Picture for Today

Some of the many purple jacketed volunteers who worked during the more than two months of the 2015 Shroud of Turin Exposition.  Click on the image to access a large version (2592×1936 pixels) of this image on the official Diocese of Turin sindone.org website.


Off Topic Warning: About the Eucharist and Then Some

imageI will certainly be accused of going off-topic. Okay. Yes. But. And then again, I can do it anyway. It is interesting. Many times when I read or hear something profound about the Eucharist, I am reminded of Frank Tipler’s book, The Physics of Christianity. This is one of those times. So, if you can humor me for a bit I’ll try to redeem myself.

On Saturday, the Episcopal Church in the United States elected a new Presiding Bishop (In most other places in the Anglican Communion we would call him an Archbishop).  The Right Rev. Michael Curry, the 62-year-old Bishop of North Carolina, was overwhelmingly elected by the Church’s General Convention in a single ballot in the House of Bishops.  Curry, who is African American, received 121 votes out of 174 cast.  The House of Deputies consisting of priests and laypersons approved the election 800-12. Read Episcopal News Service account of the election.

Scanning for material about him I found this video. It touched me.

On to Frank Tipler’s book, The Physics of Christianity. Tipler wanted to test a consecrated host to see if two molecules, once separated, say by the breaking of the bread, maintained quantum coherence –  the spin of electrons. Why this would happen with consecrated bread was something Tipler maintained was characteristic of the Second Hypostasis of the Triune Singularity that was God. Tipler wanted to scientifically determine who was right, Anglicans (Episcopalians) or Catholics. Yes, he actually wrote that in his book.

Back in November of 2008, A. S. Haley, who calls himself an Anglican Curmudgeon and writes a blog by that name, recommended reading Frank Tipler’s The Physics of Christianity. He wrote:

. . . I regard that book as one of the most remarkable books about Christianity that I have ever read. In fact, the book is so remarkable that I have decided, at the risk of my reputation as a reliable curmudgeon, who can always be counted on to tell you what is wrong . . . to tell you instead about some of the things which this amazing book shows are inescapably correct about traditional Christian belief. . . .

I read the book – there is a lot about the shroud in it. I certainly didn’t share Haley’s enthusiasm. Tipler’s book is not so remarkable. It may be, as Haley tells us, that Tipler obtained his doctorate under John Archibald Wheeler, the man who named the black hole and whose most famous student was Richard Feynman. It is only too bad Tipler didn’t pick up Feynman’s warning: “I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.”

Frank Tipler, a Tulane University professor of mathematical physics does propose an interesting idea. He argues Christian doctrine is an expression of all cosmological reality as it can be described by modern physics: God is a triune singularity. The second hypostasis of this singularity entered history in our universe, and indeed in other universes of the multiverse, as God incarnate in Jesus for the sake of mankind. The miracles attributed to Jesus and other most other historical miracles are not violations of nature and are scientifically possible, even plausible. Two miracles in particular, the incarnation and resurrection, are indeed scientifically possible and, as Tipler sees it, essential for immortality.

Indeed, the cosmological picture Tipler paints with the laws of nature is consistent with orthodox Christianity as expressed in the Nicene Creed. At the same time, however, his hypothesis seems amazingly discordant with a Christianity grounded in history and faith.

Tipler, as you might have imagined, is not some self-acclaimed, navel-gazing, self-published guru. His previous book, The Physics of Immortality, received considerable attention. “A thrilling ride to the far edges of modern physics,” wrote the New York Time Book Review. “A dazzling exercise in scientific speculation, as rigorously argued as it is boldly conceived,” said the Wall Street Journal. Science, the prestigious, peer-reviewed academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science wrote, “Tipler has written a masterpiece conferring much-craved scientific respectability on what we have always wanted to believe.” It remains to be seen if this sequel will get the same attention.

Of this sequel, Bryan Appleyard, a columnist for the Sunday Times (of London), in a review that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer (June 10, 2007) wrote: “I doubt this book will make many converts. Believers will continue to believe, perhaps with a little more confidence, and skeptics will continue to doubt, perhaps a little less. But Tipler should not be ignored by anybody.”

Yes, but. As an orthodox Christian, who like Tipler, has no issues with the theory of evolution or a universe that is thirteen-some billion years old or is but one of a seemingly endless number of universes, I found myself scoffing at Tipler’s assertions. It is important to remember that physical cosmology, like biblical exegesis and theology is controversial and unfinished. Even from certain facts and generally accepted theories, cosmologists, astronomers and theoretical physicists arrive at many different conclusions about the nature of reality. Tipler’s thesis is but one of many, something he does recognize. He simply dismisses all others out of hand by declaring everyone else wrongheaded.

The theological perspectives Tipler offers on miracles, the virgin birth, the incarnation and the resurrection are worth reading. The scientific explanations offered along with the theology are interesting so long as it is well understood that they are only possibilities. He speculates far too much.

Some topics are weak. His characterization of the difference of opinion on the real presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine of communion between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church is naïve. It is based on a smattering of mostly old documents, long since revised and amended. He quotes from the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England, circa 1571, that states that transubstantiation is a “blasphemous fable” and a “dangerous deceit” and ignores the wide spectrum of contemporary opinion held be Catholics and Anglicans. Many Anglicans do in fact believe in transubstantiation. I do. Most of his defense of transubstantiation is biblical. His interpretation from physics is just as easily an argument for a more Protestant view: consubstantiation.

Tipler’s discussion of the Shroud of Turin is worth the price of the book. Tipler clearly thinks the Shroud is genuine. So do I. But, I am far from being convinced that the so far unexplained images are the product of sphaleron quantum tunneling. Some details, particularly the proposed history of the cloth between 1204 and 1356 CE is fiercely debated among shroud researchers. Some of the scientific claims he makes lack sufficient rigorous confirmation; they should not be used to support authenticity at this time. Overall, however, Tipler presents a well-reasoned argument for authenticity.

Tipler’s scenario for the Resurrection is interesting. Jesus, he argues, may have dematerialized through a physical process known as baryon annihilation via electroweak sphaleron tunneling. By baryongenesis (what happened after the Big Bang) Jesus then rematerialized so that his followers would know he had been resurrected.

