Is the Holy Shroud genuine?

Let’s first say that the Holy Shroud or Saint Sindone is a linen, which has the image of a man, who died after having been tortured and which Christian tradition identifies as Jesus Christ, who suffered and died on the cross for our sins, approximately the 33th year of our era (I century). It would be the linen used by Joseph of Arimatea to wrap the body of our Lord after the Passion and before laying him down in the grave. The printed image on the Shroud would be a picture of our Lord after his terrible agony.

Even so, in 1988, a scientific test was made in order to know the age of the Shroud, according to the carbon14 or radioactive carbon contained in the linen. Although, as we shall see, in this case the test cannot be trustworthy, the result was that the Shroud was only 759 years old as per the Oxford test, 646 years old as per the Tucson test and 675 years as per the test of Zurich. Therefore, in case something that enriched the Carbon 14 found on the holy linen had not happened, the date of the Shroud would be 1238, or 1334, or 1301, instead of the 1st century.

We must say that the Holy Shroud endured two blazes (besides the smoke of candles and the transpiration of the crowd). That’s why, without denying that the carbon 14 found in the linen doesn’t correspond to the age given by tradition to the shroud, the mentioned enrichment of carbon 14 (that the linen has not lost so much carbon 14 as it corresponded if the origin of the linen would be from the Ist century) could be due to those factors. Indeed, Ricardo Ruiz Vallejo in his report “Science gives verdict about the Holy Shroud” (“ABC”, 10-8-98, Pg 48) writes:

“The fact has been hidden from the public that the Russian scientist Dimitri Kouznetsov, who had a linen weave from the S.I.D.C. sent it in three pieces to the laboratories of Zurich, Oxford and Arizona, respectively, the same laboratories which, in 1988, had done the unofficial analysis of the Holy Shroud of Turin, in order to obtain the age of the pieces. The three laboratories concurred in their data: the weaves were from the1st century. The same Russian scientist took the same samples, submitted them to the consequences of a blaze and sent them again to the mentioned laboratories. The answer was that the pieces were from the XII  or XIV century. Thus, Dimitri Kouznetsov, director of the scientific laboratory in Moscow, demonstrated that a weave or an object directly or indirectly affected by a blaze cannot be submitted to the unsure date’s fixing method by carbon 14”.

Furthermore, the shroud suggests the shape of a man but without a defined outline; when the first photograph was made, the negative clearly presented the picture of a dead man: this means that the image on the linen was like a photographic negative, which can be regarded as the printing of the light on a sensitive material which reproduces in dark the most illuminated parts.

Besides, in 1977, after testing the Holy Shroud  with spatial techniques, American scientists of the Air Force Academy  together with several technical doctors of  the Jet Propulsion Laboratory  in Pasadena arrived to the conclusion that the image printed on the linen was a 3D picture, allowing the reconstruction of the 3 dimensions by obtaining an image in bulk, since there was a constant rate between the distance between the several points printed in the linen and the corresponding points of the body they proceeded from (normal photographs do not have such features, but photographs of heavenly bodies or stars do). They also concluded that, when the image was printed on the linen, the body was not in contact with it, which means that the image was not formed by contact. Furthermore, the uniform distribution along the almost 5 square metres of linen, which can not be considered as a concentrated focus and with a sharp frontal as well as dorsal print, could only be made by an unknown radiation.

Therefore, to suppose that somebody in the Middle Ages had falsified the pictures of the Holy Shroud is to suppose that in that time they knew how to produce a photographic negative, how to obtain a three dimensions image (spatial technique) and how to engrave by radiation. All this is unbelievable. In such a case, we would have to believe that in the Middle Ages there were nuclear engineers and very advanced techniques.

On the other hand, nobody questions that the Holy Shroud has a documented existence dating from 1353 on or even earlier than the 13thcentury. “The joint historic documents date the shroud between the 6thand the 13thcentury, in any case before the year 1269 “ (Pg 36 of  “The Holy Shroud is authentic” by Juan Manuel Igartua, Mensajero, Bilbao, 1990 (?)).

In page 37 of the mentioned book, it is said: “It is almost sure that in the 7thcentury, the shroud was in Jerusalem, as ratified by the preserved testimony of bishop Arculfus, during a trip to the holy places of Palestine” (such historic testimonies would  invalidate the conclusions with carbon 14).

Furthermore, another feature of the engraved image of the Holy Shroud is the precision of the anatomic data, with accurate details, which requires that, besides being a nuclear engineer and a great artist, the supposed falsifier would be a wonderful expert in Anatomy and in the characteristics of wounds and dead bodies. From the details of the imprints of the wounds, one deduces that from the wound of the side came lumpy blood, blood and water as the Evangel says, being therefore a wound made after the crucified man was already dead.

On the other hand, to ratify  what we already feel- that the Holy Shroud has not been made by human hand- we can refer to the stability of the picture, which is insensitive and was not altered by the fire of 1532 which melted the silver of the small chest (900 º Centigrade).

In order to appreciate that the picture corresponds to a crucified man of the 1stcentury, we can mention that two Roman coins of the times are placed on the eyes of the image, following the Jewish tradition so that the eyes of the dead person didn’t open. In order to check that it is a crucified person, it suffices to look at the wounds on hands and feet. In order to guess that this person was Christ, we can appreciate the marks of the crown of thorns, the wound on the side and the terrible blows of the Roman flagrum which appear inverted (remember that, according to the Gospels, Jesus was flagellated before the crucifixion), besides the portentous and unequalled nature of the picture. We can also see the wound on the left shoulder, produced by the carrying of the cross.

There are also blood spots which, in contrast to the image which appears only on the surface, show capillarity, which means they have soaked through the linen.

Therefore, we find us before a silent speech telling us about the Passion, Dead and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Pius XI said that it was not a work done by human hands; Pius XII told about an extraordinary vestige of our Redeemer’s Passion. John XXIII said that “there was the finger of God”. In 1983, John Paul II referred to the Holy Shroud as the “most splendid relic of Jesus Christ’s Passion and Resurrection” (after the carbon 14 test of 1988, a cardinal referred to the Shroud as a “venerable icon of Christ”).

To conclude we quote the mentioned book by Juan Manuel Igartua, Pg. 297:

“Such is the heavenly sample of whom, through the Holy Sindone (Holy Shroud) desires to see the human face and figure of Christ in His glory, joined to Divinity by His person. In this glance all the desire of the believer becomes exhausted and such glance will be his joy for all eternity, but already without any veil of mystery at all, in direct view and without a previous image. But he will always see the human figure of Christ, without any wound but the five sores in glory and with alive, admirable, eternal and resplendent eyes”.