Saturday, 30 March 2013
Latest study shows that Shroud of Turin may really have been used to wrap Christ's body
The cloth’s consistency is similar to those used to bury the dead at the time of Christ, 2,000 years ago, according to the latest scientific studies. continue reading
Details of the research have emerged in a book and come ahead of Saturday's rare glimpse of the Shroud, when TV cameras will film it as part of a live broadcast ahead of Easter Sunday
For centuries scientists have argued about the authenticity of the Shroud - which is kept in a secure vault in Turin Cathedral - and it has become one of the most iconic images of the Roman Catholic faith.
The 14ft-long linen cloth bears the faint image of the front and back of a tall, long-haired, bearded man and appears to be stained by blood from wounds in his feet, wrists and sides that match those suffered by Christ at his Crucifixion.
The findings are in a new book called Il Mistero della Sindone (The Mystery of the Shroud) which is published on Good Friday.
The authors, Professor Giulio Fanti, an expert in mechanical and thermal measurement at the University of Padua’s Engineering Faculty and journalist Saverio Gaeta, examined fibres from the Shroud and compared them to samples of cloth dating back to between 3000BC and up to the modern era to contrast them and see if it is a Medieval forgery.
Key to the findings are three new tests, two chemical ones and one mechanical, the first two were carried out using infra-red light, and the other using Raman spectroscopy - which measures radiation through wavelengths and is commonly used in forensic science.
The results dated the fibres from the cloth to a period between 300BC to 400AD, which covers the years of Christ's life. Debate has raged whether the image is that of Christ or a fake from the Middle Ages. But what is certain is that experts have never really been able to explain how the image was made.
Carbon 14 tests were conducted on the cloth in 1988 and these findings suggested it dated from between 1260 and 1390.
However, some scientists have since claimed that contamination over the ages from water damage and fire, were not taken sufficiently into account and could have distorted the results.
Since then, there have been several requests for fresh tests but Church chiefs have always refused - and this is why Professor Fanti and his team had to rely on fibres that were used in the 1988 tests.
Before he retired last month pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave permission for the Shroud to go on display as a 'last gift’ to the millions of Catholics before he retired from public office.
Thirteen years ago when he was plain cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict wrote that the shroud was a ‘truly mysterious image, which no human artistry was capable of producing. In some inexplicable it appeared imprinted upon cloth...’
Italian state TV will broadcast footage of the Shroud but it is not thought that general public access will be allowed until 2025, the date of the next scheduled display.
As part of the TV broadcast, a new app called Sindone 2.0 has been developed, showing a series of HD images of the shroud which highlight details of the cloth not visible to the naked eye.