Over the past several months, I spoke with many of the researchers who attended the special, invitation-only viewing of the newly restored Shroud in Turin, on Friday, September 20, 2002. They expressed a very broad spectrum of opinions on the restoration and the results. Some praise the effort and believe that proper care was exercised in the performance of the restoration and that the removed materials were properly documented and archived so they could be used for future testing. Others believe that considerable material was lost or contaminated and that future testing would be severely impacted because of the intervention. Some even believe that certain tests may never be able to be performed. Concerns have been expressed criticizing the techniques used during the restoration, including possible DNA contamination and overexposure to ultraviolet light sources. Some are greatly disturbed by the confirmed change in the image proportions and the apparent change in image contrast. However, the most frequently voiced criticism continues to be over the lack of any consultation with the international scientific community before the restoration was undertaken.
This might be an appropriate time to reiterate what I wrote in August when I first announced the restoration on the 2002 Late Breaking Website News page:"...we have to remember that the work has been completed and is irreversible. And no amount of debate or recrimination can change that. For better or for worse, the deed is done and we will all have to live with the consequences."
Perhaps the continuing debate can focus in a constructive way on recommendations that would be valuable in the future to ensure that the very best science and conservation efforts are applied to the Shroud. As Dr. Alan Adler told me in a telephone conversation just before his untimely death, "...we are not conserving just a cloth, but an image on cloth. Until both are completely understood, neither can be properly conserved."
I have created this page in an effort to provide website viewers with access to all of these opinions. Hopefully, it will serve as a forum where the experts can give concise written statements that present the scientific basis for their opinions, and where you, the viewer can get the information necessary to decide for yourself.
Comments are listed on this page alphabetically by author's last name. Just click on the links provided below to go directly to that author's comments. The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the individual authors. Their inclusion on this page is strictly for information purposes and does not constitute an endorsement by the editor of this website.
The Rev. Albert "Kim" Dreisbach, Jr. - Episcopal Priest and Shroud Historian
Prof. Giulio Fanti - Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Paul Maloney - Archaeologist
Emanuela and Maurizio Marinelli - Shroud Researchers, Educators and Authors
Joseph G. Marino and M. Sue Benford - Shroud Researchers
William Meacham - Archaeologist
Kevin E. Moran - Retired Optical Engineer
Serge N. Mouraviev - Shroud Researcher
Raymond Rogers - Retired Chemist and Former STURP Team Member
Prof. Daniel Scavone - Emeritus Professor of History
Bryan Walsh - Statistical Expert and Shroud Researcher
Prof. Alan D. Whanger - Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry
Ian Wilson - Author and Historian
Frederick T. Zugibe, M.D., Ph.D. - Medical Examiner and Professor of Pathology
Petition to Pope John Paul II
Guidelines For Submitting Comments
Turin: Then and Now
The Rev. Albert "Kim" Dreisbach, Jr.
The American balladeer Bob Dylan once sang "The times, they are a changing" and nowhere is that truth more apparent than in Turin's policy regarding the recent "intervention/'restoration'" of the Holy Shroud. In 1978 there was an international and ecumenical approach based on the fact that the late King Umberto - though its legal owner - was the "custodian" of the Shroud. Now the Pontiff, and all his successors, is the "owner" of this sacred linen and the Archbishop of Turin is its designated "custodian". However, in the process of this transition Turin has in reality assumed "proprietary" control of who will have access to this burial cloth and what and by whom any future testing will be performed. I for one believe this is an ill-advised and dangerous policy.
In 1978, there was a wonderful spirit of both international and ecumenical cooperation.. Both of these bridges have been seriously weakened by the recent events in Turin. Where once Fr. Peter M. Rinaldi, S.D.B - the Shroud's greatest ambassador both to the ecumenical and international communities - and even a former altar boy at Turin's Cathedral of St. John the Baptist - sought to include "all sorts and conditions of men and women" in the quest of greater sindonological knowledge, Turin's latest policy leaves all too many of those who have given many years of their lives to such study "knocking on the fast-closed door" of access to this holy burial linen.
