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Posted by on Feb 21, 2010 in Current Events, Religion | 6 comments

Shroud of Turin To Go On Display

World famous relic to go on display in April

Facial detail of the Turin Shroud

Normally it only goes on display once every 25 years, but a mere 10 years since the last public viewing, the Shroud of Turin will go on display again in April this year. It will be just the sixth time in the past 100 years that the holy relic will be seen in public.

It’s also the first time the faithful, the curious and the sceptical will get to see the Shroud since it underwent major restoration in 2002.

The 4.4 × 1.1m rectangular piece of linen cloth is believe by many the world over to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. The cloth shows the feint image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion.

Over two million expected to see it

Officials at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist (Turin Cathedral) where the Shroud will be on display from 10 April through to 23 May, say that over one million viewing tickets have already been ordered. Fiorenzo Alfieri, Turin’s councillor for culture estimates that over two million people from around the world will travel to see the relic during the viewing period.

One special viewer already scheduled to see the Shroud will be Pope Benedict XVI who is expected to visit Turin on 02 May. He probably won’t be limited to the standard viewing time maximums that the ordinary visitor will be. Viewers will be allowed a maximum of just five minutes each in front of the Turin Shroud, which will be on display in a specially constructed bulletproof, climate-controlled case.

Ongoing controversy

The authenticity of the Shroud has been a hotly debated issue for years. And it continues to stir controversy.

In 1988, the Holy See agreed to permit six centres to independently perform radiocarbon dating on portions of a swatch taken from a corner of the shroud, but at the last minute they changed their minds and permitted only three research centres to undertake such analysis. The chosen laboratories at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, produced results indicating that the analysed portion of the shroud dated from the 13th to 14th centuries (1260–1390).

“A very good chance it was used to bury Jesus”

In April 2009 it was reported that original Shroud investigator, Ray Rogers, acknowledged the radio carbon dating performed in 1988 was flawed.

The sample used for dating may have been taken from a section damaged by fire and repaired in the 16th century, which would not provide an estimate for the original material. Shortly before his death, Rogers said:

“The worst possible sample for carbon dating was taken. It consisted of different materials than were used in the shroud itself, so the age we produced was inaccurate. I am coming to the conclusion that it has a very good chance of being the piece of cloth that was used to bury the historic Jesus.”

Scientists involved in the above carbon dating exercise made the discovery that the piece of material used included more recently added cotton threads, which had been dyed and woven into the original linen, in order to repair the corner of the Shroud. The date that this had been done was not clear, but was certainly no earlier than medieval times and would have impacted upon the carbon dating evidence.

Your thoughts?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Shroud of Turin and its upcoming public appearance.

  • Do you think it is a genuine holy relic? Is the image visible on it that of Jesus Christ lying in repose in his burial chamber? Or is it just an elaborate hoax?
  • And why has the Vatican decided to allow the public viewing so soon after the last occasion? Is it as explained by church officials: “we understand its importance to the economy and employment of Turin”, or is the Catholic church on a publicity drive to boost dwindling numbers perhaps?

6 Comments

  1. I've inherited a piece of fruitcake from my grandmother. It's not just a piece of fruitcake. No! In it you can see the face of Barney. It will be available on Bid or Buy in the next week or so.

    • Must, must, must find my account log-in code for Bid or Buy! Now! Going get me some Barney fruitcake! Yeah!

      I assume we are talking about the face of Barney "Bro Code" Stinson right? Cos he's my hero! High five!!

      I sure hope it's not the face of the purple pedophile dinosaur Barney. If it is, then I'm so not interested anymore.

  2. I will be displaying a TWINKIES bar that looks just like a TWINKIES bar, wanna see it?

    • No. That sounds mega-boring.

      But if you had to put it in a bullet-proof climate-controlled case and invite the Pope round to see it, I may change my mind.

  3. Congrats on a well-written, unbiased article. Most people really do know little about the shroud, but it's really a fascinating puzzle of science once you start really looking at the research done on it, all religious issues put aside. There's nothing else that's been as widely studied and debated as it. It seems highly unlikely to be something man-made, but they do seem to be getting closer to finding a natural cause for the image….given more opportunity for direct study they may someday find it. The carbon-dating probably will go down as one of the biggest screwups ever….can't blame the labs, they did their job. But to take a sample from only one spot on the cloth (something that was not what they had originally planned to do, was changed at the last minute) is just incredibly dumb from a scientific sampling viewpoint, and is why today we really have no definitive answer on its age.

    • Hi John (& a warm welcome to BlaBla!)

      Much appreciate the comment and your thoughts on the subject. And I agree wholeheartedly that the debate around the Shroud will continue for many years still.

      What worries me is with the amount of contact the fabric has had over the years, and especially since the big restoration project in 2002, how valid any future testing would be. Also, whatever was done to the image to slow or stop it from fading away entirely must have had some impact on the material surely?

      I think the science vs. faith jury will be deliberating on this one for some time to come still.

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