Friday, June 4, 2010

Turin Shroud goes on display for first time in 10 years, etc

Here belatedly, is my first set of comments (in bold) on excerpts of news accounts about the Shroud of Turin exhibition 10 April - 23 May 2010, in date order (earliest first).

Shroud of Turin Again on Display, VOANews, Sabina Castelfranco, Rome, 09 April 2010.

[Right: The Shroud as it now appears after the June-July 2002 restoration, with the 1532 fire charring and repair patches removed:]

Shroud Draws Crowd at Display in Turin. Everything is ready in the northern Italian city of Turin for a rare display of the Shroud of Turin, which some believe is the burial cloth of Jesus and others a medieval forgery. The evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud of Turin is "the burial cloth of Jesus" (see my "The Shroud of Turin is the Burial Sheet of Jesus!"). And those who dismiss the Shroud as "a medieval forgery need to explain how it was forged and who forged it. Because no one has done either. ... The Shroud of Turin ... is being put on rare display this weekend for the next 44 days. The last time it was displayed in the Turin Cathedral was for the Jubilee year 2000 marked by the Catholic Church. Bruno Barberis heads the international center on the shroud. He says this will be the first public viewing since it underwent a major cleaning. "In 2002 it has been completed the restoration work made in order to give to the shroud the most modern possible way of conservation," .... Visitors will now view the shroud without the 30 patches and a fabric backing sewn onto the shroud after a fire in the 16th century. The patches were well-meant, but their ugliness made them a case of the cure being worse than the disease. Two million people are expected to come to view the Shroud of Turin. This is an indicator that probably there are tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people worldwide who now believe that the Shroud is authentic. Barberis says no one has yet been able to explain how the image on the cloth was formed." Given that:

"The Shroud of Turin is now the most intensively studied artifact in the history of the world." (Heller, J.H., 1983, "Report on the Shroud of Turin," p.219)

it is effectively impossible for the science of the 20th-21st centuries to not be "able to explain how the image on the cloth was formed," if the Shroud was "a medieval forgery." "We are practically sure that it is the image left by a human corpse not a painting or an image obtained in some other human way," he said. STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) in 1978 proved conclusively that the Shroud was not a painting, because it has no paint, dye or pigment traces that form its image; it is non-directional (and all painting is directional); it is extremely superficial in that the image is on the topmost fibrils and has not soaked in; and there is no artist's outline. See "Is the Shroud of Turin a Painting?" and "Alice In Wonderland and the Shroud of Turin" both by painter and physicist Isabel Piczek. This is a huge blow to the medieval forgery theory because painting is the easiest and most obvious means that a medieval forger would have used to fake the Shroud. Carbon dating in 1988 claimed the image of the man could not be that of Jesus because the shroud was medieval. The 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud to 1260-1390 must be wrong, because (for starters) the Pray Codex (1192-95)

[Left: Pray Codex (click to enlarge): "The images serve as one of the evidences against the radiocarbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin": Wikipedia]

(or Pray Manuscript) is clearly of the Shroud (see my The Pray Manuscript), but it is at least 65 years before the earliest radiocarbon date of 1260, not counting the considerable time (at least decades if not centuries) required for the Shroud, which the Pray Manuscript is depicting, to achieve its iconic status. But many have rejected that result and want further scientific tests to be carried out. Monsignor Giuseppe Ghiberti, president of the Turin archdiocese's commission on the Shroud, says he believes this will happen. He says the Vatican is not against new testing and will probably allow this to occur in phases in order not to do everything at the same time. This is highly significant that such a senior Turin Archdiocese official would say that "the Vatican is not against new testing" and that he "believes ... further scientific tests ... will happen"! The Vatican has never claimed that the Shroud is authentic. Monsignor Ghiberti has called it "an instrument of evangelization". Indeed! If the Shroud is ever carbon-dated to the 1st century AD, its "evangelization" effect will be immense. He says it represents the story of a man who died because he was crucified and this death has all the characteristics of the death on the cross that Jesus suffered. Yes. Including a crown of thorns that no other crucifixion victim but Jesus would have suffered. And who would have preserved the burial shroud of a crucifixion victim unless it was Jesus? And so, he adds, it is a very touching reminder of this mystery of our salvation. Pope Benedict XVI is also expected to come and view the shroud, just like his predecessor did. He is expected in Turin on May 2. I will comment on Pope Benedict's viewing of the Shroud and what he said in a future post in this series on the Shroud exhibition 2010.