In the 1970's academics from a host of denominations were drawn into the study of the Shroud. Third generation New Testament scholars like the late Anglican Bishop John A.T. Robinson became convinced of its probable authenticity, published his convictions and was even invited to participate in the final Mass following the 1978 Exposition by the then Archbishop Anastasio Ballestrero. In the United States alone, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Baptist clergy have written about the value of the Shroud in their own faith and "creating doubt in the doubter" which eventually leads that group to belief in Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
And is it by chance that even more members of the worldwide Protestant community currently is also coming to appreciate the Holy Shroud's true significance? Even charismatic TV evangelists with large Pentecostal audiences have devoted hour-long programs to "The Shroud of Mystery" Even more amazing, the host of the latter program is actively engaged in raising funds for the restoration of the Guarini Chapel devastated by the fire of 1997.
Hope for continuing international participation and cooperation was rekindled in March of 2000 when a select group of forty-two (42) experts representing nine (9) countries was invited to Turin to plan for the future. An analysis of those who participated in the actual "intervention/'restoration'" of 2002 reveals that there were thirty-four (34) participants - thirty-three of whom were Italian and one of whom was a Swiss Lutheran. More disturbing still is the fact that none of the non-Italian experts convened in 2000 save Mechthild Flury-Lemberg was consulted or informed about this "intervention/restoration" until it was already a fait accompli. One hates to think that Turin's pride was so threatened by the accomplishments of the STURP team in 1978 that the constituency of the present investigators was limited to Turin's "favorites", but it is certainly both a concern and conclusion already being voiced by many in the international community. Even more troubling is the complaint that some of the procedures carried out recently were originally submitted by other scientists in proposals requested by the Turin authorities -. international scientists who were neither consulted nor included in these "secret" investigations.
Learning that there was much negative concern among the international Shroud community who had been totally excluded and kept in the dark about the "restoration", Turin diplomatically invited a chosen few - some of whom had not been present at the conclave in March of 2000 - to a special conclave and display of the altered cloth and the ensuing press conference on Saturday, September 21, 2002. Because of their love and genuine concern for the Shroud, this group even paid its own expenses to attend these proceedings.
I have since been informed that the majority of this group wished to avoid embarrassing the Church which already has enough problems via the scrutiny of the international press. However, many of those attending that September weekend believe that Turin cannot and should not be allowed to be the sole authority responsible for access to and determination of future testing of the Holy Shroud. Either the Pontifical Academy of Sciences or some newly-created International Scientific Commission which will insure adequate international peer review of any and all proposals prior to allowing same to be performed is in the best interest of the Shroud itself and the Roman Catholic Church's relationship with both the international and ecumenical communities who also revere this Holy Shroud. Since its initial discovery in the Empty Tomb on that first Easter morn, the Shroud has been conserved by both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic branches of the Faith. Thanks to the faithful stewardship of these two branches of Christendom, the Protestant community can now also appreciate this sacred linen. However, in truth it belongs to no denomination - possibly not even to Christianity - for in reality it is GOD'S 'LOVE LETTER IN LINEN' TO ALL MANKIND.
Granted, there is an alternative point of view which contends that:
The harsh reality is that there is an inner core that will be making the decisions with the exclusion of those that would hold back "progress"…. But the issue of management style has never been a priority of the Church. "They" have the influence, power, control, and authority to do whatever is felt to be in the best interest of their "secret goals."
Certainly this seems to be an accurate description of what has actually transpired. However, "reality" is one of the most obscene words I know. It is predicated upon "what is" and not on what "could" or "ought" to be. The Church at her best should always be challenging her members to "come up higher" - to strive to improve "what is" to a nobler level of "reality." She has a special obligation to strive for the best when her actions and decisions effect those other members of the household of faith who represent the international and ecumenical communities. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw: "Some men see things as they are and ask "Why?" Others dream of things that have never been and ask "Why not?" At best, politics is "the art of the possible" whereas the Church should constantly wrestle with Rheinhold Niebuhr's "the relevance of an impossible ethical ideal." Had Jesus not challenged the "reality" of His day there would be neither a Shroud nor the Church.
Comments on the "Restoration of the Shroud" done on June-July 2002
I don't want to criticize in detail the work done by the Commission for the conservation of the Shroud. I think that the work was done with some lightness, and I only underline two facts:
-a) One cause for this intervention was the overstresses induced by the sewing of the patches on the Shroud, but these stresses have not been measured. For example, optical fibers with Bragg gratings could have been an interesting measurement tool that could be "sewed" in the linen cloth and that could have measured the time history of the strain and stresses in many points of the Shroud before, during and after the restoration work.
