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Probing the mystery of the Turin Shroud

22 May 2015


From Mr Alan Wolfe

Sir, - I was surprised to read in your detailed account of the Turin Shroud (Features, 8 May) no mention at all of the Shroud of Edessa or Mandylion.

This object is well documented from about AD 600 to the Fourth Crusade as having been on public display for pilgrim worship in Edessa and later in Constantinople. The Eastern Orthodox Church believed it to be a genuine relic of Christ and, indeed, insisted that all icons of Jesus had to be copied from it. They show the same face as Western portraits have since the Shroud of Turin first appeared in 1357.

The Shroud of Edessa was taken by the Templars from Constantinople to Italy, where they claimed it was stolen by pirates. It is a coincidence that the Shroud of Turin first appeared in a French church (built by a Templar family) at the time when French Templars were being brutally suppressed by the Inquisition.

Many books have been written on the subject (particularly in this century), none of which has succeeded in proving that the Shroud of Turin is or is not a medieval forgery, is or is not one and the same as the Shroud of Edessa forged in the 500s, or is or is not a genuine relic of Jesus of Nazareth.

50 St Johns Road
Sevenoaks Kent TN13 3LP


From Mr John Hatswell

Sir, - Is it possible that the Turin Shroud is in fact a copy of the shroud that covered Christ's body?

I know little of textiles and their history, but could it be that in the Middle Ages the original shroud, which had been preserved down the centuries, was still just about held together, but was in so delicate a condition that somebody decided to preserve the image at least by laying the original on top of a recently woven cloth and sandwiching the pair between, say, two wooden boards, together with a sprinkling of, e.g., water? After a time, the image would soak through to the medieval cloth, giving the pattern we now see. Might this account for the image we see, and for the result of radiocarbon dating?

This sounds crazy (and probably is), but it is just a thought.

28 Lichfield Avenue
Canterbury CT1 3YA

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