Turin Shroud goes on display for first time in 10 years, BBC, 10 April 2010 ... The Turin Shroud, which is believed by some Christians to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, has gone on display for the first time in 10 years. It is not just "Christians" who believe, on the basis of the evidence, that the Shroud of Turin is "the burial cloth of Jesus Christ." Barrie Schwortz, the owner of the world's leading Shroud pro-authenticity site,, describes himself as "an Orthodox Jew." The cloth shows the faint image of a bearded man with stains of blood on his hands and feet. It is significant that the BBC correctly states that these are "stains of blood" and don't just appear to be. That alone rules out the Shroud being a painting, because no medieval artist painted with real blood. Tests in 1988 suggested it dated from the medieval period but those carbon dating findings are contested. While still inadequate, it is an advance that the mainstream media now mostly admit that the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "medieval" is "contested." In 1988, special tests dated it to between 1260 and 1390,

[Right: Profs. Edward Hall, Michael Tite and Robert Hedges, in 1988 triumphantly announcing that the Shroud was radio-carbon dated to "1260-1390!": Ian Wilson, 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud," pl. 3b]

suggesting it was a medieval forgery. They didn't merely "suggest" it, they stated it:

"The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval ... AD 1260 - 1390" (Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, pp.611-615, pp.612, 614).

Or as the late Prof. Edward Hall, head of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory, put it:

"`There was a multi-million-pound business in making forgeries during the 14th century,' he bluntly told a British Museum press conference. `Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it.'" (Hedges, R. & Tite, M., "Obituaries: Professor Edward Hall," The Independent, 16 August 2001).

Measuring just over 4m x 1m (14ft x 3.5ft), While approximate dimensions of the Shroud are understandable in a news article, in fact during its 2002 restoration the dimensions of the Shroud were finally accurately measured as "437 cm long by 111 cm wide":

"the dimensions [of the Shroud] have been authoritatively determined by Dr. Flury-Lemberg as 437 cm long by 111 cm wide." (Wilson, I., "`The Turin Shroud - past, present and future', Turin, 2-5 March, 2000," BSTS Newsletter, No. 51, June 2000).

This is approximately 8 x 2 cubits, based on:

"555mm as the 'legal' or 'Talmudic' cubit" ("Can You Help?," BSTS Newsletter, No. 46, Nov/Dec 1997),

i.e. 444 x 111cm, especially if the foot end has been reduced by relic-taking. So even the Shroud's dimensions are evidence of its authenticity! the frail linen sheet shows an image of a man's body complete with bloodstains and what appear to be wounds from crucifixion. They don't just "appear to be", they are "wounds from crucifixion." ... But since then, other scientists have cast doubt on those findings and appealed to the Vatican to allow new tests using more modern techniques. This makes the important point that it is not a case of science versus scientifically illiterate believers. It is "other scientists" who "have cast doubt on those findings." ...

Shroud of Turin displayed again, CBC, April 10, 2010

[Above (click to enlarge): The Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Severino Poletto, stands in front of the Holy Shroud: CBC]

... Each visitor will be allowed five minutes to stand before the bulletproof, climate-controlled case containing the cloth inside northern Italy's Turin Cathedral, where it has been kept for 500 years. Having been subject to many attempts to destroy it, the latest in 1997, and concerns for its conservation and preservation, the Shroud is now kept in a "bulletproof, climate-controlled case." Clearly the Vatican must think the Shroud is authentic, otherwise why spend the equivalent of what must be many millions of dollars protecting "a medieval forgery"? In that time, the public has been allowed to view it on only five occasions. The last time was in 2000. The shroud was discovered in the French city of Troyes in the mid-14th century. No. It was Lirey, France, near Troyes. ...

