The Shroud of Turin: Facts and Theories

The Shroud of Turin is one of the biggest mysteries of the Christian world.  The cloth that was used to cover Christ after he was brought down from the cross has been countlessly studied by experts from around the world who wanted to prove or disprove its validity as a holy relic.  Scientists, theologians, historians and researches all have different opinions about the shroud.

The display of the Shroud of Turin on TV last Holy Saturday had re-awakened debates once more.  The newly installed pope provided a video message calling the shroud an “icon” and not a holy artifact.  The Vatican has not given any comments about the authenticity of the shroud.  Pope Francis’ video message would be the first for half a century, but his statements still doesn’t clear the Vatican’s position.

The known history of the shroud starts in 1353 with a French knight named Geoffrey de Charny in France.  He wrote to Pope Clement VI saying that he wanted to build a church at Lirey, France as an act of devotion, after surviving the prisons of England during the war.  He also mentioned that he had in his possession the Shroud, which analysts speculate the French knight acquired at Constantinople.  The Greek city was once plagued by religious wars but had a peaceful Christian period from the year 300 to 1453.  The Shroud was displayed in Lirey and prompted large pilgrims to visit it.  It was hidden away upon the order of a bishop who did not believe the Shroud is genuinely a Christ artifact.  The believed holy cloth remained in the Charny family until the knight’s daughter, Margaret, had given up the Shroud in exchange for two castles.  The Shroud made its way to Turin after being transferred to various churches across France.  It’s been the coveted cloth’s home until today, and that is how it is called the Shroud of Turin.

The Shroud’s initial carbon-dating tests did not match the time when Christ was crucified.   The popular Shroud has had many claims and rebukes, including a Masonic publication stating that the same cloth was used to wrap grandmaster Jacques de Molay when he was tortured to death in 1314.  That year coincides with the radio-carbon dating time frame.  The most recent tests dates the Shroud further between 300BC and 400AD, placing it back to Christ’s era. Whether the new findings will finally make the Shroud an official Christ relic is yet to be seen. Surely, this is not the end of the controversies surrounding the Shroud of Turin.

Article publié pour la première fois le 15/05/2013

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