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Keyword: ‘pollen’

The Pollen Scam?

November 10, 2015 4 comments

"I regret that, from what I’ve learned from our research, we can not currently use the pollen to define any geographical indication.” — Avinoam Danin*

clip_image001Recent discussions about pollen on the Shroud of Turin, reflected in three recent postings in this blog…

… compels me to want to dig deeper.  Joe Marino kindly sent me, in Google translation, The Shroud of Turin: The scam of pollen. The complete file (In Italian, La Sindone di Torino: La truffa dei pollini. Il dossier completo). It is a paper by Gaetano Ciccone published in June of 2011 at La Sindone di Torino (

To the reader who asked why I permit so much negative information about the shroud to appear in this blog, permit me a quote by Thomas Aquinas:

The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.

Of, course, I would substitute Christian for Catholic (even if I was Catholic).

Here is a Google translation of an early snippet from The Scam of pollen:

Therefore below will be made an examination of what has been written and published on the subject ‘pollen Shroud’, bearing in mind always that the opponents of the authenticity is denied access to the source documents: the Shroud of Turin and the same material derived therefrom. So here there is proposed at all to study the Shroud pollen, but to study ‘the study of pollen Shroud’. It is, essentially, a work of ‘history of science’ or, as it would be preferable to express themselves, ‘history of pseudoscience’. Ultimately, it is a historical research.

Have been four scholars who took samples of powder with pollen from the Shroud of Turin: Max Frei in 1973 and in 1978, John Riggi in 1978 and 1988, Raymond Rogers in 1978 and then Pier Luigi alien autopsy in 1978 and 2002. Of these researchers, only the first results announced sensational and decisive. Others have not reported anything on their studies, apart from a few hints disappointing.

In consideration of Sindonisti, Frei has by far the most important scholars of the Shroud palynology. John Riggi in 1982 defines it as "the great Frei" [Riggi 1982, p.105], "the illustrious man" [Riggi 1982, p.119], stating that "I was very honored to know this great little man" [ Riggi 1982, p.140].

Even today the figure of Frei and his work is hailed uncritically accepted by some Sindonisti such Emanuela Marinelli, Marco Tosatti, Barbara Frale, Bruno Barberis:

And a later snippet from somewhere about mid-point:

Aside from the quick examination of the tapes made ​​by McCrone in 1988 and the review carried out by Baruch in 1998, in 2001, Professor Thomas Litt, Institute of Paleontology, University of Bonn, has been able to observe the remains of Frei in his laboratory in Bonn, but we do not know the details. The minutes of that examination was dispatched from Litt to Danin and spouses Whanger. Whanger I have never announced anything on the subject, while Danin, following this report, changed his mind than his previous convictions, denying practically all the work done together with his assistant Baruch, and drew the conclusion that the study of Shroud pollen could not get any geographical indication: "I regret that, from what I’ve learned from our research, we can not currently use the pollen to define any geographical indication ‘[Danin 2008, p.54]. It seems that ever since Baruch no longer interested in pollen or Shroud [Wilson 2010, p.65]. Danin, as is known, continues to support the authenticity of the shroud on the basis of hundreds of fingerprints of plants or parts of plants, which he views on the cloth and on the photos of the towel. It appears that the material is more designed by Frei palynologists specialists. And we’re now at 28 years after the death of Frei.

* From a translation of a translation.

Categories: Science

Paper Chase: New Paper on SEM Analysis of Pollen

November 5, 2015 24 comments

imageI missed this recent paper. I only discovered it while reading through Barrie Schwortz’ Late Breaking News for the most recent update to Here is what Barrie reports:

Exploration of the Face of the Turin Shroud. Pollens Studied by SEM Analysis by Gérard LucotteArcheological Discovery, Vol.3 No.4, October 2015. Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

"We studied by SEM-EDX analysis the pollens on the Face of the Turin Shroud. A total of ten pollen grains were found; they were photographed, characterised and analysed. Three of them (pollens p6, p7 and p10) belong to Ceratonia siliqua, the carob tree; one of them (pollen p1) belongs to Balanites aegyptiaca (the palm tree of the desert), and another one (pollen p9) belongs to Cercis siliquastrum (the Judean tree). These three plants have their geographical distributions in the Near-East; that is indicative of a Palestinian origin of the Turin Shroud…"

FREE PDF:  The full paper (DOI: 10.4236/ad.2015.34014), richly illustrated with 23 photographs, is published in Scientific Research, an open access journal. The PDF file can be downloaded from the summary and abstract page.

Categories: Paper Chase, Science

Doubting the Pollen Evidence

September 13, 2015 44 comments

“… data concerning pollen grains should not be used in Shroud research.”
but on the other hand, “… we must not be too hasty to dismiss it altogether”

clip_image001We have discussed the pollen many times in this blog*.  The subject came up again recently in some comments to the posting, New YouTube Presentation: Is the Shroud a Medieval Forgery? In the discussion, Hugh Farey (pictured) makes reference to an article he wrote, Problems with Pollen, for the British Society for the Turin Shroud Newletter 79.

First to the blog comments. A paper from the Valencia conference, The question of pollen grains on the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo, by Emanuela Marinelli, came up in the discussion. Hugh responded:

Professor Marinelli’s paper is an an excellent review of the evidence, but does not comment or evaluate it very thoroughly. She does have the advantage of Max Frei’s articles in Italian, which seem to have been more comprehensive than his account in Shroud Spectrum International, but I do not think they clarify the case.

To review a little of what Frei is quoted as having said:

“The tapes are put in contact with a light pressure, and, due to their stickiness, when they are detached, they remove all the microtraces without damaging or altering the support in any way.” — If Frei changed his tactics between 1973 and 1978, when he applied the tapes with such force the STuRP team were horrified, then there should be a big difference between the amount of debris on them. If a light pressure was all that was needed in 1973, why did he change his modus operandi in 1978?

“The advantage of this method, widely used in criminology, is that – once the tape is folded on itself – loss of material or secondary contamination are completely excluded.” — Fine, but he didn’t fold the tapes in on themselves; he stuck them to microscope slides, as in the photos at

“In subsequent analyses of dust samples it was possible to find and classify a large number of pollen grains which, properly treated, have allowed the precise determination of the family, genus and species of the plant itself.” — It is not true that pollen is classifiable at species level even today, and was even less so 40 years ago.

“Each identification result was checked on herbarium material and in botanical gardens worldwide renowned for their collections, as well as documented in photomicrographic surveys.” — I’m afraid that without proper documentation I simply don’t believe this. In the absence of adequate comparison material Frei went to places he thought were relevant and collected his own. Whether he made a micrographical survey is open to doubt.

And so on.

Antero de Frias Moreira had commented. So Hugh replied:

Antero’s last comment reads “… Professors Danin and Baruch who confirmed many of Frei’s taxonomical pollen classification at least at genus level.”

Really? Prof. Danin has changed his mind about the validity of any of Frei’s findings.. In 1998 he wrote (

“Dr. Uri Baruch, palynologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority who made his M.SC. and Ph.D. dissertations on the flora of Israel, analyzed most of Frei’s 1973 sticky tape pollen specimens and ten of the twenty-five 1978 sticky tapes. He examined 165 pollen grains, of which 45 (27.3%) were Gundelia tournefortii.”

But in 2011, he wrote (

image“The sample we used in our previous publications is the grain presented on the left side of Fig. 15.2.2. [a single ‘Shroud’ pollen previously identified as Gundelia tournefortii]. At first sight one can say that it has “thorns” similar to those on the right side of Fig. 15.2.2. [a group of modern pollen identified as Gundelia tournefortii]. However, looking more thoroughly, one can see that the “thorns” of the right photograph are more pointed and denser compared to the “thorns” in the left photograph. The right photograph is of grains taken from a Gundelia tournefortii flowers. It is not the same as the grain on the left.”


“Prof. Litt concluded that none of the pollen grains he saw could be named at a species level. Hence, all the conclusions drawn from previous palynological investigations of Dr. Frei’s material should be suspended until a new collection of pollen grains can be carried out and the grains thus obtained can be studied with modern equipment and by an expert of pollen of this area.”

and finally

“Since writing [Prof. Litt’s] conclusions in 2001 no pollen grains have been collected and investigated as he suggested, so the data concerning pollen grains should not be used in Shroud research.”


Hugh’s article warrants your full attention. His conclusion is a good place to start as long as you go back to the top and read the entire report:

So, what are we to make of Max Frei’s pollen identification, and the conclusions he drew from it. I think the question must remain open. In spite of all the secrecy and confusion there remain a few grains of pollen from some exclusively wind-blown Middle Eastern trees that are difficult to explain except that they fell on the Shroud while it was in Israel. Perhaps, if Thomas Litt’s analysis is ever published, we will discover that the entire assemblage has been over-optimistically interpreted, but if not, we must not be too hasty to dismiss it altogether.

To see all the discussion of pollen in this blog, explore these searches:

Categories: Science

Important New Pollen Discovery on the Sudarium of Oviedo?

