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The Real Face of Jesus?

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History, ScienceDocumentary hosted by Johnathan Adams, published by History Channel in 2015 - English narration

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The Real Face of Jesus? What did Jesus look like? Artists, scholars and millions of Christians around the world have been pondering the question for centuries. The Real Face of Jesus? follows a team of graphic experts as they use cutting-edge 3D software to bring a holy relic known as the Shroud of Turin to life. Many believe Jesus Christ was buried in this ancient linen cloth, which bears traces of blood and the faint, ghostly image of a man. With the help of modern technology, can HISTORY finally unlock the secrets of one of the world’s most scrutinized and controversial artifacts? To attempt this feat, HISTORY turned to computer graphics artist Ray Downing of Studio Macbeth, who used photographs and digital animation to reconstruct Abraham Lincoln in 2009. As Ray and his team grapple with the task, we delve into the Shroud of Turin’s long history, along with the many perplexing questions that centuries of scientific research have failed to settle. How, for instance, did the figure’s imprint appear on the cloth? And how can we extract 3D information from a two-dimensional piece of linen? In The Real Face of Jesus?, HISTORY unveils the fruit of many months of labor, made possible by sophisticated computer tools in very capable hands: an accurate depiction of the man many believe to be Jesus Christ. For the devout and curious alike, this is a compelling story of transformation—a fascinating journey from the realm of creativity and imagination into the domain of science and technology.

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For centuries, the most common image of Jesus Christ, at least in Western cultures, has been that of a bearded, fair-skinned man with long, wavy, light brown or blond hair and (often) blue eyes. But the Bible doesn’t describe Jesus physically, and all the evidence we do have indicates he probably looked very different from how he has long been portrayed.

What Does the Bible Say?

The Bible offers few clues about Christ’s physical appearance. Most of what we know about Jesus comes from the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. According to the Gospels, Jesus was a Jewish man born in Bethlehem and raised in the town of Nazareth, in Galilee (formerly Palestine, now northern Israel) during the first century A.D.

We know Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23), but the Bible tells us virtually nothing about what he looked like―except that he didn’t stand out in any particular way. When Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane before the Crucifixion (Matthew 26:47-56) Judas Iscariot had to point Jesus out to his soldiers among the disciples―presumably because they all appeared similar to one another.

WATCH: Jesus: His Life in HISTORY Vault

For many scholars, Revelation 1:14-15 offers a clue that Jesus's skin was a darker hue and that his hair was woolly in texture. The hairs of his head, it says, "were white as white wool, white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace.”

“We don't know what [Jesus] looked like, but if all of the things that we do know about him are true, he was a Palestinian Jewish man living in Galilee in the first century,” says Robert Cargill, assistant professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Iowa and editor of Biblical Archaeology Review. “So he would have looked like a Palestinian Jewish man of the first century. He would have looked like a Jewish Galilean.”

READ MORE: Who Wrote the Bible?

How Have Depictions of Jesus Changed Over the Centuries?

Some of the earliest known artistic representations of Jesus date to the mid-third century A.D., more than two centuries after his death. These are the paintings in the ancient catacombs of St. Domitilla in Rome, first discovered some 400 years ago. Reflecting one of the most common images of Jesus at the time, the paintings depict Jesus as the Good Shepherd, a young, short-haired, beardless man with a lamb around his shoulders.

Another rare early portrait of Jesus was discovered in 2018 on the walls of a ruined church in southern Israel. Painted in the sixth century A.D., it is the earliest known image of Christ found in Israel, and portrays him with shorter, curly hair, a depiction that was common to the eastern region of the Byzantine empire―especially in Egypt and the Syria-Palestine region―but disappeared from later Byzantine art.

READ MORE: Does this 1,500-Year-Old Painting Show What Jesus Looked Like?

The long-haired, bearded image of Jesus that emerged beginning in the fourth century A.D. was influenced heavily by representations of Greek and Roman gods, particularly the all-powerful Greek god Zeus. At that point, Jesus started to appear in a long robe, seated on a throne (such as in the fifth-century mosaic on the altar of the Santa Pudenziana church in Rome), sometimes with a halo surrounding his head.

“The point of these images was never to show Jesus as a man, but to make theological points about who Jesus was as Christ (King, Judge) and divine Son,” Joan Taylor, professor of Christian origins and second temple Judaism at King's College London, wrote in TheIrish Times. “They have evolved over time to the standard ‘Jesus’ we recognize.”

Of course, not all images of Jesus conform to the dominant image of him portrayed in Western art. In fact, many different cultures around the world have depicted him, visually at least, as one of their own. “Cultures tend to portray prominent religious figures to look like the dominant racial identity,” Cargill explains.

READ MORE: The Bible Says Jesus Was Real. What Other Proof Exists?

What Is the Shroud of Turin?

Of the many possible relics related to Jesus that have surfaced over the centuries, one of the most well-known is the Shroud of Turin, which surfaced in 1354. Believers argued that Jesus was wrapped in the piece of linen after he was crucified, and that the shroud bears the clear image of his face. But many experts have dismissed the shroud as a fake, and the Vatican itself refers to it as an “icon” rather than a relic.

“The Shroud of Turin has been debunked on a couple of occasions as a medieval forgery,” says Cargill. “It’s part of a larger phenomenon that has been around since Jesus himself, of attempting to acquire and, if they can't be acquired, to produce, objects that are part of Jesus’ body, life and ministry—for the purposes of either legitimizing his existence and the claims made about him, or in some cases, harnessing his miraculous powers.”

READ MORE: The Shroud of Turin Isn't Jesus's Burial Cloth, Claims Forensic Study

What Research and Science Can Tell Us About Jesus

In 2001, the retired medical artist Richard Neave led a team of Israeli and British forensic anthropologists and computer programmers in creating a new image of Jesus, based on an Israeli skull dating to the first century A.D., computer modeling and their knowledge of what Jewish people looked like at the time. Though no one claims it’s an exact reconstruction of what Jesus himself actually looked like, scholars consider this image—around five feet tall, with darker skin, dark eyes, and shorter, curlier hair—to be more accurate than many artistic depictions of the son of God.

