The Ventral Image on the Shroud of Turin as it appears on a photographic negative
Thanks to my good friend, Barrie Schwortz, world-renowned lecturer and photographer of the Shroud of Turin, I recently learned that at least one Muslim sect believes the Shroud to be the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ. This year Barrie will give his third keynote address to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at the Jalsa Salana Convention in Hampshire, near London. This convention is attended by 35,000 people a day over three days. The largest tent seats 10,000 people and they are enthralled by a Jewish man (Barrie) speaking about a Christian relic before one of the twenty-seven sects of the Islamic faith. The Ahmadiyya Muslim sect has 150 million followers in 200 countries and is the fastest growing sect in Islam.
Their philosophy is “Love for all, hatred for none” which is also the address of their website: www.loveforallhatredfornone.org. Because this sect interprets some mainstream Muslim philosophies differently, they have been labeled heretics, ostracized and marginalized by the mainstream Muslim world. We rarely hear about Muslims expressing love for all, but instead hear about the Sunni and Shi’ite sects that have been violently battling one another for many centuries.
The Ahmadiyya accept that Jesus was crucified and buried with the Shroud. However, they believe the Shroud proves he survived all the tortures and escaped from the tomb to die in India. Today, we can visit the tomb of “Jesus” in Kashmir according to the Ahmadiyya.
As owner and manager of the largest website dedicated solely to all of the scientific and other evidence concerning the Shroud (www.shroud.com), Barrie gives his personal opinion to the convention attendees, that, based on expert opinion, the man of the Shroud was dead while he lay in the tomb. The convention is televised internationally and Barrie will give a report on his 2017 address at his website in September. You can also read his reports from the 2015 and 2016 conventions on his website (www.shroud.com).
My latest novel, The Hidden Saint, includes a historically accurate account of the huge crowds that gathered when Archbishop Charles Borromeo visited Turin shortly after the Shroud arrived there in the 16th century. For additional information about the book, go to Amazon.net: goo.gl/MJaXfs
Yesterday, I was interviewed on television regarding the publication of my latest book. I was asked what the book was all about. After I had mentioned a few of the facts found in the book, I realized that the interviewer wanted a summary of the entire book in no more than two or three minutes. In five minutes, I hadn’t finished the first chapter. It was a disaster. Returning home, I immediately summarized the novel as I should have earlier. This is the way it should have been reported:
The Hidden Saint tells the story of two men, one a historical figure and the other a fictitious figure. Carlo Borromeo, the historical figure, becomes Pope Pius IV’s secretary of state. He assumes his duties with fortitude and quickly progresses up the ecclesial ladder—a deacon, priest, bishop and finally archbishop of Milan. Taking on the reins of his archdiocese, Carlo dedicates his life to sanctifying its 3,000 clergy and 800,000 people by implementing the decrees of the recently concluded Council of Trent.
The fictitious character, Roberto Vecchi, is somewhat of a duplicitous individual. On the one hand, he faithfully serves his master, Carlo, for Roberto is a swordsman of remarkable skill and pride. On the other hand, Roberto hopes to benefit monetarily by Carlo’s rise up the ecclesial hierarchy. Carlo, aware of Roberto’s shortcomings, reminds him that within every man there lies a hidden saint. Roberto scoffs at this for he knows his own moral failings. And therein lies the story.
A Catholic Catechism identifies the current theological beliefs of the Church, both the dogmatic (required belief for all times) and the decreed beliefs (required until changed). Only two official Catechisms have ever been published by the Catholic Church: the Trent Catechism in the 16th century; and the Vatican II Catechism published in the twentieth century. They follow the same four-part layout scheme; Profession of Faith (Apostles’ Creed), Celebration of the Christian Mystery (The Sacraments), Life in Christ (The Ten Commandments), and Christian Prayer (The Lord’s Prayer). While it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the required beliefs and suggested beliefs, the Catechism provides extensive footnotes and comments enabling the attentive reader to make such a distinction.
