Good Question: What would ‘proving’ Shroud do?

clip_image001Author and journalist James Rygelski has a prominent article, What would ‘proving’ Shroud do? in the Lifestyles section of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

So I hope the pope grants the request for another test. Equipment exists that would quickly measure a section of the shroud for nuclear particle transfers. I know Mark Antonacci well enough to say that he’s doing this as a devout believer and not some glory-seeker. To view his foundation’s website, visit

However, I have cautioned Mark that while many of us will always believe in the authenticity of the shroud, the more important thing is that we believe in the authenticity of Christ – whether or not the shroud they wrapped Him in after the crucifixion still exists.

Jesus showed a doubting Thomas the wounds that Thomas said would be the only proof he would accept of Jesus’ resurrection. But Christ also told him, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).

Yes, I would like to see more tests. But I’m not convinced that those tests have been properly defined. Mark Antonacci has a petition on his site. I’m not ready to sign it. As for Rygelski’s caution to Antonacci: Amen.

22 thoughts on “Good Question: What would ‘proving’ Shroud do?”

  1. I don’t know how God plans to use the Shroud in the future. Personally I am happy with the Shroud as an unsolved mystery. I like the intrigue of it. I don’t think it was meant to be a substitute for faith. Sure I rejoice when new data supports authenticity…but absolute proof is not necessary nor do I think we will ever get there. Is there a message in the mystery? Absolutely! All the deep things of God are all mysteries anyway. The fact that the Shroud remains a mystery after all the analysis is one of its strongest claims for authenticity! If it was an obvious work of art, we would have figured that out years ago.

  2. Russ, you wrote: “Personally I am happy with the Shroud as an unsolved mystery. I like the intrigue of it.” This is in total contradiction to Yeshua’s own words as reported by Luke: “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known” (Lk 12: 2-3). To rely too much on the g.od-of-the-gap card and account for a supernatural image formation process is the most likely way to totally biaise the archaeological truth and mistakingly accept subjective observation/interpretations/exegese as facts.

  3. Quote : “the more important thing is that we believe in the authenticity of Christ ”

    Personally, I would go even further than this and say : “The more important thing is the authenticity of the loving and merciful Father revealed by Jesus during his ministry, especially during his Passion.

  4. Proving authenticity should elicit one word from a person’s mouth, “Wow!” What you do in the face of that ‘wow’ is then up to you and your conscience.

    1. And I really don’t think this proof of authenticity of the Shroud would change the faith or the absence of faith of most people around the world, for the simple and good reason that a vast majority of non-believers don’t deny the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical person. Consequently, for them, the idea that his burial shroud could have been kept by his disciples after his Passion is still a possibility that doesn’t prove anything regarding the historical reality of his Resurrection, even though, for a believer, the fact that such a gruesome and bloodstained cloth was kept and carefully preserved over 2000 years can easily be seen as a great sign (not a proof) of the Resurrection of Christ.

      Effectivelly, if the story of Jesus Resurrection would have been invented by some of his disciples, why would they have wanted to keep that kind of burial cloth, which was considered impure by the Jewish law? This would have been completelly irrational.

    2. I said previously that proving the authenticity of the Shroud wouldn’t change much to the faith of the believers, but in a sense, I was wrong. I was wrong because of what I said in the last part of my comment concerning the great sign of the Resurrection we can see in the preservation of such a gruesome cloth. In that sense, it’s true that the authenticity of the Shroud could help to strengthen the faith of some believers… But I don’t think this would go any further than this. Too bad for the Christian proselytes, which I’m not. That’s why you got so many Christians today who would like to find a scientific proof of the Resurrection on that cloth… Too bad for them because this will never come.

    3. To summarize my thoughts, I would say that a proof of the authenticity for the Shroud would most probably be important almost only for some Christians, while it wouldn’t change a thing for most of the non-believers in Christ who only see him as a normal human being who lived 2000 years ago.

  5. Perhaps it is correct to say that the Resurrection can not be “seen”, it can only be “felt”, therefore the prayers of millions of Christians all over the world, including Protestants who are not at all interested in “Catholic” relics.

