Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Knights Templar may have secretly held shroud, Vatican expert says

Now that I have gone back to university to become a biology teacher, my time is limited, so I am not going to post any more items combined under the heading "Shroud of Turin News."

[Above: The Templecombe Head:

"The Shroud-like Templar panel painting discovered at Templecombe, England, during the Second World War. This represents the prime clue that the Knights Templar may secretly have owned the Shroud during the period immediately following the capture of Constantinople and up to their suppression in 1307." (Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.116).]

Instead I will just post significant items of Shroud news separately as they occur. This has the advantage of: being more timely, allowing a topic to be more fully stated and commented on, and any comments by readers can be specifically about that topic. My comments on this news item are [bold and in square brackets] below.

Knights Templar may have secretly held shroud, Vatican expert says, Catholic News Service, April 6, 2009, John Thavis ... A Vatican researcher has found evidence that the Knights Templar, the medieval crusading order, held secret custody of the Shroud of Turin during the 13th and 14th centuries. [This is an important confirmation of Ian Wilson's/Rex Morgan's theory that the Shroud of Turin, after being taken from Jerusalem to Edessa in Eastern Turkey in the 1st century as the Edessa Cloth or Mandylion, then to Constantinople in Western Turkey in 944, from where after the sack of Constantinople in 1204, it was kept secretly by the Knights Templars until their downfall in 1307, when it was taken for safekeeping to Templecome, England, after which it was returned to France in 1343 by Geoffrey de Charny, whose son Geoffrey II de Charny first displayed it at Lirey, France in 1357.] The shroud, which bears the image of a man and is believed by many to have been the burial cloth of Jesus, was probably used in a secret Templar ritual to underline Christ's humanity in the face of popular heresies of the time, the expert said.

[Right: Prof. Barbara Frale: Arcade Publishing]

The researcher, Barbara Frale, made the comments in an article published April 5 by the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. The article anticipated evidence the author presents in an upcoming book on the Templars and the shroud.

[Left: Prof. Frale's book, "The Templars: The Secret History Revealed" (2009): Amazon.com ]

Frale, who works in the Vatican Secret Archives, said documents that came to light during research on the 14th-century trial of the Templars contained a description of a Templar initiation ceremony. The document recounts how a Templar leader, after guiding a young initiate into a hidden room, "showed him a long linen cloth that bore the impressed figure of a man, and ordered him to worship it, kissing the feet three times," Frale said. [A "long linen cloth that bore the impressed figure of a man" can only be the Shroud, in the custody of the Templars. And since the trial of the Templars was from 1307-1312, and this initiation ceremony then was a past event (actually 1287 - see below), this is further evidence of the existence of the Shroud, at least a half-century before it first appeared in the undisputed historical record in 1357.] The idea that the Knights Templar were secret custodians of the shroud was put forward by British historian Ian Wilson in 1978. [To be pedantic it actually was first in 1977:

"We have then the matter of the cloth's fate after 1204 ... This is the most mysterious period of all. But whoever came to possess it would seem to have possessed vast wealth, or otherwise they would have sold such a valuable relic; also they must have had some motive for keeping it secretly to themselves. To me the prime suspects seem to have been the Order of Knights Templar, who had a great veneration for the Holy Sepulchre, and built for themselves vast fortresses so heavily guarded that they became the banks of Europe, and so mysterious that rumours began to circulate of secret Templar ceremonies at which some great relic was venerated, a relic which had the appearance of the face of an unidentified bearded man upon a panel. ... Just one clue survives to the appearance of the last Templar `idol,' a clue found in the tiny village of Templecombe in England, once the home of a Templar preceptory. During the demolition of a cottage outhouse in the 1950's there came to light this oak panel painting ... undoubtedly Templar, answering exactly the documentary descriptions of the `idol' and with the uncanny appearance of being a copy of the face on the Shroud." (Wilson, 1977, "Proceedings of the 1977 United States Conference of Research on The Shroud of Turin," pp.47-49).

although Wilson first fully stated his Knights Templar custodians of the Shroud from 1204-1307 theory in his 1978 book, "The Turin Shroud," pp.153-165] Frale said the account of the initiation ceremony, along with a number of other pieces of evidence, supports that theory. The shroud's history has long been the subject of debate. It was believed by some to have been in Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey, when the city was sacked during the crusades in 1204. It turned up for public display in France in 1357, and today is kept in the cathedral of Turin, Italy.