In her 2018 book What Did Jesus Look Like?, Taylor used archaeological remains, historical texts and ancient Egyptian funerary art to conclude that, like most people in Judea and Egypt around the time, Jesus most likely had brown eyes, dark brown to black hair and olive-brown skin. He may have stood about 5-ft.-5-in. (166 cm) tall, the average man’s height at the time.

While Cargill agrees that these more recent images of Jesus—including darker, perhaps curlier hair, darker skin and dark eyes—probably come closer to the truth, he stresses that we can never really know exactly what Jesus looked like.

“What did Jewish Galileans look like 2,000 years ago?” he asks. “That's the question. They probably didn't have blue eyes and blond hair.”

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The Shroud of Turin is a 14-foot linen cloth bearing an image of a crucified man that has become a popular Catholic icon. For some, it is the authentic burial shroud of Jesus Christ. For others, it is a religious icon reflecting the story of the Christ, not necessarily the original shroud.

More than 600 years after it first appeared in historical records, the Shroud of Turin remains an important religious symbol for Christians around the world.

1. The shroud first surfaced in medieval France.

The earliest historical records of the Shroud of Turin place it in Lirey, France during the 1350s. A French knight named Geoffroi de Charny allegedly presented it to the dean of the church in Lirey as Jesus’ authentic burial shroud. There’s no record of how de Charny got his hands on the shroud, nor where it was during the 1300 intervening years since Christ’s burial outside Jerusalem.

WATCH: Jesus: His Life on HISTORY Vault

2. The pope soon declared it was not an actual historic relic.

After the church of Lirey put the shroud on display, the church began to draw a lot of pilgrims, and also a lot of money. However, many prominent members of the church remained skeptical of its authenticity.

Around 1389, Pierre d’Arcis—the bishop of Troyes, France—sent a report to Pope Clement VII claiming an artist had confessed to forging the shroud. Furthermore, d’Arcis claimed the dean of the Lirey church knew it was a fake and had used it to raise money anyway. In response, the pope declared the shroud wasn’t the true burial cloth of Christ. Still, he said the Lirey church could continue to display it if it acknowledged the cloth was a man-made religious “icon,” not a historic “relic.” Today, Pope Francis still describes it as an “icon.”

3. De Charny’s granddaughter was excommunicated for selling it to Italian royals.

In 1418, when the Hundred Years’ War threatened to spill over into Lirey, Geoffroi de Charny’s granddaughter Margaret de Charny and her husband offered to store the cloth in their castle. Her husband wrote a receipt for the exchange acknowledging that the cloth was not Jesus’ authentic burial shroud, and promising to return the shroud when it was safe. However, she later refused to return it, and instead took it on tour, advertising it as Jesus’ real burial shroud.

In 1453, Margaret de Charny sold the shroud in exchange for two castles to the royal house of Savoy, which ruled over parts of modern-day France, Italy and Switzerland (the house later ascended to the Italian throne). As punishment for selling the shroud, she received excommunication.



4. Before the shroud moved to Turin, it was almost lost in a fire.

In 1502, the house of Savoy placed the shroud in the Sainte-Chapelle in Chambéry, which is now part of France. In 1532, a fire broke out in the chapel. It melted part of the silver in the container protecting the shroud, and this silver fell onto part of the shroud, burning through it. The burn marks and the water stains from where the fire was extinguished are still visible today.

In 1578, the house of Savoy moved the shroud to the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, which later became part of Italy. It has remained there ever since, with the exception of World War II, when Italy relocated it for safekeeping.

5. There have been many scientific studies about its authenticity.

Despite the fact that Pope Clement VII declared the shroud a fake over 600 years ago, there has been no end to the debate about the shroud’s authenticity. Starting in the 20th century, people on both sides of the debate began to bolster their arguments with scientific studies.

In the 1970s, the Shroud of Turin Research Project said the markings on the cloth were consistent with a crucified body and that the stains were real human blood. In 1988, one group of scientists said their analysis showed the shroud originated between 1260 and 1390, while another said their analysis showed it originated between 300 B.C. and A.D. 400. In 2018, researchers used forensic techniques to argue the blood stains on the shroud couldn’t have come from Christ.

6. The shroud is protected by bulletproof glass.

Security is tight for the frail Shroud of Turin. It is rarely shown to the public, and is guarded by security cameras and bulletproof glass. The latter security measure actually proved to be a bit of a roadblock in 1997, when a fire broke out in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. Firefighters had to hammer through four layers of bulletproof glass to save the shroud.

7. The shroud entered the digital age.

In April 2020, Turin Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia announced that in light of the devastation from COVID-19, people around the world would be able to view the Shroud of Turin online for Easter. On the Thursday before the holiday in 2020, Italy reported 143,626 known cases of COVID-19 and 18,279 deaths from the virus. Archbishop Nosiglia said he was motivated to provide a livestream of the shroud, which was last publicly displayed in 2015, by thousands of people who requested to view it during the global COVID-19 crisis.

READ MOE: What Did Jesus Look Like?

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MyFOXNY segment on History Channel special The Real Face of Jesus

Shroud of Turin

Cloth bearing the alleged image of Jesus

Shroud of Turin
Turin shroud positive and negative displaying original color information 708 x 465 pixels 94 KB.jpg

The Shroud of Turin: modern photo of the face, positive (left), and digitally processed image (right)

Size4.4 m × 1.1 m (14 ft 5 in × 3 ft 7 in)
Present locationCathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Turin, Italy
Period13th to 14th century[1]

The Shroud of Turin (Italian: Sindone di Torino), also known as the Holy Shroud[2][3] (Italian: Sacra Sindone[ˈsaːkra ˈsindone] or Santa Sindone), is a length of linen cloth bearing the negative image of a man. Some claim the image depicts Jesus of Nazareth and the fabric is the burial shroud in which he was wrapped after crucifixion.