With over two thousand years of history behind it, why has the Church issued only two official Catechisms? And those two only in the past five hundred years? Well the truth of the matter is, another Catechism was published in the third century and recognized as the most comprehensive set of beliefs at the time–well researched with contributions from many bishops throughout the Christian world. It was called De principiis and written by Origen, the director of the Catechetical Schools of Alexandria and Caesarea, the finest Christian schools known to man up to that time and for some time afterwards.
Origen’s work was not an official document of the Christian Church for two reasons. The most basic reason is that the Church had not held a Ecumenical Council–a gathering of the bishops of the world–until the fourth century so it could not have been considered recognized as such by the “Church.” Secondly, several of Origen’s suppositions within De principiis had subsequently been rejected by the Vatican and large numbers of bishops even before the first Ecumenical Council. Nevertheless, the subject matter within Origen’s work has been and is still being studied within seminaries up to the present time for its early description of dogmatic beliefs as passed on from the lips of Jesus Christ to his apostles.
A more comprehensive discussion of Origen’s work is found in my novel The Scholar’s Challenge. I also cover the need for and writing of the first official Catechism in my novel The Hidden Saint: The Sixteenth Century Church in Crisis. I think you will enjoy both novels.
On May 6, forty new Swiss Guards took a solemn oath to “faithfully, loyally and honorably serve” Pope Francis “with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life” in the pontiff’s defense. For over five hundred years such men have taken such an oath on the bloody day—May 6—when 147 did indeed sacrifice themselves on the steps of St. Peter to protect a pope fleeing the Sack of Rome in 1527.
Today the Swiss Guards carry a halberd, a lengthy steel axe-like weapon, and wear colorful clothing to please the tourists, but hidden away is a cache of more modern weapons. Every guard is trained to handle either and is quite capable of doing so. To be a guard, one must to be a practicing Roman Catholic, Swiss, single, between 19 and 30 years old and at least 1.74 meters tall.
On this day of initiation, each new guard also receives another weapon—a rosary—for, as practicing Catholics, these men believe that the pope may be protected with weapons and with faith. They are paid about $1,600 a year and get free room and board. About 95 percent of guards limit their enlistment to the required two years and then join a special group called Ex-Guardsmen Association staying in touch with former colleagues and getting together on special occasions, especially at the swearing-in ceremony of the new recruits on May 6th, for which they are invited every year.
I mention the Sack of Rome and the actions of the Swiss Guards in my latest novel, The Hidden Saint: The Sixteenth Century Church in Crisis. It’s loaded with such little tidbits of interesting history. Join my Facebook author page, like and share. goo.gl/2lWm2v
In 1579, the Spanish governor of Milan, Italy, Governor Ayamontem, ordered the carnival to continue through the first Sunday of Lent. The calendar of the Roman Rite that was used throughout the Church suggested that self-denial begins on Ash Wednesday, before the first Sunday of Lent. But the governor was right in that Milan didn’t follow the Roman Rite. Instead it used the Ambrosian Rite. According to the Ambrosian Rite, fasting and abstinence begins on the Monday following the first Sunday of Lent; the Sunday Mass is festive with vestments of white and a chanting of the Gloria and Alleluia. Carnival on the first Sunday of Lent would be consistent with the festive atmosphere then under the Ambrosian Rite.
Yet the Council of Trent asked for uniformity throughout the Catholic Church. Some asked whether the Church would break up into little segments, each having different rules and beliefs as the Protestants were beginning to do. Still, the council gave an exception to that rule of uniformity. It said that local rites that could show usage over two centuries might be retained. The Ambrosian Rite is named after St. Ambrose, who added hymns to the rite in the fourth century. It has always been used in the Archdiocese of Milan. In fact, some suggest that the Ambrosian Rite isn’t an ancient Roman liturgy at all, that the original was imported from Ephesus in Asia Minor in the second century by St. Irenaeus, who had received it through St. Polycarp from St. John the Apostle.
