Texas Knight Logo Texas Knight Menu

A Primer on The Shroud of Turin

By James Termini

Vol. 4, 2016-2017


A Primer on The Shroud of Turin

by James Termini

What is the Shroud?

In Biblical times a shroud was a linen cloth that was used for wrapping a dead body to prepare it for burial.In 1578 a particular burial cloth that had received special attention for centuries was brought to Turin in northwestern Italy and subsequently became known as the Shroud of Turin.A remarkable characteristic about this burial shroud is that it displays a front and back (dorsal) image of a man who was scourged and crucified exactly as the New Testament says that Jesus of Nazareth was scourged and crucified.

The Shroud of Turin measures 14 feet 6 inches long by 3 feet 9 inches wide and is woven in a 3-over-1 herringbone pattern.These dimensions correlate with ancient measurements of 2 cubits x 8 cubits and are consistent with the loom technology at the time of Christ. The heavier and more durable weave of 3-over-1 was an expensive weave, and that is consistent with the New Testament statement that the “sindon” (or shroud) was purchased by Joseph of Arimathea, who was a wealthy man.

Brief History

The Shroud was carried from the tomb of Jesus by St. Peter and later was taken to Edessa, Turkey by the Apostle John.It was either lost or carefully concealed because there is no known record of it until 944 when a Byzantine emperor, manifestly aware of its existence and whereabouts, sent an army to bring it to Constantinople.

In 1204 the European knights of the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople.The knights took the Shroud back to France where Margaret De Charne transferred it to the Savoy family.

In 1532, there was a fire in the cathedral in Chambery, France, where the Shroud was being kept. Part of the metal storage case melted and fell onto the cloth, leaving some notable scorched areas.Efforts to extinguish the fire left water stains as well, yet the image of the man was hardly affected.

In 1534, nuns sewed patches over the fire-damaged areas and attached a full-size support cloth to the back of the Shroud. This became known as the "Holland" backing cloth.

In 1578 the House of Savoy established its capital in Turin and took the Shroud there, where it has remained to this day.

Optical Characteristics

Original (negative image)Photograph (positive image)

For much of its history, the image on the Shroud appeared faded. Then, on the 28th of May, 1898, the first photo of the Shroud was taken by Italian photographer, Secondo Pia.In his darkroom, lit only by a dim red light, he processed the photo. The subject had been faint and blurred, with no contrast, so Secondo was not optimistic. Experience told him to expect little more than a faint blurred negative. To his astonishment there slowly appeared in his developing tray the clear positive image of a deceased person.

Understanding this and the amazing optical characteristics of the Shroud is not a simple matter. The Shroud behaves in many ways like a photo negative. On a photo of the Shroud the pinkish stains and scorch marks become very dark and difficult to interpret, yet the human image, the original pale yellowish discoloring, is outlined dramatically as it gains an impressive prominence.

Shroud’s Three-Dimensional Image

Although the left image above is in 2-D it presents a reasonable 3-D facsimile.One can observe a 3-D holographic rotation of the image on the right by clicking the start arrow at the following site: http://shroud3d.com

Designed in the 1960's for studying the moon’s surface, for evaluating x-rays, and for other imaging purposes, theVP-8 Image Analyzeris an analog device that converts image density (lights and darks) into vertical relief (shadows and highlights). When applied to normal photographs, the result was a distorted and inaccurate image. However, when it was applied to the Shroud, the result was an accurate, topographic image showing the correct, natural relief characteristics of a human form. At that point it was discovered that the Shroud has encoded in it 3 dimensional information.

“People are not going to forget the face of Jesus this Easter,” says Ray Downing, creator of the 3D computer technology that produced the “real face of Jesus” from the image of the crucified man in the Shroud of Turin.

“Jesus was more than just a spiritual event,” Downing said. “Studying the Shroud to produce the 3D face of Jesus, we encountered scientific evidence that the resurrection was a real physical event that happened in a moment of time 2,000 years ago.”

He said the Shroud is encoded with a message undecipherable until the most recent advances of modern particle physics. Despite all the scientific investigations no one knows how the topographic image got there, and no one has been able to duplicate it today.It is unique.

Kevin Moran, an Optical Engineer, says: “The Shroud image is made from tiny fibers that are 1/10 the size of a human hair.The picture elements are actually randomly distributed like the dots in your newspaper photograph or magazine photograph.To do this you would need an incredibly accurate atomic laser.This technology does not exist.”