February 15, 2015 23 comments

imageThe English language pages of the Universidad Católica de Murcia (UCAM) are reporting that UCAM’s researchers have found scientific evidence that places the Shroud of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin in the same scenario::

The research group of the Catholic University of Murcia which is studying samples of the Shroud of Oviedo, has discovered a grain of pollen from one plant that, according to the Pollen Expert of EDICES, Marzia Boi, is compatible with the botanical species of Helicrysum Sp., also identified in the Holy Shroud (Shroud of Turin). Moreover, it has dropped the hypothesis of subsequent contamination, as the pollen is adhered to the blood; this means that the pollen arrived on the shroud at the same time as the blood, not randomly at some point along its history.  This fact is very important because it makes it possible to prove the authenticity of the Shroud of Oviedo, and deny that it is a forgery.

La Opinion de Murcia in a story four days ago adds this interesting piece of information (Translation by Google):

This research has been possible thanks to the innovative scanning electron microscope last generation that tells the UCAM. In this sense, the president of the UCAM, José Luis Mendoza, notes that [the university] acquired "the microscope to offer this service" to investigate in depth the aforementioned relic. This is a new finding that is not part of the research line that is centered study, since what is sought in the sample being processed is human biological material.

The Valencia newspaper, Las Provincias, in its coverage of the discovery, offers up this (Translation by Google):

The plant known as ‘Helicrysum’ has been used for thousands of years for cosmetic purposes in the Middle East; also was used in Jewish burials during the first century of the Christian era, so it is no wonder their presence on blood remnants of a canvas used to shroud a corpse.

Will this story get legs beyond regional papers and a university website?

Click on picture for larger view and here for and even larger image on the university’s site.

Coming Out of the Closet on Pollen and Plant Images

August 22, 2014 51 comments

imageStephen Jones has put together an interesting posting on the pollen found on the shroud and apparent images of plants some claim to see on the cloth. He does so from the perspective some material in a 2005 book, A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice by Lynne Milne.

Stephen writes:

Milne has `come out of the closet’ and is clearly a Shroud pro-authenticist (whether she realises it or not), differentiating herself from Shroud sceptics, pointing out that the Shroud must have had an undocumented history outside of Europe before 1352, in the Middle East, the carbon-14 date for the age of the Shroud cannot be correct and indeed has been "discounted"!

Out of the closet? A pro-authenticist (whether she realizes it or not?

But when Milne writes in her book that . . .

The carbon-14 dating has since been discounted. The linen threads that were dated are chemically different from most of the’ Shroud linen. Was this younger thread used for mending the Shroud when it first arrived in France, or before it was taken from Constantinople?

Stephen disagrees. She is wrong, he tells us because the only satisfactory explanation for errors in the carbon 14 dating is Stephen’s own so far unsubstantiated theory that a computer hacker fudged the dates.

Melissopalynology: Pollen Evidence

August 16, 2011 1 comment

imageAccording to Food Safety News:

A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities.

Now for how they know this, maybe:

A laboratory in Bremen, Germany, founded a half century ago by German beekeepers, can accurately scan honey samples for flower pollen.   There is only one expert in the U.S. known to analyze pollen in honey to determine where it was actually grown and that would be at the Palygnology Laboratory at Texas A&M.  The lab was created and is run by Vaughn Bryant, a forensic palynologist and Professor of Anthropology.

Melissopalynology, or pollen analysis, has been used for years by geologists seeking evidence of ancient coastal areas – often sites of major oil deposits. Scientists tracing the origins of the Shroud of Turin have identified 61 different pollens on the cloth that could only have come from around Jerusalem.

Forensic scientists have used pollen identification to help solve murder, rapes, kidnapping and at least one espionage case. Now, at least in the labs in Texas and Germany, melissopalynologists use pollen to determine – with great accuracy – the geographic area where the bees foraged for the nectar.

Remember, the pollen news remains controversial. But it is nice to see the Shroud getting more and more attention from politics to health. Asian Honey, Banned in Europe, Is Flooding U.S. Grocery Shelves

Categories: News & Views, Science

The O.K. Corral Shootout

March 12, 2019 16 comments


O.K. commented in my posting, The Myth of the VP8 and 3D Uniqueness?

A lot of confusion is there. It is perhaps because the common way of lecturing about the Shroud, is a historical approach, in 1898 Pia discovered negativity, in 1970s Jackson & Jumper discovered 3D with VP-8 etc.

This is actually misleading, creates a hype, and in my opinion asks the wrong questions. How to make an image that is a photographic negative, 3 D rendering, without contours, isotropic, etc. ? There is always a way to do it regarding the individual properties -but resulting images have actually nothing in common with the Shroud (besides this single selected characteristic).

In my opinion, the issue should be lectured in more modern, compact way? The problem is: what constitutes the image on the Shroud, what makes it so specific? What are its basic components? And ONLY THEN ask a question: what are derived properties (like negativity or 3D) of such an image.

O.K. may be right. It is certainly a form of discipline that might eliminate the confusion. But the problem is bigger than that.  It’s the “Wild West” nature of shroud research since STURP, a land of scientific lawlessness and tall tales where the closest things to order were the “O.K. Corral” shootouts called conferences.  What did this atmosphere produce?

It produced the “I think I see” world of imagined images of ancient coins along with all manner of bric-a-brac, of plants from ancient Israel, of teeth and ponytails and of written messages in Greek, Latin or Hebrew — all these being wishful misperceptions or pareidolia. There were the dubious pollen charts and the radiocarbon dating fiasco. There were the tall tales: NASA analyzed the shroud, Ray Rogers was a general in the Air Force, America’s greatest scientists studied the shroud, and so-and-so was a Nobel prize-winning physicist. And it produced a lot of good science, too. Often that was overshadowed by the sensational.

There were short declarative decrees. They’re still sitting out there at

This spatial data encoded into the image actually eliminates photography and painting as the possible mechanism for its creation and allows us to conclude that the image was formed while the cloth was draped over an actual human body.

We can examine this in three parts:

spatial data encoded into the image:   Is calling the data spatial not begging the question? Would it not be better to say relative greyscale values of the image that when plotted as relative distances from a planar surface suggest three-dimensionality, suggest spatiality. 

eliminates photography and painting as the possible mechanism for its creation:  That is simply not true, as has been shown on on this blog. One might argue about how difficult or unlikely it would be. But a blanket denial that it is possible is misleading, at best.

allows us to conclude that the image was formed while the cloth was draped over an actual human body: Conclude? How so? Not so if the cloth was draped over a statue or if the image was formed by some unusual photographic or artistic method that produces the right kind of relative greyscale values.

Being precise makes it more difficult to read. But compact imprecision leads to misunderstanding and to the dogmatism.

backscratcherAnd then there is the Wild West’s Colorado Springs, once a place to soak in curative waters, and then a place to pan for gold, and now the home of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado. Here is a brief statement from a document, The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses on the TSC website. I call this the Rube Goldberg miracle; you know, where a miracle happens, that causes a body to become mechanically transparent allowing a cloth to fall through it and get a controlled dose of radiation.

Consistent: [= in context The Fall-through hypothesis is consistent with the 3 Dimension attribute of the image.] The initial draping configuration of the Shroud over a body establishes the initial cloth-body distances. If, then, the Shroud overlying the body falls into the body region, different points on the cloth will intersect the body surface at different times depending upon how far that point was originally away from the body. Thus, each cloth point will receive a radiation dose in proportion to the time that the point is inside the emitting body region. Since that time is inversely proportional to the initial cloth-body distance, it follows that the radiation dose, and hence image intensity, is likewise inversely proportional to the initial cloth-body distance. Correlation of image intensity with cloth-body distance is consistent with the Shroud VP-8 3-dimensional effect.

I was just wondering:  what is the body like at this stage of the miracle?  Is it a liquid that holds it’s once-solid shape or a gas or something specifically miraculous? Does the part of the cloth under the body fall upwards?  What type of radiation works best for resurrection miracles?  What happens after the cloth has finished its fall?  Is a mechanically transparent body able to pass through locked doors yet walk on the road to Emmaus and eat fish?

Those are the questions that come to mind. Silly, perhaps, but they do come to mind. Let me put it this way: I cannot begin to imagine that I will ever believe this.  I believe in the Resurrection and I may believe the shroud is real but I cannot believe one word of Fall-Through hypothesis.

If you haven’t read The Resurrection is Just Too Mysterious to Be Described & A Response to Dr. Colin Berry, you can’t understand where I’m coming from.

Categories: Uncategorized

Thank You, Everyone

December 15, 2015 218 comments

imageThis is my last posting. I’m retiring from blogging. I need to. It’s time to move on. I’m now more involved in the community where I live and I want to become more active in the church.

I’ll let commenting continue for a few days and then shut down comments for good by years’ end. I’ll keep the blog up for future research and reading.

Thank you, everyone!

If you want to take over in some way, write to me and we’ll try to figure out something.

imageI started this experiment seven years ago with the hope of beginning an ongoing conversation about any and all topics related to the shroud. The slow pace of papers and the length of time between conferences, very much the time-tested way, was too slow for my temperament. There was the Shroud Science Group conducting discussions in private by email. I enjoyed that. But its membership was restricted. It reminded me of the proverbial boyhood tree house with the sign that read, “No Girls Allowed.”