First mentioned in 1354, the shroud was denounced in 1389 by the local bishop of Troyes as a fake. Currently the Catholic Church neither formally endorses nor rejects the shroud, and in 2013 Pope Francis referred to it as an "icon of a man scourged and crucified".[4] The shroud has been kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Turin, in northern Italy, since 1578.[2]

In 1988, radiocarbon dating established that the shroud was from the Middle Ages, between the years 1260 and 1390.[1] All hypotheses put forward to challenge the radiocarbon dating have been scientifically refuted,[5] including the medieval repair hypothesis,[6][7][8] the bio-contamination hypothesis[9] and the carbon monoxide hypothesis.[10]

The image on the shroud is much clearer in black-and-white negative—first observed in 1898—than in its natural sepia color. A variety of methods have been proposed for the formation of the image, but the actual method used has not yet been conclusively identified.[11] The shroud continues to be intensely studied, and remains a controversial issue among scientists and biblical scholars.[12][13][14][15]


The shroud is rectangular, measuring approximately 4.4 by 1.1 metres (14 ft 5 in × 3 ft 7 in). The cloth is woven in a three-to-one herringbonetwill composed of flax fibrils. Its most distinctive characteristic is the faint, brownish image of a front and back view of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and point in opposite directions. The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of the cloth.[16]

The image in faint straw-yellow colour on the crown of the cloth fibres appears to be of a man with a beard, moustache, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. He is muscular and tall (various experts have measured him as from 1.70 to 1.88 m or 5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 2 in).[17] Reddish-brown stains are found on the cloth, correlating, according to proponents, with the wounds in the Biblical description of the crucifixion of Jesus.[18]

In May 1898 Italian photographer Secondo Pia was allowed to photograph the shroud. He took the first photograph of the shroud on 28 May 1898. In 1931, another photographer, Giuseppe Enrie, photographed the shroud and obtained results similar to Pia's.[19] In 1978, ultraviolet photographs were taken of the shroud.[20][21]

The shroud was damaged in a fire in 1532 in the chapel in Chambery, France. There are some burn holes and scorched areas down both sides of the linen, caused by contact with molten silver during the fire that burned through it in places while it was folded.[22] Fourteen large triangular patches and eight smaller ones were sewn onto the cloth by Poor Clare nuns to repair the damage.


Main article: History of the Shroud of Turin

The first possible historical record of the Shroud of Turin dates from 1353 or 1357,[12][23] and the first certain record (in Lirey, France) in 1390 when Bishop Pierre d'Arcis wrote a memorandum to Pope Clement VII (Avignon Obedience), stating that the shroud was a forgery and that the artist had confessed.[24][25] Historical records seem to indicate that a shroud bearing an image of a crucified man existed in the small town of Lirey around the years 1353 to 1357 in the possession of a French Knight, Geoffroi de Charny, who died at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356.[12]

Some images of the Pray Codex are claimed by some to include a representation of the shroud. However the image on the Pray Codex has crosses on what may be one side of the supposed shroud, an interlocking step pyramid pattern on the other, and no image of Jesus. Critics point out that it may not be a shroud at all, but rather a rectangular tombstone, as seen on other sacred images.[26] A crumpled cloth can be seen discarded on the coffin, and the text of the codex fails to mention any miraculous image on the codex shroud.

There are no definite historical records concerning the particular shroud currently at Turin Cathedral prior to the 14th century. A burial cloth, which some historians maintain was the Shroud, was owned by the Byzantine emperors but disappeared during the Sack of Constantinople in 1204.[24] Although there are numerous reports of Jesus' burial shroud, or an image of his head, of unknown origin, being venerated in various locations before the 14th century, there is no historical evidence that these refer to the shroud currently at Turin Cathedral.[27]

The pilgrim medallion of Lirey (before 1453),[28]drawing by Arthur Forgeais, 1865.

The history of the shroud from the 15th century is well recorded. In 1453 Margaret de Charny deeded the Shroud to the House of Savoy. In 1578 the shroud was transferred to Turin. Since the 17th century the shroud has been displayed (e.g., in the chapel built for that purpose by Guarino Guarini[29]) and in the 19th century it was first photographed during a public exhibition.

In 1532, the shroud suffered damage from a fire in a chapel of Chambéry, capital of the Savoy region, where it was stored. A drop of molten silver from the reliquary produced a symmetrically placed mark through the layers of the folded cloth. Poor Clare Nuns attempted to repair this damage with patches. In 1578 Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy ordered the cloth to be brought from Chambéry to Turin and it has remained at Turin ever since.[30]

Repairs were made to the shroud in 1694 by Sebastian Valfrè to improve the repairs of the Poor Clare nuns.[31] Further repairs were made in 1868 by Princess Maria Clotilde of Savoy. The shroud remained the property of the House of Savoy until 1983, when it was given to the Holy See.

A fire, possibly caused by arson, threatened the shroud on 11 April 1997.[32] In 2002, the Holy See had the shroud restored. The cloth backing and thirty patches were removed, making it possible to photograph and scan the reverse side of the cloth, which had been hidden from view. A faint part-image of the body was found on the back of the shroud in 2004.

The Shroud was placed back on public display (the 18th time in its history) in Turin from 10 April to 23 May 2010; and according to Church officials, more than 2 million visitors came to see it.[33]

On Holy Saturday (30 March) 2013, images of the shroud were streamed on various websites as well as on television for the first time in 40 years.[34][35] Roberto Gottardo of the diocese of Turin stated that for the first time ever they had released high definition images of the shroud that can be used on tablet computers and can be magnified to show details not visible to the naked eye.[34] As this rare exposition took place, Pope Francis issued a carefully worded statement which urged the faithful to contemplate the shroud with awe but, like his predecessors, he "stopped firmly short of asserting its authenticity".[36][37]

The shroud was again placed on display in the cathedral in Turin from 19 April 2015 until 24 June 2015. There was no charge to view it, but an appointment was required.[38]


Main article: Conservation-restoration of the Shroud of Turin

The shroud has undergone several restorations and several steps have been taken to preserve it to avoid further damage and contamination. It is kept under laminatedbulletproof glass in an airtight case. The temperature- and humidity-controlled case is filled with argon (99.5%) and oxygen (0.5%) to prevent chemical changes. The shroud itself is kept on an aluminum support sliding on runners and stored flat within the case.[citation needed]

Religious views[edit]

A poster advertising the 1898 exhibition of the shroud in Turin. Secondo Pia's photograph was taken a few weeks too late to be included in the poster. The image on the poster includes a painted face, not obtained from Pia's photograph.