Shroud of Turin: Real Deal Or Master Fake?, FOX News, April 10, 2010, Greg Burke. .... The linen cloth is normally kept wrapped up inside a silver box, and only taken out for public display on special occasions. As far as I am aware, the Shroud has not been kept in a silver box since 1532, when a fire caused molten silver to burn a hole through 8 layers of the folded cloth. While many believe this is the linen cloth that covered Jesus Christ after his death - and you can see a faint outline of a man's face and arms on it - testing done on the cloth two decades ago suggested it dated from between 1260 and 1390. However, those results have been contested, and other experts say contamination of the shroud over the years could have skewed the dating process. Not "could have" but would have. For the Shroud to date from 1325 (the mid-point of 1260-1390) means that the radiocarbon labs would have to have removed all contamination. But if this were possible, then there would be no need to have warnings "not to introduce any contamination" into the sample and that even mere "Cigarette ash is also taboo":

"Collecting and packaging of samples It is important not to introduce any contamination when collecting and packing the sample. If flotation is used in the collection process, no hydrocarbons should be used. Hydrogen peroxide can, however, be used to break up soil samples. Many materials used for preserving or conserving samples contain carbon that may be impossible to remove subsequently: do not use glues, biocides, polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polyvinylacetate (PVA). Many ordinary packing materials, such as paper, cardboard, cotton wool and string, contain carbon and are potential contaminants. Cigarette ash is also taboo." (Bowman, S., "Radiocarbon Dating," Interpreting the Past, University of California Press: Berkeley CA, 1990, pp.55-56. Emphasis original).

So for the three laboratories to `just happen' to converge on date (1325 +/- 65 years) which is immediately before the date of the Shroud's first undisputed appearance at Lirey, France, in the 1350s is simply too good to be true. Therefore there

[Above (click to enlarge): Exposition Medallion of Shroud ca. 1356: Shroud of Turin Skeptical Spectacle.]

must have been at least low-level fraud on the part of the laboratories, i.e. "data manipulation-such as making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit the case":

"The term `scientific fraud' is often assumed to mean the wholesale invention of data. But this is almost certainly the rarest kind of fabrication. Those who falsify scientific data probably start and succeed with the much lesser crime of improving upon existing results. Minor and seemingly trivial instances of data manipulation-such as making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit the case-are probably far from unusual in science. But there is only a difference in degree between `cooking' the data and inventing a whole experiment out of thin air. A continuous spectrum can be drawn from the major and minor acts of fabrication to self-deception, a phenomenon of considerable importance in all branches of science. Fraud, of course, is deliberate and self-deception unwitting, but there is probably a class of behavior in between where the subject's motives are ambiguous even to himself." (Broad, W.A. & Wade, N.J., 1982, "Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science," Simon and Schuster: New York NY, p.20).

In any case, the Shroud of Turin is always a major mystery, and the Turin Cathedral still draws millions of visitors every year, even when the linen is wrapped up and hidden away. The Shroud has always drawn huge crowds over the centuries whenever it has been exhibited publicly. Far more than all Christian relics combined. This massive `voting with their feet' in all ages is itself evidence that it the Shroud is uniquely authentic. About two million people are expected to visit over the next six weeks while the original can be seen in the cathedral. Is it the real thing, or a brilliant forgery? This correctly states the dilemma. Even the Shroud's opponents admit that, "... there are only two choices: Either the shroud is authentic... or it is a product of human artifice":

