For this page I'll mainly be using a book titled simply "Shroud," by Robert K. Wilcox. It's a very detailed chronicle of a year long research of the shroud. I don't think you'll find a better store of shroud facts and history anywhere else.

The following two pages will present some of the more common theories which try to explain the shroud image as a natural phenomenon, and the evidence which has been brought to bear in the refutation of those theories.

So, let's start with the background. Here's a list of the different sources Wilcox used for "Shroud." A man with a Shroud Bus in London, and a man with a shroud show in sourthern California; a German black marketeer who had a seven-day Technicolor vision of Jesus' suffering and death on the wall of his bedroom; an American priest who suspended himself from a cross more than seven hundred times in order to learn the mechanics of crucifixion; a British fashion photographer who developed three-dimensional-looking film portraits of the face in the shroud; the Italian monsignor who has fashioned a grisly crucifix based on the super-realistic data on the shroud; physicists of all kinds (optical, nuclear, radiation) and one Nobel Prize-winning organic and nuclear chemist; pathologists from several countries who have conducted macabre but shroud-related experiments on the newly and unclaimed dead; people at the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, the FBI in Washington, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; a fingerprint expert in Minnesota; one disappointed film producer; and one disappointed king -Umberto II, exiled from Italy in 1946-who owns the shroud.

Robert Wilcox was a real "been-there-done-that" kind of guy.

The shroud as it appears naturally

Full, natural image of the Shroud

Beside the image, there are many differnt kinds of markings on the fourteen and a half by three and a half foot ivory colored linen shroud. There are wrinkles, fold marks, water and burn marks from a 1532 fire and the so called blood marks. In addition, close examination reveals the images of flowers and faint lines that run the whole length of the shroud. These lines seem to have no bearing on the image or it's history.

You'll notice that the actual image is not sharp and detailed. Only by backing away a few feet can the light brown, softly diffused image be seen as the body of a man. One half of the cloth contains the front view of a body, while the other half shows the back of the body. It can be seen that this cloth was only laid under the body then folded up over the head and down the front to the feet.

The shroud folded over, not wound around the body.

Some have thought that the shroud was wound around the body like an Egyptian mummy. This painting is included for a clearer understanding of how the shroud was used,

The First Photographs

Secondo Pia was astonished at what he saw in the developing tray in his darkroom. In 1898 he was the first person to photograph the shroud. The photo he saw in the tray wasn't the usual negative he was used to seeing. His film was showing what he was used to seeing in the final prints of his photographs. He was looking a positive image. He had to print this positive-imaged negative in order for the picture to look the way it did to the eye.

The question immediately arose, "How could anyone in the 14th century have had the knowledge or skill to produce a negative image on the linen cloth?" Negative imaging hadn't been demonstrated until the recent invention of photography. Wilcox could find no historical evidence that even indicated that anyone had thought of the concept of negative imaging. None of history's art contains this concept.

Negative and positive black and white photos of the shroud.

What The Negative of the Shroud Photograph Looked Like

Looking at the "positive" image of the shroud was almost as astonishing. This image shows very much detail. If fact, it has a three dimensional quality that normal photographs don't have. Many of the later graphics of the shroud will show the details more clearly than this distant view. One can see the real size of the eyes, the expression on the face, lines and shadows in different parts of the body, the positioning of the hands and feet, even over a hundred thin three inch lines with quarter inch dots on them. These lines virtually covered the body. In the "positive" view, the blood marks showed their positions precisely. How this negative cloth image came to be and how it could contain such fine detail was a complete mystery.

Textile experts studied the 1931 photographs of the Shroud made by Giuseppe Enrie. They concluded that the fabric was made of linen woven from flax, a wiry long-stemmed plant that grows best and most abundantly in sandy, temperate zones like Palestine. The pattern of the weave is a herringbone twill.

Professional photographers also examined Enrie's photos. This was done to prevent any claims of darkroom fraud such as had been made about Pia's work. They verified that none had been retouched and that all had accurately captured what the naked eye could see on the surface of the shroud. They even signed a document swearing to these conclusions. Enrie's photos became the standard, and were given out by the ecclesiastical authorities in Turin.

The History of the Shroud

The study of religious art has an interesting tale to tell and is the key to the history of the shroud. A contemporary of Secondo Pia, a Frechman names Paul Vignon did much research in various areas. He examined the photos, tried a few different ways of transferring images on to cloth using dyes and chalk. He also did much research into the historical depictions of Jesus.