The Gospels of Matthew,[39]Mark,[40] and Luke[41] state that Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the body of Jesus in a piece of linen cloth and placed it in a new tomb. The Gospel of John[42] refers to strips of linen used by Joseph of Arimathea.

After the resurrection, the Gospel of John[43] states: "Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus' head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen." The Gospel of Luke[44] states: "Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves."

In 1543, John Calvin, in his book Treatise on Relics, explained the reason why the Shroud cannot be genuine:[45]

In all the places where they pretend to have the graveclothes, they show a large piece of linen by which the whole body, including the head, was covered, and, accordingly, the figure exhibited is that of an entire body. But the Evangelist John relates that Christ was buried, "as is the manner of the Jews to bury." What that manner was may be learned, not only from the Jews, by whom it is still observed, but also from their books, which explain what the ancient practice was. It was this: The body was wrapped up by itself as far as the shoulders, and then the head by itself was bound round with a napkin, tied by the four corners, into a knot. And this is expressed by the Evangelist, when he says that Peter saw the linen clothes in which the body had been wrapped lying in one place, and the napkin which had been wrapped about the head lying in another. The term napkin may mean either a handkerchief employed to wipe the face, or it may mean a shawl, but never means a large piece of linen in which the whole body may be wrapped. I have, however, used the term in the sense which they improperly give to it. On the whole, either the Evangelist John must have given a false account, or every one of them must be convicted of falsehood, thus making it manifest that they have too impudently imposed on the unlearned.

Although pieces said to be of burial cloths of Jesus are held by at least four churches in France and three in Italy, none has gathered as much religious following as the Shroud of Turin.[46] The religious beliefs and practices associated with the shroud predate historical and scientific discussions and have continued in the 21st century, although the Catholic Church has never passed judgment on its authenticity.[47] An example is the Holy Face Medal bearing the image from the shroud, worn by some Catholics.[48] Indeed, the Shroud of Turin is respected by Christians of several traditions, including Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Orthodox, Pentecostals, and Presbyterians.[49] Several Lutheran parishes have hosted replicas of the Shroud of Turin, for didactic and devotional purposes.[50][51]


Although the shroud image is currently associated with Catholic devotions to the Holy Face of Jesus, the devotions themselves predate Secondo Pia's 1898 photograph. Such devotions had been started in 1844 by the Carmelite nun Marie of St Peter (based on "pre-crucifixion" images associated with the Veil of Veronica) and promoted by Leo Dupont, also called the Apostle of the Holy Face. In 1851 Dupont formed the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Face" in Tours, France, well before Secondo Pia took the photograph of the shroud.[52]

Miraculous image[edit]

Further information: Acheiropoieta, Veil of Veronica, Manoppello Image, Image of Edessa, and Sudarium of Oviedo

The Vatican Veil of Veronica

The religious concept of the miraculous acheiropoieton (Greek: made without hands) has a long history in Christianity, going back to at least the 6th century. Among the most prominent portable early acheiropoieta are the Image of Camuliana and the Mandylion or Image of Edessa, both painted icons of Christ held in the Byzantine Empire and now generally regarded as lost or destroyed, as is the Hodegetria image of the Virgin Mary.[53] Other early images in Italy, all heavily and unfortunately restored, that have been revered as acheiropoieta now have relatively little following, as attention has focused on the Shroud.

Vatican position[edit]

In 1389 the bishop of Troyes sent a memorial to Antipope Clement VII, declaring that the cloth had been "artificially painted in an ingenious way" and that "it was also proved by the artist who had painted it that it was made by human work, not miraculously produced". In 1390 Clement VII consequently issued four papal bulls, with which he allowed the exposition, but ordered to "say aloud, to put an end to all fraud, that the aforementioned representation is not the true Shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but a painting or panel made to represent or imitate the Shroud ".[54] However, in 1506 Pope Julius II reversed this position and declared the Shroud to be authentic and authorized the public veneration of it with its own mass and office.[55]

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano covered the story of Secondo Pia's photograph of 28 May 1898 in its edition of 15 June 1898, but it did so with no comment and thereafter Church officials generally refrained from officially commenting on the photograph for almost half a century.

The first official association between the image on the Shroud and the Catholic Church was made in 1940 based on the formal request by Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli to the curia in Milan to obtain authorization to produce a medal with the image. The authorization was granted and the first medal with the image was offered to Pope Pius XII who approved the medal. The image was then used on what became known as the Holy Face Medal worn by many Catholics, initially as a means of protection during World War II. In 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, and declared its feast to be celebrated every year the day before Ash Wednesday.[56][57] Following the approval by Pope Pius XII, Catholic devotions to the Holy Face of Jesus have been almost exclusively associated with the image on the shroud.