-b) During the restoration, many new data have been acquired, including some in digital form (photos in visible and ultraviolet light of the non-visible side of the Shroud, spectra, etc.). It is important that each scientist interested in the Shroud have access to the digital data to perform his studies.
I think that everyone in the scientific community related to Shroud studies has to look to the future. Two points now seem to be important:
-a) Before any possible future action on the Shroud, a wider commission of Shroud studies must be formed. The Shroud involves many disciplines (such as chemistry, physics, anthropometry, mechanical measurements, medicine, microbiology, photography, etc.) that are correlated each other. Therefore the thinking of just such an international group of experts, representing each discipline, should be asked for. Perhaps then, each expert could be involved in any future commission that could possibly be controlled by the Pontificia Accademia delle Scienze (Pontifical Academy of Science) in Rome.
-b) The actual problems to be solved are two: preservation of the Shroud and science.
-b1) Some problems have been resolved but many others have not. For example, the aging of the linen cloth must be slowed down in order to maintain a sufficient contrast between the body image and the background. To study this effect in detail, a proposal (Shroud Atlas: http://www.shroud.it/ATLAS.PDF), was submitted to the authorities in 2000.
-b2) Many questions regarding the Shroud must be solved. First of all, scientists have to understand how the body image formed. Only after this is accomplished must a new radiocarbon date of a Shroud linen sample, effectively representative of the whole cloth, be performed.
If an enlarged commission of experts are able to manage the previous points, I am confident that future research on the Shroud will lead to both the proper conservation of the fabric and the demonstration of the full authenticity of the Holy Cloth.
The New Restoration of the Shroud: Conservation, History, or Science?
Paul C. Maloney
Over the past century three lines of focus have been trained on the Shroud: investigators have probed into its history attempting to learn more about the missing years before 1356 when it first appeared in Lirey, France; and just before the beginning of the last century, the photographs of Secundo Pia heralded the onset of the science of the Shroud; still more recently conservation has become of increasing importance as the Shroud was laid out flat in a new reliquary. In recent years the study of these three lines have developed concurrently.
This Summer, kept deeply in secret, an operation on the Turin Shroud extended from June 20 to July 22 having as its goal the most recent effort toward the conservation of the cloth. Not since the Spring of 1534 when the Poor Clare Nuns patched the burn holes and placed a Holland backing cloth on the Shroud has such a major and pervasive focus been made. In 1534 the reason was clear: the fire of December 4, 1532 had so damaged the cloth creating holes framing both sides of the image that the nuns were mandated to make the needed repairs. But they kept the actual burned cloth completely intact while covering that damage with patches to maintain the integrity of the fabric surrounding the holes.
The reasons for the operation in 2002 are less clear: even the burn materials preserved by the nuns in 1534 were excised this Summer after removal of all thirty patches. This was done, as they noted in their published material or in remarks for the conference on September 20, 2002, because the burns had "walked" or "traveled." The implication is that the fire of 1532 was still progressing 470 years later!!
In one article before the September conference the person interviewed indicated that the current approach was "conservation" rather than science. The intended implication was that this particular operation neither involved the study of the Shroud's history nor the further scientific explication of the nature of the interrelationship between the Shroud image with the cloth and the blood stains. It was pure conservation. Their basis for this was the stated concern by the late Dr. Alan D. Adler, the only American on the conservation committee. He had indeed expressed the opinion that the burn materials ought to be removed as part of an effort of conservation. And he had shared this view with many including this observer.
Before his death, the lamented late Dr. Adler, a preeminent scientist, trained originally in physical chemistry but later to branch into organic analysis and most especially blood porphyrins, for which he was justly famous, also said: "We do not know how to conserve a cloth that has an image just one fiber in depth with blood flows on it consistent with a crucified person." For this, Adler, the scientist, insisted that further science would have to take place before any cogent plan for conservation could be proposed. But Adler was equally concerned with the historical parameters of the Shroud and in our private conversations would broach the question about just how we could encompass the known contribution of the kings and queens and princesses of Italy (many of the patches were stitched by them), the fold marks that might have very significant historical implications, and even the dusts on the cloth. To Adler, everything connected with the history of the Shroud was candidate for inclusion in our quest for the proper conservation of the Shroud and it would be through extensive scientific analysis that one would gather the database upon which we could propose the method that would ultimately preserve the cloth and everything it contained.
