Skip to comments.Shroud of Turin: Image provokes prayer, curiosity, scholarly disputes
Posted on 02/06/2010 4:12:33 AM PST by NYer
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Shroud of Turin, which many Christians believe to be the burial cloth of Jesus, goes on public display this spring, at a time when experts are debating new claims about the 14-foot-long piece of linen.
Pope Benedict XVI has already made plans to view the shroud during a one-day trip to the northern Italian city of Turin in early May. Many observers are wondering how the pope will refer to the cloth: as a sign, an icon or -- as Pope John Paul II once characterized it -- a relic.
The shroud's last showing was 10 years ago, when more than a million people lined up to see it in the cathedral of Turin in northern Italy. Officials are predicting similar crowds for the exposition April 10-May 23, and visitors are being urged to book their visits online at http://www.sindone.org.
The pilgrims come to witness with their own eyes what they may have read about or glimpsed on TV. Most go away impressed with what they see: a faint image of a bearded man who appears to have been whipped, crowned with thorns and crucified.
Carbon-14 tests in 1988 dated the cloth to the Middle Ages, and seemed to confirm the theory that the shroud was a pious fraud. But since then, some experts have faulted the methodology of the testing, and said the tiny samples used may have been taken from areas of the cloth that were mended in medieval times.
The shroud has also been chemically analyzed, electronically enhanced and computer-imaged. So far, no one has been able to fully explain how the image was transferred to the linen cloth, although experts have put forward theories ranging from enzyme reaction to solar imaging.
The shroud has been studied from virtually every scientific angle in recent years. Its weave has been examined, pollen grains embedded in the cloth have been inspected, and red stains have been analyzed for hemoglobin properties. One particular sub-category of debate focuses on enhanced images that, in the opinion of some scientists, reveal the impression of 1st-century Palestinian coins placed on the eyes of the shroud's figure.
The "jury" on the shroud includes hundreds of experts, some of them self-appointed. They do not split neatly into believers and skeptics, however. The latest controversy, in fact, involves a Vatican archivist who claims to have found evidence of writing on the shroud -- a hypothesis that has drawn sharp criticism from other Catholic scholars.
The archivist, Barbara Frale, said in a new book that older photographs of the shroud reveal indications of what was essentially a written death notice for a "Jesus Nazarene." The text, she said, employs three languages used in 1st-century Jerusalem.
The book immediately prompted a Web site war in Italy. Several sites dedicated to the shroud ridiculed Frale's hypothesis, saying it bordered on Dan Brown-style fantasy. Vatican Radio, however, featured an interview with Frale about her "important discovery." No doubt the world will hear more about this scholarly spat when the shroud goes on display.
It will be the first public showing of the shroud since it underwent a restoration in 2002, which removed repair patches and a large piece of linen of a later date. To prepare for the exhibit, the Archdiocese of Turin has taken the unusual step of closing the cathedral for three months. It will take that long to set up the viewing area and the informational exhibit for visitors as they wait in line.
Pope Benedict's arrival is a big event for organizers of this year's shroud exposition. Many Catholics look to Rome for direction on how to evaluate the shroud, as Pope John Paul II discovered en route to Africa in 1989, when he called the shroud a "relic." When excited reporters asked whether this meant it was the authentic burial cloth of Christ, the Polish pope conferred with an aide before answering more cautiously: "The church has never pronounced itself in this sense. It has always left the question open to all those who want to seek its authenticity. I think it is a relic."
Clearly, Pope John Paul was personally convinced, although when he went to see the shroud in 1998 he carefully avoided using the term "relic."
Pope Benedict has long been cautious about the value of private signs, apparitions and revelations. But he seems to consider the Shroud of Turin in a different category.
In his book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy," then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote that the shroud was "a truly mysterious image, which no human artistry was capable of producing."
In his meditations on the Good Friday Way of the Cross in Rome shortly before his election as pope in 2005, he wrote regarding the 11th station, "Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross": "The Shroud of Turin allows us to have an idea of the incredible cruelty of this procedure."
The pope then offered a kind of prayer inspired by the figure of the shroud: "Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at times of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation, and realize that it is then that we are closest to God."
Of possible interest to your list.
No. The announcement about this year's display, was made about 6 months ago.
Based on the shroud image.
I doubt the authenticity of The Shroud of Turin. In both the Luke and John it indicates there was more than one cloth covering the body of Christ. Also, John writes that a “handkerchief” covered Christ’s head. This will be debated until Christ returns and all knowledge will be revealed.
That would be the Sudarium. It is in Oviedo Spain and the blood pattern and type match up with the Shroud.