In 1936, Pope Pius XII called the Shroud a "holy thing perhaps like nothing else",[4] and went on to approve of the devotion accorded to it as the Holy Face of Jesus.[58]

In 1998, Pope John Paul II called the Shroud a "distinguished relic" and "a mirror of the Gospel".[59][60] His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, called it an "icon written with the blood of a whipped man, crowned with thorns, crucified and pierced on his right side".[4] In 2013, Pope Francis referred to it as an "icon of a man scourged and crucified".[4]

Other Christian denominations, such as Anglicans and Methodists, have also shown devotion to the Shroud of Turin.[49]

In 1983 the Shroud was given to the Holy See by the House of Savoy.[61] However, as with all relics of this kind, the Roman Catholic Church made no pronouncements on its authenticity. As with other approved Catholic devotions, the matter has been left to the personal decision of the faithful, as long as the Church does not issue a future notification to the contrary. In the Church's view, whether the cloth is authentic or not has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of what Jesus taught or on the saving power of his death and resurrection.[62]

Pope John Paul II stated in 1998 that:[63] "Since it is not a matter of faith, the Church has no specific competence to pronounce on these questions. She entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate, so that satisfactory answers may be found to the questions connected with this Sheet."[64] Pope John Paul II showed himself to be deeply moved by the image of the Shroud and arranged for public showings in 1998 and 2000. In his address at the Turin Cathedral on Sunday 24 May 1998 (the occasion of the 100th year of Secondo Pia's 28 May 1898 photograph), he said: "The Shroud is an image of God's love as well as of human sin ... The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One, which attests to the tremendous human capacity for causing pain and death to one's fellow man, stands as an icon of the suffering of the innocent in every age."[65]

On 30 March 2013, as part of the Easter celebrations, there was an exposition of the shroud in the Cathedral of Turin. Pope Francis recorded a video message for the occasion, in which he described the image on the shroud as "this Icon of a man", and stated that "the Man of the Shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth."[36][37] In his carefully worded statement Pope Francis urged the faithful to contemplate the shroud with awe, but "stopped firmly short of asserting its authenticity".[37]

Pope Francis went on a pilgrimage to Turin on 21 June 2015, to pray before, venerate the Holy Shroud and honor St. John Bosco on the bicentenary of his birth.[66][67][68]

Scientific analysis[edit]

Sindonology (from the Greek σινδών—sindon, the word used in the Gospel of Mark[15:46] to describe the type of the burial cloth of Jesus) is the formal study of the Shroud. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first use of this word in 1964: "The investigation ... assumed the stature of a separate discipline and was given a name, sindonology," but also identifies the use of "sindonological" in 1950 and "sindonologist" in 1953.[70]

Secondo Pia's 1898 photographs of the shroud allowed the scientific community to begin to study it. A variety of scientific theories regarding the shroud have since been proposed, based on disciplines ranging from chemistry to biology and medical forensics to optical image analysis. The scientific approaches to the study of the Shroud fall into three groups: material analysis (both chemical and historical), biology and medical forensics and image analysis.

Early studies[edit]

The first direct examination of the shroud by a scientific team was undertaken in 1969–1973 in order to advise on preservation of the shroud and determine specific testing methods. This led to the appointment of an 11-member Turin Commission to advise on the preservation of the relic and on specific testing. Five of the commission members were scientists, and preliminary studies of samples of the fabric were conducted in 1973.[12]

In 1976 physicist John P. Jackson, thermodynamicist Eric Jumper and photographer William Mottern used image analysis technologies developed in aerospace science for analyzing the images of the Shroud. In 1977 these three scientists and over thirty other experts in various fields formed the Shroud of Turin Research Project. In 1978 this group, often called STURP, was given direct access to the Shroud.

Also in 1978, independently from the STURP research, Giovanni Tamburelli obtained at CSELT a 3D-elaboration from the Shroud with higher resolution than Jumper and Mottern. A second result of Tamburelli was the electronic removal from the image of the blood that apparently covers the face.[71]

Tests for pigments[edit]

In the 1970s a special eleven-member Turin Commission conducted several tests. Conventional and electron microscopic examination of the Shroud at that time revealed an absence of heterogeneous coloring material or pigment.[12] In 1979, Walter McCrone, upon analyzing the samples he was given by STURP, concluded that the image is actually made up of billions of submicrometre pigment particles. The only fibrils that had been made available for testing of the stains were those that remained affixed to custom-designed adhesive tape applied to thirty-two different sections of the image.[72]

Mark Anderson, who was working for McCrone, analyzed the Shroud samples.[73] In his book Ray Rogers states that Anderson, who was McCrone's Raman microscopy expert, concluded that the samples acted as organic material when he subjected them to the laser.[74]: 61 

John Heller and Alan Adler examined the same samples and agreed with McCrone's result that the cloth contains iron oxide. However, they concluded, the exceptional purity of the chemical and comparisons with other ancient textiles showed that, while retting flax absorbs iron selectively, the iron itself was not the source of the image on the shroud.[18]

Radiocarbon dating[edit]

Main article: Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin

After years of discussion, the Holy See permitted radiocarbon dating on portions of a swatch taken from a corner of the shroud. Independent tests in 1988 at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology concluded with 95% confidence that the shroud material dated to 1260–1390 AD.[75] This 13th- to 14th-century dating is much too recent for the shroud to have been associated with Jesus. The dating does on the other hand match the first appearance of the shroud in church history.[76][77] This dating is also slightly more recent than that estimated by art historian W. S. A. Dale, who postulated on artistic grounds that the shroud is an 11th-century icon made for use in worship services.[78]

Some proponents for the authenticity of the shroud have attempted to discount the radiocarbon dating result by claiming that the sample may represent a medieval "invisible" repair fragment rather than the image-bearing cloth.[24][79][9][6][80][81][82][83] However, all of the hypotheses used to challenge the radiocarbon dating have been scientifically refuted,[10][5] including the medieval repair hypothesis,[6][7] the bio-contamination hypothesis[9] and the carbon monoxide hypothesis.[10]

In recent years several statistical analyses have been conducted on the radiocarbon dating data, attempting to draw some conclusions about the reliability of the C14 dating from studying the data rather than studying the shroud itself. They have all concluded that the data shows a lack of homogeneity, which might be due to unidentified abnormalities in the fabric tested, or else might be due to differences in the pre-testing cleaning processes used by the different laboratories. The most recent analysis (2020) concludes that the stated date range needs to be adjusted by up to 88 years in order to properly meet the requirement of "95% confidence".[84][85][86][87]

Material historical analysis[edit]

Historical fabrics[edit]