Sudarium and Shroud Blood Types

The Sudarium (Latin for sweat-cloth) is a piece of linen cloth, 34 by 21 inches, that was used to cover the head of Jesus immediately after the crucifixion (John 20:7). It resides in the Cathedral of Oviedo, in Spain. Unlike the Shroud, the Sudarium does not display an image, but it contains male blood of type AB, which matches the blood on the Shroud. Moreover, the patterns of blood flow on the Sudarium are consistent with those of a crucified man.

Some have questioned whether blood type AB existed at the time of Christ.Such questions have been settled by the discovery of this blood type in skeletal remains that are approximately 1,600-2,000 years old (Am. J. Phys. Anthrop. 47: 89-91, 1977), and in tissues of mummies from 3 B.C. to the 4th century (Forensic Science International, 43: 113-124, 1989). These studies were done using serological methods (antibodies), which recognize the ABO molecules on the surfaces of blood cells.

Significantly, scientific tests on a wide variety of Eucharistic miracles have consistently shown human flesh with blood type AB.

Read more at:




Efforts to Discredit the Shroud

In spite of the overwhelming evidence of its authenticity there have been claims by skeptics to try to discredit the Shroud:Let us examine the claims:

a) It is a forgery.Fact: a forger would not have known to:

  • Add pollen to the Shroud that is unique to the Jerusalem area.
  • Add pollen around the head that is from a plant with long thorns.
  • Put a microscopic amount of dirt in abrasions on the nose and one knee.
  • Put the blood stains on the cloth before the image was made.
  • Put bilirubin into the blood.
  • Locate the nails in the wrists and fold the thumbs under, contrary to paintings from the Middle Ages.
  • Put microscopic chips of limestone from Jerusalem into dirt near the feet.
  • Use a stitch unique to the first century to sew the three-inch wide side strip to the main shroud.
  • Create a negative image with 3D information content in the image.
  • Place invisible serum rings seen only with ultraviolet light around the blood exudates of the scourge marks.
  • Create an image based on a change in the covalent bonding of the carbon atoms in the cellulose molecules.

b) It is a painting.Fact: the image has no pigment, no carrier, no brush strokes, no clumping of material between the fibers or threads, and no cracking due to centuries of folding or rolling the Shroud. This means that the image could not be due to paint or stain.Alternatively, on various occasions artists have made use of the Shroud as a model for their artwork (see Pray Codex example, p. 6).

c) It was made by some sort of photographic process.Fact: the image does not contain any silver compounds.This means that it could not be due to a photographic process.

d) Radiocarbon 14 dating in 1988 placed the origin between 1260-1390 AD.Fact: Scientists now realize that the test sample was corrupted by cotton fibers from a 16th century reweaving, producing an erroneously late date of origin (see first video, p. 15).

e) A hot object may have scorched the image onto the linen.Fact: the image is not luminescent under ultra violet light.This means that the image could not have been caused by contact with a hot object.

f) The blood stains are not real blood, but rather "crystallized red ocher."Fact: repeated scientific tests by independent experts have shown the red pigment to be a product of the breakdown of red blood cells.Bloodstains are evident about the head area, the wrists and the feet, the side, and the back. Each individual blood wound shows a distinct serum clot retraction ring; and such blood halos are only visible under ultraviolet light, a detail that a forger is unlikely to have been familiar with. Over ten different

chemical tests have established that these markings are indeed bloodstains and contain specific blood components, including hemoglobin, bilirubin, and albumin

g) One study indicated that the Shroud came from Europe rather than the Holy Land.Fact: The Shroud of Turin is much older than some scientists believe, according to researchers who used pollen and plant images to conclude that it dates from Jerusalem before the 8th century.Additionally, the same pollen grains are found on the Sudarium, which is known to date back to the 1st century."We have identified by images and by pollen grains species on the shroud restricted to the vicinity of Jerusalem," botany professor Avinoam Danin of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem said during an International Botanical Congress at the university. He continues: "The sayings that the shroud is from European origin can't hold.” See article: "Study dates Shroud of Turin to before 8th century," CNN/AP report, August 3, 1999.

Pray Codex

Throughout the centuries artists have portrayed the Shroud in their artwork.A notable example is contained in the Pray Codex, which presents an artist’s illustration of the Shroud (shown on p. 7).The illustration pre-dates the Codex, and the Codex pre-dates the earliest radiocarbon date.