Maybe that’s unfair: You had to be nominated. You had to be invited. No one was ever turned away although a couple of people were eventually kicked out of the group for email misbehaving. If there had been a sign and someplace to hang it, it would have read, “No Skeptics Allowed.” At least, it felt that way.

Skepticism is the healthiest of attitudes with all things having to do with religion. I believed that. For instance, a Christian should never fear new discoveries in science and history. There can be no better test of the strength and truth of one’s faith than to face the questions posed by new views of reality.

We needed to be tempted, not by going into the desert but into the jostling crowd. It took a long time. Thank, God, for Colin Berry and all the others.

At first I didn’t do blogging correctly and this blog didn’t catch on. Eventually, I learned to say less and encouraged others to become the center of the discussion, something I’m not good at. In doing so I created an opportunity to learn a lot from skeptics and non-skeptics alike. I hope this has been true for others because this blog was never intended for my benefit alone.

This blog has exceeded all my expectations. Lately, I have been posting almost every day, sometimes two or three times a day. Comments pour in. They are good comments, not those meaningless short comments you see in so many blogs. There has been a lot of constructive discussion.

In looking back over seven years, I realize that my overall views on the shroud have not changed significantly. You’ll note that in the right hand column of every page, I say, “The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.” I used to say it probably is instead of may be. I still gut-think it is probably authentic but in all honesty I can’t defend the word probably with real-world science and objective history.

Belief is a less cautious word than knowing. I can say with more honesty that from all the evidence discussed here, with everyone’s input considered, I believe the shroud is indeed authentic. But I can’t say I know it.

As I leave blogging about the shroud, I want to leave a few thoughts behind. This is today’s list. I may awake to a new list tomorrow but I won’t go back and change it. I’m really out of here.

On Overwhelming Evidence: From time to time, people have tried to convince me that the evidence in favor of authenticity is overwhelming. Similarly, others have tried to convince me that the evidence against authenticity – particularly the carbon dating – is overwhelming. No, it is not. It is underwhelming. That is why this blog has over 4000 postings with a total of more than 46,000 comments. That is why this blog has accumulated 3.3 million page views. That is why 790 people subscribe to receive email copies of every posting.

Redo the Carbon Dating: Of course.

On Seeing Things on the Shroud: I don’t think there are any images of ancient coins, plants, teeth or written messages in Greek, Latin or Hebrew; all these are wishful misperceptions or pareidolia. See: I Don’t See Flowers and Coins and Teeth on the Shroud of Turin

On 3D Encoding: I think the ability to plot a 3D representation of the body from the image of a man on the shroud with tools like the VP8 Image Analyzer or ImageJ is a valid image characteristic. However, I don’t think that the data – essentially greyscale values of the image – necessarily represents cloth to body distance. To think so requires the assumption that the shroud covered the body. It probably did if the cloth is authentic, but we are not there yet. Nonetheless, I’ve listened to others preposterously trying to prove the authenticity of the cloth from the facts and measurements derived from this assumption.

Moreover, it is often said that it is impossible to plot 3D information from paintings and ordinary photographs. Bill Meacham wrote:

Unlike ordinary photographs or paintings, the Shroud image converted into an undistorted three-dimensional figure, a phenomenon which suggested that the image-forming process acted uniformly through space over the body, front and back, and did not depend on contact of cloth with body at every point.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t hold up. See: It is really, really time to rethink what we think about 3D

Exaggerations: NASA did not analyze the shroud. Ray Rogers was not a general In the Air Force, America’s greatest scientists did not study the shroud, and so-and-so was not a Nobel prize-winning physicist. Drop the exaggerations. They only weaken the truth.

Dematerialization: The suggestion that the image was formed by a cloth falling through a dematerializing body is unfortunate. Permit me to quote Hugh Farey here:

… The trouble with the fall-through hypothesis is that, being imaginary, its parameters can be adjusted so that it fits whatever observations we want. If a critic were to say that the instantaneous disappearance of 70kg of mass would create a sudden large vacuum which would suck the shroud into a screwed up ball in the middle, then we simply have to invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen. If he says that the energy emitted by such a disappearance would exceed that produced by several megatons of nuclear bomb, vaporising the Shroud and most of Jerusalem with it, we simply invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen either. All we need is for a “body wrapped in the Shroud to become volumetrically radiant […] and simultaneously mechanically transparent, thus offering time-decreasing resistance to the cloth as it collapsed through the body space.” Simples. Made-up physics can explain anything.

See: The Process of Resurrection and Dematerialization 101

Sindonology: To quote Colin Berry, because in this I think he is right:

. . . There is no such thing as an expert in the field of sindonology (or shroudology as I prefer to call it. We are all beginners. Some begin better than others. The TS is a test of our ability to separate the wishful thinking that comes with appealing imagery from that of cold hard reality. Sadly there is no part of the human mind that is devoted to detecting CHR. The human mind is programmed to respond on a more immediate like/dislike response to what it sees. It’s part and parcel of the human condition to instantly add layers of fancy to what cunningly or otherwise seduces, or attempts to seduce the eye.


Some of my other favorite postings:

Maybe the devil made them post this

It Was A Single Procedural Screw-Up. No Other Area Was Sampled. Is That Enough?

Why do we think the Resurrection was a process? What if it was not?

The Best Shroud of Turin Pareidolia?

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

The Pollen Scam?

Why the images and bloodstains were not painted on

So which hypothesis, of all those ever proposed, do I prefer?

A Masterly Demolition of the Hungarian Pray Manuscript?

A Pointless Discussion of the Hungarian Pray Manuscript?

The Curious ‘a’ in the Hungarian Pray Manuscript

Discussion about the Pray Codex and its relation to the Shroud is over?

Get Thee Upset! Or Not: Thomas de Wesselow’s New Book on the Shroud

Hymn of the Pearl: Description of the Shroud of Turin?


A final note:


When I first started this blog someone told me. “The Shroud of Turin is a Catholic relic. As an Episcopalian you have no right to comment on it.”

I wrote a reply and never posted it. This is my last chance:

It’s true; I’m an Episcopalian. Episcopalians are part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Maybe I should explain what sort of Episcopalian I am. I’m High Church – all smells and bells, some say. Every Sunday it’s Solemn High Mass with a priest, deacon and sub-deacon, plenty of incense, holy water, chimes, chanting and recitation of The Angeles (“Hail Mary, full of grace…”). To some, should they visit a service, it might seem a lot like the Roman Catholic Tridentine Mass of old. There are differences, however. There is little or no Latin. Look closely and you will see wedding rings on most of our priests and bishops. That is because most of them are married. Many of our priests and even a few bishops are women; so girls are allowed. Generally speaking, we Episcopalians think most Christian denominations or traditions are part of one universal church, one body of Christ. One expression of this is our practice of open communion. We welcome all baptized Christians to participate in the Eucharist. (Personally, I would do away with the requirement of baptism. I would welcome anyone to the “Lord’s Table” regardless of belief or anything else – let God sort these things out, not men and women).

Okay, so I’m an Episcopalian. So what? Would it be any different if I was Methodist or Presbyterian or Greek Orthodox? You say it is a Catholic relic. Is it? Why is that? If the history of the shroud is right, was it not a possession of the Church in Constantinople before 1204? Early on, perhaps it was a relic of the Nestorians or the Syriac Church or even the Church in India. We don’t know is the point. Today, to my way of thinking it is an item (an icon or a relic) for all Christians. The Pope is its current legal custodian and the leader of perhaps its most interested Christian tradition. Beyond that, let God sort it out, not men and women.

Thank you, everyone!

Categories: News & Views

Searching for Papers

December 2, 2015 2 comments

imageA reader writes:

… you know that by typing in “" you get a list of all of the pdf papers on the site in alphabetical order. This can be useful in doing research. You should let others on your blog know.

Actually, the pdfs directory is not the only place pdf files are stored on the site.

The preferred method, to my way of thinking, is to use the following Google search: filetype:pdf

If you want to limit yourself to the pdfs directory (why would you?) modify the command so it reads thus: filetype:pdf

If you want to search elsewhere, you may. For instance: filetype:pdf filetype:pdf filetype:pdf

With any of these searches, it is a good idea to add some words like shroud or pollen or whatever is your particular interest of the moment.

If you start your search with Google Advanced Search, you can specify a language. is altogether another matter.   It is a rich archive of papers on the shroud – probably the largest and you’ll find many newer English language papers there – but you can’t search it with Google or any of the other major search engines if you specify a filetype. So don’t. On the other hand, it is a good bet that whatever it is you find in, it will be a PDF file. And using words like Shroud and Turin are a must. For instance the following work well in Google: shroud of turin

Categories: Other Sites, Paper Chase

Numerous Plant Species and Human Lineages Identified. Now What?

October 21, 2015 3 comments

imageA caller asked me (please use email or blog comments):

Have you taken a careful look at the two color-coded charts from the Nature paper? Now what?

I don’t know.  I think this paragraph from the paper, Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud helps somewhat.

