Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Is Shroud of Turin a medieval fake?

The Shroud of Turin which is housed in the Turin Cathedral in Turin, Italy, is a centuries old linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man; the image of a man that millions believe to be Jesus of Nazareth. The shroud bears the figure of a crucified man, complete with blood seeping out of nailed hands and feet, and believers say Christ's image was recorded on the linen fibres at the time of his resurrection.

Is it really the cloth that wrapped his crucified body, or is it simply a medieval forgery, a hoax perpetrated by some clever artist? Modern science has completed hundreds of thousands of hours of detailed study and intense research on the Shroud. It is, in fact, the single most studied artifact in human history. And yet, the controversy still rages.

It bears the faint image of a blood-covered man with holes in his hand and wounds in his body and head, the apparent result of being crucified, stabbed by the spear of a Roman soldier and forced to wear a crown of thorns.

The first clue that the shroud may be a hoax is that the blood where the hands would have been is not where the blood should have been. The Romans knew that the only place where the nails should have been driven is in his wrists and not his hands. If the nails had been driven through Jesus’ hands, the weight of his body over time would have been forced through the muscles and tendons and then his hands would have fallen free from the cross bar of the cross. To keep the arms secured to the cross bar, the Roman soldiers would have driven the nails into the area which is in between where the lower arm bones, (radius and ulna bones) meet and which are right next to the top bones of the hands. (Scaphoid and Triquetral bones) in other words, his wrists. Once driven there, no amount of weight would have caused the nails to tear through the muscles and tendons of his hands since the bones would have kept the nails right were they were in his wrists.

According to Mathew in the New Testament, Joseph of Arimathaea who owned the tomb that Jesus was to be placed in after he was crucified, sought permission from Pilate to bury Jesus in his own tomb. Permission was granted and in verses 59 and 60, Mathew says, “And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.”

Many people believe that the shroud of Turin is the same linen cloth that Jesus was wrapped in. But is it?

In Mark, Chapter 16, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, went to the tomb to anoint Jesus with sweet smelling spices and they discovered that the rock that was to seal it had been rolled back. They looked inside and according to verse 5, “they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment….” Now obviously it wasn’t Jesus. But Mark makes no mention of any other garment or cloth being in the tomb. However, John does say that the linen was in the tomb. In Chapter 20, verse 6, he says; “Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie.” He speaks of clothes in the plural which means that there was more than just one linen cloth. That extra cloth was the one in which Jesus’ head was wrapped as was the custom in those days.

Many believe that the linen cloth that Jesus was wrapped in is the one that is referred to as the Shroud of Turin. But here is another reason why it couldn’t be the one Jesus was wrapped in. In verse 7, John says; “And the napkin, that was about his head, (was) not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” Since Jesus’ head was wrapped with a linen cloth, it is highly unlikely that the blood from his head and the sweat from his face would have been absorbed by the other linen cloth that wrapped his body because the image on the Shroud of Turin has the same intense image of a body throughout the shroud. If his head had been wrapped with the other cloth, that cloth would have absorbed the blood and sweat and very little of Jesus bodily fluids emanating from his head if any would have been found on the Shroud of Turin.

The history of the Shroud of Turin is interesting. The general consensus of even the most doubting researchers is to accept a ‘1350’ date as the beginning of the undisputed or documented history of the Shroud of Turin. This also happens to coincide with the approximate date determined by the 1988 carbon dating of the cloth.

In 1349, Geoffrey de Charny, a French knight, wrote to Pope Clement VI reporting his intention to build a church at Lirey, France. It is said he built the St. Mary of Lirey church to honor the Holy Trinity who answered his prayers for a miraculous escape while a prisoner of the English. He said in his letter to the pope that he was in possession of the shroud that wrapped Jesus in which some believe he acquired in Constantinople. (now called Istanbul) Note that he allegedly found it in the same time frame that the carbon dating places it. This could mean that the cloth was woven either during 1349 or just before it. If that is so, then it could hardly be the shroud that Jesus was wrapped in.

Despite that, the Shroud is treated as a holy relic and in 1578, the Shroud arrived in Turin where it has been ever since as its permanent home.

In April, 1976, the release of the Report of the Turin Scientific Commission, made public, information of the pollen findings of Dr. Max Frei, who claimed that the Shroud's dust includes pollens from some plants that are exclusive to Israel and to Turkey, suggesting that the Shroud must at one time have been exposed to the air in these countries. We know that Constantinople (Istanbul)is in Turkey so this could explain the pollen could have come from there.