    1. And, most important of all, the Resurrection of Jesus-Christ is the great sign of the Resurrection of every child of God that we all are ! That’s the only reason why Jesus appeared to his disciples after his death.

      1. For us who are still living here in the space-time universe of God, I should have written “the upcoming Ressurection” of every child of God…

  6. From the perspective of a sometime student of Religious Studies, I think one of the most important, objective, distinguishing and defining features of Christianity is that it originates from a real, historic event. Other religions have other origins: They may include the deep thinking and reflections of their wise men, myths and legends from the mists of times long past, the human aspiration for a share of the divine, the struggle of a people for a defining identity, an awareness of a spiritual reality, or claims of a divine revelation. Yet others have less to recommend them, based on superstition or originating from an ambition to impose the secular power of an elite, the demands of submisssion or a rebellious spirit against long-held traditions.

    Christianity may also share in some of these other features.

    However, for me, the importance of the Shroud, assuming its authenticity, is that it is a tangible witness to the reality of this historicism. Others may interpret its significance how they will. For me, it is evidence that God did intervene in mundane human affairs, it inspires belief in this reality, and therefore gives real hope to humanity.

  7. From a scientific standpoint, I don’t believe that science can ever ‘prove’ the authenticity of the Shroud. Science can really only ‘prove’ that it’s not authentic.

    1. But if a C14 test that would be properly done that would give a result around the first century A.D., along with other test that would give positive results for a geographical origin of the linen in the Middle East and maybe other good results like that (like a new positive chemical match between the dirt on the Shroud and the dirt found around Golgotha in Jerusalem), then I think any honest scientist would conclude that this relic is most certainly what tradition has always claim… A positive conclusion about the Shroud will always remain in the realm of probabilities, but if a new series of direct test could be allowed, I really think it would possible to come to a highly probable conclusion versus this cloth.

  8. Science can only ever be a crutch of support. Everyday human affairs inevitably come down to a balance of probablilities, even that the sun will shine tomorrow. It is part of the human condition. Responsible judicial systems recognise this, and convictions are often secured on the weight of evidence, the balance of probabilities, the decision of a a jury of reasonable persons, and only very rarely conclusive proof with no shadow of doubt whatever.

    I think I am at the point where Science has provided me with SUFFICIENT evidence to persuade me of the Shroud’s authenticity, and any subsequent work it achieves, I can either relegate to unnecessary superfluity, or it may assist me in persuading others. Those who look for certainty are guilty of Prometheanism as they seek omniscience.

  9. Kelly Kearse :
    From a scientific standpoint, I don’t believe that science can ever ‘prove’ the authenticity of the Shroud. Science can really only ‘prove’ that it’s not authentic.

    yep, that is right

    1. Time will tell but I won’t even bet my house on that (and even vey far from it if sicnce is correctly used in conjunction with Second Temple period archaeology and cryptology).

  10. Other relics like the Valencia Chalice exhibit solid historical credentials that allow tracking back its origin to some moment around 1st Century, somewhere in Middle East. Regarding the SHroud, it will be almost impossible to reach any further than this, because just like in the case of the Chalice, it will be impossible to prove beyond any doubt that it was Jesus burial cloth.
    However, just ilke in the case of the Chalice, if it were proven that it comes from the Middle East and belongs to the first Century, it is highly reasonable to think that it once wrapped the body of Jesus.
    As far as this point, the comparisons between the Chalice and the Shroud are obvious and belong to the field of History. However, in the case of the SHroud we have an additional issue, that may explain why it is much better known that the Chalice: its possible link to the Resurrection, either through a natural chemical process (Maillard reaction or other) taking place hours before this unique Event or as Fanti, Jackson and others claim, due to the Event itself.
    Regarding new experiments, in my view, the Church will only allow them after preliminary analysis carried out privately. I think that they will never repeat the mistake of blindly losing control of the whole process like in the C14 test.

