Have you ever heard of the Shroud of Turin?
It is a religious relic that was found in 1353/1357. The exact date and place of its discovery are still subject to debate amongst historians. It is “The Shroud of Turin” because it is the reputed burial Shroud of Christ and it has been held in Turin since 1578. From its first recorded exhibition, in France in 1357, this cloth has been the object of mass veneration on one hand and criticism on the other. There are many questions as to whether the shroud is really the cloth that wrapped Christ’s crucified body, or whether it is simply a medieval forgery, a hoax perpetrated by some clever artist.
According to research done by The Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), it is not a forgery or a hoax or anything like that. After subjecting the cloth to ultra violet and infrared evaluation, x-ray, fluorescence and micro-chemistry, they confirmed that no pigment, paints, dyes or stains have been found on even the finest, smallest fiber that makes up the shroud. They also examined the blood on the shroud and confirmed that it was human because it had all the qualities of human blood (composed of haemoglobin and it also gave a positive test for serum albumin). The blood group also matches that of the numerous Eucharistic miracles. From the evidence they had, they came to a conclusion that the body imprint on the shroud was that of a real human form. Now, whether the body imprint is that of Christ is another question.
You might wonder what the Church has got to say in the light of all these. The answer is that the Church itself has no official opinion as to its veracity – although it should be noted that the Church positively encourages devotion to it, having authorized medals bearing its image. It has also enjoyed positive criticisms by various popes. St. John Paul II has venerated it twice, in 1978 and 1998. However, to believe that the Shroud is the actual burial cloth of the Lord is not a matter of faith. No Catholic is bound to believe it is. As they say, for those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.
Pope Francis spoke about it in 2013. He said; “The face in the shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth. This image impressed upon the cloth speaks to our heart and moves us to climb the hill of Calvary, to look upon the wood of the Cross, and to immerse ourselves in the eloquent silence of love.” “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. “By means of the Holy Shroud, the unique and supreme Word of God comes to us: Love made man, incarnate in our history; the merciful love of God who has taken upon himself all the evil of the world to free us from its power.”
To find out more about the shroud or about the STURP research, you can visit shroud.com or download the app; shroud 2.0