The origins of the shroud and its image are the subject of intense debate among scientists, theologians, historians and researchers. Scientific and popular publications have presented diverse arguments for both authenticity and possible methods of forgery. A variety of scientific theories regarding the shroud have since been proposed, based on disciplines ranging from chemistry to biology and medical forensics to optical image analysis. The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the Roman Catholicdevotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.More recently, Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI have both described the Shroud of Turin as “an icon”
In 1978, a detailed examination was carried out by a team of American scientists called STURP. STURP found no reliable evidence of forgery, and called the question of how the image was formed "a mystery". In 1988 a radiocarbon dating test was performed on small samples of the shroud. The laboratories at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, concurred that the samples they tested dated from the Middle Ages, between 1260 and 1390. Since 2005, at least four articles have been published in various sources stating that the samples used for the dating test may not have been representative of the whole Shroud. The people who performed the dating process, a former STURP scientist who studied the radiographs and transmitted light images taken by STURP, a textile expert who handled the shroud during its 2002 restoration process and a carbon-dating expert who examined a surviving portion of the original radiocarbon sample have all individually confirmed that the radiocarbon sample was part of the original cloth, and was not part of any later repair.
According to former Nature editor Philip Ball, "it's fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever. Not least, the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain deeply puzzling".The shroud continues to remain one of the most studied and controversial artifacts in human history
The shroud is rectangular, measuring approximately 4.4 × 1.1 m (14.3 × 3.7 ft). The cloth is woven in a three-to-one herringbonetwill composed of flax fibrils. Its most distinctive characteristic is the faint, brownish image of a front and back view of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and point in opposite directions. The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of the cloth.
Reddish brown stains that have been said to include whole blood are found on the cloth, showing various wounds that, according to proponents, correlate with the yellowish image, the pathophysiology of crucifixion, and the Biblical description of the death of Jesus: However forensic tests on the shroud have shown that the apparent bloodstains are actually tempera paint tinted red with hematite, and that no blood is present.
Markings on the cloth have been interpreted as follows:
The details of the image on the shroud are not easily distinguishable by the naked eye, and were first observed after the advent of photography. In May 1898 amateur Italian photographer Secondo Pia was allowed to photograph the shroud and he took the first photograph of the shroud on the evening of May 28, 1898. Pia was startled by the visible image of the negative plate in his darkroom. Negatives of the image give the appearance of a positive image, which implies that the shroud image is itself effectively a negative of some kind. Pia was at first accused of doctoring his photographs, but was vindicated in 1931 when a professional photographer, Giuseppe Enrie, also photographed the shroud and his findings supported Pia's. In 1978 Miller and Pellicori took ultraviolet photographs of the shroud.
The image of the "Man of the Shroud" has a beard, moustache, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. He is muscular and tall (various experts have measured him as from 1.70 m, or roughly 5 ft 7 in, to 1.88 m, or 6 ft 2 in). The shroud was damaged in a fire in 1532 in the chapel in Chambery, France. There are some burn holes and scorched areas down both sides of the linen, caused by contact with molten silver during the fire that burned through it in places while it was folded. Fourteen large triangular patches and eight smaller ones were sewn onto the cloth by Poor Clare nuns to repair the damage.
ANGOLA — J. Dee German, a member of the U. S. scientific team that travelled to Turin in 1978 to perform comprehensive testing of the relic, will speak on the topic at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church on Thursday, Aug. 15, at 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. in the parish hall, 700 West Maumee St., Angola.
The Shroud of Turin is an ancient church relic kept in Turin, Italy and believed by many to be the cloth used by Joseph of Arimathea to wrap Christ’s body after the crucifixion. In 1978 a select team of U.S. scientists from the Air Force, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, NASA, and several private companies spent five days and nights performing dozens of scientific tests on the Shroud in Turin. The purpose of these activities was to determine the nature and composition of the shroud image and seek answers to the many unresolved and controversial theories about the Shroud.
In his 45-minute presentation, German will explore the nature of the image and cloth, Biblical correlations with its features, its history, the 1978 tests and conclusions, and current research on the shroud. He will follow with a discussion of what this work has meant to him spiritually.
German comes to Angola at the invitation of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and in particular parishioners Joe and Barb Caruso and Liatt Peters who have heard German speak on numerous occasions and are excited to having German share his knowledge and insight into this most interesting of church relics with residents of northeastern Indiana.
According to Dr. Walter McCrone and his colleagues, the 3+ by 14+ foot cloth depicting Christ’s crucified body is an inspired painting produced by a Medieval artist just before its first appearance in recorded history in 1356.
The faint sepia image is made up of billions of submicron pigment particles (red ochre and vermilion) in a collagen tempera medium. The pigments red ochre and vermilion with the collagen tempera medium was a common paint composition during the 14th century; before which, no one had ever heard of the Shroud.
