The Definitive Shroud of Turin FAQ

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

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What is the history of the Shroud in the Western-European Period?

From 1356 onward the Shroud's history is meticulously traceable as it is moved from Lirey to Chambéry, France, and ultimately to Turin, now a city in modern Italy.

These are some of the most important dates:

1349: The cathedral in Besancon is destroyed by fire. Geoffrey de Charny, a French knight, acquires the Shroud.

1355: The first known expositions of the Shroud are held in Lirey, France.

1389: Bishop Pierre d'Arcis of Troyes writes his famous memorandum addressed to Pope Clement VII at Avignon. He states that an artist had confessed to painting the Shroud.

1464: Duke Louis I of the House of Savoy acquired the Shroud from the de Charny family. It will remain a property of the House of Savoy until 1983 when the Pope inherited the Shroud. It is moved to the Sainte Chapelle at Chambéry

1532: Fire breaks out in the Sainte Chapelle, Chambéry, seriously damaging the Shroud.

1534: Chambéry's Poor Clare nuns repair the Shroud by sewing on patches and attaching it to a backing cloth. The backing cloth has been referred to throughout history as the Holland cloth.

1578: The Shroud is moved to Turin.

1898: During a public exhibition, Secondo Pia, an Italian amateur photographer, takes the first photograph of the Shroud. The surprising negative which appears as a positive image ushers in a new era of scientific research on the Shroud.

1900: Canon Ulysse Chevalier's Etude critique sur l'origine du Saint Suaire de Lirey-Chambry-Turin is published. It exposes the d' Arcis memorandum to the public.

1902: A Sorbon anatomy professor, Yves Delage, presents a paper at the French Academy of Sciences. He argues that the Shroud is genuine. The Secretary for Physics of the Academy, Marcelin Berthelot, a militant atheist, orders Delage to rewrite his paper. The Paris edition of New York Herald carries the headline, "Photographs of Christ's Body found by science." This begins what has remained a century of controversy.

1931: During an exhibition of the Shroud, Giuseppe Enrie photographs the Shroud, confirming Secondo Pia's findings that the image on the Shroud is a negative.

1939: The Shroud is secretly taken to the Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine, in the province of Avellino, to protect it from Allied bombs. It is returned to Turin after the end of World War II.

1973: Dr. Max Frei collects pollen samples from the Shroud and Gilbert Raes takes cuts some small samples from the Shroud.

1976: John Jackson and Bill Mottern, at Sandia Laboratories, view for the first time the Shroud 3D image characteristics with a VP8 Image Analyzer.

1977: First experimental use of accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) carbon dating. This was the method used on the Shroud in 1988.

1978: The STURP study of the Shroud. Write Barrie Schworz:

At around 10:45 p.m., and slightly ahead of schedule, the Shroud is removed from public display and taken through the Guarini Chapel into the Hall of Visiting Princes within Turin's Royal Palace. Thus begins a five-day period of examination, photography and sample taking by STURP, John Jackson's group of scientists from the U.S.A. Dr. Max Frei, Giovanni Riggi, Professor Pierluigi Baima-Bollone and others carry out independent research programs alongside. During this time the Shroud is lengthily submitted to photographic floodlighting, to low-power X-rays and to narrow band ultraviolet light. Dozens of pieces of sticky tape are pressed onto its surface and removed. A side edge is unstitched and an apparatus inserted between the Shroud and its backing cloth to examine the underside, which has not been seen in over 400 years. The bottom edge (at the foot of the frontal image) is also unstitched and examined. On the night of 9 October Baima Bollone obtains sample of Shroud bloodstain by mechanically disentangling warp and weft threads in the area of the 'small of the back' bloodstain on the Shroud's dorsal image.

1988: A sample is cut from the Shroud for carbon dating. After testing, Cardinal Ballestrero, Archbishop of Turin, made an official announcement that the results of the three laboratories doing the Carbon dating had determined that the cloth was medieval. At another press conference conducted at the British Museum, it was announced that the Shroud originated between A. D. 1260 and 1390. Newspaper headlines immediately branded the Shroud a fake and declared that the Catholic Church has accepted the results.

1989: The prestigious, international scientific journal Nature published the official results of the Shroud carbon dating. It declared that the results "provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is medieval."

1999: The Missouri Botanical Garden Press, a highly respected international botanical scientific service published an article titled, "Flora of the Shroud of Turin" by Avinoam Danin, Uri Baruch and Alan and Mary Whanger. The article documents the pollen evidence they discovered and very controversial claims about seeing flower images on the cloth.

2002: A small group of textile experts, headed by Mechtild Fleury-Lemberg of Switzerland, performed a dramatic and radical "restoration" of the Shroud. They removed the backing cloth and the patches that were sewn on in 1534 and attached a new backing cloth. This restoration, done in secret without consulting any of the world's Shroud experts, it is widely believed, has damaged the cloth and its value for archeological study. Write's Schwortz, "They set off a firestorm of controversy, criticism, debate and recrimination that ultimately engulfs, polarizes and divides the Shroud research community."

2005: A peer reviewed scientific paper by Raymond N. Rogers, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was published in the scientific journal Thermochimica Acta, entitled "Studies on the radiocarbon sample from the Shroud of Turin." The paper concludes:

As unlikely as it seems, the sample used to test the age of the Shroud of Turin in 1988 was taken from a rewoven area of the Shroud. Pyrolysis-mass spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the Shroud.

For a more detailed history of the Shroud from the 1300s forward, see Schwortz' History and his complete Shroud of Turin Site.

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