DNA extracted from dust particles that were vacuumed from the Turin Shroud shows sequence profiles that identify numerous plant species and correspond to several distinct human mtDNA haplogroups. These results not only confirm that plant fibers and pollen grains are present on TS, as previously reported by optical microscopy, but also reveal that multiple human individuals touched or otherwise left traces of their DNA on the relic linen. The detection of such a variety of DNA sources is extremely valuable in assessing whether there are possible parallelisms between the areas of origin and distribution of identified land plant species and human mtDNA haplogroups and the temporal and spatial paths associated with the two alternative scenarios that have been proposed to explain the TS origin.

Is there more that we can know or assume from this data?

Click on each of these charts for bigger, easier to read versions.



Categories: News & Views

News About the Shroud. Pass It On. Well, Most of It.

October 20, 2015 2 comments

imageOn October 6th, I posted Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin. I was reporting that Nature had just the previous day published Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud by Gianni Barcaccia, Giulio Galla, Alessandro Achilli, Anna Olivieri and Antonio Torroni.

On October 14th, I followed with Linen from India? after getting a prompting email from a reader.

Now the MSM may be catching on. There is a story here, after all.

Nothing yet in the biggies or on the major news services.

HEADLINES AND LEDES DEPARTMENT: (yes LEDE is the correct spelling), the Daily Mail may have gotten it best. No, really, the Daily Mail:


imageONE TRACK MINDS OFF THE RAILS DEPARTMENT:   Stephen Jones, in re-captioning this diagram from Nature, tries to tell us:

… this is further evidence against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud … and evidence for that the 1260-1390, i.e. 1325 ±65 radiocarbon date was computer-generated by a hacker’s (allegedly Arizona physicist Timothy W. Linick’s) program.

Click on diagram to enlarge.

Categories: News & Views, Science

The Amazing Parts

October 19, 2015 3 comments

People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity.

imageNews from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas (bold emphasis is mine):

“The most amazing part of the Shroud is the majesty of the face.”

That statement from Jim Bertrand, a Shroud expert affiliated with the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, rang true for Benedictine College students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding communities who saw his presentation, along with a life-sized replica of the Shroud, on the Atchison campus on October 8.


Bertrand has been studying the Shroud for more than 30 years and has been affiliated with the Shroud Center of Colorado since 2014. He talked about the history of the Shroud and the scientific evidence surrounding its authenticity, including new peer-reviewed scientific information regarding the dating of the Holy Shroud, which has been the subject of much debate.

“As a presenter of the Shroud, my mission is to unite Truth with the human heart,” he said. “People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity. Whether a relic or an icon, the Shroud is a sacramental, leading us to a deeper relationship with Jesus.”

Bertrand presented a wealth of scientific evidence that supported the Shroud’s existence in 1st century Jerusalem. He noted botanical evidence of pollen from plants native to the area. He talked about geological evidence of soil found around the image’s feet, knees and nose that is of a particular type of rock only found in Jerusalem. He noted the biological studies of the blood stains, including the fact that they are still bright red due to the body’s release of bilirubin caused by a massive loss of blood, which supports Biblical accounts of Christ’s Passion.

He also talked about the 1978 carbon dating that placed the Shroud’s origin around 1250. The section tested turns out to have been from a corner of the Shroud repaired in Medieval times and containing cotton, satin and other fibers not found in the rest of the linen Shroud. There is also resin present that was used to join cotton threads to linen threads.

“It turned out to be the worst possible place to sample,” Bertrand said. He went on to show three other recent datings of the Shroud using chemical and mechanical tests. All three had wide ranges of dates for their results, but they all crossed the 1st century.

Reasoned judgment is fine. It’s the way it should be. But there is a real problem with the most updated scientific evidence.  Much of it is controversial. It is often not updated. And frequently not really so scientific as we make it out to be.  How good is that botanical evidence?  Is bilirubin really why the blood is still red? Was that corner repaired? Are those three other dating methods even valid?

The most amazing parts of the Shroud is how much we don’t know. I can’t make a reasoned judgment on the scientific evidence.

Categories: Article, Science

Emanuela Marinelli to receive the International Prize for Catholic Culture

October 19, 2015 2 comments

… Emanuela Marinelli fell in love with the Shroud. Tough love: nearly forty years of study. And 17 books, hundreds of articles, thousands of conferences, from Indonesia to Kazakhstan to Burkina Faso: long journeys, sometimes dangerous, always with a copy of the Shroud folded into the suitcase, to go on to explain, the ends of the world.

imageWe learn from the Amici della Sindone (Friends of the Shroud) Facebook page (as automatically translated from Italian to English in Google Chrome):

The International Prize for Catholic Culture will be delivered to sindonologa Emanuela Marinelli (pictured) on October 23 at 20.30, in a solemn ceremony at the Theatre Remondinis of Bassano del Grappa. Professor Marinelli, Roman, takes care of the Shroud for 38 years and has written 17 books on the subject and held hundreds of conferences in various countries around the world; He was also the coordinator of the organizing committee of the World Congress "Sindone 2000" in Orvieto. Recognition Bassano, run by the local Catholic school culture and come to the XXXIII edition, went among others to personalities like Joseph Ratzinger, Krysztof Zanussi, Angelo Scola, Riccardo Muti, Camillo Ruini, Ugo Amaldi, Michael Novak, Divo Barsotti, Cornelius Fabro, Augusto Del Noce …

In 1977, the Swiss botanist Max Frei made public the results of a search on the pollen of which had found no trace on the Shroud: over 58 types, 38 belonged to plants of Palestine that does not exist in Europe. The most frequent pollen were identical to those found in the sediments of the Sea of ​​Galilee. In Emanuela Marinelli, then a young graduate in Natural Sciences and Geology at the "Sapienza" of Rome, the discovery sparked a deep interest. Pollen from Palestine, as a signature on the relic that since 1933 was not exposed to the public. The Marinelli knocked Centre Roman Sindonology Monsignor Giulio Ricci, began to study. He learned that at the heel of the stranger wrapped in the cloth was no sign of a kind of aragonite, the same as that found in the caves of Jerusalem. And Emanuela Marinelli fell in love with the Shroud.Tough love: nearly forty years of study. And 17 books, hundreds of articles, thousands of conferences, from Indonesia to Kazakhstan to Burkina Faso: long journeys, sometimes dangerous, always with a copy of the Shroud folded into the suitcase, to go on to explain, the ends of the world. For this passionate outreach activities Professor receives 23 October in Bassano del Grappa the prestigious International Award for Culture Cattolica.La we meet in a cafe in Rome. Youthful, lively, the way he talks it is clear that falling in love for the Holy Shroud continues, since that distant day when, say, a copy before she found herself without words: "It seemed to me – he says – a Gospel written in blood." But it was 1988, the year of the famous test using carbon 14 on a piece of cloth: the Shroud, or so it was said, to the test of science. From the laboratories of Oxford, Tucson and Zurich came the verdict: the sheet went back to the Middle Ages. A trenchant outcome, which seemed to sweep away centuries of hopes to have, still, a material trace of the passage of Christ on earth. Almost everyone at that point, as he wrote Vittorio Messori, bowed, devout, in "St. C14." Not everyone, however. Emanuela Marinelli: "The angle of the sheet material to be analyzed turned out to have been manipulated, patched, polluted by fungi and bacteria. If the sample was contaminated, the date could refer to the tracks left by dust and manipulation. " They supported him then, moreover, distinguished scholars like Gove. The shadow that science seemed to have dissipated, actually remained.Although, says Marinelli, "he is felt a desire to deny the historicity of the Shroud, regardless of any element emerged from the research. An ideologically motivated denial: perhaps because, as Cardinal Biffi said, if the Shroud is false for a Christian does not change anything, but if the shroud is real, for atheists change many things … ".The ‘truth’ absolute sentenced by Carbon 14 was for Marinelli, who had a degree in Natural Sciences with a thesis on the radioactivity of uranium, a challenge to study again. That was when he published the first of his 17 books, exploring every search, every word spoken on the Shroud. Because much yet, according to her, it was not clear. "The fabric – he says – shows a selvedge and seam details, and is comparable to the tissues found years ago at Masada, and dating back to the first century after Christ. The analyzes show that there is blood in your wound; other analyzes show that a body lay in the towel for 36/40 hours. But there is no trace of the drag that should appear, if the body had been removed. " "He knows what scholars, although atheists and ‘deniers’, admit that the Shroud was wrapped a man? Doctors and artists: the first because they recognize that this is blood, the latter because they understand that this is not painting. The experiment more significant, however, was conducted in Italy, Enea. An excimer laser was focused on a tissue, and the effect is the closest thing we have to the image of the Shroud. The fabric is yellowed, as had been crossed by a fortissimaluce. " The faith does not affect his studies? We ask. Her calm: "No. Pollens, aragonite, the selvage of the fabric, are all facts. Today we can say that the test of carbon 14 is not enough to deny the authenticity of the Shroud. " You can, in your opinion, conduct new tests reliable? "I’m afraid not, because the fire which escaped the cloth closed in a box, in 1532 in Chambéry, it can still contaminated, and this will alter the results of the carbon." The Shroud, then, is it for you? "An image still unexplained, leaving us on the threshold of an enigma. How Arpino wrote: ‘In a world that is bulging of monuments, pyramids, coliseums, triumphal arches, equestrian statues, temples untouched or corroded by mold and neglect, on this planet only a linen cloth, with quell’Orma preserves its mystery ‘. But this, in his poverty, continues to call men. The Shroud is an icon of human suffering. People, when I go to talk, I listen to is everywhere: in the most distant regions of the world, in schools, in prisons. " But one evening an elderly woman, after the conference, got up from the floor. It was modest Southern Italy, with his hands spoiled from family work. "Professor – he said – I did not understand much of the carbon 14, however, one thing I realized. I understand that we must become like the Shroud, we stamparci into the image of that suffering face, to take him to those we meet. " And that time was the teacher, moved, to remain silent.