As an archaeologist and historian my training has emphasized the need to base our statements upon original sources. In this case, with the details of the operation so sketchy, and faced with the difficulty of obtaining hard copies of the photographs of the "new view" of the Shroud, and the still limited release of data--one, for example, in the form of a short 3:27 minute video-clip provided on the www.sindone.org website--some of the following details may be faulty and will probably undergo revision in the light of new information. THE NEW INTERVENTION
Apparently the sequence of events went something like this: First, the Shroud was brought out and laid flat on a table in a room in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist specifically for the work. With the image side up, the first phase was to remove the patches. The Holland backing cloth could not be removed until this was accomplished. The method appears to have been a wise one because this minimized the mechanical manipulation of the Shroud which almost certainly would have broken, abraded, and transposed the blood flow material across the Shroud in a way that would have been deleterious to the whole. Admittedly, I was very concerned early on that this mechanical manipulation would have disturbed the burn material so intensely that the black shards would have been scattered over the entire cloth thus requiring a "wholesale" use of broad vacuuming that would have destroyed much of the microscopic evidence still there before this operation. As I examined the short video I was relieved to see that the vacuuming was done by a micro-pipette technique. In fact, Dr. Walter C. McCrone was the one who originally suggested this approach. Subsequent uses of the broad mouth vacuum needlessly and in wide-scale fashion have removed dusts which, to my knowledge, were never made available to later researchers for further studies.
After all of the patches were removed and the dusts were micro-vacuumed and preserved in some 200 tiny glass vials, the Shroud was turned over image side down and the Holland backing cloth removed. This was the first time in more than 450 years that the back of the cloth had been exposed. It was at this point that the Italians introduced a sophisticated scanning device which was mounted on a gantry over the table, riding on rails that allowed the entire backside and image side of the cloth to be digitally scanned into a computer. But they have acknowledged that traditional photography was also employed by the studio of Gian Carlo Durante, who generously waived his copyright in favor of the Turin Archdiocese.
I am not yet certain of the sequence of events, but at some point it was decided that not only should all of the burn fabric be snipped away but, incredibly, using tweezers and/or a scraping method, the fire-darkened shards still extending out from the weave into the burn holes were removed. Apparently this technique was applied to all burn holes including those from the 1532 fire, as well as those from what I have termed the "pre-1516/pre-1192" fire, the holes some refer to as "poker holes."
Obviously, following this phase, the Shroud was stitched down onto a new backing cloth (actually a piece of linen about 50 years old purchased by Dr. Flury-Lemberg's father). Then the Shroud was flipped over and each of the holes was stitched around by curved needles on a hard surface so that the needle was shunted back up into the Shroud cloth. By this method there was no need to mechanically manipulate the Shroud any more than necessary. I was most encouraged by the wise choice of this approach.
According to the literature available, lead weights were added to the cloth as part of an effort to stretch it to remove wrinkles so that the new measurements on one side are 8 centimeters longer and on the other about 4 centimeters longer. I suspect that the ultrasonic vaporizer was also used to introduce steam to help with the operation of removing these unwanted wrinkles for weights by themselves would not have done it. Yet, the famous wrinkle that crosses the forked beard at an angle, and thought by some to have been very ancient possibly going back to the fifth or sixth century--is still seen on the Shroud. And other very important wrinkles which may have historical significance are also still visible.COMMENTS, QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS
I mourn the loss of the burn material that was once protected by the patches. Pellicori once noted that there was enough material here to perform some 400 radiocarbon dating tests. But in a relic so controversial as the Shroud of Turin, where the testing results must be evaluated by believer and skeptic alike, if any future radiocarbon tests were to be done, those doing the tests like to take the sample directly from the context of the cloth. "Saved samples" simply will not do! According to the public release, the material excised from the cloth has been preserved and registered as to the point of origin on the cloth. But how have they been preserved? In paper envelopes? In plastic bags? And if the latter, what kind of plastic? Some plasticizers can "bleed" into the radiocarbon sample and contaminate it so that it is unusable for testing. Remember, AMS is the likely instrument of choice for any future dating, as it was in 1988 and this method is very susceptible to contamination. Thus, if any future radiocarbon tests are called for, the specialists will likely request fresh material taken directly from the Shroud.
