“When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.”
– Matthew 27:57-60
With Easter and Passover just two months away, the Shroud of Turin is getting more attention than ever before, with many converts to the belief it may indeed be the burial cloth of Jesus.
What is the shroud? It is an ancient, sepia-colored, rectangular, 14.3 by 3.7-foot linen cloth woven in a three-to-one herringbone twill composed of flax fibrils with the front and the back image of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin.
While some consider it to be the burial cloth of Jesus left behind following His resurrection, others deny Jesus, arguably the most famous character in history, even existed.
For many years, some dismissed the shroud as a medieval forgery. That possibility becomes more remote with every scientific test to which the artifact is subjected, leaving researchers baffled about how it could have been created, aside from the supernatural power of a resurrection.
Here then are nine reasons the shroud is gaining more currency as the real deal:
1. Last summer, researchers from the Institute of Crystallography said they experimented with blood serum extracted from the cloth that suggests the person was suffering before death. They concluded it was the funeral fabric of a tortured man. Researchers there said these particles, called “nanoparticles,” were a “peculiar structure, size and distribution,” according to University of Padua professor Giulio Fanti. Tests on the nanoparticles reveal that they are not typical of the blood found in a healthy person. Instead, they show high levels of substances called creatinine and ferritin. Both are found in patients who suffer severe and forceful traumas such as torture.
“Hence, the presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments point to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin Shroud,” Fanti said.
Fanti said the latest discovery debunks the age-old claim that someone simply painted the image on the shroud. The characteristics of these nanoparticles “cannot be artifacts made over the centuries on the fabric of the shroud,” he said.
“These findings could only be revealed by the methods recently developed in the field of electron microscopy,” said Carlino.
He said the research marked the first study of “the nanoscale properties of a pristine fiber taken from the Turin Shroud.”
2. In 2013, scientific tests on the Shroud of Turin, which went on display in a special TV appearance introduced by the pope, dated the cloth to ancient times, challenging earlier experiments dating it only to the Middle Ages.
Scientists at the University of Padua in northern Italy, tested fibers from the relic and dated it between 300 B.C. and A.D. 400, which includes the era of Jesus.
3. Even the blood type found on the cloth has been identified as the rare AB, representing less than 3 percent of the population. Interestingly, another artifact associated with the shroud, known as the Sudarium of Oviedo in Spain, is another linen cloth – 34 inches by 21 inches – a kind of handkerchief that legend said was used to cover Jesus’ head after the crucifixion. The blood type in the Sudarium has also been found to be AB.
4. A 2015 study of the pollens found in the shroud found 28 of them grown in Israel, with 20 of them in Jerusalem and eight nearby. Of the 28 plants, 27 are in bloom in March and April, the most likely time of the Passover. Half of the pollens are found only in the Middle East and never in Europe – virtually ruling out a medieval forgery on the continent.
5. Perhaps most fascinating is that the image on the cloth is not a stain. It is not painted on. It is not burned on. Somehow it was seared on to the cloth with a technology no one has yet to determine. Scientists in the 21st century have been unable even to reproduce it. It appears to have been caused by a burst of radiation.
Italian scientist Paolo DiLazzaro tried for five years to replicate the image and concluded that it was produced by ultraviolet light, but the ultraviolet light necessary to reproduce the image exceeds the maximum power released by all ultraviolet light sources available today. The time for such a burst “would be shorter than one 40-billionth of a second, and the intensity of the ultraviolet light would have to be around several billion watts.”
6. The image of the man on the shroud can be read by 3D imaging technology, something that can’t be done with paintings. The image on the shroud is also only a few fibers deep.
7. Despite traditions in artwork and movies, the image of the shroud shows the nail marks at the bottom of the hand into the wrist. Only recently has modern science determined nails through the middle of the hands would be insufficient to hold a man’s weight on the cross because the nail would tear through the tissues of this hands.
8. There are about 100 whip lacerations on the victim’s back that match the flagrums of the first-century Romans for scourging.
9. There is even evidence of what appears to be spear wound – consistent with what is described in John 19:34.