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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Shroud of Turin One of several cloths said to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, this is by far the most famous. It consists of a large linen cloth bearing a very faint image outline of a human figure that is said to be that of Jesus Christ, deposited there by some unknown process.
      The object first showed up in 1355 as a relic in the Church of Our Lady of Lirey in north-central France. It became an object of veneration, and pilgrims flocked from all over Europe to view it and to ask for miracles in its presence. From Lirey it traveled all over France, passing from church to church, being purchased, donated, and repurchased by the pious rich who wanted recognition. It eventually (1578) ended up in Turin (Torino) in Italy, where it still resides.
      Much has been made of the fact that when a photographic negative of the image on the cloth is viewed, it appears much more “lifelike.” All the expected wounds of the crucifixion process, along with bloodstains, appear on the cloth.
      Definitive tests prove absolutely that it is a forgery. The evidence shows:


      1. The cloth itself could not date from the correct period or from that area of the world, simply because that particular weave of cloth was not made then or there.
     
      2. Wrapping of a body in that size and shape of cloth was not done in Palestine at that period. Such wrapping disagrees with the biblical description as well.
     
      3. The representation of the face of Christ on this cloth and in all paintings and sculptures is and always has been a formalized guess. This version matches the “accepted” one. We know nothing about Christ's actual appearance.
     
      4. Carbon dating of the fabric, done in three independent labs, showed that the linen fabric was woven about the year 1350.
     
      5. The “bloodstains” are not only red in color (they could not be, after that period of time), but they were shown by chemical analysis to be paint of the composition used in the fourteenth century.
     
      6. The bishop of Troyes (Lirey) knew who the artist was who painted the cloth and when and how he did it, and so reported to Pope Clement VII. The document still exists and has been shown to be unquestionably authentic.

      In spite of this (and much more) evidence that the Shroud of Turin is merely an artifact turned out by an artist, there is a large group of “sindonologists”——a special designation for those who believe this object to be genuine——who continue to insist on its validity. A New York Times editorial of December 4, 1981, quoted some of the evidence that the shroud was a fake, then added:  

      We excel over our medieval forebears in many things, no doubt, but should try not to outdo them in credulity.



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