Categories: News & Views, Other Blogs

No Closer to the Truth Because of Simony

October 9, 2015 29 comments

Despite whatever encouragement we got from Bruno Barberis in St. Louis …

Comment Promoted

imageDaveb tells by way of a comment to Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin that us that he perceives a different aspect of the story. There may be a lot of truth to what he thinks.

… I suspect that the good people of Turin may still be locked into a medieval mind-set concerning their relic. It generates tourist dollars for their hotels, cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, tour guides, and even perhaps the occasional Fiat. But only so long as the mystery or enigma remains. Bring in the scientists, let them study the micrographs, and the truth may then be revealed, and it’s no longer the mystery that it was. The fear is that the cloth may be proved to be not what it appears to be. Goodbye to the tourist dollars. Goodbye to the worshippers.

But what if indeed it is the burial cloth of the Christ? We can get no closer to the answer, because of this simony. Millions are deprived of knowing the truth, all because of the lame excuse that the scientists are too disputative, too skeptical, too arrogant or too whatever. So likely as not, so long as the fear remains, we will never know the truth.

Despite whatever encouraging words we might have heard from Bruno Barberis in St. Louis on the future of shroud research, I’m not seeing any reason to be encouraged. Dave may have why.

A year ago, almost to the day, I wrote in "Just the facts, ma’am.":

Therefore, it was refreshing to hear Bruno Barberis, in his paper, The Future Of Research On The Shroud, call for re-examination of factual information. Here are a few of items that I quickly jotted down:

  • Iron concentrations at different places on the shroud, image and non-image areas, bloodstains, etc.
  • Presence of proteins at different places on the shroud
  • Oxidation and dehydration origins and characteristics
  • Aragonite traces
  • Pollen identification
  • Confirm that there is no image under the bloodstains
  • New and expanded analysis of the bloodstains

My notes are inadequate, but you get the idea. Oh, by-the-way, Barberis pointed out that the STURP results should be the starting point. In other words . . .

And Professor Barberis didn’t hold out much hope that this would happen soon. “I’m not the pope,” he said. And he doubted that he would be the next pope.

Your thoughts?

Categories: Comments Promoted Tags:

Interview with Paul Maloney

July 23, 2015 1 comment
Categories: Science Tags:

At the Heart of the Shroud Exposition is a Great Mystery

May 7, 2015 1 comment

Doubtless Pope Francis will have some arresting and unexpected things to say
when he arrives next month. . . .

imageThe Economist’s blog, Erasmus: Religion and Public Policy has published what I think may be so far the best exposition-time article on the shroud. The Shroud of Turin: Both visible and hidden is fair, perhaps more so than I unfairly expected when I began to read it:

And at the heart of all this activity is a great mystery. The last few popes have spoken of the shroud with awe and encouraged people to contemplate it, but the Vatican has in recent years avoided any pronouncement on whether the cloth really is the one that covered Jesus. In 1988, carbon-dating tests were carried out in laboratories in three countries, and concluded that the fabric had been constructed in the 13th or 14th century; it was a medieval fake. But believers in the shroud’s authenticity point to countervailing evidence: traces of pollen from plants found only in the east Mediterranean, for example. It has been argued that extraneous matter, or radioactivity, could have skewed the carbon-dating results.

To the naked eye, images of the front and back of a slim, dignified man are only dimly visible. But in certain ways, the picture on the Shroud has become more accessible over the past century or so, as it has been subjected to different forms of photographic analysis, and the three-dimensional qualities of the image have been studied. The image does correspond with the Biblical account of a man who was lashed all over his body with a particular kind of whip, commonly used in Roman times, and crowned with thorns which caused heavy bleeding. It also looks clear that the victim was hung up to die after nails were driven through his wrists, not his palms as most religious art would have it. If this was a forgery, it was an ingenious and anatomically intelligent one.

Do read it:  The Shroud of Turin: Both visible and hidden

Categories: Article, Press Coverage

Shroud and Sudarium Blood Agreement

May 3, 2015 6 comments

speaking of the meeting of the Centro Internazionale di Sindonologia

imageThis, just appearing on San Francesco, a news outlet of the Sacred Convent of Assisi:  Shroud and Sudarium of Oviedo: "Traces of blood superimposed".  What follows is a Google translation:

‘All information made by the study and research "on the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo" are in agreement with what, from the point of view of forensic medicine, one should expect that to happen on the canvas with these features if they covered the head of a corpse with all the injuries he suffered Jesus of Nazareth, just as it is told in the Gospels. " This was stated today the Spanish forensic doctor Alfonso Sánchez Hermosilla at the conference of the International Centre Sindonologia which was held today in Turin, dedicated to updates on the "major issues" concerning the Shroud.

It is not a public meeting, but reserved to the members of the Center and this year extended to groups and organizations around the world collaborate with the Turin Centre. Are in fact arrived from France, England, Spain, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia more than 300 scholars and experts. "This time," said Gian Maria Zaccone, scientific director of the Museum of the Shroud, "the focus of debate and action, is not the subject of the authenticity of the Shroud.The purpose of the meeting is to review progress on some issues of Shroud research needing further study, such as the role of research palynological and significance of historical research and information on the Shroud. "

Among the experts took the floor also Sánchez Hermosilla, director of EDICES (Group of Investigation of the Spanish Center of Sindonologia), the forensic doctor who continued the studies undertaken in the sixties by Monsignor Giulio Ricci on the Sudarium of Oviedo. "The similarity in morphology and size of the spots of the same with the Shroud of Turin," made him think of Ricci "who had actually found the relic mentioned by St. John" in his Gospel, when he mentions the shroud in the tomb. "From the point of view of forensic anthropology and forensic medicine – continued Sanchez – all information highlighted scientific investigation, are compatible with the hypothesis that the Shroud of Turin and the shroud covered the corpse of the same person ‘ .

The Shroud of Oviedo is a relic preserved in the cathedral of "El Salvador" in Oviedo, Spain, in the House Santa used as a chapel of the palace during the reign of King Alfonso II, an annex to the palace and built with the intention to house the Shroud along with other relics from the king himself. "This painting is located in this region of northern Spain from the year 812 or 842 ‘and’ is packaged in linen; It has a size of about 84 + 54 cm ‘. The textile structure of the Shroud and the Shroud "have the same composition, concretely linen, the same thickness of the fibers are spun by hand and with a twist in the" Z ", although they were woven in different ways: serge spike for the Shroud and why orthogonal (taffeta) for the Shroud. "

In the Shroud it does not appear anything like the mysterious image in the Shroud and prodottasi after the body wrapped in a sheet of blood had stained and fluids. There are in fact only traces of blood and other body fluids "from a human corpse," as he had already said in 1985 Professor Pierluigi Baima Bollone, confirming also that the blood group was AB, as was subsequently confirmed by Dr. José Delfín Villalaín Blanco.

"The morphological study of the spots on the two paintings – said Sánchez – show a clear similarity between them, the cause is due to the fact that the corpse that originated was treated with much care either way." Of course, the Spanish scholar admits, "we must take into account that this morphological similarity between the bloodstains could not be relevant: different heads can give very similar stains, as well as a same head can give very different spots. Nevertheless – he insists – both teams will match very well, if you compare both relics, both for its location and for the surface dimension, to which must be added the correlation distance between injuries that originated stains. "

Hermosilla Sánchez pointed out that the Shroud of Oviedo "hid the face of the corpse," before it was wrapped in the Shroud of Turin. "From the point of view of forensic medicine, it appears a large number of agreements between the injuries that you see in the image Shroud, and those that can be observed in the study of the Shroud of Oviedo criminalistic. Moreover, all these injuries, agree with the findings that, in his day, he realized the STURP through the use of VP8. "

Among the evidence that the Spanish doctor considers most important, we note the bloodstains attributed to the thorns of the crown that "appear in both the relics with a great similarity in the distance separating each other." The area "occupied by the nostril in both paintings is very similar, in the Shroud of Oviedo occupies an area of ​​2,280 m², and the Shroud of 2,000 m². So even in the middle of the right region of the nose is an inflamed area with an area of ​​100 mm² and 90 mm² in the Shroud in the Shroud. "

In addition, one of the spots of the Shroud of Oviedo "seems consistent with some of the wounds caused by flagrum Taxilatum" – the scourge used to hit the man Shroud – "on the right side of the neck, and turns out to be compatible with some of the footprints of the Shroud turin attributed to the same reason. In the occipital region appear bloodstains vital, that spilled when the convict was still alive, are very similar in both paintings and seem to relate to the injuries of the scalp, also it appears to be consistent with those that would produce a crown of thorns ».

