Purported burial shroud of Jesus is on display until June 24, 2015
The Shroud of Turin—purported to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth—is back on public display in Turin, Italy, after a five-year hiatus. It is free to view the shroud, but visits must be booked in advance. More than one million people have already signed up—including Pope Francis, who will be viewing the shroud during his visit of Turin on June 20–21. The Shroud of Turin exhibit is open until June 24, 2015, at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
The authenticity of this alleged burial shroud of Jesus has long been a subject of debate. Measuring 14 by 3.5 feet, the linen cloth bears the front and back images of a man who had been crucified. A number of scientific tests have been done on the shroud, including pollen analysis, X-ray fluorescence examination and radiocarbon dating—which dated the burial cloth to the 13th–14th-century.
Whether the Shroud of Turin is attested in the historical record before the 14th century is another matter of debate. We do know that in the mid-14th century, what we now call the Shroud of Turin was put on display in Lirey, France. Vaughn M. Bryant, Jr., describes how the shroud came to Turin in the November/December 2000 issue of BAR:
In 1357 a French nobleman, Geoffrey de Charmy, displayed a cloth to the public in Lirey, France, as the “true burial shroud of Jesus.” However, he never revealed where the shroud came from nor how he acquired it. This is the first verifiable reference to the object now called the Shroud of Turin. In 1453 that cloth was given to the King of Savoy. For more than a century, it remained in a castle belonging to the House of Savoy in Chambéry, France. After surviving a fire in the castle in 1532, the shroud was eventually brought to Turin, where it has remained since 1578, in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
The controversy surrounding the possible burial shroud of Jesus has not, however, deterred visitors from traveling the globe to come to the Shroud of Turin exhibit.
“Whether you believe or don’t believe, there is no doubt it is something special,” said one of the first visitors to see the shroud this week to AFP news agency.
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Vaughn M. Bryant, Jr., “Does Pollen Prove the Shroud Authentic?” Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2000.
Gary Vikan, “Debunking the Shroud: Made by Human Hands,” Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1998.
Suzanne F. Singer, “Has the Shroud of Turin Been Dated—Finally?” Bible Review, April 1989.
Joseph A. Kohlbeck and Eugenia L. Nitowski, “New Evidence May Explain Image on Shroud of Turin,” Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1986.
Robert A. Wild, “The Shroud of Turin—Probably the Work of a 14th-Century Artist or Forger,” Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1984.
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