So is that the Shroud of Turin depicted in the Hungarian Pray Codex?

imageJust in case you missed it, there is a lively discussion going on about the Hungarian Pray Codex illustration in the posting, Significant Endorsement: Former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury backs The Shroud Affair. It was supposed to be a discussion about that but it became a conversation about Ian Wilson’s work (Wilson’s name is mentioned 65 times). But then, starting with comment #61, a most thoughtful discussions on the Pray Manuscript picture began: is that the Shroud of Turin depicted in the Hungarian Pray Codex?

Why is this important? Because we often say that the Hungarian Pray Codex is historical evidence that the carbon dating is wrong and that the shroud had a history before Lirey, France of the mid-14th century.

After nearly a hundred comments, none of them insignificant, David Goulet writes:

I can see how some people connect the Pray codex to the Shroud. The L shape holes, the weave implication, red lines approximating blood. But I can also see Hugh’s argument that these are not conclusive evidence, that there could be other explanations. Confirmation bias is a legitimate problem here — seeing what we expect to see. If you deny this (I’m not saying you are) you would be deluding yourself.

and the beat goes on. 

Click on the image above or here for an 883 by 1386 pixels, high resolution image of the illustration. Now pour a cup of coffee or tea or pour a tall cool something or other and click on comment #61 and start reading. Then read these past postings.

and we are a long way from certainty and agreement. Join in. Or comment here. FYI, I still think that is the shroud in the Pray Codex. But I get it, too. And this is why I blog.

26 thoughts on “So is that the Shroud of Turin depicted in the Hungarian Pray Codex?”

  1. I’ve heard two more (speculative) observations from Thierry Castex linking the codex to the shroud :
    1/the folding under the buttocks – a band with no image under the buttocks on the shroud
    2/the folding on the backside – a slight angulation between front / back side on the shroud

    1. yes interesting,but speculative.further speculation- the feet are cut off as per the shroud frontal image,the thighs seem unnaturally thick as per the shroud,the chest sits high on the torso as per the shroud.

    2. the folding is interesting.I Am not convinced this is a link,having said that the fold seems superfluous so naturally the question is why is it there as opposed to a flat shroud.

      1. Is this the shroud itself or a another sheet on which the body has been prepared ?
        Has the body been prepared at all ? What kind of fluid could have been used ?

  2. I think that people who demand “conclusive” proof about this or that do not understand how we prove things in the real world. As the atheist pope, Richard Dawkins pointed out in one of books, circumstantial evidence can be more reliable than direct evidence of an observer.

    Fingerprints have been used to identify individuals with as many as few as 1`2 points of comparison. The issue resolves to probabilities. How probable is it that two items would have the same identical points?

    There comes a point when the circumstances are sufficient to change the burden of proof. That is, the burden is on the skeptic to offer facts that contradict the conclusion, not simply hypothesize as to what could be. This is the problem of the Shroud deniers. Once you establish the points of similarity to the Gospel accounts, taking into account the variances in the four Gospels, it is not enough to say maybe it was someone else. You have to answer if not him, who?

    As far as the Pray Codex is concerned, we have several points of comparison. It is clearly a shroud. Is there any other work of art or artifact that has more points of comparison to the Pray Codex than the Shroud. If so, I haven’t seen it. Has anyone?

    1. Great point John. “As far as the Pray Codex is concerned, we have several points of comparison. It is clearly a shroud. Is there any other work of art or artifact that has more points of comparison to the Pray Codex than the Shroud. If so, I haven’t seen it. Has anyone?” In my opinion the HPM is the smoking gun that places the Shroud in Constantinople in 1204…which is 56 years older than the oldest carbon date. Doesn’t seem like much, but the Shroud didn’t just get there in 1204. It is most likely the same cloth that arrived in 944. The point is simple. The carbon date is wrong. How wrong? No one can say. Does it prove it to be first century? No. But it does prove the carbon date is wrong. So for anyone looking for the alleged medieval artist, stop looking in the 14th century.

