The Vignon Markings Issue: A Promoted Comment

imageAfter many thoughtful comments in the posting Vignon Was Wrong But We’ll Carry On, Yannick Clément wrote:

I have not followed the comments of people on this page… But here’s my personal opinion on the Vignon’s marking issue:

In William Meacham’s paper « The Authentication of the Turin Shroud », he cites Philip McNair, a Doctor in Philosophy who studied the history of Christianity, who said, very cleverly: “It seems to me otiose, if not ridiculous, to spend time arguing… about the identity of the man represented in the Turin Shroud. Whether genuine or fake, the representation is obviously Jesus Christ.”

And why could this man [have] said this with so much confidence? Because of the great similarity that exists between the Shroud man’s face and the most common depictions of Christ in ancient Byzantine art, starting with the Christ Pantocrator icons. Vignon could have been maybe wrong on some points (in fact, I’m pretty sure he was on a few), but if we look at the global portrait of the situation, he was certainly correct: Most of the ancient Byzantine representation of Christ (and of course, I include the Mandylion in that group) are showing great similarity with the face on the Shroud. So much in fact that it’s certainly not a coincidence due solely to hazard. It’s evident that there’s a connection there that is strong enough to be taken as a good piece of evidence for the presence of the Shroud as early as the apparition of the first known Christ Pantocrator icon, around the year 500 A.D.

Note: Image is a clipped region taken from an image in Wikimedia and flipped 90 degrees clockwise. It “is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art”  and is thus in the public domain in the United States.

18 thoughts on “The Vignon Markings Issue: A Promoted Comment”

  1. I repeat here my question.

    May 20, 2014 at 3:18 am Reply

    You had written in other thread:

    “Most of the ancient Byzantine representation of Christ are showing great similarity with the face on the Shroud”. [Implied: some features of the Byzantine art were copied from the Shroud].

    Here my question:

    “The face on the Shroud is showing a great similarity with most of the ancient Byzantine representations of Christ”. [Implied: some features of the Shroud were copied from the Byzantine art].

    Why not?

    1. already asked myself the same question David (which is like : is it the chicken or the egg?) and I came up convinced that the first option (i.e. the Byzantine icons of Christ were based directly or indirectly on the Shroud image) was much more probable than the second option.

      Why? Simply because we know for a fact (thanks to the STURP team) that the image on the Shroud comes from some kind of interrection (still undetermined) between a real crucified corpse and the surface of the cloth. So, because of this fact, if the second option would be true (i.e. the Shroud image is based on the Byzantine icons of Christ), that would mean a forger would have needed to find a victim that looks almost exactly like the bearded man we find in most Byzantine icons and then, tortured and crucified him in order to produce a false relic of the Shroud of Christ (not only of the bloody stigmata of Christ but also with an image naturally produced by the corpse or by some product placed on the corpse, like burial spices or something like that).

      This scenario seem so ludicrous and unrealistic that it is not hard for me to trust in the other one!

  2. What about copies of copies of the Shroud in Byzantine Christ face iconography, which could account for the apparent chicken or the egg causality dilemma? What about Byzantine Shroud copyists having been the victims of illusive patterns/pareidolia in the Shroud face image (teeth, skewed nose etc)? What about copies with neck and neckless/symetrical and asymmetrical hair fall merging both the Holy Face of the Holy Mandylion (aka today’s Holy Face of the Manoppello Veil) and the Holy Face of the Holy Sindon (aka today’s Holy Face of the Turin Shroud)?

    1. Iconologically speaking and things are far more complex than David Mo “thinks”. What about an ancient reliquary keeping two relics: a Holy Face on a transparent byssus veil (aka the Holy face of the Manoppello Veil) placed over the Holy Face of the Turin Shroud?

  3. The Shroud looks like pictures of Jesus because by the time it came to be made everybody knew what Jesus looked like.


    Pictures of Jesus look like the Shroud because the Shroud came first and was the model for the pictures.

    I don’t think it is as easy to discriminate between these two points of view as Yannick, Meacham or Philip McNair claim. Pictures of John the Baptist or most of the apostles are also often easily recognisable. Jesus’s image is not as consistent as often quoted, and I wonder if the image above, as reproduced by Dan, would be as obvious as it is without its massive halo. Context is often as much a guide as physiognomy, which is how most of the less bearded Jesus’s are also instantly recognisable.

  4. Yannick’s comment is right on the mark. Perhaps not everything Vignon identified can be considered unique to the Shroud image but there is a global pattern that allows everyone in the world, whether they believe or not, to see a picture of the Shroud face and know it is Jesus. Regarding comments as to which one came first…the Shroud or the icon, keep in mind that the earliest descriptions of the Mandylion/Image of Edessa are “The True Likeness” and “Not Made by Human Hands.” I think even in the 6th century, people were smart enough to know whether something was made with paint or not. Seeing that the Shroud conforms exactly with the “True Likeness” as depicted in various icon images and we know today from science that it is not the result of artistic substances, ie…”Not Made by Human Hands.” It is both logical and certain that the Shroud is in fact the original True Likeness discovered or perhaps rediscovered in 525.

      1. Most alleged relics were small pieces of bone, hair, clothing, etc. Nothing on the order of the Shroud. And most alleged relics were associated with various saints.

    1. Quote: “I think even in the 6th century, people were smart enough to know whether something was made with paint or not.”

      Reply: Not necessarily in the context of a Church who tell them what to believe or not! So, if the Edessan Church of the 6th Century have created a false relic of Christ (as a teaching tool and also in order to fight the few heretical groups of Christians present in that city at that time in history), of course they would have make believe the image was not painted and of course many Christians would have followed blindly what the Church was telling them! This kind of blind religious following happen all the time throughout history and even today.

      And think about that: Why many Christians seem to be certain that the image on the Guadalupe Tilma is not painted? BECAUSE THE MEXICAN CHURCH HAS TOLD THEM SO FOR ALMOST 500 YEARS!!! To me, there are some stricking similarities between the two relics and the most obvious is the fact that both relics have been used by the local Church who owns it in order to convert and teach people and also in order to fight heretical groups (in the case of the Tilma, the heretics were of course not some other Christians, but the indians who were following their pagan gods of nature)…

  5. I find it striking that even absent the halo, the few sketchy lines of the posted picture gives a recognisable picture of Jesus. In fact I would say it is the rudimentary picture of him. The mental processes involved in perception and recognition are not yet fully understood. If the picture rudiments could be quantified, we might then have a better measure for comparing icons with the Shroud image. But not yet …

      1. De wesselow mentions that in his book. As he says could be a random mark. But it would be quite a big coincidence.

      2. Seen in high resolution, the blood stain on the forehead in the HPM is a copy of THE TAIL (or lower half) of the tailed epsilon on the TS forehead area.

      3. The marks on the chest are also somewhat reminiscent of the scourge marks on the chest of the man on the shroud

  6. Russ Breault

    Most alleged relics were small pieces of bone, hair, clothing, etc. Nothing on the order of the Shroud. And most alleged relics were associated with various saints.

    What matters the size? A lot of evident artefacts have been considered authentic relics in the past. The Shroud of Besançon was considered as the actual Shroud of Christ. It was a big cloth and evidently painted. Credulity of man has not boundaries.

  7. David Mo wrote: “Credulity of man has not boundaries.”

    Neither has Incredulity of archsceptics.

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