The Definitive Shroud of Turin FAQ

the shroud draws you in, doesn't let go, and reveals itself gradually

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Isn't it true that there is no history of the Shroud before the 1350s?

It is a statement that is repeated over and over in one form or another: There is no mention of the shroud from historical records before the 1350s. It is a point that the skeptical author Joe Nickell repeats in nearly every television appearance he makes, in books and articles.

This is one of the great misconceptions about the Shroud. Journalists, better than anyone, should know that the lack of evidence cannot be treated as evidence. The correct statement, anyway, should be that there are no extant records in Western Europe prior to 1350s. They should also know that in this era, frequently referred to as the dark ages, there are significant gaps in historical records. Just because a record does not exist for a particular object or to a particular date does not mean that object did not exist before that date.

Even so, the objectively-minded can treat the lack of evidence as meaningful with judicious analysis. For instance, if documents from before 1350, that could be expected to mention the shroud if it existed, do not do so, that is important information. But an absence of such documents does not mean the same thing. And if there are possible reasons to think that there might have been documents that no longer exist, particularly if there are good reasons why such documents might not exist, then the historian must be particularly vigilant.

Some historians now think the Shroud may have been in the Burgundian region of France, in the town of Besançon, in the Castle de Ray manor house, for well over a century before 1350. According to this theory it was brought to France from Constantinople, where it had been for many centuries, by way of Athens. There is ample evidence for this, as we will see.

Several characteristics that are observed on the shroud of Turin help to make a strong historical case that this cloth certainly existed in the sixth century and probably before. Moreover the Hungarian Pray Manuscript also shows us that the cloth certainly existed well before the 1350s.

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