St. Charles Borromeo, as Archbishop of Milan, didn’t want to destroy the rite’s Ambrosian characteristics. After all, he was Milanese. He agreed that Mass wouldn’t be said during the Fridays of Lent, nor communion distributed. All that would stay the same. However, he proposed that when the rest of the Catholic Church was complying with the Council of Trent and fasting on the first Sunday of Lent, Melanese should not participate in a carnival. Governor Ayamonte disagreed for the income to Milan was substantial from carnival. Most of Milan supported the governor. The king of Spain said the pope should decide.
Pope Gregory supported Archbishop Borromeo and carnival ended on Ash Wednesday. However, other aspects of the Ambrosian Rite together with the Ambrosian Breviary continued to be used in spite of a new missal and breviary used in the universal Church after the Council of Trent. See The Hidden Saint: The 16th Century Church in Crisis for more like this.
In the 1560s two Dominican nuns refused to install a grill in their cloister alleging the requirement to be slur on their community. The instruction had been given to separate the public area of the convent parlors from the nun’s private area beyond which cloistered nuns could not pass without their bishop’s approval in accordance with directives from the Council of Trent. The nuns were aware of recent Protestant pamphlets alleging “secret tunnels” to rectories, but they still refused the order. It was thought at the time these nuns could “get away” with this insubordination because they were sisters to the pope. However Pope Pius IV, their brother, wrote them a letter saying quite simply that he would be most pleased if those related to him by ties of blood and affection set a good example for other convents. They weren’t brave enough to ignore the plea. Read more on this in my recently released novel The Hidden Saint: The 16th Century Church in Crisis.
Author Julian Bauer celebrates the release of his newest novel, The Hidden Saint, which tells the story of Saint Carlo Borromeo during the tumultuous decades after the Protestant Reformation. The release of this book is timely as we prepare for the 500th anniversary of this world-changing event.
In 16th century Europe, the Catholic Church is in danger of losing its authority over the faith of Christians while at the same time defending itself from Ottoman attack and the spread of Islam. In the Americas encomendaros also challenge the authority of the Church by enslaving the native population despite the threat of excommunication. But the challenges aren’t just external. Immoral priests, greedy bishops, and family feuds distract the mission of the Church and threaten to undo its very establishment.
One man, Carlo Borromeo, begins to stitch back together the frayed pieces of an unraveling Church by finalizing and implementing the decrees at the Council of Trent under the leadership of his uncle, Pope Pius IV. This is the story of an unassuming boy from an influential family in Milan, who calls to task immoral behavior in the Catholic Church and is one day named a saint.
The Hidden Saint is the author’s third novel covering a period in the Church’s history when its very existence was in danger: in the first century (Eugenios: Servant of Kings), in the third century (The Scholar’s Challenge), and in the sixteenth century (The Hidden Saint). He has written two other books: a historical novel revealing the importance of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Ibrahim, the Turk), and contemporary novellas (The Lawyer’s Relic and A Grandfather’s Dilemma). Two nonfiction works are in the process of editing and publication.
In my book, The Scholar’s Challenge, Jerome, the author of the Vulgate Bible, traveled through two of the most important cities at the time of Christ searching for information with which to complete his work. Antioch was a city of one hundred thousand people. Antiochenes were as likely to speak Greek or Aramaic as Latin. It had been losing population for a century or more, and it needed constant restoration as a result of the seismic disturbances the area frequently felt. Two great colonnaded streets intersected Antioch’s center, and a granite artery connected it to the port of Seleucia where the fleets of Rome harbored. Numerous aqueducts, bearing the names of Caesars, supplied water to a seemingly unlimited number of baths.
Antioch was the center of early Gentile conversion activities. Of all the Christian centers, it stood supreme. For Christians, it was one of the three most important cities in the Eastern Roman Empire, together with Constantinople and Alexandria.