Is there in this a purpose to the incarnation? Yes. Jesus, Tipler contends, entered history inside of our space-time to show us how to achieve immortality. It is with mankind’s technology that immortality will be achieved. Not only will all people, past and present, gain immortality, according to Tipler, but that mankind will save the universe. To do so, mankind must populate the universe to its very edge. And he must construct computers and software powerful enough to emulate the mind, consciousness and soul of everyone.

Mankind can only accomplish this task by figuring out how to annihilate baryon particles (protons and neutrons are two examples of baryon particles formed by quarks). This process would provide the unlimited source of energy required for conquering the outer limits of space. By annihilating the right quantity of baryon from everywhere throughout the universe, the expansion of the universe will be halted, something which is necessary if the universe is to survive and necessary for the futurist computers of immortality to exist in space-time.

But in figuring out how to annihilate baryon particles, mankind will also then know how to build the bombs (much more powerful than conventional nuclear weapons) that will inevitably lead to the destruction of the world. So what role does Jesus have in all this? Tipler speculates that Jesus left his image on the Shroud of Turin as a clue to enable us to figure out the process of baryon annihilation.

Tipler’s technological doomsday scenario is to happen soon. Though it is unlikely to happen in my lifetime, it will happen, by his estimate, in the lifetime of most of his students at Tulane. This cataclysm, he suggests, may be the Great Tribulation foretold in Matthew’s Gospel: “For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” (24:21 NRSV)

This idea for immortality is in essence no different than what Tipler proposed in his previous book, which the prestigious scientific journal science praised by saying, “Tipler has written a masterpiece conferring much-craved scientific respectability on what we have always wanted to believe.”

Now. Did I justify showing that video? Did I redeem myself?  Of course not. It was a good try, though.

Your thoughts on the Eucharist or Tipler are welcome.

CES Convention in Córdoba-Cabra this October


CONVENTION IV CES. " THE CANVAS OF CHRIST : Passion, History, Art and Science "

Is the Shroud Really the Most Studied Whatever in History?

imageCharles Freeman, in a comment, reacts to the the first sentence in the description of the new book by Giulio Fanti and Pierandrea Malfi which reads, “The Turin Shroud is the most important and studied relic in the world.”

… We often seem to read this but there has been actually a great deal more intensive research directly on the fabric and images ( writings,inks,etc,) of the Dead Sea Scrolls than of the Shroud and it has been undertaken by top- level specialists in the relative disciplines. As the recent report on the Scrolls in Minerva, the international journal of art and archaeology, noted’ no other set of documents has been subjected to so many analytical techniques’. The main difference ,of course, is that the Scrolls, after a poor start, have been open to direct specialist examination with increasingly sophisticated equipment.

I would certainly argue that we have learned more from the Scrolls than we have from the Shroud.

And, if I remember correctly, Bill Meacham once told me that he thought that Ötzi, the Hauslabjoch Iceman Mummy – was it that or something else – may be the most studied historical artifact.

Okay, point taken. But then again, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ötzi are not exactly relics if we insist on being precise. But then again we often hear that the shroud is the most studied artifact in history and maybe that isn’t so.

Barrie’s Busy Schedule for the Remainder of the Year


Barrie Schwortz has updated the remaining portion of his lecture schedule for this year.

  • July 8 through July 13, 2015 – My dear friend Dr. Chuck Dietzen has invited me back to Indianapolis, Indiana to participate in another series of Shroud lectures he is planning for this summer. Chuck sponsored my first visit to the area in 2011 and participated in my 2013 lecture series there as well. Now, he is organizing a "return engagement" in which I hope to visit with a number of Indiana-based Shroud scholars. In addition to Chuck and his colleague, Dr. Joe Bergeron, who both lecture on the medical aspects of the Shroud, other Shroud scholars in the area include Richard Orareo, founder of the National Shrine of the Holy Shroud in Wabash, Indiana, Shroud historian Prof. Dan Scavone and his wife Carolyn from Evansville, Indiana and Alex Fiato, Shroud researcher and lecturer from Ft. Wayne, Indiana. My scheduled lectures include: July 9 – A visit to the Poor Clare Monasteryin Kokomo at 10:00 am, a lecture at the Logansport Juvenile Intake Center at 1:30 pm, and Dinner at Alex Fiato’s Italian Connection in Ft. Wayne. July 11 – A lecture at St. Francis Hospital auditorium (south of Indianapolis) 9:00 am – 12:00 noon. July 12 – A lecture at the Retreat Center of Sisters of St. Francis auditorium, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm in Oldenburg.

  • September 6 through September 12, 2015 – Publisher William Lauto and his wife, Professor Belenna M. Lauto, Interim Chair of the Department of Art and Design, have organized another "return engagment" for me at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. My single lecture in 2014 was such a success that they decided I should come back and give several lectures in 2015. Last year, Professor Lauto organized and produced an exhibit of a large selection of my photographs from the 1978 STURP examination and I also met informally with students from the photography and art departments. The specific venues, dates and times have yet to be determined for this year’s lectures but last year’s event was held in the Little Theater building on campus. We’ll provide more information as soon as it becomes available.

  • September 24 through September 30, 2015 – Our good friend and supporter John Sickelton has once again organized a series of lectures in Washington state like the successful series we did in 2013 and 2014. Postponed until 2016.

  • October 7 through October 9, 2015 – I will be speaking in Orange County, California to the Orange Canyons Chapter of Legatus, a private Catholic businessman’s organization, at their meeting on Thursday evening, October 8, 2015.

Extreme Blogging

“ENEA, effectively demonstrated, by "the scientific method," the miracle
of the Resurrection of Christ!”

“if it’s possible to reproduce the ‘look’ of that image, with its imprint features,
then it almost certainly IS an imprint.”

Two blogs. Two image hypotheses. Two crash-cymbal conclusions just this week past:

FIRST from Colin Berry’s blog posting That Man on the Turin Shroud: the mystery may finally be solved – at least in principle. The image of hands crossed at the wrists was experimentally produced by Colin.

imageHow the image came to be:

Let’s stop beating about the bush shall we ? The image of the man on the Turin Shroud is an imprint (not a painting as Charles Freeman would have us believe), I repeat,  an IMPRINT. It’s a contact imprint, to be more precise (no physical contact, no image)….

