I have attached some questions I have to a few quotable quotes from an article by Dan McWilliams in the East Tennessee Catholic newspaper. The story, “The shroud, or not the shroud? That is the question,” is about a talk by Dr. Kelly Kearse at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Knoxville earlier this year.
Questions in bold are mine. Quotations are from the article Underlining for emphasis is mine
Real or not?
“Is the shroud real or not?” he asked. “The answer to that is, for some people, it is real. Some people believe it’s a miraculous icon, that it’s an imprint of the physical body of Jesus. Others think it’s just a hoax that was created during the medieval era at a time when relic trade was really booming. I think each person really has to make up his or her own mind where they think that question of authenticity lies.”
What does the Catholic Church say?
Regarding what the Church says about the shroud, “the Catholic Church has never come out one way or another and said the shroud is real or the shroud is not,” Dr. Kearse said. “The official position is this: it’s an object of veneration. It’s worthy of love and honor. It can certainly enhance someone’s faith, but by no means should someone’s faith depend entirely upon it.”
How is the image formed?
“The image was an ongoing mystery; the problem remains unsolved—unsolved in the early ’80s when they wrote it and still unsolved in 2022,” he said.
What can be said about current thinking about the bloodstains?
“The blood is most correctly classified as species unknown. Based on what we now know, it really takes us back to square one,” Dr. Kearse added.
Complicating claims the DNA is from a male, he said, is the fact that thousands of people handling the shroud over years could have left their DNA on it.
“Regarding tests to determine blood type, it could be AB, but I really don’t think there’s any solid scientific evidence to back that up,” Dr. Kearse said, adding that eucharistic miracles’ blood type is often AB, claims that suffer from similar scientific issues.
While the blood on the Shroud of Turin is red, Dr. Kearse said that his experiments with human and animal samples containing high levels of bilirubin show that the redness of blood doesn’t last over the course of weeks or months, that it turns brown. The scientific basis for the redness of the shroud blood remains unknown.
What about the evidence of clotted blood having been transferred to the Shroud?
“Could the shroud blood have been directly added by a forger or transferred from a body?” Dr. Kearse asked. “It’s been suggested that the shroud shows evidence of clotted blood transfer. That’s based on some of these STURP studies that were done under ultraviolet light.”
His own experiments show that there are multiple routes that can achieve the same results, studies which led to a new method to study blood serum in modern forensics.
- Hat tip to Dr. Collin Berry for pointing out this article to me.