The Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin, a mysterious artifact of uncertain origin, has been a source of controversy since the Middle Ages, believers adamantly maintaining that the approximately 14 foot long linen garment bearing an image (both front and back) of a bearded 6 ft tall man was in fact the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, skeptics equally adamant disagree.

In 1389 capitalizing on the shrouds notoriety, Geoffrey de Charney overlord of the French town of Lirey exhibited the alleged burial cloth for money. He quickly amassed a sizable fortune and in the process the jealousy of  neighboring towns, many of which had their own religious relics on display.The matter came to a head when referring to the shroud, Pierre d’Arcis the Bishop of Troyes, France, a skeptic, perhaps jealous himself or merely annoyed with the whole matter, quoted a predecessor in a passionate letter to Pope Clement VII at Avignon “though the image is cunningly painted . . . it is a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought.” Not wishing to step on any toes the move engendered a limited response from the Pontiff. Indeed for centuries the Catholic Church remained officially neutral, at times even mute on the subject, until in 1998 following comprehensive and impartial scientific study the issue was finally resolved. Turin’s Cardinal Ballestrero the shroud’s custodian revealed that simultaneous testing utilizing accelerator mass spectrometry by Britain’s Oxford University, the University of Arizona and Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology had carbon dated a small swatch from the artifact. The results were a time of origin between 1260 and 1390 CE. [1]
The date of origin aside, the shroud still remains an object of mystery:

It is imprinted with the image of a life-sized crucified human body.

It was created in a time before photography existed yet the image bears an uncanny resemblance to a photographic negative.

There is no evidence that it was painted (even utilizing modern scientific techniques scientists can’t agree on how the image was fashioned).

Until the means of the shroud’s creation are resolved and perhaps even after that the faithful will continue to view it with awe and veneration, the very existence of this remarkable artifact seemingly miracle enough.

[1] Researchers from Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development after spending years trying to duplicate the shroud’s markings have concluded (November 2011) that only something akin to ultraviolet lasers, a technology far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, could have created them (the markings) leading to new suggestions that the imprint was created by a flash of supernatural light during the resurrection.

Apparently their investigations reveal that a short intense burst of ultraviolet radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce some but not all of the characteristics of the body likeness found on the Turin Shroud but caution against equating that fact with talk of miracles.

"When one talks about a flash of light being able to color a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things such as miracles,” said Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro, who led the study. “But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate."

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