The Shroud Of Turin
This article is an overview of the Shroud of Turin, thought by some to be the actual burial shroud of Jesus.
The Shroud of Turin is first an ancient piece of linen cloth. What makes the cloth meaningful is the image of a bearded man, which has somehow been imprinted upon it. In addition, human blood has been discovered on the Shroud, in areas of the body which closely corresponded to the recorded wounds of Jesus. According the Jewish tradition, the body of a dead person was wrapped in a sheet and then placed in the sepulcher.
Millions believe the image of a man on the cloth is that of Jesus of Nazareth. This bit of cloth has been called the "most studied artifact in human history." Is this the very cloth that wrapped his crucified body of Jesus? And, how did the imprinting get on the linen? The experts cannot agree. The debate continues to rage today, with no signs of stopping.
Others are convinced the Shroud is a clever Medieval forgery. In the Middle Ages, religious relics, both real and fraudulent, were commonplace. Bits of the true cross and bones of saints are two such examples.
But when this particular relic was photographed, it took on a much greater significance. In 1898, Mr. Seconda Pia photographed the first picture of the Shroud and discovered the image on the linen is a natural negative.
Markings which had been faint on the cloth suddenly jumped out with amazing clarity and striking detail. Interest in the linen cloth soared.
In 1978, the Roman Catholic Church allowed a five-day research period on the Shroud. At that time, more than two dozens scientists from the US, Italy and Switzerland performed a series of tests on the linen. Among the findings was: The shroud had come into direct contact with a body and that the blood was most likely human. The markings show no telltale signs of brushstrokes and could not be attributed to any artistic method known in Jesus' time or the Middle Ages. After these tests, even more people believed the shroud was authentic.
Ten years later however, radiocarbon dating, told a much different story. Three separate tests dated the material to the Middle Ages, or more specifically the years 1260-1390. Thus, this test clearly disputed the age of the cloth.
True believers were not convinced and said (and continue to say) the test material was contaminated.
According to the Gospel of John, Jesus also left behind another fragment of cloth which had covered his head. In a cathedral of Oviedo, Spain, there is a cloth measuring just under 2 x 3 feet that some believe to be that cloth. It has no visible images, but does contain bloodstains.