"As the (red ochre) dust settles briefly over Sindondom, it becomes clear there are only two choices: Either the shroud is authentic (naturally or supernaturally produced by the body of Jesus) or it is a product of human artifice. Asks Steven Schafersman: `Is there a possible third hypothesis? No, and here's why. Both Wilson [Wilson, I., "The Shroud of Turin," 1979, pp.51-53] and Stevenson and Habermas [Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., "Verdict on the Shroud," 1981, pp.121-129] go to great lengths to demonstrate that the man imaged on the shroud must be Jesus Christ and not someone else. After all, the man on this shroud was flogged, crucified, wore a crown of thorns, did not have his legs broken, was nailed to the cross, had his side pierced, and so on. Stevenson and Habermas [Ibid., p.128] even calculate the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man on the shroud is not Jesus Christ (and they consider this a very conservative estimate). I agree with them on all of this. If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus.' [Schafersman, S.D., "Science, the public, and the Shroud of Turin," The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 6, No. 3, Spring 1982, pp.37-56, p.42]" (Nickell, J., 1987, "Inquest on the Shroud of Turin," [1983], Prometheus Books: Buffalo NY, Revised, Reprinted, 2000, p.141. Emphasis original).

The Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Severino Poletto, opts for real. "As a Christian I believe the Shroud is authentic," Poletto said. To his credit, Cardinal Poletti nails his colours to the mast."I can't say officially, because it's not my job, but either it's a miracle, or it's the real thing. This is significant, in that, despite claims that the Roman Catholic Church, after the 1988 radiocarbon dating, admitted that the Shroud was a forgery, more and more its leadership (including the Pope-see a future post in this series) are staking their reputation on it being "the real thing"!

Shroud of Turin displayed for 1st time in 10 years, Associated Press, April 10, 2010. TURIN, Italy - The Shroud of Turin went on public display Saturday for the first time in 10 years,

[Above (enlarge): Perfect fit of the bloodstains on the Sudarium of Oviedo (which has been in Spain since shortly after 616: Wikipedia) and the Shroud of Turin, proving that they once covered the head of the same crucifixion victim: Bennett, J., 2001, "Sacred Blood, Sacred Image" Ignatius Press: San Francisco CA, p.122. That is, the Sudarium is the "smaller face cloth, the sudarium" [Gk. soudarion], mentioned in John 20:6-7, as distinct from the other "linen cloths" [Gk. othonia], including the Shroud "that had wrapped the body":

"One of the relics held by the cathedral in the town of Oviedo, in the north of Spain, is a piece of cloth measuring approximately 84 x 53 cm. There is no image on this cloth. Only stains are visible to the naked eye, although more is visible under the microscope. The remarkable thing about this cloth is that both tradition and scientific studies claim that the cloth was used to cover and clean the face of Jesus after the crucifixion. We are going to present and look into these claims. Such a cloth is known to have existed from the gospel of John, chapter 20, verses 6 and 7. These verses read as follows, `Simon Peter, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, saw the linen cloth [Gk. othonia, "linen cloths"] lying on the ground, and also the cloth [Gk. soudarion, "face cloth"] that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloth but rolled up in a place by itself.' John clearly differentiates between this smaller face cloth, the sudarium, and the larger linen that had wrapped the body. The history of the sudarium is well documented, and much more straightforward than that of the Shroud. ... According to this history, the sudarium was in Palestine until shortly before the year 614, when Jerusalem was attacked and conquered by Chosroes II, who was king of Persia from 590 to 628. It was taken away to avoid destruction in the invasion, first to Alexandria by the presbyter Philip, then across the north of Africa when Chosroes conquered Alexandria in 616. The sudarium entered Spain at Cartagena, along with people who were fleeing from the Persians. The bishop of Ecija, Fulgentius [c. 590-633], welcomed the refugees and the relics, and surrendered the chest, or ark, to Leandro, bishop of Seville." (Guscin, M., "The Sudarium of Oviedo: Its History and Relationship to the Shroud of Turin," 1997).]

