Yannick Clément, independent Shroud researcher from Louiseville, Québec, Canada

Guest post concerning the supposed uniqueness
of the Shroud of Turin’s body image


Here’s a message I would like to address to all the people who, over the years, have written on this blog and elsewhere that the Shroud image is certainly not of natural origin since it is a unique case in history, while thousands of people were certainly buried inside this kind of burial cloth.

To me, this is a wrong argument.

First, we must understand that we don’t have a lot of intact ancient burial cloth from Antiquity. In that context, claiming that there hadn’t been any other body images of dead people formed on their burial cloth is unscientific.  These potential other images could simply have been lost due to the decaying of the bodies, which would have destroyed them.

Secondly, even if this would be proven that the Shroud image is the only one that has ever been formed on an ancient burial cloth, this would never been a rational argument to discard the hypothesis of a naturally formed image.  Effectively, this could simply mean that, in order to get this kind of body image on a burial linen cloth, one or, more probably, some very particular conditions (but natural nonetheless) must have been reunited TOGETHER.

These words “very particular conditions” and “together” are maybe what was at the heart of the image formation that happened on the Shroud of Turin and, among these very particular conditions, I think people (starting with Shroud researchers) should consider with great care the FACT (the blood evidence proves this) that we are dealing here with the burial cloth of a man who died from a series of HIGHLY TRAUMATIC TORTURES. This is already one very particular condition that we are aware of and we know that this had nothing to do with the Resurrection of Christ (but maybe with his death, as reported by the Gospels).

Considering this possibility (which is often ignored or not considered seriously in the context of the image formation), I ask these 2 questions:

  1. Who knows if this highly traumatic state of the Shroud man’s body (and not is supposed glorious body transformation) is not the primary cause of the image formation that happened on the cloth? 

  2. Who knows if this highly traumatic state of the Shroud man’s body (and not is supposed glorious body transformation) has not contributed heavily to make the Shroud of Turin, the only known burial cloth in history who got a complete body image on it?

Before ending this guest post, I have to add one more thing (which is important when we think the Shroud can be the real burial cloth of Christ):  Even if I am right here, it’s still possible to consider seriously the possibility that the disappearance of Jesus’ body from inside the cloth after less than 72 hours (i.e. the maximum range before the stage of decay stage starts) as another important conditions that might have played a huge role in the ending result (i.e. the formation of a faint but complete body image of the Shroud man on the cloth’s surface). Effectively, in the context of a naturally formed image, it’s truly possible that such a short period of contact between the body and the cloth was primordial to yield the kind of complete and distinct image that is on the Shroud, because it’s truly possible that if this period of contact would have keep on for some more hours (or even a day or two), the ending result would have been a big and undistinct yellow stain that would have covered all the cloth or, at least, a good portion of it. And if the period of contact would have keep on for many more days, the decaying of the body would have surely caused the destruction of the image or, at least, a good portion of it. 

Important note: If this short period of contact really played an important role in the natural formation of the body image, it is not, in itself, a proof that something supernatural that would be related to the Resurrection of Christ really happened.  Effectively, the door would still be left open for the idea of a manual extraction of the body out of the Shroud by some people before the start of active decay. On the other hand, the door would also be left open for the idea of a sudden, quiet and complete vanishing of the body out of this space-time universe. And if this ever happened, the Resurrection of Christ would have contributed only to stop the natural image formation that was going on (probably for hours at that time) before it was too late instead of having been the main supernatural cause of the image formation, as some people believe.

Note that this is what I personally believe, which proves that you can be someone who believes in the Resurrection of Jesus-Christ, while considering the image on the Shroud as having been formed by a totally (while still undetermined) natural mechanism that was most probably related to the Passion and death of Jesus, much more than his Resurrection…

I get to that point after a long reflection based on my own personal experience of God, the testimony of Jesus’ disciples (as it is reported in the Gospels) concerning his Resurrection and all the pertinent data coming from the Shroud. And if I’m correct, then yes we can say that the Resurrection had something to do with the image formation that happened on the Shroud, but not in the supernatural way it is often described these days (i.e. a supernatural burst of energy coming from the whole body at the time of the Resurrection that would have left the image we know on the cloth). The reader should note that I’m not the only one in that somewhat “unusual” category of people of believes in Christ’s Resurrection, while thinking the image has been formed naturally and was much more related to the Passion and death of Jesus than on his Resurrection. Effectively, we can find in that same category noted Shroud researchers like Pierre Barbet, Yves Delage, Paul Vignon, Antoine Legrand, Father Peter Rinaldi along with probably guys like John DeSalvo, Ray Rogers, Frederick Zugibe and Bruno Barberis (to name a few).

That’s what I wanted to say.  In sum, my feeling is that these two very unusual conditions (i.e. the highly traumatic state of the body and the very short stage of the body inside the cloth) were the ones that contributed the most heavily to the formation of the body image we still see on the Shroud of Turin today, along with possibly another important condition that would be the presence of a thin and uneven layer of carbohydrate impurities on the cloth’s surface, which would not be as unusual for a burial cloth manufactured during Antiquity as the two other conditions I just described…  In the end, all these conditions could well be totally natural and have nothing to do with the Resurrection of Christ, while having been unusual enough has a whole to have been the only case in history where a dead man has left a complete and distinct image of his whole body on his burial cloth. And if the Resurrection ever had something to do with the image formation, this could have simply been to stop the natural image formation process at the “right time”, which, in itself, can be seen as the accomplishment of God’s Will.

In the end, I simply hope that nobody who will read this will ever be tempted to use the wrong argument of the uniqueness of the Shroud image to back-up a belief they can have that this image can be of supernatural origin. I hope this reflection will be enough for them to understand that such an argument can fit as well with the idea of a body image of totally natural origin! Last note (and this is important): the argument of the uniqueness of this image would never be used by those who proposed the scenario involving a false relic produced by a genius forger with some unknown artistic technique, simply because they know that this kind of uniqueness fits very badly with their idea!  Effectively, if this is how the image was produced on the cloth, the logical question would be: why there is not any other image of this kind in all the Christian art (or in any other art form)?  In all logic, we should have found other example of the use of this awesome technique in other artworks or Christian relics…

P.S. : I think I prefer to consider myself as a Shroud philosopher (someone who reflect a lot on the subject) more than anything else.