      1. What exactly “is clearly a shroud”? I’m a bit lost here. If you mean that the sepulchre lid, which is shown in almost identical orientation in dozens of similar images before and after the Pray manuscript, and which bears a number of concentric zig-zag patterns emanating from at least six centres around its perimeter, “is clearly a shroud,” then I beg to differ. If you mean the untidy pile of cloth dumped on the lid, which spreads out towards the angel’s feet and is marked by ‘X’s and two wiggly red lines along the hem, then I concur. However, I have to say that neither of these is sufficiently similar to the Turin Shroud to “prove the carbon date is wrong.”

      2. Russ, just loved your “the HPM is the smoking gun that places the Shroud in Constantinople”.

  3. I repost on this thread what I just posted on September 21, 2013 at 11:51 am | #163

    To Matthias, Hugh, David, Charles etc.,

    Hopefully, next week I’ll email Dan my Flash Illustrative REply (F.I.RE) to any sceptics’ current refutations.
    Actually it will take me 3-4 sesssions, half-an-hour each, to write it away. It will be entitled;

    “Pray codex folio 28 sarcophagus flat lid & rectangular box:


    and subtitled:

    “An archaeoperceptive cryptanalyst’s opinion.

    Surprise surprise for Hugh et al. Hope Dan will accept to publish it. Keep tuned.

    1. Hugh,how about the 4 holes? even if you are right and thw patterned object is a lid,the holes,although not ON The piled up cloth,are close to it – associationby proximity.Similarly the red lines are not ON the cloth but adjacent to it.Similarly Jesus’s face next to Mary’s sleeve,connected to the cloth by the floating letter.Remember too that the arguments for the shroud connection extend beyond these elements inthe lower image.There is the very shroud-like depiction of Jesus in the upper image,and the strong ties between Hungary and Constantinople of the time,which means the notion of a senior Hungarian monk travelling to Constantinopleto view the shroud is not at all fanciful.

  4. Also consider that Jesus is shown with only four fingers and no thumbs as we see on the Shroud. If you look at the other panels of this codex series, all the other cast of characters show their hands with thumbs. Why no thumbs for Jesus? Yet another similarity between the HPM and the Shroud. John is right about the fingerprint analogy. How many points of congruence do we need to have a probable match? I think we already have more than enough.

  5. Agree. Indeed, arguably none of the similarities in their own right can argue for the link in a compelling sense. It is the collective weight of the multiple similarities that presents a compelling case.

    I think a point I’ve made elsewhere is very relevant. In the 1100s, without the 1532 fire burn marks, the L shaped poker holes would have been conspicuous – and that provides a good reason why they would be shown in a depiction such as the Pray Manuscript – especially if they held some symbolic meaning, perhaps a meaning supporting the shroud’s holy status as a relic that can defy destruction.

    Since the fire in 1532, the L shaped holes, although clearly observable, became less conspicuous.

    So, in the first known painted copy of the Shroud from 1516, prior to the fire in 1532, the poker holes take a prominent place in the depiction. In later depictions the prominent fire burns from 1532 are depicted, but not the poker holes.

    This, I think, addresses the question from some skeptics as to why the Pray Manuscript artist would depict the L shaped holes, seemingly meaningless features. They were depicted because at the time the artist worked they were conspicuous features of the shroud and probably held some meaning.

    1. I agree, when looking at the 1516 copy, the poker holes are extremely prominent probably because the image itself is so faint as to create a striking contrast. We see in later copies of the Shroud after 1532, the various artists make a point of painting the burns and patches. So it stands to reason that artistic renderings of the Shroud prior to 1532 would include the poker holes which is why we see it on the HPM and therefore proof of the HPM’s genesis. Those holes are not random.

      1. yes the holes make no sense as random elements, nor as decorative elements ( they might if they were repeated).
        And I think they make no sense as apertures either. I acknowledge there could be an alternative explanation, but after much thought about this I am at pains to think what that could possibly be!

        Assuming the holes on the shroud were in existence in the 1100s and therefore highly visually prominent when the HPM artist viewed it, it is entirely logical that they would have assumed some symbolic significance to drive their artistic representation. This is especially so when there is already a symbolic aspect to the lower image, with the floating letter, and the head next to Mary’s sleeve.