Also known as The Hungarian Pray Manuscript, the Codex is a collection of medieval manuscripts. It is the first known example of continuous prose text in Hungarian, and it is kept in the National Széchényi Libraryof Budapest.One of the most prominent documents within the Codex is the Funeral Sermon and Prayer (Hungarian: Halotti beszéd és könyörgés). It is an old handwritten Hungarian text dating to 1192-1195. The importance of the Funeral Sermon comes from being the oldest surviving Hungarian and Uralic text.

The Codex illustration shows the burial cloth of Jesus and its remarkable similarities with the Shroud of Turin.Jesus is shown entirely naked with the arms crossed over the pelvis, just like in the body image of the Shroud.The fabric is displayed with a herringbone pattern identical to the weaving pattern of the Shroud.There are four tiny circles on the lower image that appear to form a letter L or the number 7, and they reproduce four apparent burn holes on the Shroud (perhaps from burning incense).The probability that there is no correlation between the tiny circles and the burn holes is virtually zero.Another prominent feature is the display of four fingers on each hand with the thumbs absent, just as we observe on the Shroud.When the nail went through the soft anterior parts of the wrist, the palm being upwards, the thumb would bend sharply and would be exactly facing the palm by the contraction of the thenar muscles, while the four fingers would bend very slightly. The Codex illustration serves as additional evidence for the existence of the Shroud prior to the 1260–1390 AD radiocarbon dating.

Codex Illustration

Burn Holes

Expanded Views of Burn Holes


Burn Hole Locations on the Shroud

Burn Holes

The Question of Questions

Looming above all other issues is what physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro calls “the question of questions,” how the image was produced, regardless of its age. Every scientific attempt to replicate it in a lab has failed. Its precise hue is highly unusual, and the color’s penetration into the fabric is extremely thin, less than 0.7 micrometers (0.000028 inches), one-thirtieth the diameter of an individual fiber in a single 200-fiber linen thread.

Di Lazzaro and his colleagues at Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) conducted five years of experiments, using state-of-the-art excimer lasers to train short bursts of ultraviolet light on raw linen, in an effort to simulate the image’s coloration. The ENEA team, which published its findings in 2011, came tantalizingly close to approximating the image’s distinctive hue on a few square centimeters of fabric. But they were unable to match all the physical and chemical characteristics of the Shroud image. Nor could they reproduce a whole human figure.

The ultraviolet light necessary to do so “exceeds the maximum power released by all ultraviolet light sources available today,” says Di Lazzaro. It would require “pulses having durations shorter than one forty-billionth of a second, and intensities on the order of several billion watts.”

If the most advanced technologies available in the 21st century could not produce a facsimile of the shroud image, he reasons, how could it have been executed by a medieval forger?


Excerpted from The Mysteries of the Shroud of Turin by Robin Barrett, Dec. 16, 2016

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

The Shroud of Turin is an ancient linen cloth that measures approximately 14 feet by 3 feet. On the cloth are faint markings and bloodstains that indicate the impression of a human body. According to Jewish burial custom, Christ’s body would have been placed on a long piece of linen, which would then be folded lengthwise over his body.

There is some evidence that the Apostle Jude traveled to the ancient city of Edessa a few years after the death of Christ. Tradition has it that he carried with him a cloth bearing the image of Christ. This was known as the Cloth of Edessa. It is believed that the Cloth of Edessa was, in fact, the Shroud of Turin. The shroud remained with the Christian community in Edessa. In A.D. 57, persecution broke out, and the shroud was apparently hidden away for safe keeping. It was so well hidden that the shroud wasn’t found again until the sixth century when an earthquake damaged the walls of the city and revealed the hiding place.

Eventually, through many twists and turns, the shroud found its way to its current home in Turin, Italy. Since that time, the shroud has become one of the most extensively studied artifacts in history and has inspired the interest of many scientists. This is what an examination of the shroud reveals:

The image of a man who had been beaten about the face, scourged by two men, one taller than the other, crowned with thorns in the form of a cap, had a lance driven through his heart which emitted blood and water, nailed in the wrists and through the feet, and had a large abrasion upon one shoulder. The image shows the man had been crucified, attested to by the differing patterns of blood flow caused by the crucified man’s raising and lowering of the body in order to breathe. It was also discovered in the later years that two coins which were minted by Pontius Pilate in Judea in 29 A.D. were placed over the eyes of the crucified man.

However, even after extensive testing by the best scientific minds in the world, no one has ever been able to explain how the image of the crucified man appeared on the cloth.