In 1998, shroud researcher Joe Nickell wrote that no examples of herringbone weave are known from the time of Jesus. The few samples of burial cloths that are known from the era are made using plain weave.[25] In 2000, fragments of a burial shroud from the 1st century were discovered in a tomb near Jerusalem, believed to have belonged to a Jewish high priest or member of the aristocracy. The shroud was composed of a simple two-way weave, unlike the complex herringbonetwill of the Turin Shroud. Based on this discovery, the researchers stated that the Turin Shroud did not originate from Jesus-era Jerusalem.[88][89][90]

Biological and medical forensics[edit]

Blood stains[edit]

There are several reddish stains on the shroud suggesting blood, but it is uncertain whether these stains were produced at the same time as the image, or afterwards.[91] McCrone (see painting hypothesis) believed these as containing iron oxide, theorizing that its presence was likely due to simple pigment materials used in medieval times.[92]

Skeptics cite forensic blood tests whose results dispute the authenticity of the Shroud, and point to the possibility that the blood could belong to a person who handled the shroud, and that the apparent blood flows on the shroud are unrealistically neat.[93][94][95]

Flowers and pollen[edit]

A study published in 2011 by professor Salvatore Lorusso of the University of Bologna and others subjected two photographs of the shroud to detailed modern digital image processing, one of them being a reproduction of the photographic negative taken by Giuseppe Enrie in 1931. They did not find any images of flowers or coins or anything else on either image.[96]

In 2015, Italian researchers Barcaccia et al. published a new study in Scientific Reports. They examined the human and non-human DNA found when the shroud and its backing cloth were vacuumed in 1977 and 1988. They found traces of 19 different plant taxa, including plants native to Mediterranean countries, Central Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Asia (China) and the Americas. Of the human mtDNA, sequences were found belonging to haplogroups that are typical of various ethnicities and geographic regions, including Europe, North and East Africa, the Middle East and India. A few non-plant and non-human sequences were also detected, including various birds and one ascribable to a marine worm common in the Northern Pacific Ocean, next to Canada.[97] After sequencing some DNA of pollen and dust found on the shroud, they confirmed that many people from many different places came in contact with the shroud. According to the scientists, "such diversity does not exclude a Medieval origin in Europe but it would be also compatible with the historic path followed by the Turin Shroud during its presumed journey from the Near East. Furthermore, the results raise the possibility of an Indian manufacture of the linen cloth."[97]

Anatomical forensics[edit]

Full length negatives of the shroud.

A number of studies on the anatomical consistency of the image on the shroud and the nature of the wounds on it have been performed, following the initial study by Yves Delage in 1902.[69] While Delage declared the image anatomically flawless, others have presented arguments to support both authenticity and forgery.

The analysis of a crucified Roman, discovered near Venice in 2007, shows heel wounds that are consistent with those found on Jehohanan but which are not consistent with wounds depicted on the shroud. Also, neither of the crucifixion victims known to archaeology show evidence of wrist wounds.[98]

Joe Nickell in 1983, and Gregory S. Paul in 2010, separately state that the proportions of the image are not realistic. Paul stated that the face and proportions of the shroud image are impossible, that the figure cannot represent that of an actual person and that the posture was inconsistent. They argued that the forehead on the shroud is too small; and that the arms are too long and of different lengths and that the distance from the eyebrows to the top of the head is non-representative. They concluded that the features can be explained if the shroud is a work of a Gothic artist.[25][99]

In 2018 an experimental Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA) was performed to study the behaviour of blood flows from the wounds of a crucified person, and to compare this to the evidence on the Turin Shroud. The comparison between different tests demonstrated that the blood patterns on the forearms and on the back of the hand are not connected, and would have had to occur at different times, as a result of a very specific sequence of movements. In addition, the rivulets on the front of the image are not consistent with the lines on the lumbar area, even supposing there might have been different episodes of bleeding at different times. These inconsistencies suggest that the Turin linen was an artistic or "didactic" representation, rather than an authentic burial shroud.[100]

Image and text analysis[edit]

Image analysis[edit]

Both art-historical, digital image processing and analog techniques have been applied to the shroud images.

In 1976 scientists analysed a photograph of the shroud image using NASA imaging equipment, and found that the shroud image has the property of decoding into a 3-dimensional image.[101] Optical physicist and former STURP member John Dee German has noted that it is not difficult to make a photograph which has 3D qualities. If the object being photographed is lighted from the front, and a non-reflective "fog" of some sort exists between the camera and the object, then less light will reach and reflect back from the portions of the object that are farther from the lens, thus creating a contrast which is dependent on distance.[102]

The front image of the Turin Shroud, 1.95 m long, is not directly compatible with the back image, 2.02 m long.[103]

If Jesus' dead body actually produced the images on the shroud, one would expect the bodily areas touching the ground to be more distinct. In fact, Jesus' hands and face are depicted with great detail, while his buttocks and his navel are faintly outlined or invisible, a discrepancy explained with the artist's consideration of modesty. Also, Jesus' right arm and hand are abnormally elongated, allowing him to modestly cover his genital area, which is physically impossible for an ordinary dead body lying supine. No wrinkles or other irregularities distort the image, which is improbable if the cloth had covered the irregular form of a body. For comparison, see oshiguma; the making of face-prints as an artform, in Japan. Furthermore, Jesus' physical appearance corresponds to Byzantine iconography.[104][105][106]

Hypotheses on image origin[edit]


The technique used for producing the image is, according to Walter McCrone, described in a book about medieval painting published in 1847 by Charles Lock Eastlake (Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters). Eastlake describes in the chapter "Practice of Painting Generally During the XIVth Century" a special technique of painting on linen using tempera paint, which produces images with unusual transparent features—which McCrone compares to the image on the shroud.[107]

Acid pigmentation[edit]

In 2009, Luigi Garlaschelli, professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia, stated that he had made a full size reproduction of the Shroud of Turin using only medieval technologies. Garlaschelli placed a linen sheet over a volunteer and then rubbed it with an acidic pigment. The shroud was then aged in an oven before being washed to remove the pigment. He then added blood stains, scorches and water stains to replicate the original.[108] Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical and thermic measurements at the University of Padua, commented that "the technique itself seems unable to produce an image having the most critical Turin Shroud image characteristics".[109][110]