I know that many technicians working on their object detest wearing latex gloves and even cavalierly dismiss such criticisms as irrelevant. Emphatically, they are not! There are several reasons why the use of such gloves is important in this case. First, I have already noted the sensitivity of the AMS radiocarbon method to contamination, including the presence of skin oils. It was clear from the video that no gloves were employed in this operation. Second, and even more critical is that investigators who have proposed tests to determine the nature of the blood stains on the cloth will find their work frustrated, obfuscated, and perhaps even extensively compromised by the presence of fresh DNA all over the Shroud cloth.
I was horrified to learn that after removal of the burned fabric the borders of the burn holes were treated to the tweezer/scraping technique. Some observers will always claim that the Shroud is little more than a piece of linen cloth with one of the most significant icons of Jesus' Passion imprinted on it. And, theoretically, the Church itself could leave it at this juncture. But many researchers argue that the preponderance of evidence leads us to believe that it is more than an icon, rather being the actual burial cloth of Jesus. If this often subtle evidence is altered, or erased through our own ignorance, then we have destroyed something extremely important and a part of the whole that ought to have been considered for conservation. This part of the operation has clearly and irretrievably destroyed precious pieces of the history of the Shroud in their original context and of material important for science. I can illustrate this on three fronts.
1. Literally in the waning moments of the Shroud exam conducted by scientists in 1978 some raking light photographs were taken of the Shroud. These photographs were requested by noted Shroud researcher and historian, Ian Wilson, and deliberately designed to test his hypothesis that the Shroud may once have been kept in some kind of reliquary that allowed the face, and only the face, to be exposed to the public. His thought was that the origin of the "made-without-hands" image, the Holy Face, well known from Byzantine sources, emanated from some such a presentation. Indeed, my own statistical analysis of pollen grains in the face area on the Turin Shroud supported this view. Hence, it was reasonable to believe that perhaps a trace of the fold marks could be found on the Shroud that would be consistent with this thesis. As Dr. J. P. Jackson later studied the fold marks he believed he could demonstrate that the Shroud was folded in ancient times consistent at least with the "Man of Sorrows" view. These kinds of arguments along with numerous others–although they do not prove it--go toward the authenticity of the Shroud because they predate the radiocarbon date.
Fold-line "C" as preserved in the x-ray plate of it makes it unmistakably clear that the wrinkle crossed from one side of the 1532 burn hole to the other side where it picks up again on the other side. This is important. It means that this wrinkle pre-dated 1532. It was therefore not likely to have been caused by the storage in more recent reliquaries but goes back further into history. Tragically, all traces of this in the burn borders have been excised and scraped away! If it were not for the x-ray plates we would have no firm evidence of it.
2. The same cannot be said for the pre-1516/pre-1192 burn holes, the so-called "poker holes" or what others have described the "L-shaped" holes. Has the current operation to conserve the Shroud destroyed some very valuable scientific source material that could have been used as an actual test of the existing radiocarbon results? In 1978, using the Wild M-400 macroscope, Ray Rogers carefully examined the perimeters of some of these holes and noted for the record that they looked like "pitch." I clarified this with Rogers a few years ago. He told me that his term "pitch" was intended to apply to pine sap or something of a balsamic origin. Fr. A.-M. Dubarle originally suggested the hypothesis that these holes were created during a liturgical event when a priest, swinging a censer over the Shroud, accidently dropped hot coals with incense on them. We know from the Hungarian Pray Codex that these holes existed on the Shroud cloth some 60+ years before the first bracket of the radiocarbon date: 1260-1390 A.D. This means that we could potentially have used AMS radiocarbon dating to test the results of the 1988 dating. Now, although the evidence for this pitch is available both in photomicrographs and on the Frei sticky tapes taken in 1978, as well as in the x-rays taken by Bill Mottern and his team, if the pitch has now been scraped away from the Shroud and vacuumed up it is, for all intents and purposes, gone. It can no longer have the ability to do for a scientific evaluation what it could have done if it had been left in context. Even chemical testing of the material–now mixed with burn shards–may be of considerably lesser value and many times more difficult to use to extract critical information–whether or not this "pitch" is related to pine sap or of a type of incense!
This brings us to the vacuuming of the dusts from each area on the Shroud and it raises a question about just how these particulates were removed. Where is the location of the vacuum receptacle that receives the dust particles? Is it at the nozzle end of the hose (as in the McCrone illustration) or is it positioned at the other end of the hose inside the unit that powers the vacuum? The answer to this question is critical: if the receiving receptacle is located inside the power unit then the dust particles travel the entire length of the hose before they complete their journey and each subsequent collection is contaminated by each group of material collected before it. Nevertheless, as already noted in my discussion of potential radiocarbon sample materials excised from the 1532 burn holes, this material has already been compromised.
