Shroud of Turin


The famous burial shroud depicting the figure of a bearded man has been claimed by the Catholic Church to be a miraculous rendering of Jesus supposedly as a result of some super-power used during his resurrection. Skeptics maintain it is an early medieval, hand painted relic made to make some money. The 4.4 x1.1m herringbone twill cloth has a faint brownish image of the front and back view of a bearded man, depicted with his hands across his groin It looks as though the very long cloth had been placed under the body, then folded at his head back down to his feet. There are reddish brown stains were tradition held that Jesus was nailed and speared.

The shroud has been an object of devotion for Catholics for centuries.Burial cloths of Jesus are held by at least four churches in France and three in Italy though none has gathered as much religious following as the Shroud of Turin. In 1898 a photographer discovered that the negative of the image was much much clearer and these photos allowed early scientists to investigate the cloth. In the 1970's The Shroud of Turin Project (STURP) was created to scientifically investigate the icon. One scientist from this group proposed that the image was formed by radiation methods beyond the understanding of current science, in particular via the "collapsing cloth" onto a body that was radiating energy at the moment of resurrection. Joe Nickell of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry has pointed out that "STURP’s leaders served on the executive council of the Holy Shroud Guild, which is devoted to the “cause” of the reputed relic.

There are some written records of the item in the late 14th C but its history from the 15th century is well recorded. In 1453 a French noble-woman deeded the shroud to the House of Savoy and in 1578 it was passed to Turin Cathedral where it is now. It was damaged in a fire in 1532 and has large scorch marks on it. Various analyses on the seeds trapped in the weave, of the type of cloth, the pigments used and other various incestigations all show the cloth to be medieval in origin . Radiocarbon dating concluded with 95% confidence that the shroud material dated to 1260–1390 AD. In 1390 a French Bishop wrote a memorandum to the Pope, stating that the shroud was a forgery and that the artist had confessed.