I was just about to post a link to an interview with Barrie Schwortz by Jim Graves that appeared in yesterday’s edition of The Catholic World Report when an email from one of this blog’s readers caught my attention.
“I just read the interview with Barrie Schwortz,” the reader wrote. “I thought the bilirubin explanation for the red blood was no longer accepted by scientists.”
Some scientists, I think.
Part of one of Barrie’s answers in The Shroud: Not a Painting, Not a Scorch, Not a Photograph reads:
For 17 years I refused to accept that the Shroud was authentic. The last argument holding me back was related to the blood. The blood on the Shroud is reddish, but blood on a cloth, even after just a few hours, should turn brown or black. I had a conversation with Alan Adler, a blood chemist, on the phone and I shared my reservation. He got upset and asked, “Didn’t you read my paper?”
He had found a high content of bilirubin on the Shroud, which explains why the blood on the Shroud is red. When a man is beaten and has had no water, he can go into shock and the liver starts pumping out bilirubin. It makes the blood stay red forever. It was the last piece of the puzzle for me. I had nothing left to complain about. Sometimes I wonder why I hadn’t asked Alan Adler that question 17 years before, but I guess I wasn’t ready for the answer back then.
Although this was the final evidence that convinced me, it is no one particular piece of evidence that proves the Shroud is authentic. The entirety of evidence indicates that it is.
Ray Rogers and Anna Arnoldi, in a paper, Scientific Method Applied to the Shroud of Turin: A Review, published on Barrie’s site in 2002 argues:
The warp of ancient linen was protected with starch during weaving and the finished cloth was washed in Saponaria officinalis suds. Saponaria is hemolytic, which could explain why the old blood stains on the cloth are still red. Diane Soran (deceased) of Los Alamos, tested hemolysis on Saponaria-washed cloth before we went to Turin. The blood is still red on those 25-year-old samples. Controls are black.
And didn’t Sam Pellicori discover that fibers inside a blood soaked thread were brown while the fibers on the outside were red? If so, does this not lend credence to the idea that the blood remained red due to a hemolytic agent such as Saponaria officinalis (Soapwort) instead of bilirubin. Small amounts of dissolved soap might have ended up on the outer surface of the threads due to evaporation concentration. As the cloth dried, moisture wicked its way to the surface to evaporate into the air. As the water made its way to the surface it would have carried with it dissolved starch fractions and saccharides. As the water evaporated into the air these chemicals were deposited as a thin coating on the outermost fibers of the thread.
Here is a sample of some of the postings on this blog that relate:
If you want to fill up your weekend try this Google search: site:shroudstory.com bilirubin. You can also enter “Bilirubin” into the blog search box.
Note: The photograph is of Barrie Schwortz (CNS photo/Paul Haring). It has not been copied or directly posted here. This is an inline image that appears on The Catholic World Report.