The Bloody Icon

by Emanuela Marinelli - Naturalist and Geologist
(from "Collegamento pro Sindone" - November/December 1988)
Copyright 1988 - All Rights Reserved
Reprinted by Permission

Choosing the angle for cutting the samples to be dated by radiocarbon.
From left to right in foreground Cardinal A. Ballestrero, Prof. F. Testore, Prof. G. Riggi.
(© Fototeca 3M)

"Venerable icon of Christ, that remains the object of the believers veneration...." Yes, read over and over again, Cardinal Ballestrero's statement really says this. And then there is something strange.

To tell the truth in this C14 matter, there are quite a lot of strange things, but for the moment let's dwell upon this: "icon of Christ." Was the Shroud painted? No. And then what kind of icon is it? It's easy to answer: "icon in the sense of image." But whose image? And how was it realized?

The mystery becomes a detective story. A thing is certain: the Shroud wrapped a dead body, which impressed upon it in a still inexplicable way, a detailed image, dotted of blood stains.

If this burial happened in the Middle Ages, the dead body, according to the rules of logic, could not be that of Christ; otherwise we should think, like somebody jokingly told, that Jesus returned to the earth in the Middle Ages for a second mission, finished like the first one but without leaving historical traces! Or we should admit a clamorous miracle: a cloth upon which appears an image of Christ studded with blood stains, always, however, without leaving the slightest sign in the history in spite of the exceptionality of the miracle.

Being expected that Cardinal Ballestrero is very abreast, we can be sure he doesn't consider the Shroud a painting or however a fake, hypotheses by now definitely excluded by tens of scientific tests. And then, what kind of icon could it be? A bloody icon, the funeral shroud of a poor man killed sadisticly imitating the Passion of Christ, moreover guessing some details absolutely unknown and unthinkable in the Middle Ages.

How could such a grisly and repugnant object be venerated? Anything else than an icon like an image of the invisible God, a link between the earth and the sky! Or the Shroud is the authentic relic of the Passion of Christ, and then it is a precious witness of the immense sacrifice for the redemption of humanity; or it is medieval, and then it is the gruesome fruit of an horrendous crime. The medieval date and the veneration are in evident contrast, as well as it is in contrast the medieval date with the whole volume of the other scientific data. Science could not contradict itself!

Countless logical considerations and tens of scientific tests are in favour of the authenticity of this unique Linen. How a medieval date could be attributed to it is a mystery not inferior to the other ones!

Waiting for other tests on this unique cloth that challenges science, I prefer continuing to call the icon a piece of wood on which somebody, with sacrifice and prayers, paints for centuries a face of Christ that looks so much like that one on the Shroud.

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