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The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ

Updated on April 18, 2014

What are the facts surrounding the mystery of the Shroud of Turin?

We know from the Gospels that Jesus was crucified and buried in a tomb after having his body wrapped in a linen burial cloth, as was the custom of Jewish law at that time. This fact is borne by historians of all repute, namely that Jesus was indeed crucified for proclaiming that he was the Son of the living God.

The question of his resurrection however, has been unresolved for over 2,000 years. The Gospel s state clearly that Jesus was raised up by God on the third day and that the apostles, upon learning of his disappearance from the tomb, rushed to the site only to also find it empty. Peter entered the sepulchre first and discovered the linen burial cloth lying on the table and thus began the greatest controversy in the history of the world.

As Christians, and through our faith, we must follow the belief that Jesus rose from the dead. For approximately up to 943 years after the crucifixion, that faith has been practiced without any tangible evidence of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into Heaven, other than what the Gospels tell us. It was during that time however that the Shroud was discovered somewhere in Edessa and quickly became known as the Edessa Portrait. Frank C. Tribbe’s wonderful book, “Portrait of Jesus?” is a complete historical journey of the Shroud from that time to its’ present place at Saint John’s Cathedral in Turin, Italy. He goes on to relate all the details of the extensive testing done on the Shroud in 1978 by the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) and additional testing done in the eighties and even more recently. The project was monumental and lasted for 6 days resulting in numerous papers published on their findings. Mr. Tribbe also provides insight into the various family’s history of ownership of the Shroud until the Savoy family brings it to Turin where it presently resides.

So, what are the facts surrounding the mystery of the Shroud? First and foremost, most recent tests reveal that the Shroud was of Jesus’ time and even the pollen on it was typical of the pollen in Jerusalem and the general area. Carbon-14 testing which dated the Shroud to be hundreds of years older was deemed flawed and unreliable in this case. In short, additional testing proved conclusively that the Shroud itself is indeed a burial cloth from the time of Jesus. What about the image on the shroud? Was it a painting as some suggested? Again, extensive and exhaustive testing delivered remarkable results. In testing for pigment of any kind to determine whether an exceptional artist who would have had unheard of knowledge in recreating the details of the image on the Shroud was responsible, guess what? The blood on the Shroud had not pigment but hemoglobin and capillary evidence—real blood. It even had the X and Y chromosomes, indicating male sex. The bottom line is the image on the Shroud is of a 30-40 year old man, approximately 5’11” to 6’, and the male was Caucasian. What is interesting is that all of the biblical accounts of the scourging wounds suffered by Jesus, including the crown of thorns were imprinted on the burial cloth in detail.

The mystery is not who the man on the cloth is but how the images were made on it. Unknown to human minds even in this day and time have led to only one conclusion: the images were formed during the resurrection of Jesus by some kind of powerful force bringing life to a lifeless body after three days. The general consensus of scientists, physicists, religious and lay people who performed under STURP is that the man on the Shroud of Turin is most likely Jesus Christ.

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