drawing long lines of people to see the linen some believe is Christ's burial cloth and others dismiss as a medieval fake. See above on those who dismiss the Shroud as "a medieval fake" need to explain how it was faked and who faked it. And that includes how the Shroud's head bloodstains exactly match those of the Sudarium of Oviedo, which has been in Spain since the early 7th century! Turin Cardinal Severino Poletto led the opening ceremony in Turin's cathedral. He referred to the debate over the shroud's authenticity, saying it was "not up to the church but for science to decide." This has been the Vatican's defensive `party line' for too long. While the Shroud's authenticity is not an article of faith of Christianity, the evidence is now overwhelming that the Shroud is the very burial sheet of Jesus, and bears the image of His crucified and resurrected body! .... The Vatican has tiptoed around the issue of just what the cloth is, calling it a powerful symbol of Christ's suffering while making no claim to its authenticity. If the Roman Catholic Church did not now firmly believe the Shroud is authentic, why are they exhibiting it as though it is authentic? ... But experts stand by carbon-dating of scraps of the cloth that determine the linen was made in the 13th or 14th century in a kind of medieval forgery. They are deluding themselves. The Pray Manuscript and the Sudarium of Oviedo (see above) prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the Shroud was not "made in the 13th or 14th century." That testing didn't explain how the image on the shroud - of a man with wounds similar to those suffered by Christ - was formed. An important point. It is not enough to claim that the Shroud was "made in the 13th or 14th century" without explaining how and who "in the 13th or 14th century" made it and its image. However, some have suggested the dating results might have been skewed by contamination and called for a larger sample to be analyzed. It is important to realise that the sample removed for radiocarbon-dated in 1988 was only:

"Approx 1.2cm x 8cm" (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, p.189).

i.e. 0.012m x 0.08m = 0.00096m2. Yet the Shroud measures approximately 4.4m x 1.1m = 4.84m2. That is, the sample was only ~0.00096*100/4.84 = ~0.02% of the whole! It is therefore a scientific disgrace (if not deliberate deception) for the radiocarbon laboratories to have claimed that such a minuscule sample is representative of the whole. Such a conclusion would fail any high school science experiment (I speak as a science teacher)!

Shroud of Turin goes on display for first time in decade,, April 10, 2010 ... A large area around the Turin cathedral has been cordoned off, and scores of volunteers were on hand from a total of some 4000 retired elite mountain warfare soldiers sporting plumed felt caps. If the Shroud was just a fake, why guard it with "4000 retired elite mountain warfare soldiers"? ... Pope Benedict XVI will pay homage to the shroud on May 2. .... Benedict said his visit would be "a propitious occasion to contemplate this mysterious visage that speaks silently to the heart of men, inviting them to recognise the face of God". I will comment on Pope Benedict's visit to the Shroud in my next post in this series. But clearly by calling it "the face of God" he believes the Shroud is authentic. ....

Mysterious Shroud of Turin Goes on Display, Sky News, April 10, 2010, Nick Pisa .... The linen cloth, worthy of a Dan Brown thriller, has captivated the imagination of historians, church chiefs, sceptics and Catholics for more than 500 years. Again, that this is so, is evidence that the Shroud is not a fake. It even gripped occult-obsessed Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler who wanted to steal it so he could use it in a black magic ceremony. I interpret this (and the attempts to destroy the Shroud) as Satan's continuing war against Jesus and His followers (Rev 12) .... The Shroud has been kept at Turin Cathedral for more than 500 years A key visitor to the Shroud will be Pope Benedict XVI on May 2. Vatican officials have stressed the event will be "spiritual" and not "religious tourism". The Church, for the first time, also expressed its doubt over the authenticity of the Shroud which many believe is a fake. "There is no mathematical certainty that the Shroud is indeed the cloth in which Our Lord was wrapped," said Cardinal Severino Poletto, Archbishop of Turin.This is true, but misleading. There is only "mathematical certainty" in mathematics! But people are routinely convicted and jailed or executed based on "proof beyond reasonable doubt" on far less forensic evidence than the Shroud represents that "it is indeed the cloth in which Our Lord was wrapped.""It is quite clear to all that our Christian faith is not based on the Shroud but on the Gospel and the teaching of the Apostles.Again true. But why all this defensive official backing and filling? The evidence is now overwhelming that the Shroud is the burial sheet of Jesus and what's more that it bears the evidence of His resurrection. So it is now time that the Roman Catholic Church (and indeed the entire Christian Church) went on the offensive! "However, the displaying of the Shroud is an occasion to help the faithful meditate, pray and contemplate on the mystery and extraordinary suffering of Christ." This is the problem with the Vatican's "Mr Facing-Both-Ways" approach. It makes those like this journalist assume that the Roman Catholic Church is expressing "its doubt over the authenticity of the Shroud" when in reality its `body language' is increasingly indicating that it believes the Shroud is authentic.