        There might be symbolism in the HPM image along the lines of the shroud representing both the worldly and human aspect of Jesus and worldly objects(the holes and the blood streaks) and the otherworldly and divine (the crosses, the head of Jesus next to Mary’s sleeve representing an intermediary between death and resurrection state). I acknowledge this is pure speculation, but it’s fun!!!!

  6. I’d love to see an image of the Shroud less the 1532 burn marks. but with the poker holes, are there any out there? I’m guessing it would show a pretty compelling case for my points made at Comment #13

  7. Sorry; pressed Post too soon! The second part of Fossati’s article is not yet published online. The best known (the only one?) copy from before the 1532 fire is the Lierre one, which is discussed in, but without a picture, although there are plenty on the internet if you Google them.

  8. sorry Hugh, I meant a photographic image of the shroud with the 1532 burn marks digitally removed.
    It doesn’t take much imagination to picture it mind you, and the poker holes would have been prominent, as shown in the Lierre depiction.
    Hence my argument as to the logic in showing them in the Pray Manuscript image, if indeed the artist was depicting the shroud (which I think, on balance, he was)

  9. I think the artist of the HPM has inadvertently, or possibly deliberately, put the weave of the Shroud along with L shaped holes onto the sepulchre lid, thinking that the pyramid type pattern was on the inside of the sepulchre. When looking at the Shroud from above, one could imagine the uncovered Christ lying in the sepulchre surrounded by the herringbone pattern which the artist has drawn as the inner pattern of the sepulchre.

  10. Re: the poker holes and HPM. Interestingly the Lirey badge does not seem to show the poker holes (unless they are very small and cannot be picked up without magnification).
    If they were in existence in the 1300s (as they would be if they were in existence on the shroud in the 1100s if it existed then), and very prominent, then one might think they would be depicted on the badge. Although there is every chance that the badge maker might have seen them as an unwanted distraction from the body image and potentially a ‘fiddly difficulty’ for a metal worker making a small object, as opposed to something symbolic.

  11. Have a look at the Psalter of Melisende ( It is one of the earliest “Three Marys” I’ve come across (about 1130 or so), and reputedly made in Jerusalem, for the Queen of Jerusalem. As such, the illustrator had a better chance than many accurately to depict the holy sepulchre as it then was. Following the earliest traditions, the tomb is shown as an upright door, and the “stone rolled away” is presumably the square block upon which the angel is sitting. Later (Western, apparently) tradition adopted the box-like tomb, and the tilted lid for the angel to sit on. Where this came from I don’t know, but the illustration before the Three Marys in the Melisende Psalter shows the Harrowing of Hell, where the dead are emerging from boxes rather than doors.
    Points to note are the appearance of the marble tombs – reddish, and with irregular Xs to depict the marbling; and the shroud and headband, which appear to be transparent. There is also the pointing angel (with a sensible four visible fingers) and the white grid under the cloths, which appears in one or two 12th century images before disappearing for ever.
    Also relevant, but not terrible helpful so far (to me anyway) are the “Angel’s Stone” and the “Stone of Unction” which are in the church of the Holy Sepulchre to this day, which may be the origin of some aspects of the illustrations.
    I think that out of context, the similarities mentioned in so many posts might lead me too to suppose that the Pray manuscript is evidence of the contemporary existence of the shroud, but the more I find new (to me) illustrations of medieval psalters the less I am convinced. Neither side has yet found the smoking gun that “proves” things one way or the other, but as Matthias says higher up this thread, it’s fun exploring!

    1. you are a hard man to convince Hugh! but I understand your skepticism. I’ve looked critically at the HPM from all sides and whilst it’s hard to say 100% it was based on the shroud I think the collective emphasis is quite compelling,and try as I might with an open mind I can’t find an alternative explanation for those darn holes and red streaks! To me the clincher is Hungary’s strong connectionto constantinople at the time.

  12. On another thread, Dr I. Collinberry, Head of the Department of TS arch-scepticsm asked Hugh Farey to discard the HPM as ‘a piece of fanciful tat’. Let’s mark his words for his SCORCHING intellectual deroute to come SOON. MPH

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