"At the height of the 7th cervical vertebra, or vertebra prominens, the Shroud of Oviedo – continues the scholar – a spot appears that takes the shape of a butterfly, and that it could rise as a result of precise stitching canvas Oviedo hair the corpse anointed blood still fresh. This way of sewing the cloth to the hair it produced the form which can be seen in the image Shroud and that some authors believed they identify with a kind of tail or even a braid, providing further proof of the influence that had the use Front Shroud compared to the Shroud. On either side of this spot will appear caused by other fluids cadaverous, and which are similar in the Shroud and the Shroud. "

Sanchez also said that on the Shroud of Oviedo located just a spot appears in the lower left corner of the back of the canvas, "which may have been produced as a result of the outlet of the wound caused by the spear, this spot has its equivalence in the Shroud Turin and could have passed unnoticed until then to its morphological similarity with the spots assigned to scourging. In addition to this spot, appearing indirect signs of the spear, as well as the abundant fibrin clot that appear in the so-called spot and stain spread like an accordion. "

The three-dimensional reconstructions of the face of the man on the Shroud are compatible with the spots in the Shroud. "After knowing the proportions craniometric present in both relics, and once made their comparison, it appears that they are in agreement, what allowed the sculptor D. Juan Manuel Lopez Miñarro to make a reconstruction of the face of the Man of the Shroud . This reconstruction is fully compatible with the face of the Man of the Shroud, not only for his anthropometric proportions, but also in traumatic injuries that have both. "

"In fact, there was also the compatibility of the face once carved, since it is colored in the anatomical regions that are stained with blood in the Shroud of Oviedo, above them was placed a painting very carefully in order to find out, and then check the result; footprints resulting appeared very similar to the canvas of Oviedo. "

Finally, encrusted in a clot of blood from the Shroud of Oviedo, "it turned out a grain of pollen that was morphologically identified by biologist dell’EDICES Marzia Boi as belonging to the botanical genus Helicrisum, and is compatible with other pollens found to be similar Other investigators on the Shroud of Turin. This finding, as well as showing a further analogy between the two relics, could support the hypothesis of Marzia Boi that the pollen could be arrived at tele proceeding ointments which was wrapped the corpse. " ( Vatican Insider )

Click on image to see larger version. This has been sourced from a July 2012 posting on Stephen Jones’ blog.

The Real Meaning Is Not Authenticity

April 23, 2015 111 comments

imageCarol Glatz has an interesting piece in the Catholic Herald, ‘Obsession’ with authenticity hides Turin Shroud’s real meaning, says expert. That expert is Gian Maria Zaccone, scientific director of the Museum of the Shroud of Turin. He said it at a preview of the shroud exposition for journalists. Take a couple of minutes to read the entire article:

“It is up to one’s own personal judgment, that is, neither I nor anyone else can tell you that the Shroud is authentic or not; each person examines and works out what research has offered” and then makes up his or her own mind.

Church doctrine has long held that any reverence or honour given to a religious object or relic must be given to what it represents and not to the object itself, he said.

As I am getting ready to post the above, in comes an email from Joe Marino with a Google translation of a Vatican Insider article that features answers to questions by Zaccone and Andrea Nicolotti. Nicolotti is a frequent participant in this blog who has commented nearly two-hundred times. In the Vatican Insider article Nicolotti tells us (Googlized):

"The Church in the official discourse uses some caution, however, in practice (books, television, catechesis, conferences) promotes propaganda authenticity and discourages the contrary. This creates a lot of ambiguity. "

What Nicolotti is saying is the same thing I am beginning to hear more often. Stephen Jones used the term duplicitous, which is a bit harsh.  See yesterday’s posting, Ye shall know them by their photographs.

And so the question was posed: What should the Church do with the Shroud?

Nicolotti: "No, this is not a question for a historian. It is not my job to say what the Church should do. As far as I’m concerned I feel so overwhelming evidence medieval origin, which I can not understand how anyone can argue otherwise if not placing myself from a point of view devotional or emotional, not rational. "

Zaccone: "I agree that we need a historical, but we must give priority to the study of the object to get the answers we seek regarding the origin of the Shroud. Consider the historical research is very important in many ways, but not fundamental to the question of authenticity. The Church, as I said before, does what it has always historically done and continues to do: teaching propose that image to go to the heart of what it represents, according to the teaching that, through the representation, honor and worship you make it to the principal. "

N: "From the historical point of view it is necessary to perform a cleaning of all the false rumors and legends about the Shroud touted as true. A serious scientific study would be equally desirable. Let’s start with some certain items. The first historical are medieval. At the time, even those who possessed it affirmed the authenticity of the Shroud: called "figure or representation."The fabric – according to my conclusions, which had already reached some historians of weaving, unheeded – is technologically medieval. Twelve radiocarbon datings, performed in 1988 in three different laboratories, have called medieval. Then there are strong indications, such as the fact that no one in history for thirteen centuries, from the tomb of Jesus to the Middle Ages, has never spoken of this shroud; and when the bishop of Troyes and the pope have spoken for the first time, they did say that it was a fraud. So I conclude that it is extremely unlikely that this object dates from the time of Jesus. In addition, the image on the Shroud could not have produced by contact with a dead body without the intervention of a craftsman, and stains of "blood" are not realistic. Efforts are made to doubt this evidence, but I think no effectiveness. If we want to give priority to the devotional aspect, then there was no talk of authenticity. But the question always resurfaces, I can not dodge the issue. That the problem is not secondary demonstrated by the fact that the Shroud is constantly engaged in an effort to delegitimize the results of studies to the detriment of the authenticity, concocting complicated alternative explanations or by resorting to the subject of the miracle. It rejects arguments against and always has a tendency to cite research favorable authenticity (pollens, written, coins) without ever giving into account when they are rejected by the scientific community. Meanwhile access to the Shroud is foreclosed to scholars for decades: it is even forbidden to work on the high-resolution photographs, a situation quite simply unacceptable. "

Z: "I do not think can be considered closed the question of the origin of the Shroud. I’m not saying that is certainly true, I just say that you can not wipe out so simply a series of elements at least doubts, such as the formation of the image, which even today, despite the numerous theoretical and experimental studies carried out, remains without explanation because no one has yet managed to produce an equal. Also because the problems of interpretation of radiocarbon dating were already present in the literature relative to other datings addition to that of the Shroud. Also I think I have repeatedly made clear how the documents, particularly those medieval, can be interpreted in a more complex and not necessarily for the worse. And I would also like you cease to believe that any researcher – even if the value of goal – that enters the order of ideas that the Shroud may be authentic, thereby become unreliable when no object of derision. There must be a science of the Shroud, but scientists who study according to their specializations. I do not find correct that a nuclear physicist deals with history and vice versa. "

More Testing? Maybe.

April 13, 2015 15 comments

If Papa Francesco will want to’ take this path, we will do it as long as the research
is conducted with honest ‘intellectual, without preconceptions and ideological
assumptions a priori.

— Archbishop of Turin, Monsignor Cesare Nosiglia

imageThe following is a Google translation of an article, The Shroud: the linen cloth that wrapped Jesus, between mystery and science, appearing in

The Lead:

The Catholic Church does not comment officially on the question of authenticity, leaving science to examine the evidence for and against, but authorizes the cult as a relic or icon of the Passion of Jesus

The article:

Tradition identifies it as the sheet used to wrap the body of Jesus’ in the tomb, but the history of the Shroud – that from 19 April to 24 June will be ‘on display in Turin Cathedral – and’ marked by many mysteries, as well as continuous disputes on Authenticity ‘of the relic. The Shroud and ‘a linen sheet, rectangular in shape and dimensions of about 442 × 113 cm, on which and’ visible double image ‘negative’ of the body of a man subjected to a series of tortures and finally crucified. At the top and bottom of the image and ‘marked by the traces of the fire that development’ in 1532 in the chapel of the castle of Chambery, where it was kept the sheet folded in a box of silver. The exposition in 2015 and ‘the second after the restoration of 2002, in which you removed the patches that had been affixed by the Poor Clares of Chambery.

All historians believe documented the history of the relic from the middle ‘of the fourteenth century, the date of his appearance. On his previous history and its antiquities ‘there’ agreement: radiometric dating with the technique of Carbon 14, performed in 1988 and considered inadequate by the same creator, American chemist Willard Libby, has dated the construction of the sheet between 1260 and 1390, but supporters of authenticity ‘of the relic argue that the samples used could also come from parts mended after the fire of 1532. Some scholars believe that the Shroud is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus’. According to these the Shroud of Turin dates back to the first-century Palestine. Then enjoys much credit to the hypothesis that it is to be identified with the ‘mandylion’ or ‘Image of Edessa’, an image of Jesus’ very venerated by Eastern Christians, who died in 1204 (this would explain the absence of documents which refer to the Shroud in that period). Countless scientific tests and forensic where the find and ‘was submitted. Shroud studies of 1981, made from Italian alien autopsy and by Americans Heller and Adler, found on samples of wire traces of human blood group AB; For its part the Swiss biologist Frei Sulzer identified on the cloth pollens of over 50 plants, present not only in Europe but also in the Palestinian areas and the Anatolian. Israeli researchers have also found traces of particular plants belonging to the area of ​​Jerusalem.

