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The Shroud of Turin and the Facts


Here are some of the basic points shroud doubters have to answer.

shroud of turinSome time ago a mainstream media outlet reported on the Shroud of Turin and said, "Pope Francis prayed Sunday before the Shroud of Turin, a strip of cloth that some believe was used for the burial of Jesus Christ. The shroud appears to bear the image of a man who resembles paintings of Christ."

"A strip of cloth..."?

It's that last line, "The shroud appears to bear the image of a man who resembles paintings of Christ."  Not only is it badly written but it reveals that the writer knows next to nothing about the shroud itself — which is one of the most extensively researched relics of Christianity.

I've written here about the shroud.

Here are some of the basic points shroud doubters have to answer:

The image of the man on the cloth

The image is not a stain.  It is not painted on the shroud.  It is not burned on in a conventional manner.  Instead it is an image seared on to the cloth with some technology that has yet to be explained.  Not only can they not reproduce the image using medieval technologies, they can't reproduce it with modern technology.

The 3-D capabilities of the image

The image of the man on the shroud can be read by 3-D imaging technology.  Paintings fail this test.

The Positive-Negative Image

The image is a photographic negative.  That means when a traditional photograph is taken what should be the negative appears as a positive image.  If it is a medieval painting how did they do that and why?

The anatomical accuracy

Not only is it an accurate image of a dead man but the image is distorted as it should be if it was lying over a real body and the body vanished from within it.

The historical accuracy to crucifixion

The wounds are all consistent not only with Roman crucifixion, but the details of Jesus' particular crucifixion like the crown of thorns, no broken bones the scourging and the wound in the side.

Geographical accuracy

Pollen from the shroud is not only from the Jerusalem area, but from Turkey and the other places the shroud is supposed to have resided, dust from the area on the shroud by the knees and feet is from the area of Jerusalem

The accuracy to Jewish burial customs

The shroud shows details perfectly consistent with first century Jewish burial customs.  There are even microscopic traces of the flower that would have been used in the burial flowers that grew locally and were known to be used for burial.

The blood and the image

The blood was on the shroud first.  The image happened later.  If it was painted (there is not evidence of paint anywhere) the two would be part of the same faked image

The type of cloth

The cloth is consistent with fabrics from first century Israel, but not with medieval Europe.  A forger would have had to not only forge the image in some as yet undiscovered way, but would have had to have detailed knowledge of linen weaves of the first century and then not only reproduce it, but age it convincingly.

The age of the cloth

The 1987 carbon-14 tests are now believed to have been taken from an area of the cloth that was not simply patched in the middle ages but patched with a difficult to detect interweaving and the carbon-14 tests were therefore compromised.  The latest technology and testing suggests a date for the shroud between 200 BC and AD 200.  Go here for news of Professor Fanti's test in 2013.

The only piece of evidence from the shroud which doesn't match up is the 1987 carbon-14 testing.  When considering evidence and you have nine items which fit with the known facts and fit with each other, but you have one piece of evidence which does not fit, it is common sense to challenge that one piece of evidence and reject it or try again to see why it doesn't fit.  This is what Fanti's research has done and proven that the 1987 tests were faulty.

Atheists often ask for evidence for the existence of God.  I think the Shroud of Turin is the most convincing evidence available if they want scientific, archeological, historical, physical proof.

Why?  Because an atheist must insist on the natural world being a closed system.  Miracles are not allowed.  Not even one miracle is allowed.

Because if there is a miracle, then there is an intelligent being outside and beyond the closed natural system.

So if it can be shown that one miracle has occurred, then God must exist, and the most astounding miracle would be the resurrection of a dead person and the only person that happened to was Jesus Christ, and the evidence from the shroud is increasingly intriguing and points to exactly that.

Of course doubters exist and the debate continues.  That's all healthy, well and good, but the more closely you look at the shroud the more difficult it becomes to question its authenticity.



longenecker Rev. Dwight Longenecker. "The Shroud of Turin and the Facts."  National Catholic Register (June 23, 2017).

Reprinted with permission of The National Catholic Register.

The Author

hydratinyFather Dwight Longenecker serves as the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville, South Carolina. Father Longenecker studied for the Anglican ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and served for ten years in the Anglican ministry as a curate, a chaplain at Cambridge and a country parson. In 1995 he and his family were received into full communion with the Catholic Church. He is the author of more than twenty books including: Beheading Hydra, Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing, Listen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers, More Christianity, Challenging Catholics: A Catholic Evangelical Dialogue, St. Benedict and St. Therese: The Little Rule & the Little Way, Mary: A Catholic-Evangelical Debate, and The Path to Rome. You can follow his writings, listen to his podcasts, join his online courses, browse his books, and be in touch at

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