  11. Since we know for a fact that the Shroud is a real burial cloth that covered for less than 72 hours a real man who suffered the same tortured than what the Gospels told us about Jesus (see:, there are not a lot of alternative and rational possibilities to explain it than what tradition said about it. That’s a fact. After a lot of thinking on the subject, I came out with just 2 alternative possibilities that I described in my paper about the bloodstains (an accidental ressemblance with another crucified victim or a natural forgery done with a real crucified body) and, truly, those 2 are far less plausible in regard of all the facts and observation we know today than to think this is really Jesus of Nazareth burial cloth.

    So, right now, by far, the more plausible and rational explanation remain to think the Shroud is the real burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth (that statement doesn’t prove anything regarding the reality of his Resurrection) and I really believe that when a new series of direct tests will be done on the cloth, that statement will be reinforce even more (I’m almost sure : a lot more).

  12. Pope Francis I has stressed the importance of belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus, as reported in today’s CNA/EWTN news.

    1. It depend on how you understand the expression “physical resurrection”. This has been so badly interpreted over the years in the Church that it makes me sick. There’s a major difference between the dead corpse and the spiritual body that every one of us will have in Heaven. We’re talking about two completely different reality but many people Inside the Church have contributed over the years to make belief that it is really the material body who will enter in God’s kingdom, which is completely ludicrous because God’s kingdom, as Jesus saids it so well to Pilatus, is NOT OF THIS WORLD. That’s normal since it is a SPIRITUAL kingdom and not a MATERIAL kingdom. How can a material body which we see returning to dust (or to ashes) after death could end up in the spiritual world. This is ludicrous. God is a spirit and the body we’ll have after death will be a spiritual one. Now, don’t ask me how this will looks like cause I don’t have a damn idea ! ;-)

      What is the problem is the bad and very materialistic interpretation many Churchmen have given over the years versus Jesus bodily apparitions after his death (a wrong interpretation that came mostly from the Jewish materialistic idea of the resurrection of the dead at the end of times). These were material apparitions of Christ that he was almost forced to do if he wanted his disciple to believe he was really resurrected. But in truth, from the moment Jesus died on the cross, he was already resurrected in the spiritual world ! The disappearence of his physical body (as well as the few physical apparitions he did – with many body forms), the rolling of the rock at the entrance of the tomb, the rolling (or folding) of the Sudarium (which I’m convinced was the Shroud in reality), etc. were all SIGNS of a SPIRITUAL REALITY that had already taken place at the moment Jesus died on the cross. If these signs were not done by God, no disciple of Jesus (except maybe his mother) would have believed that he was already resurrected in the spiritual world. They would have believed that he was dead and that he was going to resurrect only at the end of times, like any other good Jew.

      In sum, the material and physical apparition of the resurrected Christ were only there to convinced Jesus’ disciples of a SPIRITUAL reality which they were completely unable, as Jews of the first century, to understand !

      Skin, blood and bones cannot enter God’s kingdom my friends. These things are bound to our material world and will end up as dust or ashes like any other material things in our space-time universe. Only our soul (along with a spiritual body of course) will end up the spiritual kingdom of our loving and merciful father.

      That’s what I believe with all my heart.

    2. Just to summarize my idea about the resurrection of Jesus, I would say this : Jesus body after his death could have end up rotting like any other corpse, his shroud could have stayed in place around his corpse, his tomb could have stayed closed and he could have done absolutely no physical apparitions to his disciples, THAT WOULD NOT HAVE CHANGED A THING VERSUS THE REALITY OF HIS SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION RIGHT AFTER HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS.

      But God being love, he wanted his disciples to believed in the Resurrection of the Son, so he allowed Jesus to take some human forms (very different from the human form he had before his death – so much that his closest friends were not able to recognized him without signs like the holes in his wrist and side, the breaking of the bread or the tonality of his voice) in order to appear physically to them, so they would be able to really be convinced of the reality of his resurrection (which really is spiritual in essence) and which is of the same kind as the one we’ll all experiment after our own physical death.

      Jesus resurrection is the greatest sign of the own reality that we will all know after death, which is truly THE good news of Christ. This is a good news that concern everyone of us, Chrtistian or not, believers or not, good makers or not.

Comments are closed.