The Catholic Church does not comment officially on the issue of authenticity ‘, leaving science to examine the evidence for and against, but authorizes the cult as a relic or icon of the Passion of Jesus’. "I am convinced that on the Shroud should still encourage the pursuit of science," he says about the archbishop of Turin, Monsignor Cesare Nosiglia. The papal custodian of the sacred cloth opens the possibility ‘of new studies: "If Papa Francesco will want to’ take this path, we will do it – he says – as long as the research is conducted with honest ‘intellectual, without preconceptions and ideological assumptions a priori." Several popes, from Pius XI to John Paul II, expressed their personal conviction in favor of authenticity ‘. And ‘there’ waiting for what they will say ‘Francis Pope during his visit to Turin, scheduled on 21 and 22 June.

Photograph from Il Custode della Sindone

Categories: Science Tags:

Daily Beast Review of CNN’s Shroud of Turin Episode

March 2, 2015 8 comments

imagePoet and scholar Jay Parini, author of Jesus: The Human Face of God, writing in The Daily Beast, reviews the CNN series and particularly last night’s episode on the Shroud of Turin:

The television version is typical, well, television. The music is overly dramatic. There are trite dramatized scenes of Jesus being arrested and tried, nailed to the cross, his body being wrapped in a shroud, and so forth. These scenes are not, in fact, so much dramatic as illustrative: we get visual representations of what people are talking about. The better moments are those where we get the actual history of the Shroud: its sudden appearance in the middle of the 14th century, its even more stunning acquisition of huge importance to the faithful when, in 1898, an amateur photographer took a picture of the Shroud and a positive image of a man appeared. Was this the actual face of Jesus?

Decades of scientific investigation of the Shroud ensued, with the conclusion by art historian Nicholas Allen in 1988 that the Shroud is a fake but an interesting one that pushes the history of photography back five hundred years. A further series of radiocarbon tests on the Shroud in 1988 suggested that it dated to the 13th or 14th century, although even this has come into question, as scientists go deeper, looking at pollen samples and so forth.

The mystery was really never solved. It was complicated by the Sudarium. A sudarium is simply a piece of cloth (like a handkerchief) put over the face of a recently deceased person, and one of these corresponding to the Shroud itself was found to have ancient origins dating to about 700 CE by radiocarbon testing. But there are many complications, and—to fully understand them—one really needs the companion book. The television version glosses over the details, as it must; yet the details are riveting. By way of conclusion, Fr. Martin says, “When we look at the authenticity of the Shroud, my gut tells me that it’s real.”

Real or fake, to me, seem the wrong categories. Useful or not as aids to faith and spiritual reflection might be better categories.

The Sudarium of Oviedo as Evidence?

February 12, 2015 43 comments

and then there’s the shroud

imageIt is a well written posting,  The Forensics of the Sudarium of Oviedo – The Shroud of Turin. He, whoever he is, who calls his blog “He Rose for Grace,” nicely summarizes the documented history of the Sudarium. He explains the bloodstains and plant pollen found on the this 84 by 53 centimeter (33 by 21 inch) piece of cloth. Fine. But, then, really?

Though the stains were smeared, modern technology has been able to decipher facial features from when the cloth covered the face.  They show typical Jewish features including a prominent nose and cheekbones.

No. It is people who decipher facial features. They may use modern methods and tools. But, in the end, it is totally subjective. Can anyone really say the stains show typical Jewish features? I’m open to being convinced. So far, I’m not. And then, if I am convinced, so what?

And then there is this:

And Then There’s the Shroud:

Probably the most sentimental characteristics of the cloth is in its coincidental details that match the Shroud of Turin.  First off, the blood on both cloths belongs to the same group, AB.  The length of the nose from where the the pleural oedema fluid came onto the sudarium, measures 8 cm.  This is the exact same length as the nose on the Shroud.  There is an exact fit of the stains with the beard on the face. There is a small stain on the right hand side of the mouth.  This stain is barely visible on the Shroud, but Dr. John Jackson, used the VP-8 and photo enhancements to confirm that it is there.  Thorn wounds on the nape of the neck also coincide with the bloodstains on the Shroud. Dr. Alan Whanger used a Polarized Image Overlay Technique to study the sudarium, comparing it to the bloodstains on the Shroud.  The frontal stains on the sudarium have seventy points of coincidence with the Shroud, while the back side has fifty.  There is no doubt that the Oviedo sudarium covered the same face.

It would seem that in light of these recent scientific findings, the dating for the Shroud need no further investigation, the authenticity is confirmed with the holy relic of the Sudarium of Oviedo.

Scientific findings?

Just what is a point of congruence in this case?  Can I see some examples?  I know about the points of congruence with the claims for coin images. I’ve seen some of those and actually used a Polarized Image Overlay Technique. Some points looked impressive but I wondered if they meant anything. Other points seemed nebulous. Maybe it was me.

I was never really convinced that a point of congruence analysis was valid. Where is this method documented? I’ve read about using POC for fingerprint analysis and I understand it enough to know that this is very different.  POC for fingerprint matching uses well known, well understood, carefully defined patterns. Matching coins and matching bloodstains is something different altogether.

Moreover, I am convinced by other evidence that those coin images that supposedly match coins, do not exist on the shroud. That makes those points of congruence seem meaningless. So why are the bloodstains POC any different? 

Having said all that, I think it might really be that the Sudarium and the Shroud are linked by bloodstains. But can we say so scientifically?  I think that if we are going to convince people, we need to show them in a convincing way.

Photo  by Jorge Manuel Rodríguez as found at The Forensics of the Sudarium of Oviedo – The Shroud of Turin

Shroud: The Reasons for the ‘No’

February 11, 2015 99 comments

imageMaria Chiara Strappaveccia, Culture Columnist, has an interesting article in L’Lindro entitled Sindone: le ragioni del ‘no’: Le obiezioni all’autenticità del Telo sintetizzate da Andrea Nicolotti, Luigi Garlaschelli, Antonio Lombatti

(or as Google Translation puts it, Shroud: the reasons for the ‘no’: The objections to the authenticity of the Cloth synthesized by Andrea Nicolotti, Luigi Garlaschelli, Antonio Lombatti)

Here is a rough Google translation of the article:

What are the reasons why many in the debate on the Shroud of Turin, lined up for the authenticity of the Shroud? 

  • There is not reason to believe that the Shroud is medieval?
  • [Is it] true that it is irreproducible?

During the creation of this special dedicated to the Holy Shroud, in view of ‘ exposition of April , we spoke with many scholars of the Cloth, between the so-called ‘non autenticisti’ we discussed, among others, with historians Andrea Nicolotti , scholar of the history of Christianity and researcher at the University of Turin, and Antonio Lombatti , Popular University of Parma, and the chemical Luigi Garlaschelli , Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Pavia. From conversations with Garlaschelli and Nicolotti (that for our Special realized some services that will be published in the coming weeks), we extracted a summary of the ‘reasons for not’ the authenticity of the Shroud.  

Archaeology and History

The linen threads of the Shroud have a twisting opposite to that in use in Israel at the time of Jesus; this twisting, however, is the same that was used in Europe in the Middle Ages. Then the shroud is not a fabric produced in Palestine at the time of Jesus .

The flax is woven with the technique twill from 3 Alloy 1, that is, each warp yarn passes over three weft yarns and under the fourth, and so on , alternately, so as to form a diagonal pattern. This trend is mirrored and gives rise to an effect to ‘zig zag’ said ‘herringbone’. It is not known in ancient times , before the Middle Ages, no linen fabric large and complex as the shroud that has been woven with this technique , with which the frames would have been at the disposal of the old extreme complexity to the point of making it almost impossible. No ‘ shroud ‘ and no linen fabric ancient comparable to the shroud is made ​​in this way . The oldest examples found so far, which are technically comparable to the Shroud are all back to the thirteenth century.

The Shroud of Turin is completely different from the various fragments of authentic Palestinian shrouds of the first century known to archaeologists, found in tombs at Masada, ‘En Gedi, Jericho, Akeldama.

It seems that the real shrouds were wrapped around the body and tied , and not placed above and below , and stir well stretched in the longitudinal direction, as seems to be the case for that of Turin. The Shroud is not even consistent with the description of the Gospel , which speaks of various linens and a shroud on the head, smaller and distinguished from other fabrics. Also the Gospels do not say that Jesus was put in a sheet , but that was wrapped and tied in cloth, which is incompatible with what you see in the Shroud of Turin , where there are no signs of ligatures and windings .

The Gospels do not mention no human footprint that would remain etched in the burial cloth of Jesus.

The Shroud of Turin is not known from the first century , in fact, for several centuries, no one ever said that the burial cloth of Jesus had been saved and preserved . It is likely that the Jews of Jesus’ followers have not even touched, because for the Jews of that time as to those of today that has touched a corpse is impure and transmits impurities.

The Shroud of Turin does not resemble any of the shrouds that, from the sixth century AD, began to be described by many pilgrims who visited the holy places and knew the various relics, today recognized almost all false, that they began to be produced at ‘era. It is highly unlikely that a genuine relic with an image of Christ as the Shroud was never mentioned by anyone until the Middle Ages .