After Carbon 14 testing was done in 1988, skeptics crowed that the tests “proved” that the shroud was a medieval forgery, all the while ignoring that modern science cannot replicate the image on the shroud. The image on the shroud is only on the surface of the cloth; there is no penetration of the fibers. The blood was on the cloth before the image was made. It has been scientifically proven that the image was not produced by any paint, dye, powder, or other chemical or biological agent, and has no brush strokes.

The image shows perfect photo negativity and a three-dimensionality. If the image is a medieval forgery, it must have been forged by a “medieval space alien” because the technique is unknown to modern science.

Further scientific testing has conclusively shown that the 1988 carbon date testing was flawed, says Dr. Robert J. Spitzer, Ph.D., in a 2015 article entitled, “Science and the Shroud of Turin.” He says that the small excision of fibers that were tested were taken from an area of the shroud that was re-woven during the Middle Ages. So the Carbon 14 test was accurate for what it tested, but meaningless in dating the shroud.

So what does the latest scientific testing lead us to conclude? Spitzer says that there is no physical explanation for the image except for the two-part explanation by scientist John Jackson who hypothesized that the image was caused by “A short intense burst of vacuum ultraviolet radiation which was emitted evenly by a mechanically transparent body from every three-dimensional point within it.”

Of course, this physical explanation defies the laws of physics as we know them. Thus, the Shroud of Turin has no explanation other than a supernatural one; it is a miracle from God which proves the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth actually took place.

Everything you have heard about Jesus is true. He is the Savior sent to redeem mankind. More importantly, He is the Savior who was sent to redeem you. Now what are you going to do about it?

It is noteworthy that in addition to being the home of the Shroud the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist contains the tomb of Blessed Pier Georgio Frassati.He was a Turin native, fun-loving, avid athlete, devout Catholic, and a dedicated benefactor of the poor.He became known as “Saint of the youth of the Third Millennium.”

Upon his untimely death from polio at the young age of 24 his parents were astonished at the huge turnout for his funeral.People from all walks of life, especially the poor and the outcast, turned up to bid him farewell.

In 1981, when his body was transferred to the Cathedral, it was found to be incorrupt.He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1990.So revered is he as a saint for young people that his body was carried to World Youth Day Celebrations in Spain in 2011, again to World Youth Day in 2013 in Brazil, and to Krakow in 2016.

Barbara Frale

Barbara Frale was born in Viterboon 24 February 1970. She attended the University of Studies of Tuscia-Viterbo and she was the first graduated in Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Italy.[2]Her thesis in Medieval History, which is based on the examination of more than 7000 notary documents of the 14th century, was published by the scientific publisher Vecchiarelli of Manziana[3](Orte 1303-1363. La città sul fiume, Manziana 1995), winning the first prize “Costantino Pavan”, town of San Donà di Piave,[4]both for the section “unpublished works” and “degree thesis”. After her graduation she co-operated with the Civic Museum of Viterbo and with the Government Office for the Archivist Heritage of Lazio. In 1996 she obtained a post-degree specialization in Paleography, Diplomatics and Archival Science at the School of the Vatican Secret Archives, and in 1998 she obtained also the specialization in Greek Paleography. In the year 2000 she obtained the Doctorate in “History of the European Society” at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Also in 2000 she got a scholarship from the Historic Germanic Institute in Rome (Deutsches Historisches Institut in Rom). Since October 2001 she has been working as Paleographist at the Vatican Secret Archives (Latin: Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticanum).The use of the word "secret" in the title does not denote the modern meaning of confidentiality. A fuller and perhaps better translation of the Latin may be the "private Vatican Apostolic Archives".Through her investigative work and her expertise as a Paleographist she has played a key role in authenticating the Shroud as the burial cloth of Jesus (see second video, p. 15).

Recommended reading:

There are many excellent books about the Shroud.For starters, the following books are of notable mention:

Report on the Shroud of Turin by Dr. John H. Heller.This book tells the story of 40 American scientists who, using modern instrumentation, tackled the problem of how the image was formed—and the remarkable conclusions to which they came.

Test the Shroud by Mark Antonacci.The author, a lawyer and former agnostic, offers a highly technical and convincing argument that the Shroud is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

Shroud questionnaire answered by:

Isabel Piczek, Artist and Physicist:


Ray Schneider, Physicist and Professor:


Ben Wiech,Attorney:


Videos presented:

Error in radiocarbon 14 date:


Event horizon and name identification:


Cathedral fire, 1997:


Shroud Website offering latest news on the Shroud:


For an electronic copy of this presentation send request to:


Back to Issue Index