieces used in scourging. Analysis of sticky-tape samples from these reddish-brown marks, including the dumbbell-shaped areas, reveals not only heme derivatives (indicating hemoglobin from red blood cells) but also bile pigments and albumin, key proteins in serum. This supports Dr. Pierre Barbet’s hypothesis and the findings of Miller and Pellicori that the blood images on the Shroud represent clotted blood with surrounding “haloes” of separated serum. Italian researchers Barbara Faccini and Giulio Fanti suggest that the Shroud’s marks correspond to different types of torture instruments, possibly a flagrum or virgae. They have identified over 150 marks on the frontal image and more than 200 on the dorsal side, which they attribute to scourging. Their analysis includes a photograph of a proposed flagrum with two lead balls on each of three leather strips. Some images on the Shroud imply two or three lead balls per strip, and the scratch-like images, most evident under UV imaging, could result from the leather impacting the skin or from irregularities on the lead pieces.

The Shroud displays distinct marks that many attribute to scourging. Among these, the most conspicuous are the dumbbell-shaped marks, believed to have been caused by small, ball-shaped, hard (likely metal) objects striking the skin. These marks are approximately a third of an inch in diameter, slightly larger than the thickness of a standard pencil eraser. When these dumbbell-shaped blood marks on the Shroud are compared to scourging instruments discovered in the Roman catacombs, there appears to be a correlation, suggesting the existence of a tool in ancient Rome that could have produced these specific marks on the figure depicted on the Shroud.

Other marks on the Shroud seem consistent with wounds inflicted by virgae, a different type of scourging tool. These marks are overlaid by the dumbbell-shaped ones, indicating they were made earlier. This sequencing raises the question of whether these initial wounds could have been inflicted by Jewish guards in the dungeon beneath the house of Caiaphas on the night before, aligning with Luke’s account (22:63) of Jesus’ beating, described as derontes in Greek. However, the exact nature and sequence of these events remain u