Shroud image

Photographic negative image of the face from the Shroud of Turin.

Is the Shroud of Turin the funeral cloth Jesus was buried in after his crucifixion?

It is a question that has consumed religious followers for decades. The shroud, which bears a blood-stained image of what appears to be Jesus Christ, resides at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.

Next Saturday at 9 a.m., John Jackson, director of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado in Colorado Springs, will present a free talk on the shroud at the Emerald Foundation Community Campus, 2120 Oregon Pike. The campus is located in the former Jewish Community Center.

Although the Vatican has never declared it to be the real burial shroud of Jesus Christ, it does encourage the faithful to venerate it as a symbol of Jesus’ suffering.

Inquiry into the shroud began in 1898 when Italian photographer Secondo Pia photographed it. When he examined his negatives, he discovered an image of a bearded man with wounds on his body.

In 1978, Jackson, who holds a doctorate in physics, led a team of 40 scientists that examined the shroud. They were the first scientists to collect data from the cloth using modern techniques. They determined that the image was not composed of artificial pigments and that the image is that of a “scourged, crucified man.” Jackson is the primary custodian of the data collected from the shroud.

Although some radiocarbon dating tests date the linen to medieval times, tests using infrared light and Raman spectroscopy suggest it could be more than 2,000 years old.

The debate over the shroud has been a standoff, with skeptics unable to prove it is a fake and believers unable to prove its authenticity.

The Gospel of John states that after being informed by Mary Magdalene that Jesus’ body had been moved, Peter and another disciple went to the tomb.

“They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.”

The discussion will focus on questions about the age of the shroud, the church’s awareness or lack of awareness about it and what it says about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The lecture is part of the Defense of Faith sponsored by the Order of Malta Lancaster Region.