This posting focuses on just one feature of the Shroud image which is consistent with the view that the image is a contact imprint. I then make what some will see as a bald assertion, namely that if it’s possible to reproduce the ‘look’ of that image, with its imprint features, then it almost certainly IS an imprint.

The onus would then be on others who think otherwise, who have their own hypotheses, or as often or not fantasies as to how the image was produced, to do what I (with some assistance from my wife)  have done this morning, namely to model their ideas experimentally. If they cannot, or will not do that, then their ideas are unscientific, and need  detain this scientist no further.


… I say the Turin shroud is a medieval fake, produced by a simple two stage procedure: imprinting with an organic substance (which may well have been white flour, which has convenient adhesive properties)followed  by second stage colour development (thermal in this posting, though chemical development is also feasible – see previous postings which used nitric acid or limewater).

Oh! The radiocarbon dating:

… this blogger did not set out with the intention of disproving the Shroud’s authenticity (or proving its non-authenticity). There was no need for that, given he accepts the radiocarbon dating,  warts ‘n’ all, and feeling the onus is on those who reject it to press for re-testing. No, his research, starting December 2011, was a response to Paolo Di Lazzaro and others who claimed that the TS image characteristics, notably superficiality, could or would never be reproduced in a laboratory.

A bit more on why it took so long:

If the model were that simplistic, this retired researcher, who also has a record of research and modest achievement, would not have needed 3.5 years to conceive of it. The trouble with arriving late to an active area of research is the deadweight of ‘received wisdom’ that in many instances has hardened into rock-solid dogma. It’s hard not to be influenced by the big cheeses of Shroudology who descend onto websites to say one is barking up the wrong tree, that such and such was discounted decades ago, that one should "go acquaint oneself with the literature". In fact the current model incorporates many existing ideas – from Ray Rogers, Luigi Garlaschelli, Hugh Farey and Joe Accetta. But the key aspect was the realization that the body imprint was intended to represent ancient yellowed sweat, that it was not intended to represent a product of post-mortem putrefaction, nor a miraculous image imprinted by a flash of highly energetic radiation, of a type unknown to science, a signature of  resurrection, or as some would have us believe, a love-letter to modern man (that being the case, why the ‘wrong’ answer for radiocarbon dating?).

SECOND from Stephen Jones’ blog posting Shroud of Turin News – June 2015

imageHow the image came to be (with a bit of scripture-in-the-lab to help Di Lazzaro):

… There is no evidence that Jesus’ resurrection was a nuclear event, that produced a neutron flux. There is, however evidence, in The Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-2; Mk 9:2-3; Lk 9:28-29), where Jesus’ "face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light," "his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them," that Jesus’ resurrection (implied by Lk 9:30-31 where during The Transfiguration "Moses and Elijah … appeared in glory and spoke of his [Jesus’] departure [Gk. exodus] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem") produced intense light which imprinted His image on the Shroud….ENEA, using "the scientific method," effectively demonstrated that "a miracle" occurred in the imprinting of the image of a "whole human figure," front and back, on the linen of the Shroud! And since the evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud man is Jesus, ENEA, effectively demonstrated, by "the scientific method," the miracle of the Resurrection of Christ!

Oh! The radiocarbon dating:

… 1) the overwhelming weight of the evidence is that the Shroud is authentic, i.e. 1st century; 2) the probability of the Shroud being 1st century, yet having a radiocarbon date of 13th/14th century is "about one in a thousand trillion’"; 3) the 1260-1390 radiocarbon date must be the result of some type of fraud; 4) a form of fraud that was rife in the 1980s was computer hacking; and 5) there is much evidence that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker, allegedly Arizona physicist, Timothy W. Linick….

A bit more on Stephen’s could-have/would-have hacking conspiracy theory:

In 1988 the Shroud was radiocarbon dated by three laboratories in Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, all using the same then new Accelerator Mass Spectroscopy (AMS) method. The very first run of the first laboratory to date the Shroud, Arizona, returned the date "1350 AD," which was uncritically accepted by all those present. That "1350 AD" date was leaked to the media by a Rev. David Sox while the carbon dating was still in progress at the other two laboratories. AMS pioneer Prof. Harry Gove (1922-2009, the unofficial leader of the Shroud’s carbon dating, by a process of elimination concluded that the primary leaker was "someone who was present at Arizona during the first measurement." Later it was discovered that "Timothy Linick, a University of Arizona research scientist" was quoted in Sox’s 1988 book on the carbon dating as hard-line anti-authenticist. So Linick must have been in communication with Sox about the carbon-dating, despite having signed a written undertaking "… not to communicate the results to anyone … until that time when results are generally available to the public." So the inference is irresistible that Linick was the source of the leak of Arizona’s very first "1350 AD" date to Sox. In 1989 the journal Nature reported that "the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval … AD 1260-1390". But this must be wrong because the evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud has existed well before 1260 (e.g. the Pray Codex) and indeed all the way back to the 1st century. The midpoint of 1260-1390 is 1325 ±65 years, and as Shroud sceptics were quick to point out, 1325 `just happens’ to be only just before Bishop d’Arcis [falsely – see above] claimed that the Shroud was painted in the 1350s. But given that all the other evidence overwhelmingly points to the Shroud being authentic and therefore first century, as Prof. Gove pointed out, the probability that the Shroud is first century, yet has a radiocarbon date of between 1260 and 1390, is "about one in a thousand trillion". So the 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud must be the result of some form of fraud. A form of fraud which was rife in the 1980s was computer hacking, as documented by Clifford Stoll (1950-) in his 1989 book, "The Cuckoo’s Egg." And according to Gove’s eyewitness account of the AMS radiocarbon dating process of the Shroud at Arizona, and presumably at the other two AMS laboratories, "All this was under computer control and the calculations produced by the computer were displayed on a cathode ray screen." So a hacker, allegedly Timothy W. Linick (1946-89), who on 4 June 1989 was found dead of "suicide in very unclear circumstances," could have written and installed a program on Arizona’s AMS computer, and then had it installed on Zurich and Oxford’s AMS computers (e.g. by the confessed hacker for the KGB, Karl Koch (1965–89)). Linick’s alleged program substituted the Shroud samples’ first (or early because of irremovable contamination) century date for computer-generated dates, which whencalibrated, combined and averaged across the three laboratories, yielded a bogus date about 1325. Which `just happened’ to be about 30 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history at Lirey, France in c.1355. That the Shroud samples’ dates were computer-generated is supported by Table 2 of the 1989 Nature paper, which admitted:

"An initial inspection of Table 2 shows that the agreement among the three laboratories for samples 2, 3 and 4 [non-Shroud controls] is exceptionally good. The spread of the measurements for sample 1 [the Shroud] is somewhat greater than would be expected from the errors quoted."