'Missing' Turin shroud was in knights' safe keeping, The Australian, April 7, 2009, Richard Owen, Rome ... MEDIEVAL knights hid and secretly venerated the Holy Shroud of Turin for more than 100 years after the Crusades, the Vatican revealed yesterday, in an announcement that appeared to solve the mystery of the relic's missing years. [This is an important point. This discovery pushes the Shroud's existence in the historical record back to 1287 at least (see below) and therefore disposes of the 1389 hearsay claim by the Bishop of Troyes, Pierre d'Arcis (1377-1395), so much relied upon by Shroud critics, that the Shroud was "cunningly painted" and his predecessor, Bishop Henri de Poitiers (1354-1370), knew "the artist who had painted it":

"The Shroud first appeared around 1355 in Lirey, France. In 1389, Bishop Pierre d'Arcis of that diocese wrote to Pope Clement VII objecting strenuously to the treatment of the Shroud as genuine. He said an official of the church at Lirey had, "falsely and deceitfully, being consumed with the passion of avarice, and not from any motive of devotion but only of gain, procured for his church a certain cloth cunningly painted, upon which by a clever sleight of hand was depicted the twofold image of one man, that is to say, the back and the front, he falsely declaring and pretending that this was the actual shroud in which our Savior Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb, ..." Bishop d'Arcis went on to explain how a predecessor, Bishop Henri de Poitiers, had "discovered the fraud and how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, ..." (Castle, M.A., "600+ years of fakery: the Shroud of Turin," Atheists For Human Rights, 5 April 2009).

But clearly since the Shroud was in existence in or before 1287, then Bishop Henri de Poitiers 67+ years later could not have known the artist who allegedly painted the Shroud (apart from the fact that it has been conclusively proved the Shroud is not a painting), so either Bishop d'Arcis was mistaken or lying.] The Knights Templar, a crusading order suppressed and disbanded for alleged heresy, took care of the linen cloth, which bears the image of a bearded man with long hair and the wounds of crucifixion, according to the Vatican researchers. ... Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican Secret Archives, said the shroud disappeared in the sack of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, and did not emerge again until the middle of the 14th century. Writing in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, Dr Frale said the shroud's fate in those years always puzzled historians. However, her study of the trial of the Knights Templar had brought to light a document in which a young Frenchman, Arnaut Sabbatier, who entered the order in 1287 [This is only 83 years after the Shroud disappeared from Constantinople in 1204, cutting in half the 153 `missing years' between 1204-1357.] , testified that as part of his initiation he was taken to "a secret place to which only the brothers of the Temple had access". There he was shown "a long linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man" and instructed to venerate the image by kissing its feet three times. [Contrary to conspiracy theorist, the Knights Templars were an orthodox Christian organisation, who would not commit idolatry by kissing the feet of an image, unless they were sure it was an image of Jesus.] Dr Frale said the Knights Templar had rescued the shroud to ensure it did not fall into the hands of heretical groups such as the Cathars, who claimed Christ did not have a human body, only the "appearance" of a man. She said her discovery vindicated a theory first put forward by Ian Wilson, a British writer, in 1978.

Researcher: Knights Templar trial records indicate possession of Shroud of Turin, Catholic News Agency, Vatican City, Apr 7, 2009 ... A researcher in the Vatican Secret Archives claims to have filled a gap in the known history of the Shroud of Turin, saying that rediscovered records of the Knights Templar trials show the Shroud had been in the possession of the order before it was suppressed. The Shroud had disappeared in the sack of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade and reports of it do not surface again until 1353, Researcher Barbara Frale said in L'Osservatore Romano. The Shroud was then displayed in a church at Lirey in France by descendants of Geoffroy de Charney,

[Right: The two leading Templars Jacques de Molay and Geoffroy de Charnay being burned at the stake in 1314, rather than falsely confess their order was guilty of the charges brought by King Philip IV of France so he could get their money and the Shroud.]

a Templar Knight burned at the stake with the last head of the order, Jacques de Molay. According to L'Osservatore, Frale has uncovered new evidence concerning the Shroud in the testimony surrounding the Knights Templar, a crusading order. Founded at the time of the First Crusade in the eleventh century, the Knights Templar protected Christians making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They took their name from the Temple of Jerusalem, near which they were first stationed. After the crusaders lost the Holy Land with the fall of the city of Acre in 1291, support for them weakened. Accused of both heresy and engaging in corrupt and sexually immoral secret ceremonies, the order's leaders were arrested by King Philip IV of France. The king pressured Pope Clement V to dissolve the Knights Templar, which he did in 1307. Frale reported that a trial document recounts the testimony of Arnaut Sabbatier, a young Frenchman who entered the order in 1287. He testified that as part of his initiation he was taken to "a secret place to which only the brothers of the Temple had access." He was shown "a long linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man" and instructed to venerate the image by kissing its feet three times. Frale said that the Knights Templar had been accused of worshiping idols, in particular a "bearded figure."

[Left: Chinon Parchment: After Math News.]

According to Frale, the Knights took possession of the Shroud to rescue it from heretical groups such as the Cathars. In 2003 Frale rediscovered her trial document source, known as the Chinon Parchment, after realizing it had been wrongly cataloged in the Vatican Library.