Initial Examination – 1979
Dr. McCrone determined this by polarized light microscopy in 1979. This included careful inspection of thousands of linen fibers from 32 different areas (Shroud and sample points), characterization of the only colored image-forming particles by color, refractive indices, polarized light microscopy, size, shape, and microchemical tests for iron, mercury, and body fluids. The red ochre is present on 20 of both body- and blood-image tapes; the vermilion only on 11 blood-image tapes. Both pigments are absent on the 12 non-image tape fibers. The paint pigments were dispersed in a collagen tempera (produced in medieval times, perhaps, from parchment). It is chemically distinctly different in composition from blood but readily detected and identified microscopically by microchemical staining reactions. Forensic tests for blood were uniformly negative on fibers from the blood-image tapes. Based on these findings, McCrone postulated that the Shroud was painted in 1355.
Further Research in 1980
In 1980, using electron microscopy and x-ray diffraction, McCrone found red ochre (iron oxide, hematite) and vermilion (mercuric sulfide); the electron microprobe analyzer found iron, mercury, and sulfur on a dozen of the blood-image area samples. The results fully confirmed Dr. McCrone’s results and further proved the image was painted twice – once with red ochre, followed by vermilion to enhance the blood-image areas.
In 1987, carbon dating at three prestigious laboratories agreed well with his date: 1355 by microscopy and 1325 by C-14 dating. The suggestion that the 1532 Chambery fire changed the date of the cloth is ludicrous. Samples for C-dating are routinely and completely burned to CO 2 as part of a well-tested purification procedure. The suggestions that modern biological contaminants were sufficient to modernize the date are also ridiculous. A weight of 20th century carbon equaling nearly two times the weight of the Shroud carbon itself would be required to change a 1st century date to the 14th century (see ‘Amount of Modern Biological Contaminant Required to Raise the Date of a 36 A.D. Shroud’). Besides this, the linen cloth samples were very carefully cleaned before analysis at each of the C-dating laboratories.
Experimental details on the tests carried out by McCrone are available in five papers published in three different peer-reviewed journal articles: The Microscope28, p. 105, 115 (1980); The Microscope29, p. 19 (1981); Wiener Berichte uber Naturwissenschaft in der Kunst 1987/1988, 4/5, 50 and Acc. Chem. Res. 1990, 23, 77-83.
The “Shroud” is a beautiful painting created about 1355 for a new church in need of a pilgrim-attracting relic.
An excerpt from the book is included here:
“This book makes three major contributions. Firstly, it provides a clear, easily understood description of the analytical methods that have been used on the Shroud. Secondly, it reviews the scientific debates surrounding these methods, the analytical results obtained, and the interpretations made by the scientists. Thirdly, it serves as an excellent example of the scientific, personal and social issues that come into play when emotions, prejudices and perceptions of science interact with classical scientific methods and ethics.
As one who has spent his entire professional life as a consulting analytical chemist and microscopist, Dr. McCrone has regularly seen differences in opinions arise among scientists, and, more importantly, seen objective scientists resolve these differences, professionally and honestly.” ,
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"This image, impressed upon the cloth, speaks to our heart," the Roman Catholic Church leader said in an Italian TV Easter Saturday special.
"This disfigured face resembles all those faces of men and women marred by a life which does not respect their dignity, by war and violence which afflict the weakest … And yet, at the same time, the face in the shroud conveys a great peace; this tortured body expresses a sovereign majesty," he added.
The shroud made news again last week right before Easter when a research team from Padua University used carbon dating and concluded that the artifact is not a medieval fake, as some had previously suspected, but dates back to somewhere between 280 B.C. and A.D. 220.
Giulio Fanti, an associate professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at Padua University, conducted the tests, by analyzing fibers from the shroud with infrared lights, which allowed him to measure radiation intensity through wavelengths.
"We carried out three alternative dating tests on the shroud, two chemical and one mechanical, and they all gave the same result and they all traced back to the date of Jesus, with a possible margin of error of 250 years," Fanti told CNN.
The 14-foot long piece of cloth, which shows the imprints of a man with long hair and a bearded face, as well as markings indicating nailed feet and hands, has caused a lot of talk in both the scientific and Christian communities. The latest carbon dating findings might be the strongest evidence that the shroud was indeed used in the time-period of Jesus' death, but whether the imprints truly belong to Christ will be harder to prove.
Pope Francis' remarks are in line with the Roman Catholic Church's general position on the shroud, the Blaze noted. Catholics have remained neutral on the subject of the shroud's authenticity, leaving it up to scientific research, but insists that that the cloth still serves as an important symbol of Christians' faith.
For those wishing to stay up-to-date on news about the shroud, a new app called "Shroud 2.0" has been launched by the research team, and will be available in several languages.
"I hope the app will give us the chance of having microscopic data that will be very useful to confront different scientific research on the shroud, which, until now, is still a mystery," Fanti added.