Between October 8-12, 1978, the people connected with the ‘Shroud of Turin Research Project’ (STURP) continued its around-the-clock examination of the Shroud, performing dozens of tests, taking thousands of photographs, photomicrographs, x-rays and spectroscopic search for radiation. A total of 120 continuous hours of testing was done, with team members working on different parts of the Shroud simultaneously. On October 8, 1978, at around 10:45 p.m., and slightly ahead of schedule, the Shroud was removed from public display and taken through the Guarini Chapel into the Hall of Visiting Princes within Turin's Royal Palace. Thus begins a five-day period of examination, photography and sample taking by STURP, John Jackson's group of scientists from the U.S.A. Dr. Max Frei, Giovanni Riggi, Professor Pierluigi Baima-Bollone and others carry out independent research programs alongside. During this time the Shroud is subjected to photographic floodlighting, to low-power X-rays and to narrow band ultraviolet light. Dozens of pieces of sticky tape are pressed onto its surface and removed. A side edge is unstitched and an apparatus inserted between the Shroud and its backing cloth to examine the underside, which had not been seen in over 400 years. The bottom edge (at the foot of the frontal image) was also unstitched and examined. On the night of 9 October Baima Bollone obtains sample of Shroud bloodstain by mechanically disentangling warp and weft threads in the area of the 'small of the back' bloodstain on the Shroud's dorsal image.This was the most in-depth series of tests ever performed on the Shroud of Turin.

On March 24 and 25, 1979, STURP held its 'First Data Analysis Workshop' on the Shroud, in Santa Barbara, California. According to their preliminary findings, the image showed no evidence of the hand of an artist; the body image did not appear to be any form of scorch; and the blood image was probably present before the body image. But Walter McCrone claims he had found evidence of an artist and stunned the meeting by stating, "anybody who is emotionally wrapped up in the Shroud should start to consider the possibility that he better relax his emotions."

On October 2009, scientists in Rome who recreated the relic insisted that an experiment they conducted proves that the Shroud of Turin to be a forgery and was man made.

The scientists reproduced the shroud using materials and methods that were available in the 14th century, according to the Italian Committee for Checking Claims on the Paranormal, an organization comprising of atheists and agnostics. The group said in a statement that this is further evidence the shroud is a medieval forgery.

Despite the fact that carbon dating showed that the cloth was weaved in or about 1350, the dispute continued because experts couldn't explain how the faint brown discoloration was produced, imprinting on the cloth a negative image centuries before the invention of photography.

Many still believe the shroud "has unexplainable characteristics that cannot be reproduced by human means," lead scientist Luigi Garlaschelli said in a statement. He added, “The result obtained however clearly indicates this could be done with the use of inexpensive materials and with a quite simple procedure."

On October 13, 1988, at a press conference held in Turin, Cardinal Ballestrero, Archbishop of Turin, made an official announcement that the results of the three laboratories performing the Carbon dating of the Shroud have determined an approximate 1325 date for the cloth. At a similar press conference held at the British Museum, London, it was announced that the Shroud dates between 1260 and 1390 AD. Newspaper headlines immediately branded the Shroud a fake and declared that the Catholic Church had accepted the results.

After the scientists in Rome announced on October 2009, that they had recreated the Shroud of Turin and said that it was easy to recreate, the Catholic Church decided to make no more claims about the relic's authenticity, but instead it said that the Shroud of Turin is a powerful symbol of Christ's suffering.

In my respectful opinion, I believe that the Vatican has finally recognized at last that the Shroud of Turin really is a hoax but aren’t prepared to acknowledge this outright simply because of its previous reverence it displayed toward that piece of cloth for so many centuries in the past.

I have to admit that the Shroud of Turin is certainly one of the best hoaxes ever created. It took centuries before the hoax was finally uncovered and its discovery as a hoax accepted by scientists and church officials alike.

The Shroud of Turin should be removed from the Cathedral of Turin and be placed in various museums around the world for fifty years for each Museum. It should not be prayed over but rather, admired for the ability of the person who created it and made it one of the finest hoaxes Man has ever seen.


In March 2013, Pope Francis sent a special video message to Turin's cathedral  but in the message, he made no claim that the image of of a man in the shroud was that of the body of Jesus Christ.

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