It seems that early pictures of Christ were much different than the ones that began to circulate in the 600's. Before that time Jesus was shown as young, clean-shaven. Then suddenly they changed to show a grown man with long hair, beard, and eyes that were abnormally large and round. This "new" face was remarkably similar to the traditional Christ-type pictures seen on many ancient icons, the religious paintings of early Eastern Christianity.

Checking the icons in the museums and libraries of Paris, Vignon discovered dramatic evidence that the shroud face and the face on the icons had more than a casual link. Not only did the eyes, nose, and mustache seem the same; but strange marks that were not facial features also appeared on both the shroud and the icons. There's a V with a three-sided box on top of it that appears between the eyes just above the nose. One other mark that isn't part of the image is a line that crosses the throat of the man. This line has no relation to the image, and yet appears on many icons. In fact, of the hundreds of Byzantine icons Vignon examined, 80 percent had the identifying mark between the eyes.

Some other points of similarity between the shroud and early icons were, no ears; no neck; no shoulders, a "forked" beard; a "truncated" mustache; straight nose; enlarged nostrils; one raised eyebrow; bruised forehead; abnormally shaded or swollen cheeks. No icon had all these similarities, but all had at least a few. How did icons from the seventh century reflect some very unique aspects of a piece of cloth that was said to have been made seven centuries later?

The earliest icons that Vignon found with shroud-like similarities were copies of the "Image of Edessa," a portrait of Jesus on cloth which was discovered in 544 bricked up in a wall in Edessa, the center of Syrian Christianity. The following is from a report by Vignon in a 1937 magazine article. "A careful study of these copies, which I recently completed, shows that the face visible on the shroud served as a model for artists as early as the fifth century. The artists did not copy slavishly, but tried to interpret the face, translating the mask-like features into a living portrait, which was still a recognizable copy of the original."

There were still some scoffers who refused to accept these quite convincing arguments and evidence, and claimed that there was no documentary evidence that could date the shroud before 1354 AD. Some folks are just plain stubborn. But there was still a point of confusion to be reconciled.

The Image of Edessa was only the top of the body, not the whole thing. Even among those who believed that the shroud was real, it was thought that the Image of Edessa was only a copy. Then a researcher named Ian Wilson came up with the idea that the Edessan image wasn't a copy, but the shroud itself. This theory was based on his realization that the image was on cloth, and just as in later times, the shroud had been folded for storage, the Image of Edessa was probably what showed after the cloth was folded up.

Remembering some reference to the shroud being folded in "four" proved to be the key. When the shroud is folded four times, it shows only the head, as in the Image of Edessa. There are other points of documentation from before the 14th century that help verify the earlier existence of the shroud. They trace the shroud from Edessa to Constantinople, to the Templars, to Europe.

The Scene In The Tomb?

What happened during those 72 hours or so after death?

The tomb, a rocky chamber carved out of a hillside, a stone rolled against the door, is dark and silent Lying on a slab is a long, rectangular cocoon, the hills and valleys clearly being the contours of a human body. Jesus lay there, face up, a ribbon around the head and chin to keep the mouth closed, bags of spices packed along the sides of his dead body.

At some unknown moment in the dead of night the air in the tomb becomes electric.

Minute vibrations at first, the sort that could be detected by sensitive twentieth century instruments; then they dramatically increase until they shake the ground and blow the boulder from the door.

A glow, faint at first, emanating from shroud suddenly intensifies until rays of light shoot through the threads, star-filled golden rays filling the tomb and pouring out the door. For thirty seconds, no more the blinding, pulsating movement continues. The source of the activity is the corpse, the body, somehow being revitalized, dematerialized, its mass being converted into energy, pure energy, which in the material world is radiant white light. The body rises from the slab through the cloth, hovers for a moment in midair, then disappears.

The cocoon collapses. Darkness returns. Shouts of "Earthquake! Earthquake!" diminish as the two guards run for their lives. And in the air, the distinct odor of scorched linen.

When dawn comes, the women in Jesus' life draw tentatively toward the tomb, look in the opening, and see the shroud unopened, still wrapped, but definitely deflated The body is gone. At sunrise the disciples come. John enters the tomb, puts his hand on the cloth, and presses it to the slab. Jesus is there no longer.

Is that what really hapened? Need some more evidence? Here's a little teaser. The blood marks show that the cloth was wrapped down around the sides of the person's head. And yet, the image is of the kind that results from the cloth being flat. You can't see the sides of the face. These two facts go against our laws of space and time.

On the next page in this section we'll deal with some of the theories that have been offered to explain the shroud, and also look at some detailed evidence that refutes these theories. We've only begun to establish the connection of the shroud to Jesus.

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