Shroud of Turin

   Long associated with the Christian mysteries and the Grail stories, the shroud, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jeshua, recently underwent secret restoration processes to remove centuries old patches and replace an ancient backing sewn onto the shroud. The restoration work was performed by shroud expert Mechthild Flury Lemberg and restorer Irene Tomedi. The Vatican had given its permission for the restoration which was designed to protect and document the artifact and carried out in secret from June 20-July 23 2002.
   The Shroud of Turin is a piece of linen cloth 1.1 meters wide and 4.36 meters long (approximately 43 inches by 14.3 feet). The linen was "spun with a Z twist, and woven in a three to one (herringbone) twill." It seems to bears the negative image of the front and back of a naked man with beard, long hair and a mustache, bearing wounds on his body which are consistent with having been flogged and crucified. Its history is fragmentary, circumstantial, and part legend and it has been declared both a hoax and as the real burial cloth of Jeshua.
   Some of the conjecture states that the Shroud of Turin and the Edessa Cloth are most likely one and the same piece of cloth. It has been argued that for at least one hundred and fifty years after the Resurrection, the cloth, with what was believed to be the image of Jesus, was in the possession of Carpocratian Gnostics before being brought to Edessa, during the reign of Abgar the Great (177-212 A.D.). An alternate story is that it was brought by one of Jesus' disciples, perhaps Thaddeus Jude (Addai). For some unstated reason, the cloth was hidden away. In 525CE, during repairs of the city walls, or possibly in 544 CE during a Persian invasion of the city, the cloth was recovered and placed in a church built especially for this sacred cloth. During its known history, the Edessa Cloth was variously described as a divinely wrought image and as an image not made by hand. A diptych painted in the tenth century shows a cloth with an image of Jesus being held be King Abgar V. Clearly inspired by the legendary story, it is worthwhile to note for our discussion here that the width of the cloth and the centrality of a facial image could suggest a folded Shroud.
   In 944, Emperor Romanus I sent an army to take the Edessa Cloth and bring it to his capitol in Constantinople. There it remained until 1204 when it disappeared during the sacking of the city by the crusaders of the Fourth Crusades. There is good evidence that the Edessa Cloth was taken at least as far as Athens.
   Around the middle of the 14th Century,  the Shroud was acquired by Geoffrey de Charny and displayed in Europe for the first time in the small town of Lirey, France. There is no fully reliable information that connects the Shroud and the Edessa Cloth but one disappeared from history and one appeared, both tied to a ghost image of a crucified man. There have been several papers written that attempt to show a link between the disappearance of the Edessa Cloth and Knights Templar and/or Cathars in Lanquedoc, indicating that de Charny may have acquired the Shroud as part of a property forfeiture in the Spring of 1349. At that time, Geoffrey held a life annuity of 1,000 livres, payable directly from the royal treasury. On April 19, 1349, this annuity was modified to 500 livres payable to Geoffrey and his heirs from the first forfeitures which might occur in the Languedoc senechaussees of Toulouse, Beaucaire, and Carcassonne. If the Shroud was discovered among the confiscated and forfeited personal goods of a Languedoc heretical family, perhaps one victimized by the Black Death, de Charny, by right of royal grant, legally and rightfully acquired title to the relic. The Shroud forfeiture probably occurred in the seneschalsy of Carcassonne where Geoffrey's trusted bailiff would have confiscated the forfeited property. No document exists explaining how de Charney acquired the Shroud but conspiracy theorists lean toward the forfeiture possibility and that the Pope at Avignon knew of its acquisition and gave approval for the exhibition of the Shroud in the 1350's, keeping the matter quiet for political and religious reasons. In 1389, Geoffrey's son initiated a new round of Shroud exhibitions and Pierre D'Arcis, the Bishop of Troyes, attempted to terminate them. In a letter, which may or may not have reached Pope Clement VII in Avignon, D'Arcis claimed that the cloth was a cunningly-painted fraud. D'Arcis offered to supply the Pope with all relevant information "from public report and otherwise", and expressed a desire to speak personally to the Pope about "the grievous nature of the scandal, the contempt brought upon the Church and ecclesiastic jurisdiction, and the danger to souls". Clement permitted the Shroud exhibitions to continue, so either he was fully aware of the nature and status of the Shroud or felt that stopping the exhibitions was not in the Church's best interest.

Scientific and Other Investigations of the Shroud

   Using sticky tape to gather small particulate matter from the Shroud's surface, Max Frei, a Swiss criminologist, identified a number of pollen spores specific to areas around Jerusalem, Edessa and Constantinople. Though this does not prove that the Shroud and the Edessa Cloth are one in the same, it does establish that the Shroud was, at times, in the same geographical areas. The Shroud never left Europe after 1357 and it is improbable that pollen spores could have settled on the Shroud except by it being in the regions of Jerusalem and areas of what is now Turkey.


   In the early part of the twentieth century, Paul Vignon discovered and documented a significant number of characteristics in early depictions of Jesus and the image on the Shroud. Dr. Alan Whanger of Duke University, using the Polarized Image Overlay Technique, confirmed Vignon's work. Dr. Whanger also detected what appear to be floral patterns on the Pantocrator icon which dates from about 550 CE, on solidus coins struck by emperor Justinian II between 692 and 695 CE, and on a gold coin minted by Constantine VII in 945 that coincide very closely in shape, size, and placement with floral patterns on the Shroud.
   The Edessa Cloth, is referred to in ancient texts as a tetradiplon, which literally translated means doubled-in-four. By folding the cloth to half-length, then quarter-length, then one-eighth length (doubled-in-four), only the face of Jesus would be visible on a wide cloth which would lend credence to its being the Image of Edessa in the tenth century diptych. Physicist Dr. John Jackson has used a raking light test and high magnification to reveal fold marks on the Shroud exactly where expected for such folding.
   It was customary among Jews to cover the head or face of the dead out of respect while burial preparations were underway, particularly if there was damage or injury. In 1955, the Most Reverend Monsignor Guilio Ricci discovered similarities in the blood stain patterns on the Sudarium of Oviedo and the blood stains on the Shroud. This suggested that both cloths had been used at some time to cover the same injured head at closely different times. Recent forensic pathology, blood chemistry analysis, and additional studies of congruent patterns in the stains support this supposition.

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