But this is impossible given that the Shroud and control samples at each laboratory were all on the one ~26 cm (~1 inch) diameter carousel wheel and rotated through the one caesium ion beam within minutes of each other. If there was something technically wrong with the dating process at a laboratory, the controls and Shroud samples at that laboratory would wrongly agree and disagree with the controls and Shroud samples of the other two laboratories. But that the agreement across the three laboratories in the dates of the non-Shroud control samples was "exceptionally good" shows that there was nothing technically wrong with the dating itself, which must mean that the Shroud samples’ dates were not real but computer-generated. Koch is not essential to my theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker, as Linick could have acted alone. But that both Linick and Koch (who need not have known each other) were involved in hacking the Shroud’s radiocarbon date for the KGB is supported by the fact that Linick died of "suicide in mysterious circumstances" on 4 June 1989 and Koch’s inexplicably burnt body which was made to look like suicide, had been publicly identified by the German police only a day earlier on 3 June 1989!

Is there some way to put these two in a room together and tell them they can’t come out until they agree on everything.

Update on New Book by Giulio Fanti and Pierandrea Malfi

Now Shipping

This is an update to a May 8th posting. 

imageWhat is new for the English editions:

Being published in English

Turin Shroud: First Century after Christ by Giulio Fanti  and Pierandrea Malfi is now shipping for delivery on June 30th.  The price for this 500 page, hardcover book is $75.23. A Kindle edition has been announced. It will be available for download on July 7th. The price for the Kindle edition is $71.47.

The description of the book at Amazon reads:

The Turin Shroud is the most important and studied relic in the world. Many papers on it have recently appeared in important scientific journals. Scientific studies on the relic until today fail to provide conclusive answers about the identity of the enveloped man and the dynamics regarding the image formation impressed therein. This book not only addresses these issues in a scientific and objective manner but also leads the reader through new search paths. It summarizes the results in a simple manner for the reader to comprehend easily. Many books on the theme have been already published, but none of them contains such a quantity of scientific news and reports. The most important of them is the following: the result of the 1988 radiocarbon dating is statistically wrong and other three new dating methods demonstrate that the Shroud has an age compatible with the epoch in which Jesus Christ lived in Palestine. A numismatic analysis performed on Byzantine gold coins confirms this result. This book is, therefore, very important with respect to the Turin Shroud. It is unique in its genre and a very useful tool for those who want to study the subject deeply.

About the Authors:

imageGiulio Fanti is associate professor of mechanical and thermal measurements at the Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Padua, Italy. After gaining experience in spatial structures, and also in tethered satellites and image analysis, he has directed since 1997 his interest to the Shroud to fill some gaps, especially with reference to the body image impressed in it, which is still scientifically inexplicable. He was responsible for a university research project concerning the most important relic of Christianity and has headed for more than 10 years the Shroud Science Group, a group of about 140 scientists dedicated to study of the relic. He has published more than 170 scientific works in international journals. He has authored 8 books and more than 50 scientific works on the Shroud.

imagePierandrea Malfi holds a master’s degree with honors in mechanical engineering from the University of Padua. His thesis was based on the mechanical dating of textile fibers, whose results have also been published in scientific journals. He has set up and computerized the Antonio Maria Traversi Physics Museum of Marco Foscarini High School in Venice, Italy, of which he has been scientific curator for more than 10 years.

Editorial Reviews:

"This is one of the books John [Jackson] may have had in mind for publication after hundreds of man-years of collective research even two thousand years after the death of Jesus. It is unique in the depth of material covered that supports dating the Shroud progressively back to the first century. It is an outstanding contribution to Shroud studies."
― Robert W. Siefker, The Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, USA

"Prof. Fanti’s new book is a major new work in the field of literature on the Shroud. It is of great value as it provides the details and results of very interesting new research for which Fanti has been responsible. It is an essential addition to any library or collection of written work on the Shroud of Turin."
― Mark Oxley, author of The Challenge of the Shroud

"After decades of dedicated research, Dr. Fanti and his colleagues have developed a new scientific method to date ancient linen, whose result is consistent with the extensive scientific and medical evidence derived from the unique Shroud of Turin. Fanti’s result is also completely different from the Shroud’s medieval C-14 dating, constituting the first direct scientific challenge to the dating of this famous cloth."
― Mark Antonacci, author of The Resurrection of the Shroud, Test The Shroud Foundation

"The chapter on numismatic investigation is very interesting because it gives a very clear indication that the Shroud existed before the period between 1260 and 1390 AD, established by the radiocarbon dating tests. The book is highly recommended."
― Petrus Soons, Shroud Researcher from Panama

"Fanti, for first time, experimentally proves that the threads of the Shroud can be 2000 years old. This book is a good opportunity to be updated on the knowledge of the Holy Shroud."
― Cèsar Barta, Centro Español de Sindonologia, Spain

This abbreviated Table of Contents is not included on the Amazon site. It was furnished by an anonymous reader of this blog. A more comprehensive Table of Contents is now available at Google Books.