I like many have followed the shroud debate for years. After looking at this from a logical point of view it was finally the fact that the shroud is in 2D, like in a photograph or TV. The shroud does not pass the 3D test at all, so it is impossible for it to be a real death shroud.
The theory that it was created by Da Vinci holds the most water for me. He was at the place and time it first showed up, and he had the tools, skills & a financial sponsor who oddly enough was the first family to “find” the shroud.
Sorry, it’s just a great piece of art. IMHO.
Thanks for that information and the link to the article. Another fascinating twist to this mystery.
The Peculiar 3D Phenomenon of the Shroud of Turin Image
For simplicity, let's confine our discussion to black and white pictures. The Shroud, after all, is monochromatic: brown and white actually.
Like any painting or photograph of a face or an entire human body (or for that matter a vase, apple or any three dimensional object) brightness represents light. Look at a full frontal picture of a man. The tip of his nose approaches white and the depth of the recesses of his eyes are darker. The roundness of his face from his cheeks towards his ears is progressively darker. At first glance, the face on the Shroud of Turin appears to be such a picture. It isn't.
How do we know this? All regular pictures, be they paintings or photographs, represent light coming from some direction and being reflected towards our eyes. The eye of the painter or the camera lens is a proxy for our own eyes. The reason the recesses of a man's eyes are darker than the tip of his nose is because less light gets to into the recess. Image analysis shows us that this is not so with the facial image on the Shroud. There is no direction to what seems like light. Something else is causing the lighter and darker shades. That is looks like light to us is an optical illusion.
Look at the black and white picture that looks like a smoke ring. We might think that this is light reflected off of the smoke. It is not. This is an analog data file of elevation, sometimes called a bump map in the world of computer graphics. With special computer software we can plot the data, the brighter and darker tones, as an elevation. That is exactly what we can do with the image on the Shroud of Turin: plot it as an elevation.
Let's be clear: You can not plot a regular photograph this way. Nor can you do so for a painting, even a brown and white painting. You can do so with a precise copy of the Shroud, however.
Not only does this show that the image on the Shroud is not a photograph or painting, it shows that something extraordinary occurred to form the image.
The theory that it was created by Da Vinci holds the most water for me.
He painted a 3D image?
He painted a 3D image?
No one really knows how he did it but the best guess is an early form of photography. Being that it was made to fool people in the first place there are no records of its creation. Fake religious icons were big money makers for local churches.
As to 3D you must consider the simple fact that if the shroud was placed on a body that the entire image would be “three times wider” as you must account for the space present on the SIDES of the body. The image on the shroud is simply far, far too skinny.
Also look at the full image of the shroud and look at the space between the face and the back of the head. Now mentally wrap it around a human head. If this was a real shroud then Jeasus would be about one inch thick from front to back.
So you are saying DaVinci invented photography? This has already been disproven.
Christ Pantocrator Icon at St. Catherine's
Monastery in the Sinai. Grid lines have been
added for comparison to the Shroud's face.
Alignment of the Shroud Face and the icon
Shroud of Turin Face
Two years ago I was in northern Italy on business and my host took us to Turin on a Sat evening for dinner. I was quite shocked at how large the city was, esp the downtown area. The church that holds the shroud is in the downtown area and was well lit during that evening. As we walked by the church, I had an amazing feeling rush over me - I’ll never forget it!
Describe your feeling for us. Freep mail me if you prefer.
I know. Looks just like him.
Because Da Vinci was well-known to use 12-foot paintbrushes to create his paintings, as well as embed 3D data, and include pollen samples of flora unique to the specific locale the painting was to emulate.
Da Vinci was truly a genius...
Very similar to the feeling my wife (28 at the time) and I received while holding hands early one morning just a few months before she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. She died 9 months later and I look back at that event as preparing us for the upcoming hardship.
Hard to explain but hopefully y'all get the jest.
As an aside, after the 1988 testing, it was shown the tested material was a part of the "repaired" section. Later, using a small remaining "clean" piece it was carbon tested to be from the period of Christ. The fact this was done by a non-believer makes it even more substantial.
So I believe it is truly the shroud that covered Christ when he was resurrected but my faith in Him goes way deeper.
That is truly amazing!
Many were crucified but how many wore a crown of thorns?
Believing the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ does not impact one's faith.
I said that the Shroud being authentic or not would not affect my faith but you didn’t choose to highlight that part of my reply.
Wow. Lets scan it and throw it up on facebook.
I’m convinced it looks just like him. Everyone will want to add him to their friends list. Wow.