The subject of Mark Shea’s most recent article in the National Catholic Register is not the Shroud. It is the reports of many visions of the Virgin Mary at Međugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mark is responding to a reader:
I believe Medj to be a fraud. If you want to know my reasons for doing so, Te Deum Laudamus has amassed some good evidence for why I think it’s bunk. At the same time, I also believe that the people with a devotion to it are honest and good people who are being deceived by the “visionaries” and sundry other shady frauds and hucksters in their orbit, but who themselves have real and frequently beautiful faith in Jesus and our Lady that is honored by God. I am morally certain Rome will simply ratify the rejection voiced by the local ordinaries that there is nothing superatural happening there. If some of the more fanatical adherents of Medj.make enough trouble, they might, for all I know, condemn the whole shooting works and forbid pilgrimages, but I doubt that. Benedict, despite his false reputation as God’s Rottweiler, generally takes the gentle and conciliatory route.
Mark’s article elicited this comment:
I take Mark’s attitude on Medj. in studying the “Shroud of Turin”. The Vatican has said it is an object that can be venerated. It is mysterious, and the final tests are not in. I hope it is the linen in the tomb of Christ, but what is the headcover set aside for the shroud? Would it have been imaged as well? Would it have interfered with the image on the shroud? Also (see book “Life at the time of Jesus”) men of Palestine were about 5’0” in height, but of strong build and powerful bodies. The body in the shroud is about 5’9” tall. Also, having read of the Roman scourging (as opposed to a much less gruesome Jewish scouring, which St. Paul experienced) I would expect a much more disfigured body (see Is 56- 57). Also the nails in the wrists: doesn’t agree with stigmatists’ wounds which show wounds in the pit of the hand, not in the wrist. St. Gemma Galgani, who, as I remember experienced the fullness of the wounds of Christ, after her Thursday – Friday “Passion” wounds closed, there were white scars. But when they studied the pit of her hands, there was a depression about the size of several quarters where the nail wounds had closed in her hands. Could the Romans simply have embedded Christ’s hands to the Cross (no bones broken, just a nail to bone to wood) using nailheads in the fullnest of the finger bones, so that the shroud is wrong and the stigmatists are right? Note: the stigmatists can be neither right nor wrong; this is forensic evidence – not mysticism.
BUT: this is actually what Mark Shea wrote earlier this year in Catholic and Enjoying It!
. . . There’s nothing like it in the world and the fact that nobody has been able to reproduce it at this late date, plus the fact that it reveals a knowledge of crucifixion utterly unavailable in the 14th Century, plus the fact that the pollen is traceable and dateable to 1st century Palestine screams “authentic”. Only an a priori commitment to materialism fuels the mulish insistence that it’s a fraud. If it’s a fraud, make another one.