Part 1: Description and Traces of the Sheet that Challenges Science

  • The Shroud: an identikit

  • Historical evidence

  • Numismatic investigation

    Part 2: The Fascinating Dating Quest
  • Radiocarbon "distraction"

  • Journey of a flax thread

  • Inquiries into alternative chemical dating

  • The Mechanical Multi-Parametric Dating Method

    Part 3: Something More about the Shroud
  • Shroud samples spread for scientific research

  • Recent and future developments

  • Additional questions and answers


Appendix: Notes for more interested readers

Book Details from the Amazon site:

  • Hardcover: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Stanford (June 30, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9814669121
  • ISBN-13: 978-9814669122
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds

Time’s Square

imageA.G. Harmon, who teaches Shakespeare, Law and Literature and other subjects at The Catholic University of America reviews a book of short stories over at Patheos’ Evangelical Channel. The book is William Baer’s  newest book, Times Square and Other Stories. These few words in his posting, The Art of the Authentic: Bill Baer’s Times Square, caught my attention:

The desire to be original is in fact at the heart of our first mistake—a desire not to be God-like, but to be God himself. How fine the line is between imitation and appropriation, between inspiration and theft.

Other stories tease out the same idea, but space permits mentioning only two: In “Shroud,” the drastic consequences of a man’s devotion to the story behind the Shroud of Turin—and to the need for demonstrable proof—is contrasted with the faith that makes that story irrelevant….

How often, in so many ways, do I say this, sometimes out loud?  And lately I’ve been wondering how much I mean what I say?

Tip:  Google Books will let you sample the book. Click on page 171. It looks interesting.

More Than 2 Million People Saw the Shroud in 2015


The above note reads, according to Google:

I thank the Volunteers of the Shroud and also those who have helped me in my visit to Turin. I cordially bless you and your families. And please do not forget to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and keep you Madonna.



After reading the above note to the assembled press in a closing press conference, Msgr. Cesare Nosiglia, the Archbishop of Turin, gave a brief speech. The highlights of the speech include the facts that…

  • More than 2 million people saw the shroud
  • Nearly 3 million people came to Turin including those who came to see Pope Francis
  • More than 1 million euro was collected during the Exposition and donated to the Holy Father. It will be used for charitable works in Turin.

The speech with Google translation from the Official Holy Shroud website (sindone.org) reads:

imageSummary of the Custodian, Msgr. Nosiglia

It was an exposition of the most participated and experienced by pilgrims for human and spiritual intensity. The organization and the welcome was perfect also for the kindness and friendliness of the volunteers. The path toward the Shroud proved useful with panels of social saints and with the movie of the prefetch, both judged by all well made ​​and necessary. All pilgrims then had the opportunity to pause in silence and prayer before the Shroud for a sufficient time.

Very large and varied profile of the pilgrims: families with children, young people, the homeless and the poor, Orthodox and Evangelicals, Muslims and representatives of other religions, people from European countries, America, Africa, Middle East and Asia. Of particular note is the thousands of visitors Filipinos.

They stopped in front of the Telo numerous cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, ecclesial associations and movements. Thick delegations of pontifical councils of the Holy See and the offices of the CEI.

They are also parades in front of the Shroud political authorities, economic and financial, entertainment, sports, film and theater.

And how many ‘such as’ pilgrims

The total number of pilgrims visiting the Holy Shroud in the monstrance Costituto 2015 is the sum of the people who have booked and have made ​​the journey, those who participated in the celebrations in the Cathedral, the groups walked right through the door without central reservation and authorities and personality accompanied by the Ceremonial. With this calculation, the number more than two million people.

To these must be added those in the two-day visit of the Pope have followed him all the way from Caselle in Turin, in all the squares and streets where past and has stopped . We can say, then, that Turin has received 3 million people.

We have received a number of messages and endless claims of what the experience of the Shroud was intense and full of grace and joy for the pilgrims.

The Visit of Pope Francis

Pope and all his followers were surprised by the enthusiastic welcome of the people, a sign of great affection for the Pope.

The Pope’s speeches and his actions have hit the mark and will remain in the hearts of all as an invitation to hope and confidence in the future.

The actions of the three representatives of the world of work were concrete, realistic and not of fact but also loads hope in God and in themselves. A good injection of optimism even in the middle of the well-known difficulties.

At the Shroud, the Pope was in meditative silence as each pilgrim. No word not to break the climate of silence and contemplation that requires the Shroud. But he made ​​a gesture full of tenderness and pregnant meaning. He touched the sacred Linen, as he stroked, as if he had touched the broken body of the Lord to comfort him. It’s nice that the One from whom we receive the consolation of God becomes the object of tenderness and consolation. I saw in this gesture of Veronica wipes the face of Jesus or that of women who go to anoint the body of the deceased. But I also saw the gesture of the woman with a hemorrhage, of which the Gospel speaks, he wants to touch the cloak of Jesus for healing. Jesus said, “your faith has saved you.”

The “gift” of Pope Francis for the poor of Turin

The Pope gave me a blessing and gratitude to the volunteers of the Shroud and those who have done their utmost for the success of the Exhibition. The handwritten text says: “I thank the Volunteers of the Shroud and also those who have helped me in my visit to Turin. I cordially bless you and your families. And please do not forget to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and the Madonna keep you. Affectionately. Francesco. 21.06.2015 “

The Pope has asked me to take advantage of the gift fruit of donations from pilgrims and Exposition of the faithful of the diocese of Turin, for a work of charity in favor of the latest in Turin. The figure exceeds one million Euros. We will define these days with Caritas, Migrantes Office and Ministry of Health which will make it work.

The Pope has also written a note of greeting and blessing to the children who greeted him in Piazza Solferino and on the way to Caselle . We will do have to all parishes, will be published by the Voice of the People and of http://www.sindone.org. The text says: “Dear children, I left Turin after my visit, bearing in our hearts your joyful greeting, I have blessed and I invite you to always be friends of Jesus and of you, to give everyone his Gospel of love and peace. I cordially bless you together with your parents, priests and leaders. Pray for me. Francesco 22.6 2015 “.

From the speeches and gestures of the Holy Father will derive a pastoral letter to the city and to the Diocese because both the support base of our common path for the next years.

The intervention of Elis Tisi, President of the Organizing Committee and Deputy Mayor of Turin Exposition

I Exposition of 67 days have left a mark on the city. I am proof that Turin knows mobilize in all its various social and economic components.

Turin has been able to field his best forces, for the visit of Pope Francis where 600 firefighters who served together with the police and the prefecture to ensure everyone a peaceful performance of the two days.

