The most studied artifact in human history is the Shroud of Turin. Hundreds of books and scientific papers have been written about it. One of the most popular websites in the world deals with all questions–pro and con–concerning it. (Tap to go to shroud.com.) I had the honor of scheduling a couple of lectures by Barrie Schwortz world-wide authority on the shroud and administrator of the website. The interest was so great in these lectures that we had to literally drag Barrie away or the audience would never have left.
Pope John Paul II called the Shroud of Turin the greatest relic in Christendom. Literally, millions of people have visited its site in Italy. Yet, the Catholic Church takes no position on its authenticity; its position is to let the chips fall where they may. Measuring ten and a half feet by three and a half feet, the shroud contains the front and back negative images of a scourged, crucified man. No one has ever been able to reproduce this image. It is the only such image on earth. It is a mystery as to how it was placed on the triple herringbone weave linen cloth known to have been in use in the first century. Is it the burial cloth of Jesus Christ? It certainly comports with the description of his crucifixion and burial.
While most scientists today can offer no definitive conclusion on its age or its authenticity, several explanations have been rendered and then debunked. In 1988 carbon dating tests concluded that it dated between 1260 and 1390 A.D. In 2005 chemical analysis showed that the sample used was not part of the original cloth. In 2008 a team of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory corroborated the 2005 conclusion. So today, we have an negative image of a crucified man on a cloth that is a minimum centuries older than the discovery of photography and negative imaging. Who could have created such an image? With all our technological skills, why has no one ever been able to reproduce it? There is no question that human blood is found on the cloth and that paint was never applied. So what was it? Could it really be two thousand years old and the resurrection cloth of Jesus Christ?
The Shroud had not been scheduled to go on public display again until 2025, but Pope Francis, just this week, has decided to put the Shroud on display in 2015. It will be shown in Turin, Italy for 45 days starting in the Easter season that year. Will you be going?