About The Shroud of Turin

Plashchanytsia - Icon of the Shrouding of Jesus ChristThe noble Joseph took down Your most pure body from the tree.
He wrapped it with a clean shroud and, with aromatic spices, placed it in a new tomb.

The shroud is a rectangular linen sheet woven in a herringbone pattern according to an ancient Egyptian style used both before and after the time of Christ. The cloth measures 442 cm (14’6”) long by 113 cm (3’9”) wide.

There is a faint impression on it of an image of a man, front and back, indicating that he suffered extensive scourging and death by crucifixion (piercings of the feet and wrist are clearly evident). A chest wound and wounds to the head inflicted by pointed instruments are plainly visible. The “man of the shroud” has a beard, moustache and shoulder length hair parted in the middle. He is well-proportioned, muscular, and quite tall.

Since 1578, the shroud has been kept almost uninterruptedly in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. Much of its history is unknown before the late 14th century. There is, however, significant historical evidence to connect it to a much earlier image of the face of Christ entitled, “Icon Not Made With Human Hands” or the “Image of Edessa.”

Is it the burial cloth of Jesus? Scientific analyses of the Shroud of Turin were permitted by the Holy See in 1976, 1978 and 1988. These conclude that the image is not the product of an artist using paints or dyes. The shroud has been in direct contact with a body, which explains certain features such as scourge marks and blood. But it cannot explain the image of the face with the high resolution demonstrated by photography. How the image was produced at all remains a mystery.

While the Catholic Church has neither acknowledged nor denied the authenticity of the shroud, Pope John Paul II in his official visit to view it on May 24, 1988 called it “a mirror of the Gospel.” Recently, Popes Benedict and Francis described the shroud as “an icon.” Actual burial cloth or not, the shroud is indeed an ancient and greatly venerated icon – “the essence of an icon is its representation of the Holy and participation in the Divine.”

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