It was enshrined in the ability to collaborate between different parties to achieve common goals.Working together is the key to achieving the best results. This is demonstrated by the work of the Diocesan Youth Ministry who welcomed thousands of young people from around the world, the Ministry of Health who coordinated initiatives shelter for sick and disabled, including the Home, and collaboration with associations working in prisons Le Vallette and Ferrante Aporti. It also shows the sensitivity of the business community who have contributed in various ways all’ostensione.

All these examples confirm that Turin is on track to build a culture of welfare and that makes us look to the future with greater confidence.

Who Is He?

‘Silent Witness’ caused consternation.

imageK. V. Turley has posted an interesting piece, The Shroud of Turin: Fact, Fable and Mystery in Catholic Exchange:

In the late 1970s an unusual documentary film surfaced. When it was shown to London’s film critics, ‘Silent Witness’ caused consternation. Its subject matter was the Shroud of Turin – not a subject commonplace in a Britain then dealing with economic recession and punk rock. It was the first time a major documentary had emerged on that particular piece of cloth based on the then latest research, of which that decade had seen a flurry.

A year or so after, I remember being dragooned by priests into a school lecture theatre where the lights were dimmed and the aforementioned film was screened. It delighted and intrigued in equal measure. The combination of detective story and seeming scientific affirmation of the faith was a heady mix. And who could forget the ending? When all the evidence had been sifted, and the latest findings gone through in detail, we were left with only the Shroud’s head image visible upon a black screen, and then, after a brief silence, and with more than hint of incredulous impatience, a voice demanded: ‘Who is he?’

And then there was the carbon dating:

Science had been asked and had answered in a way that seemed to place doubt on any belief other than that of scientific materialism.

It was only decades later that other doubts began to emerge though, and this time they were about that 1988 test. Questions were asked about the process employed, of where on the cloth the samples had been excised from, and, more importantly, the mindset of the scientists behind it. Had they looked for and, therefore, subsequently found what they wanted? Regardless, what was certain, and what had never been fully explained to the masses, was just how fallible such carbon dating was thought to be by many scientists.  The populace had been lead to believe that the results of such tests were gospel; they were anything but.

Today, in the hushed dark of a Baroque chapel, withholding its secret still, it awaits those who come to meditate upon its pierced figure, drawing all closer to the mystery woven into the cloth’s very fabric. It is indeed an icon of suffering, but it is also one of love, ultimately speaking as it does of the Passion.

Maybe, we shall never have definitive ‘proof’; perhaps, we aren’t meant to: this linen cloth being more enigmatic than history can ever explain and even more mysterious than science can ever prove.

So, still resonating through the darkness, comes that same voice to demand:

Who is he?

Closing Mass for the 2015 Exposition of the Shroud of Turin


In the Eyes of the Befuddled

Apparent image of a man!
Oh, that awful word ‘apparent,’  a word which insanely gets it meaning
from what you intend it to mean.

imageThe wonderfully outspoken Fr. Dwight Longenecker speaks out about MSM reporting on religion in the Catholic Channel over at Patheos. The title of Longenecker’s posting, The Shroud the Pope and the “Strip of Cloth”

Can the main stream media get any dumber than when they try to report on religion?

This article at CNN reports on Pope Francis’ recent visit to Turin where he prayed before the Shroud.

Pope Francis prayed Sunday before the Shroud of Turin, a strip of cloth that some believe was used for the burial of Jesus Christ.

The shroud appears to bear the image of a man who resembles paintings of Christ.

“A strip of cloth…”??

It’s that last line, “The shroud appears to bear the image of a man who resembles paintings of Christ.”–not only is it badly written but it reveals that the writer knows next to nothing about the shroud itself–which is one of the most extensively researched relics of Christianity.

He is right, of course.  Look at the Huffington Post for another example.

The Shroud of Turin has captivated thousands of Christians over centuries, some of whom believe it covered Jesus Christ during his burial — and on Sunday, Pope Francis joined a throng of pilgrims to see the 14-foot strip of cloth in the Italian city of Turin.


Those who believe the shroud to be authentic point to the apparent image of a man imprinted on the cloth, whose wounds seem to reflect those described in the narrative of the crucifixion.

Different writers. Hmmm?  Nah!

Appears to bear! Apparent image of a man!  Oh, that awful word ‘apparent,’  a word which insanely gets it meaning from what you intend it to mean. According to Merriam-Webster:



adjective ap·par·ent \ə-ˈper-ənt, -ˈpa-rənt\

: easy to see or understand

: seeming to be true but possibly not true


But let’s not kid ourselves.  Longenecker is right. There is, after all, an obvious image of a man on that strip of cloth.

Other postings in this blog that mention Fr. Longenecker:

Imagine what Mary looked like from the Shroud of Turin?

Funny that when it comes to the Shroud of Turin the carbon testing must be considered watertight scientific proof.

Is the Shroud Evidence for God’s Existence?

Superhero Fr. Dwight Longenecker Believes in the Shroud of Turin

Ten Questions for Shroud Skeptics from Fr. Longenecker

Was Laudato Si and the Pope’s Visit to the Shroud Related?

clip_image001John Klotz has written an important piece, The Pope, the Apocalypse and the Shroud and posted it in his Quantum Christ blog. Do read it.

On Thursday, June 18, 2015, Pope Francis released to the world his groundbreaking encyclical on climate change Laudato Si. On Sunday, June 21, he prayed before the Shroud of Turin and then standing-up moved forward and tenderly touched the rim of the Shroud’s display frame. Both the release of Laudato Si on  June 18 and his travel to Turin had been determined and publicized months in advance. Could they have been related?

Do read it.

A Shameless Plug

Your words, Colin; not mine.

imageWe find Colin Berry, who has once again quit this blog forever for the umpteenth time, now posting in DISQUS. He is plugging his latest theory.

Here we go a quoting from DISQUS:

Title: "The Pope" … "sad world of make believe"


Colin is referring to a story in The Telegraph, The Pope joins the EU in a sad world of make-believe by Christopher Booker. It is an opinion piece about Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. It is not about the shroud. Not at all.

Who cares, Colin, right? Let’s trollishly intrude!

