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
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.
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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
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