Shroud Draws Crowd at Display in Turin, VOANews, Sabina Castelfranco, Rome, 10 April 2010 ... Among those who went in Saturday was Emanuela Marinelli, a shroud expert who has written numerous books on the shroud. One her books is the excellent, "The Enigma of the Shroud - A Challenge to Science," co-authored with Orazio Petrosillo. "I believe more and more that the shroud is really the burial cloth of Jesus so for me it's important to see again this important relic, to stay in front of it for one moment to say a prayer because I am convinced that the shroud is authentic, not for reasons of faith but for scientific reasons," she said. I also do not need the Shroud to be authentic for Christianity to be true. I was a Christian for nearly 40 years while believing the Shroud was a fake. Like Marinelli, I believe the Shroud to be authentic "for scientific reasons." .... Still there are plenty of skeptics who say that the Shroud of Turin is a fake. It is the so-called `skeptics' who are the true believers. They believe the Shroud to be a fake, irrespective of the evidence that it is authentic. They say carbon dating by three separate laboratories in 1988 - in Britain, Switzerland and the United States - dated it to the Middle Ages. They did not date the Shroud. They dated a postage-sized sample, which was only ~0.02% or about 1/50th of 1 percent of the whole cloths. There is a hidden assumption that this minuscule sample is representative of the whole Shroud. But that remains an unproven assumption. But Marinelli says she has no doubt about the image that has special significance to her. "For me the shroud is something to have continuously the memory of the presence of Jesus and the presence of the shroud in my life is also the presence of Jesus in my life," she said. I already had the presence of Jesus in my life. But for me the Shroud is "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Eph 3:20). That is, concrete, scientific, evidence that Christianity is objectively true, i.e. true for everyone, whether they believe it or not. To this day, no one has yet been able to explain how the image on the shroud was formed. That is, explained it away naturalistically. And again, they would have, if they could have.. ...

Shroud of Turin to be on display, United Press International, April 11, 2010 ... TURIN, Italy, April 11 (UPI) -- The shroud of Turin, believed by some Christians to be the burial cloth of Jesus, is on display for the first time since its 2002 restoration, officials say. The shroud is expected to draw around 2 million people -- including Pope Benedict XVI -- to Turin Cathedral in Italy while on display for six weeks, CNN reported Sunday. The 2002 restoration removed a patchwork repair done by 16th-century nuns after a fire damaged the cloth, CNN said. The authenticity of the shroud has long been in dispute, with many scholars like church historian Antonio Lombatti saying it dates only from the Middle Ages. "The shroud owner said it in 1355 ... the local bishop said it was a forgery and even the pope of that time said it was a fake," Lombatti said. Yes, "the local bishop said it was a forgery." But that is hearsay, not evidence. And it was not even "the local bishop" but what another bishop, Pierre d'Arcis, bishop of Troyes, claimed in 1389 what his predecessor bishop Henri of Poitiers allegedly said 45 years earlier in 1355. And what's more it is demonstratably false because d'Arcis said the Shroud was "cunningly painted," but one thing that STURP proved in 1978 was that the Shroud is not a painting (see above). The Catholic Church's official position on the shroud calls it an important tool for faith regardless of its authenticity, CNN said. The Vatican's position is self-contradictory. If the Shroud is not authentic, then it is a blasphemous fraud. So how could it then be "an important tool for faith"? The Vatican by its actions shows that it believes the Shroud is authentic. So why doesn't it be honest and say so, instead of all this defensive official double-talk?

To be continued.

Posted: 4 June 2010. Updated: 2 May 2021