So Colin continues:

Fiddlesticks. For one moment I thought that might be a reference to his paying homage to the Shroud of Turin, allowing one shamelessly to plug (without splitting an infinitive) the latest Blue Peter "Make Your Own Turin Shroud" shamelessly immodest breakthrough discovery.


Simply paint a gluey cold water slurry of plain white flour onto one’s 3D subject – whether a real person or a bas relief (probably the latter for the face), imprint onto linen, then press the dried imprint with a really hot iron (linen setting). Hey presto, one gets a negative sepia-coloured Shroud-like image of one’s subject. Nope, it won’t wash out, so may well be permanent. It may even display those ‘mysterious’ 3D properties if you use dowloadable software (ImageJ etc) that excels in finding "3D" wherever there’s tonal contrast in one’s 2D image.

Maybe the children’s show will send Colin an honorary iron-on Blue Peter patch.

Read about Colin’s latest hypothesis, A new and simple thermal imprinting model for the Turin Shroud needing only plain white flour and a hot iron – in 12 pictures.

The Day Was Not About the Shroud

imageReuters journalist Philip Pullella wrote the report that got the most early-the-next-day shroud coverage among English language newspapers. The headline: Pope prays at Turin Shroud but skirts authenticity debate

Pope Francis prayed on Sunday before the mysterious shroud some Christians believe is Jesus’s burial cloth but skirted the issue of its authenticity, saying it should remind people of all suffering and persecution.

On his first day of a visit to the northern industrial city of Turin, he defended migrants flocking to Europe to escape war and injustice, saying it "makes one cry" to see them mistreated.

He also spoke of the city’s 19th century reputation as a center of devil worship and anti-clericalism, saying today’s young people faced new snares of high unemployment, drugs and unbridled consumerism.

Pullella said very little about the shroud. But he did pick up the gist of what the pope did and then said about the shroud:

After praying for several minutes before the cloth that has baffled scientists for decades, he touched its glass case and moved on to say Mass for 60,000 people. There he said the Shroud should spur people to reflect not only on Jesus but also on "the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person."

Despite the headline, the last several paragraphs of Pullella’s filing are about migrant workers.

The pope began the day with an outdoor rally on the theme of workers rights and immigration. Turin’s factories drew in waves of poor southern Italian peasants in the post-war period. Today it is home to migrants from developing countries and social tensions have increased along with unemployment.

That same day, Pullella filed two other stories.

Pope says abuse of migrants ‘makes one cry,’ visits Turin Shroud

Pope says weapons manufacturers can’t call themselves Christian

Pullella may understand this pope very well.  The day was not about the shroud. It wasn’t about what the pope might think about the shroud. 

The AP story to some extent picks up this theme

Francis sat for several minutes before the shroud, contained in a protective glass case. He lowered his head at times in apparent reflection and occasionally gazed up at the 4.3-meter (14-foot) long cloth. Then he took a few steps, placed his hand on the case, and walked away without comment.

Later, after celebrating Mass of the faithful in a packed Turin square, Francis gave his impression of the cloth as he spoke of the love Jesus had for humanity when being crucified.

‘Icon of Christ’s love’

“Icon of this love is the Shroud, which, even this time, has attracted so many people here to Turin,” Francis said. “The Shroud draws (people) to the tormented face and body of Jesus and, at the same time, directs (people) toward the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person.”

The AP story also switched gears, perhaps a bit less gracefully:

Skeptics say the cloth bearing the image of a crucified man is a medieval forgery.

Turin, the heartland of Italy’s auto industry, is considered Italy’s blue-collar labor capital, and Francis used his two-day visit to the city to denounce exploitation of workers, singling out women, young people and immigrants as frequent victims.

A Memorable Photograph Worth a Thousand Words

Photograph by Renzo Bussio, Sindon.org (Hot linked through Facebook)

Promotion for The Holy Winding Sheet: Exploring the Shroud of Turin

Presumably, we will be able to see it on the EWTN YouTube Channel in the near future.

This is a quick preview of the show broadcaset early this morning and to be shown again at 2:00 PM EDT today on EWTN. The documentary features Russ Breault, Barrie Schwortz, Mark Antonacci, and Art Lind. It was filmed in St. Louis by Salt River Productions.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpeToQfGGfo

imageWhen Parker Dow, a high school senior at a Catholic school in St. Louis, began his investigation into the Shroud of Turin as part of his senior thesis, he was surprised to find out most of his friends had never heard of this cloth that virtually all experts agree wrapped the crucified body of Jesus Christ.  This hour long documentary follows Parker for six months as he meets four of the world’s leading experts to learn firsthand about the Shroud and how they have come to believe it is the burial cloth of Jesus.  This fascinating documentary traces the Shroud’s journey from Jerusalem to Turin, explores the controversial 1988 carbon testing which dated the cloth to the Middle Ages, and with real human blood detected on the cloth shows how the image of the crucified man could not have been faked.  The Holy Winding Sheet – Exploring the Shroud of Turin is a contemporary look at a mystery 2,000 years in the making

Pope Francis Visits the Shroud of Turin

Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRnhJB8iBqQ

Resolution of the Shroud Image

Ray Schneider has put together some useful charts on the subject in
The Shroud of Turin an Enduring Mystery – Part 4: Skeptics & Image Formation 
(Charts 14, 16-18 deal with resolution).

imageIn snippets from comments, Hugh Farey has raised some good questions about image resolution. 

To Louis, he wrote:

Can I ask for some opinion about ‘high resolution’ we keep hearing about. The resolution is not at all high. The resolution is poor. The fat that one smudge can be seen as the edge of the lower lip does not justify the complete absence of any nipples, fingernails, navel and so on, all of which would be expected from an image of any good resolution.

And in response to a comment by Max, Hugh wrote:

I wish I knew what people mean by a resolution of 5mm. Grab a pencil and draw the outline of the arms. How precise is it? 30mm, I reckon. The fingers and face are a bit better, but a contact image precise to an accuracy of 5mm is not good resolution, it’s poor. One of the arguments against the Shroud being some kind of bas relief rubbing is just that – its resolution is so poor.