The Shroud of Turin is by no means a relic of ancient and unique, because before it appeared there were other ‘shrouds’ elsewhere and most well-known and revered (Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Compiègne, Aachen, Cadouin, Mainz, etc.) , all considered authentic until the modern era.

The Shroud of Turin suddenly appeared in France , in Lirey , in the diocese of Troyes, towards 1355. Immediately Henri de Poitiers , the bishop of the local diocese of Troyes, which was opposed all’ostensione made, considering it an obvious fake. The exhibitions resumed after about thirty years, and yet the new bishop, Pierre d’Arcis , opposed. After a long standoff between him and the dean of the church where the exhibitions took place in 1389, the bishop appealed to Pope Clement VII with a long memorial, in which he tells how his predecessor had even found the artist that ‘ had ‘cleverly painted’.

The Pope allowed the exhibitions only as long as you say every time that it was a representation, and not the true Shroud of Christ. At the time of these fights anyone, neither the Pope , nor the bishops , nor the canons of Lirey neither the owners of the Shroud never claimed that it was true , indeed, everyone called ‘figure’ or ‘representation’ of the true shroud of Jesus .

The luck of the Shroud began only when it was illegally sold to the Duke of Savoy from a woman who died excommunicated for his action. Because of the power of the ducal family, slowly were forgotten and hidden the little noble origins and initial controversy, through a work of falsification of the history of the Shroud that lasted until the early twentieth century. Once in their hands , the Savoys increasingly promoted the cult , as a relic of the royal family, to obtain the endorsement of some popes declared , from Julius II .

Among the thousands of medieval relics (thorns of the crown, wood and nails of the cross, sandals and robes of Jesus, fragments of his umbilical cord of his foreskin, his hair and more), the shrouds, certainly not lacking. Generally were white sheets, as the Gospels do not mention any impression on them. But there were also small towels called ‘Veronica’ or ‘Mandili’, which, according to various legends, Jesus would have left imprinted on his face alive. Perhaps the union of the two concepts of miraculous imprint and shroud, especially from Veronica, who was born the idea of a shroud bearing the imprint of the entire body. 

The image and the wounds

Considering the Shroud image is known the total lack of geometric deformations that would be expected from an imprint left -with any means- by a human body covered by a towel . Several researchers have tried to cover a voluntary colorful painting , and appoggiargli over a sheet . Obviously the result is a horribly deformed, and no halftones and nuances of the real Shroud, but rather a ‘stamp effect’. The image of the Shroud, which seems so perfect, it is absolutely unrealistic: too good to be true .

Abused and inconsistent is the reference to the alleged special ‘ negativity ‘ of the Shroud image , ‘discovered’ in 1898 when the Shroud was photographed for the first time. The discussion on this point also coincides with the birth of the Shroud. In fact the shape of the body presents a reversal of light and shade than the reality ; parts of the body more in relief, those that should be more exposed to light (such as the nose), on the fabric are darker, while those less in relief, and then further away from the fabric and less illuminated by the light (as the orbits eyes) are less dark. This has nothing strange nor means that the author was so clever to know the effect of modern photographic negatives, as often claimed: it is simply the result of a normal decals , just what an architect would have wanted to make to give the ‘impression of a contact between a tissue and a body capable of leaving an image (bloody because, for example).

Many sindonologists ‘autenticisti’ (the terms are in fact become almost synonymous) were and are coroners. In their view, the precision pathologic of wounds and injuries on the Shroud are completely realistic and compatible only with a real corpse. In fact any investigation of a medical nature on a figure stamped and in the absence of the true body is extremely speculative and based on unprovable assumptions . It is evident, however, that are not at all the pretty plausible dripping blood on the hair (which if anything should essersene matted and soaked), nor the existence of an imprint hair themselves , that a person would fall backwards without lying trace on the front side. It has also been experimentally verified that the direction of true dripping blood on the forearms, on the backs of the hands and side follow trends quite different from those depicted on the Holy Cloth. But are the laboratory analyzes those mentioned by now discussed more frequently; for instance as to the presence or absence of blood. Obviously, on a false shroud could find blood, dyes, or both; but a shroud true-even if it had been doctored with colorimetric must necessarily possess traces of blood. A first commission of inquiry set up by Cardinal Michele Pellegrino gave in 1969-1973, however, disappointing results. The forensic analysis laboratory of Professor Giorgio Frache Modena (test chemical, chromatographic and immunological) had only negative results . Microscopic examinations conducted by Guido Filogamo and Alberto Zina showed no traces of red blood cells or other blood corpuscles typical. We saw, however, the granules of a coloring material whose nature there is pronounced. It should also be noted that the ‘ blood ‘ on the shroud is still very red , while it is well known that normally the degradation of hemoglobin makes it very dark in a short time .

In 1978 the then Archbishop of Turin Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero (assisted by Professor Luigi Gonella Turin Polytechnic as a scientific consultant) allowed 120 hours of analysis in a group self-offertosi of American scientists, the STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project ), which underwent a series of test chemical, physical and spectroscopic on which even today is discussed.

In contrast with previous results, the chemical STURP John Heller and David Alan Adler said to have established the presence of blood because they had got the typical reactions. In 1980, however, the well-known American microscopist Walter McCrone on fibers that STURP had passed he found no blood, but traces of red ocher, vermilion (red pigment widely used in the Middle Ages) and Alizarin (plant pigment red-pink). McCrone reported, moreover, the presence of a binder for the pigment particles that saw, which could be collagen (gelatin), or egg white. In practice it would tempera paints. The intrinsic characteristics of the image, proven by scientists STURP, are very interesting. L ‘ image is superficial (does not pass on the other side of the sheet) and is not produced by pigments or dyes    -a difference of blood stains, knead that the entire thickness of the canvas with a substance that bonds the fibers, and they are visible red particles. The image is due to a yellowing of the cellulose fibers , in practice to a degradation due to dehydration and oxidation. Analyses STURP indicated that body image has properties very similar to those of the burns , still clearly visible, that the Shroud suffered in the fire in 1532. Both the hypothesis of a slight burn (or singeing) than that of a chemical attack were deemed plausible , although the STURP failed to explain the genesis of an image with these characteristics, which lead many to exclude the work of an artist.

Sindonologists insist that an image with these characteristics can not be achieved with the means available to a medieval craftsman. They therefore concentrate all their efforts to find supernatural mechanisms that explain the genesis. The assumption, however, is not acceptable. Various hypotheses have been put forward on how the Shroud was manufactured (eg using chemical or heat) that certainly would be more easily found on the original, if access is not prevented by its owners.

The radiocarbon

The STURP , among others, recommended the radiocarbon dating of the relic by the method of carbon-14 to settle the question of authenticity. Only ten years later, in 1988, Cardinal Ballestrero and Gonella, under the supervision of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, chose the three laboratories with more experience in this technique worldwide: Tucson, Oxford and Zurich. Coordinator was Professor Michael Tite of the British Museum, considered a prestigious institution above the parties. Small samples were taken from a corner of the cloth, and the overall results , published October 13, 1988, circumscribed the age of the cloth to the period between 1260 and 1390 .

This means that the radiocarbon dating has fully confirmed the historical data (the Shroud appears suddenly in the middle ages, not before) and technological (the kind of fabric is not attested before the Middle Ages).

Cardinal Ballestrero proved to accept and adapt to the results of the test honestly: " I think it is not appropriate to question the results. Nor is the case of reviewing the skins scientists if their response does not square with the reasons of the heart . " Who did not give the response of independent scientists were the advocates of authenticity to the bitter end, which imbastirono various lines of objections. Some delusional (conspiracy of laboratories with complicity Ballestrero), other laughable (collected fragments of a mending -obviously ever seen by any of the various textile experts who examined the Shroud wire instead of the pro-Shroud). The hypothesis most often repeated is that the levy was polluted by dirt consists of carbon more ‘modern’ that would have rejuvenated the cloth, but this is a topic that does not convince anyone of those who deal with radiodatazioni.

In 1993 a Russian chemist immediately became famous, Dimitri Kouznetsov , stated that during the fire suffered by the Shroud in Chambéry in 1532 the carbon dioxide of the air would be fixed to the cellulose of the linen, making carbon ‘recent’. A careful reading of the works of Kouznetsov showed, however, errors and forcing. Attempts to scientifically reproduce his experiments failed one after the other. But only after careful investigation it was discovered that it was a real quack, who had also invented names of collaborators, magazines, museums and laboratories.

It should be noted that none of the three laboratories of radiocarbon dating has never confirmed the objections of the Shroud. It should also be pointed out that radiocarbon dating is a tried and tested tool for archaeological dating, which each time has been applied to an alleged relic of Jesus provided a medieval dating (Shroud of Oviedo, title of the cross, the shroud of Carcassonne, tunic of Argenteuil, etc.) always rejected by the supporters of these relics.

Other statements ‘wonderful’ of ‘autenticisti’ -fungi grown on the fabric, traces of Roman coins from the time of Pilate, written in various languages ​​[in] visible on the cloth, pollen ancient Middle East, prior to the fourteenth century miniatures depicting the Shroud – are, similarly, not very plausible.

You might try a Bing translation. I could not get it to work.  Google did what seems to be a good job but with some loss of formatting.  I’ve tried to fix that in places.

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