Garlaschelli's reproduction was shown in a 2010 National Geographic documentary. Garlaschelli's technique included the bas-relief approach (described below) but only for the image of the face. The resultant image was visibly similar to the Turin Shroud, though lacking the uniformity and detail of the original.[111]

Medieval photography[edit]

According to the art historian Nicholas Allen, the image on the shroud was formed by a photographic technique in the 13th century.[112] Allen maintains that techniques already available before the 14th century—e.g., as described in the Book of Optics, which was at just that time translated from Arabic to Latin—were sufficient to produce primitive photographs, and that people familiar with these techniques would have been able to produce an image as found on the shroud. To demonstrate this, he successfully produced photographic images similar to the shroud using only techniques and materials available at the time the shroud was supposedly made. He described his results in his PhD thesis,[113] in papers published in several science journals,[114][115] and in a book.[116]Silver bromide is believed by some to have been used for making the Shroud of Turin as it is widely used in photographic films.[117]

Dust-transfer technique[edit]

Scientists Emily Craig and Randall Bresee have attempted to recreate the likenesses of the shroud through the dust-transfer technique, which could have been done by medieval arts. They first did a carbon-dust drawing of a Jesus-like face (using collagen dust) on a newsprint made from wood pulp (which is similar to 13th- and 14th-century paper). They next placed the drawing on a table and covered it with a piece of linen. They then pressed the linen against the newsprint by firmly rubbing with the flat side of a wooden spoon. By doing this they managed to create a reddish-brown image with a lifelike positive likeness of a person, a three-dimensional image and no sign of brush strokes.[118]


In 1978, Joe Nickell noted that the Shroud image had a three-dimensional quality and thought its creation may have involved a sculpture of some type. He advanced the hypothesis that a medieval rubbing technique was used to explain the image, and set out to demonstrate this. He noted that while wrapping a cloth around a sculpture with normal contours would result in a distorted image, Nickell believed that wrapping a cloth over a bas-relief might result in an image like the one seen on the shroud, as it would eliminate wraparound distortions. For his demonstration, Nickell wrapped a wet cloth around a bas-relief sculpture and allowed it to dry. He then applied powdered pigment rather than wet paint (to prevent it soaking into the threads). The pigment was applied with a dauber, similar to making a rubbing from a gravestone. The result was an image with dark regions and light regions convincingly arranged. In a photo essay in Popular Photography magazine, Nickell demonstrated this technique step-by-step.[25][119][note 1] Other researchers later replicated this process.

In 2005, researcher Jacques di Costanzo constructed a bas-relief of a Jesus-like face and draped wet linen over it. After the linen dried, he dabbed it with a mixture of ferric oxide and gelatine. The result was an image similar to that of the face on the Shroud. The imprinted image turned out to be wash-resistant, impervious to temperatures of 250 °C (482 °F) and was undamaged by exposure to a range of harsh chemicals, including bisulphite which, without the gelatine, would normally have degraded ferric oxide to the compound ferrous oxide.[120]

Instead of painting, it has been suggested that the bas-relief could also be heated and used to scorch an image onto the cloth. However researcher Thibault Heimburger performed some experiments with the scorching of linen, and found that a scorch mark is only produced by direct contact with the hot object—thus producing an all-or-nothing discoloration with no graduation of color as is found in the shroud.[121]

Maillard reaction[edit]

The Maillard reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning involving an amino acid and a reducing sugar. The cellulose fibers of the shroud are coated with a thin carbohydrate layer of starch fractions, various sugars, and other impurities. The potential source for amines required for the reaction is a decomposing body,[74]: 100  and no signs of decomposition have been found on the Shroud. Rogers also notes that their tests revealed that there were no proteins or bodily fluids on the image areas.[74]: 38  Also, the image resolution and the uniform coloration of the linen resolution seem to be incompatible with a mechanism involving diffusion.[122]

Fringe theories[edit]

Main article: Fringe theories about the Shroud of Turin

Images of coins, flowers and writing[edit]

Various people have claimed to have detected images of flowers on the shroud, as well as coins over the eyes of the face in the image, writing and other objects.[123][124][125][126][127][128][129][130][131] However a study published in 2011 by Lorusso and others subjected two photographs of the shroud to detailed modern digital image processing, one of them being a reproduction of the photographic negative taken by Giuseppe Enrie in 1931. They did not find any images of flowers or coins or writing or any other additional objects on the shroud in either photograph, they noted that the faint images were "only visible by incrementing the photographic contrast", and they concluded that these signs may be linked to protuberances in the yarn, and possibly also to the alteration and influence of the texture of the Enrie photographic negative during its development in 1931.[96] The use of coins to cover the eyes of the dead is not attested for 1st-century Palestine. The existence of the coin images is rejected by most scientists.[132]

Radiation processes[edit]

Some proponents for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin have argued that the image on the shroud was created by some form of radiation emission at the moment of resurrection.[133][134][135] However, STURP member Alan Adler has stated that this theory is not generally accepted as scientific, given that it runs counter to the laws of physics.[133] Raymond Rogers also criticized the theory, saying: "It is clear that a corona discharge (plasma) in air will cause easily observable changes in a linen sample. No such effects can be observed in image fibers from the Shroud of Turin. Corona discharges and/or plasmas made no contribution to image formation."[74]: 83 

See also[edit]


  1. ^For his pigment, Nickell first used the burial spices myrrh and aloes, but changed to red iron oxide (the pigment red ocher) when microanalyst, Walter McCrone identified it as constituting the shroud’s image. (McCrone had identified the blood as red ochre and vermilion tempers paint.)[25]


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Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shroud_of_Turin

Channel jesus history face of

Over the past several centuries, many people have claimed to have found Jesus’ original burial cloth. One of the most famous candidates is the Shroud of Turin, so named because it has been housed in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, since 1578. However, new forensic research suggests the holy shroud might not be the real deal.