Shroud of Turin Secretly Hidden, Discovery News, Rossella Lorenzi, April 6, 2009 ... The Knights Templar secretly guarded the Shroud of Turin -- an ancient linen cloth believed by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus -- for more than 100 years, according to the Vatican's in-house newspaper. Writing in L'Osservatore Romano, Barbara Frale, a scholar at the Vatican Secret Archives, said new archival documents reveal "missing clues" to the fate of the Shroud between 1204 A.D. and 1351, a period during which it cannot otherwise be accounted for. "These unpublished documents appear to solve the puzzle of the shroud's missing years from a purely historic angle," Frale told Discovery News. "Indeed, a linen cloth extremely similar to the shroud of Turin is clearly described in those records." Believers contend that the shroud, now kept in a silver casket in Turin's Cathedral, is the "cloth with an image on it" reported by the early Christian historian Eusebius to have been given to the Christian King Abgar V of Edessa in 30 A.D. The linen, known then as the Mandylion of Edessa, was taken to Constantinople in 944. It disappeared in the sack of the city in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, and did not surface until 1357, when the widow of a French knight had it displayed in a church in Lirey, France. According to Frale, the newly discovered documents support a theory first put forward by the British historian Ian Wilson in 1978. He argued that the shroud and the Mandylion of Edessa were one and the same, and that the Templars were the custodians of the Shroud. [A good summary of Wilson's Edessa Cloth = Mandylion = Shroud theory.] .

Knights Templar hid the Shroud of Turin, says Vatican, The Times, April 6, 2009, Richard Owen in Rome Medieval knights hid and secretly venerated The Holy Shroud of Turin for more than 100 years after the Crusades, the Vatican said yesterday in an announcement that appeared to solve the mystery of the relic's missing years. [This Rome correspondent for The Times makes the point that it is "the Vatican" saying this. That is, Frale works for the Vatican and her account is in the Vatican's in-house newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.] ... In 2003 Dr Frale, the Vatican's medieval specialist, unearthed the record of the trial of the Templars, also known as the Chinon Parchment, after realising that it had been wrongly catalogued. The parchment showed that Pope Clement V had accepted the Templars were guilty of "grave sins", such as corruption and sexual immorality, but not of heresy. Their initiation ceremony involved spitting on the Cross, but this was to brace them for having to do so if captured by Muslim forces, Dr Frale said. Last year she published for the first time the prayer the Knights Templar composed when "unjustly imprisoned", in which they appealed to the Virgin Mary to persuade "our enemies" to abandon calumnies and lies and revert to truth and charity. Radiocarbon dating tests on the Turin Shroud in 1988 indicated that it was a medieval fake. However this had been challenged on the grounds that the dated sample was taken from an area of the shroud mended after a fire in the Middle Ages and not a part of the original cloth. [It is significant that even The Times of London now regards the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "medieval" was flawed.]

See also: Turin Shroud link with Templars proved by archives, claims historian, The Guardian, Monday 6 April 2009; Knights Templar worshipped the Turin Shroud, Telegraph.co.uk., 6 Apr 2009.

Stephen E. Jones.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!


"We have then the matter of the cloth's fate after 1204 when according to the Crusader, `neither Greek nor Frenchman knew what became of it.' This is the most mysterious period of all. But whoever came to possess it would seem to have possessed vast wealth, or otherwise they would have sold such a valuable relic; also they must have had some motive for keeping it secretly to themselves. To me the prime suspects seem to have been the Order of Knights Templar, who had a great veneration for the Holy Sepulchre, and built for themselves vast fortresses so heavily guarded that they became the banks of Europe, and so mysterious that rumours began to circulate of secret Templar ceremonies at which some great relic was venerated, a relic which had the appearance of the face of an unidentified bearded man upon a panel. In 1307 the rumours were all that were needed to give the King of France the excuse to lay his hands on Templar wealth by arresting every member of the Order, not without a struggle, a struggle in which the mysterious `idol' the Templars were accused of possessing certainly disappeared. Just one clue survives to the appearance of the last Templar `idol,' a clue found in the tiny village of Templecombe in England, once the home of a Templar preceptory. During the demolition of a cottage outhouse in the 1950's there came to light this oak panel painting ... undoubtedly Templar, answering exactly the documentary descriptions of the `idol' and with the uncanny appearance of being a copy of the face on the Shroud. If the Shroud was indeed the idol possessed by the Templars, one further clue survives as to it's fate. In 1314 two of the last Templar dignitaries were brought out to be burnt at the stake, proclaiming to the last their innocence ... One was the Order's Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, the other the Order's Master of Normandy, Geoffrey de Charny. We do not know definitely if there was a family relationship between Geoffrey de Charny the Templar and Geoffrey I de Charny of Lirey, first known owner of the Shroud. But the likelihood is there. One may postulate the Shroud ripped or cut from it's panel at the time of the Templar capture, stuffed under a jerkin, and spirited away to safety with relatives of the Master of Normandy. The episode fits exactly the sort of murky past Geoffrey de Charny of Lirey would simply not have been able to reveal, particularly as a French King and Pope had been heavily implicated in the Templar demise. Such is the bizarre chain of events that I believe constitutes the hitherto `lost' 1300 years of the Shroud's history." (Wilson, I., "The Shroud's History Before the 14th Century," in Stevenson, K.E., ed., 1977, "Proceedings of the 1977 United States Conference of Research on The Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Bronx NY, 1977, pp.47-49).

Updated: 19 July 2015

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