South of Antioch the port city of Caesarea was a garden spot well irrigated by aqueducts and drainage canals. It was a great place to study. It held the second finest public library in the world, second only to Alexandria. Origen collected many theological books for his school in Caesarea. He also wrote thousands of books himself, which he donated to the library in his will. Eusebius, the Father of Church History, and a prolific writer in his own right, added another collection to the library. As the bishop of Caesarea for almost twenty-five years and as adviser to the emperor Constantine for twenty of those years, Eusebius had ample opportunity to collect the books he loved so much.
While Alexandria held more books than Caesarea, the Christian library in Caesarea included Eusebius’s ten volumes on the history of the Christian church from New Testament times to just before the Council of Nicaea. There was no comparable work in Christendom. The second work, by Origen, attempted to find the true wording of the Old Testament by comparing six versions of these Scriptures virtually word for word. This work, called the Hexapla, had never been copied because of its size; it could only be found in the Caesarean library. Jerome spent a considerable amount of time here studying. More on this may be found in The Scholar’s Challenge.
The Palestinians who lived in Joppa loved the Maccabeans and their descendants the Hasmoneans. They despised Herod. The reasons began 150 years earlier when Alexander the Great died and left the area in Greek (Seleucid) hands. At the time, the Hebrews of Judea had two conflicting political and religious factions, and these factions were just as important as the Seleucids. One was composed of rural traditionalists under the Maccabees and the second of Hellenized Hebrews from Jerusalem.
The Seleucids brought their army to Jerusalem in support of the Hellenization of the city, but they went too far, even for the Hellenized Hebrews of Jerusalem. The foolish Seleucids banned Hebrew religious practices, outlawed circumcision, and put the idol Zeus on the altar in the temple.
The Seleucids then drowned two hundred Hebrews from Joppa by pretending they were taking them sailing and then killing them. After the drowning, the Maccabees took revenge on the Greeks in Joppa with their battle cry: “Who is like You among the heavenly powers, Hashem!” The word “Hashem” was Hebrew for “the Name” as found in Leviticus—a reference to God. The Maccabees then burned Joppa and killed many Greeks.
We find our heroine Kallisto still harboring ill will towards the Greeks, and especially towards Herod for he killed off many of the Hasmoneans, descendants of the Maccabeans, and sent her as a slave to Rome. When our story Eugenios: Servant of Kings opens, it had only been several decades since the Roman general Pompey, friend of Julius Caesar, had subjected Joppa to Roman rule. And now Augustus had put Herod over them.
In our upcoming novel The Hidden Saint we explore the difficulties that surrounded the split within the Christian Church in the 16th century. Those differences are especially important now that we are entering the 500th year of that split and the celebrations which will surround the event. Fortunately, we are more understanding of one another’s positions today in light of the attacks on Christianity as a whole.
The central issue between Martin Luther and the Catholic Church in the 16th century concerned the doctrine of justification. The condemnations hurled at one another in that century no longer apply due to a high level of consensus between the two faiths. (Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification; The Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church 25 June 1998) While all issues have not been resolved, there is a consensus on the fundamental truths of the doctrine of justification. Several remaining differences require further study; for example, the Catholic Church continues to believe that concupiscence is not a sin, and that baptism removes all sin.
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI set up a procedure to allow “groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world” to return en masse to the Catholic Church. Conservatives of the Anglican Communion, including conservative Episcopalians, took comfort in this procedure and the practice has proven workable. Several important issues remain unresolved: papal supremacy and ordination of women and openly homosexual priests. Other Christians, most noticeably the Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox faiths, have seen with interest, the fact that married Anglican priests may now receive Holy Orders and become Catholic priests.
After the Battle of Lepanto in the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire quickly rebuilt its fleet of ships to its former level. However, never again did Islam seriously challenge Europe. Currently, Muslims represent about 23.2 percent of the world’s population as compared to Christians which represent about 31.5 percent (PEW Research). Most of the Muslim population resides in such countries as Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
Just as it did in the mid 16th century, the current generation must find a way to mute the dual threats of terrorism and the lack of morality. These perpetual threats may never be eradicated only contained as long as humans are merely humans. As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (8:22) “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even unto now…”