The Shroud of Turin, a 14-foot linen cloth bearing an image of a crucified man, first surfaced in 1354. It’s not the only possible relic associated with Christ—others include a crown of thorns at the Notre-Dame Cathedral and Christ’s supposed foreskin, allegedly stolen from Calcata, Italy around 1983—but it’s produced one of the most heated debates. As recently as 2009, researchers discredited the Shroud of Turin by claiming they’d found Jesus’ “real” burial cloth.

Now, researchers are using forensic techniques to argue the blood stains on the shroud couldn’t have come from Christ.

Forensic anthropologist Matteo Borrini and chemistry professor Luigi Garlaschelli used a live volunteer and a mannequin to study how blood from Jesus’ crucifixion and spear would have flowed onto his burial shroud. Using both human and synthetic blood, they were unable to find a single position in which the blood flowed onto experimental cloths to create the stain pattern on the Shroud of Turin. They published their findings in the Journal of Forensic Sciences on July 10, 2018.

“If you look at the bloodstains as a whole, just as you would when working at a crime scene, you realize they contradict each other,” Borrini, who is a professor at Liverpool John Moores University in England, told Live Science. “That points to the artificial origin of these stains.”

Previous studies have come down on both sides of the debate. In 1988, scientists in Switzerland, England and the United States carbon-dated the Shroud of Turin and concluded that it originated in the Middle Ages between 1260 and 1390. In 2013, scientists in Italy used infrared light and spectroscopy to date it between 280 B.C.E. and 220 C.E., a period covering Christ’s lifetime.

Garlaschelli, a co-author of the recent forensic study who works at the University of Pavia in Italy, has also published research on the Shroud of Turin before. In 2009, he created a copy of the shroud to disprove claims that it “has some strange properties and characteristics that they say cannot be reproduced by human hands,” he told CNN at the time.

Borrini and Garlaschelli’s findings are unlikely to end the debate over the Shroud of Turin any time soon. Victor Weedn, a forensic sciences professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., expresses skepticism about the paper’s conclusions.

“We’re not dealing with things we really know about,” he tells NBC News. “We just don’t know if this cloth was laid on someone who just laid there or was wrapped around the body or moved some before being put in a particular place.”

For what it’s worth, the Vatican usually calls the shroud an “icon” rather than a “relic.” This means the Vatican recognizes its symbolic importance without taking a stand on whether or not it’s historically authentic. Citing this, Borrini—a Roman Catholic—tells NBC News that he doesn’t see a conflict between his research and the Catholic church.

Sours: https://www.history.com
Real Face of Jesus Project by Ray Downing

Is Face of Jesus Christ Revealed?

March 31, 2010— -- The History Channel revealed for the first time Tuesday night a new 3-D image that many believe to be the face of Christ, causing mixed reaction around the globe.

Artists and scientists studied the Shroud of Turin, a cloth that some say was wrapped around Jesus' face when he died, to develop the image.

"If you want to re-create the face of Jesus and you want to get the actual face of Jesus, you have only one object and that's the shroud," said computer artist Ray Downing of Studio Macbeth in New York City, which specializes in digital illustration and animation.

While some people said the image was "realistic" and what they imagined Christ looked like, others were not as certain.

"I find it questionable," one man told ABC News.

"I don't think there should be any one face," a woman said.

Another man questioned whether the Shroud of Turin was real.

"I believe it is an accurate image of whoever the shroud belongs to, but it's unclear if that shroud belongs to Jesus Christ," he said.

Others said they felt a spiritual connection to the image.

"I see love. I see compassion. I see my savior," said one woman who was at the Vatican when she saw the image.

The drive to create the image and the intense response to it are examples of the profound role that Jesus plays in so many lives.

"There's a long tradition in Christian theology and Christian history of seeking the face of Christ, of wanting to know what he was like as a man," said the Rev. Jonathan Morris, a Catholic priest and author in New York City.

Finding Jesus' Face

The centuries-old shroud contains a faint impression of the front and back of a human body, along with blood, dirt and water stains from its age.

Cutting-edge modern skills were required to pull an accurate flesh and blood face from a piece of fabric so old.

The year-long project culminated with a team of graphic artists using the newest technology to create a computer-generated image.

"I have a lot of information about that face and my estimation is we're pretty darn close to what this man looked like," Downing, the lead artist, said.

Ancient Shroud Provides Clues

One of the main problems -- the condition of the shroud -- provided key clues. The team realized there were distortions in the image on the shroud because the fabric had been wrapped around the body.

"The solution was to realize that the shroud wasn't hanging on the wall, it was wrapping a corpse," said Downing, who has also used computers to create images of Abraham Lincoln. "That's the crux of the problem, the face is hidden in there."

"By imitating those distortions, we could take the image and put it back into that shape and figure out what the face looked like … it gave us a blueprint," he said.

After forming the blueprint, the computer artists started the recreation. Of course, there were limitations to what they could do with what they had.

"Inevitably, you do run out of information," Downing said. "You can't see the pores in a linen fabric. There are no eyebrows. It doesn't take a lot of guesswork to assign pores and skin texture to a model, to know that the man did have eyebrows and to provide them. At some point, you do have to leave the realm of actual information and use experience."

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.

Sours: https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/jesus-christ-face-appears-history-channel/story?id=10246233

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Last night, the History Channel aired "The Real Face Of Jesus," a documentary featuring the work of computer artists who recreated the face of Jesus in 3D based on the Shroud of Turin.

The Shroud of Turin, a blood-stained linen that many believe was the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, has been questioned for centuries on its authenticity. But new tests are underway to verify it, and the team featured on "The Real Face Of Jesus" has no doubt the Shroud is real.

"Is this the artifact of a real person or not? Definitely it is," Ray Downing, the main digital illustrator featured, told Alan Boyle of MSNBC.

The program will re-air on the History Channel on Saturday, Apr. 3 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Check out screenshots from "The Real Face Of Jesus" 3D renderings below:

Sours: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-real-face-of-jesus-hi_n_519825

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