Max had said:

The optical high resolution of the details of the TS body images –at least as good as 0.5 cm (see L. A. Schwalbe, R. N. Rogers, “Physics and chemistry of the Shroud of Turin, a summary of the 1978 investigation,” Analytica Chimica Acta 135, 3-49, 1982 and J. P. Jackson, E. J. Jumper, W. R. Ercoline, “Correlation of image intensity on the Turin Shroud with the 3-D structure of a human body shape,” Appl. Opt. 23, 2244-2270, 1984) or even approaching 0.1 to 0.2 cm (see V. D. Miller and S. F. Pellicori, “Ultraviolet fluorescence photography of the Shroud of Turin”, Journal of Biological Photography, 49, 71-85,1981)– suggests a contact-and-gradual-loss-of- contact mechanism of transfer to account for the integrity of blood clots of which optical high resolution of their details is as good as 0.04-0.05 cm that is ten times higher than the body image details).

Optically speaking, what do you consider is the minimum for “high-res”?

Hugh wrote back to Max:

Yes that’s what they all say, and perhaps I misunderstand them. Can we detect collarbones or the Shroud image? Ribs? Kneecaps? You don’t need a very high resolution to see these clearly on images of people, and the Shroud shows none of them. I don’t know how the resolution of an image of a body should be quantified, but I do know that the Shroud isn’t very very high, regardless of what Schwalbe and friends think, unless, as I say, I misunderstand what they mean by a resolution of 5mm.

and later added:

You are still explaining why the resolution is poor rather than substantiating the opinion that it is good. Prof. Fanti did indeed say that the edge of the lower lip of the image was well defined, and I agree with him. The rest of the face is less so, and the rest of the body a mere blur. optically speaking a well defined Shroud image would be one around which it would be possible for different people independently to draw outlines of various features (e.g. arms, legs, eyes, fingers) and when superimposed they should not differ by more than a millimetre or so. I said that before. That’s my answer.

Ray Schneider has put together some useful charts on the subject in The Shroud of Turin an Enduring Mystery – Part 4: Skeptics & Image Formation (Charts 14, 16-18 deal with resolution).

The Eyes Have It?

I suspect that some of us have different, indeterminable acceptance thresholds
where I think I see becomes I see.

As the story goes, President Lincoln during a cabinet meeting voted "aye" on some matter before the group while six cabinet members voted "nay.”  The President then announced the result: "Nays, six. Ayes, one. The ayes have it."

So you want to argue with or agree with Max about coin images over the eyes.  Here are seven past postings in this blog (one aye and six nays, as it turns out) that may offer some help.

BEGIN with Coins on Eyes Issue Again which includes a six page illustrated extract from Max’s 2011 Totun research paper.



The Forger and the Coins: One in a Gazillion with 13 Zeroes

Paper Chase: Why There Are Probably No Images of Coins, Lettering, Flowers and Whatnots on the Shroud of Turin

Coins on Eyes Issue Again

An Excellent Analysis of the Coins-on-the-Eyes Issue

Comment Promoted: Of Coins and Flowers and More on the Shroud of Turin

I Don’t See Flowers and Coins and Teeth on the Shroud of Turin

Paper Chase: Offensive Coins? Heads or Tails?

… nothing but a numismatic and pseudosindonological myth

imageMax-Patrick Hamon writes:

Please find attached in pdf format ‘Part One’ (OFFENSIVE COINS? HEADS OR TAILS? Or the Stauffer pseudo- numismatic evidence) of a longer paper (I wrote in 2008, updated in 2011 and not yet published) entitled: Turin Shroud: Coin Over Eyes And Die-Hard Misinformation.

I uploaded it. So, just click on the above title or on the image of the first page shown here.

BBC News Magazine: The Perplexing Image

it has to be said that the piece of cloth Pope Francis will venerate
is genuinely and stubbornly perplexing.

imageAppearing online just hours ago: How did the Turin Shroud get its image?

You’ll notice that this says nothing about its authenticity. The Catholic Church takes no official position on that, stating only that it is a matter for scientific investigation. Ever since radiocarbon dating in 1989 proclaimed the 14ft by 4ft piece of linen to be roughly 700 years old, the Church has avoided claiming that it is anything more than an "icon" of Christian devotion.

But regardless of the continuing arguments about its age (summarised in the box at the bottom of this page) the Shroud of Turin is a deeply puzzling object. Studies in 1978 by an international team of experts – the Shroud of Turin Research Project (Sturp) – delivered no clear explanation of how the cloth came to bear the faint imprint of a bearded man apparently bearing the wounds of crucifixion.

A painting, perhaps? McCrone is mentioned. Then there is this:

Another idea is that the image is a kind of rubbing made from a bas-relief statue, or perhaps imprinted by singeing the fabric while it lay on top of such a bas-relief – but the physical and chemical features of the image don’t support this.

A natural chemical process, a photograph, and energy release?

According to an international team of scientists and other interested folk called the Yahoo Shroud Science Group, hypotheses about the genesis of the shroud "involving the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth cannot be rejected". Among them, the group members write, "are hypotheses correlated to an energy source coming from the enveloped or wrapped Man, [and] others correlated to surface electrostatic discharges caused by an electric field". Since these hypotheses appear to invoke processes unknown to science, which presumably occur during a return from the dead, it’s technically true that science can’t disprove them – nor really say anything about them at all.

Some, however, are not deterred by that. Italian chemist Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua has proposed that the image might have been burnt into the upper layers of the cloth by a burst of "radiant energy" – bright light, ultraviolet light, X-rays or streams of fundamental particles – emanating from the body itself. Fanti cites the account of Christ’s Transfiguration, witnessed by Peter, John and James and recounted in Luke 9:29: "As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning." This is, to put it mildly, rather circumstantial evidence. But Fanti suggests we might at least test whether artificial sources of such radiation can produce a similar result on linen.

According Raymond Rogers, all kinds of pseudoscientific theories have been put forward that invoke some mysterious radiation, which not only made the image itself but distorted the radiocarbon dating. In general they start from the notion that the shroud must be genuine and work backwards from that goal, he said. Little has changed in the decade and more since Rogers made this complaint. But still it has to be said that the piece of cloth Pope Francis will venerate is genuinely and stubbornly perplexing.