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More information about the Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin is an ancient cloth that is believed by many to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus.  The cloth measures eight by two cubits, which is a standard Jewish measurement of the first century.  (14' 3" by 3' 7" in current day measurements)  The cloth is believed by many to be from the first century and is woven of “fine” linen and cotton in a rare weave, not like a typical burial cloth. The fibrils are woven in a three-in-one weave that is very unique to the first century.  Some believe it may have been a tablecloth.  The cloth bears the image of a first century event.  The image is that of a crucified man, whose hands are open and crossed in a position consistent with a Jewish burial, with wounds encircling the head.  Blood flow on the cloth is consistent with a pierced wound in the left chest area. Crucifixion was banned in the fourth century under Emperor Constantine.

An attorney and amateur photographer named Secundo Pia was allowed to photograph the Shroud of Turin after the 1898 exposition of the cloth.  While developing the negative, Pia observed a very clear picture of a man who was beaten and crucified.  He was shocked…the stains of the cloth provide a stunning picture, like a photographic negative!  The image also has a 3D quality.  Some critics say it is the work of a medieval forger.  Would it be possible for a medieval forger to conceive of painting a detailed negative, painted in blood stains, painting in lights and darks in complete opposites, when even photography did not yet exist?!  Scientists are in agreement that they would be unable to produce such an image, even with today's technology.

Additional information

This linen cloth is stained.  It has the following features:

  • Burn marks - from the fire in 1532, and patches covering the burn holes. These patches were removed in 2002.
  • Ancient water marks - determined to predate the fire.
  • Blood stains from human blood.
  • Fold lines that predate 1578.  After 1578, the cloth has been rolled.
  • Multiple scourge marks that cover the body, front and back, from head to toe.
  • Evidence consistent with a crown of thorns - more pronounced where back of head hit against the cross during crucifixion.

The image shows large wounds in wrists - not in palm of hands.  In human anatomy, there is only tissue between fingers and the nails. Trying to hold the body there would rip through with weight and movement.  

No extended thumbs show on the Shroud image.  Again, in human anatomy there is a small opening in the bones of the wrist over which the median nerve goes.  When the nerve is pierced and damaged, the thumbs pull inward against the palm.  Scientists tested this response many times on cadavers and the results are consistent with the image on the Shroud. 

The Shroud image indicates the left foot was nailed over the right foot with a single nail so that the victim is able to rotate the body on that nail.

It is believed the Shroud was kept by Christians and may have been symbolically used in their liturgies until the destruction of Jerusalem.  It resurfaced in Constantinople in 1204.  Ancient writings indicate it was venerated every Friday during the 4th Crusade. History next reveals it to have been in France where it then became the property of the Duke of Savoy.  In 1578 it was taken from France to Turin, Italy, where it remains to this day.
We are not sure how the image came to be on the cloth, however, scientists believe that the image was not painted on. Chemical analyses show that there are no pigments on the cloth.  It is also scientifically proven that the stains are human blood.  Evidence indicates that the blood stains were on the cloth before the image, which means a forger would have had to paint a body image to fit the blood stains!

The image stains were set by a radiation-like chemistry, similar in appearance to a scorch from a hot iron.  The color of the body image on the cloth and the color of the parts of the cloth scorched in the 1532 fire are the same color.  Where could that resultant image come from?  Whatever the event, the intensity and radiation-like chemistry of the event gave the image a 3D dimension - resulting from a cloth-to-body distance - similar to a cloth dropping through the body or the body rising up through the cloth.  Could this be the description of a Resurrection event?

If the Shroud of Turin, this linen cloth measuring eight by two cubits, is indeed the burial cloth of Jesus, then it is the greatest archaeological relic found.

A public exposition of the Shroud is scheduled for April/May of 2010 in Turin, Italy.

Written by Dr. John Jackson
For more discussion of the Shroud, click here.

© 2007 Marian Center for Peace of Wisconsin Rapids
Peg Klinkhammer
Last updated: October 13, 2015