3. Some years ago Bill Meacham made the analogy that portions of the study of the Turin Shroud were like an archaeological excavation. Reaction from at least one in high authority was swift and pointed. It was emphatically not like an archaeological excavation and he dismissed the thought as entirely repugnant. Prof. Meacham's analogy was, however, very close to the mark because one of the features of an archaeological site is often its stratigraphy. Between March 1986 and Summer of 1993, I conducted an extensive examination of the dust particles on the sticky tapes taken by Dr. Max Frei, the late Swiss criminologist and former head of the Zurich Police lab. On the evening of Saturday, November 27, 1987 I met with Prof. G. Riggi di Numana who examined 163 photographic slides, each of a single pollen grain, taken on sticky tape 4 B/d. I was deeply interested in learning what characteristics Prof. Riggi's "mineral coated pollen grains" had. He had removed these from the non-image side of the Shroud in 1978. He looked at them and then told me that none had the typical features of his mineral coated grains. I asked him what percentage of his dust samples had a mineral coating and was shocked to learn that the figure was somewhere about 50 percent!!! In 1985 I had already examined three of STURP's tapes and my observation, confirmed by Dr. Adler, was that the particle repertoire, distribution and statistical count of material on the STURP tapes favorably compared with the "body" of the Frei tapes, but that the "leads" of these latter were more heavily loaded with materials. Jackson later said that he saw Frei pressing down with his thumb heavily on the Shroud cloth. I realized then that STURP's tapes largely represented material from the crowns of the threads, that the leads of Frei's tapes represented materials from the interstices of the cloth, and that Riggi's dust collection represented materials from the backside of the Shroud. The classic analogy of an archaeological excavation then, the stratigraphy of the particulates on this cloth, is now lost in the jumble and confusion of mixed dusts vacuumed off.
Why is this critical? Because again, it goes to the issue of the authenticity of the Shroud as a burial cloth and to the way in which historians and scientists try to prove to a skeptics' audience the solidity of their case. No archaeologist would ever mix layers of stratigraphy in his excavation, nor should we expect to build a certifiable case for the pollen on mixed materials. But the mineral coated pollen grains are of significant importance for if they were only found on the non-image side, and if the Shroud had been used as a burial cloth, then their presence on the non-image side means they likely gained their mineral coating from the moist limestone of the burial bench itself. Yes, probably mineral coated pollen grains do exist in the dusts removed and by cleaning away the mineral coating we may have a way of demonstrating the original geographic environment of the burial of the Man of the Shroud. However, vacuumed dusts, now mixed, only obfuscate the science.
One of the brighter sides to the conservation effort may be seen in the removal of the Holland backing cloth. When the late King Umberto II owned the Shroud, the 1978 team was granted permission to remove the backing cloth at that time. But after discussion of the pros and cons they opted not to do it. In Paris in the Fall of 1989 Dr. John Jackson made public his thesis that if the cloth had collapsed through the body evidence might be found in traces of imaging on the backside or the non-image side of the cloth. Intriguingly, when the backing of the cloth was removed, traces of some kind of "image" could be seen behind the face--but the face only. Now rises the question: What is the nature of this reverse-of-cloth "image"? Here was a golden opportunity to remove microscopic fibers for analysis and to use a tungsten needle to part the threads and the fibers of those threads to inspect the nature of the space between the front of the cloth where the definition of the face is high, and the back where the definition is essentially gone. Yes, they obviously scanned it but if they sewed the backing cloth onto the non-image side of the Shroud without so much as taking microscopic fiber samples and doing this very brief and non-invasive needle exam, much opportunity has been lost if no samples were removed. According to the literature available to us, some sticky tape samples and vacuum samples from the sticky tape sample removal site were taken. I truly hope the back of the face is one of these. It is not conceivable that in the years to come the new backing cloth would be removed once again for this.
Other questions remain. As I studied the contrast between the new backing cloth and the Shroud I noted that the backing cloth is considerably whiter. Is this simply because the cloth is less aged? On the other hand, modern manufacturers often put brightening agents into their textiles during the manufacturing process. Linen, unless bleached, is usually a darker "tow" color.
Another concern is that the work continued for about a month and if the video snippet is representative of that entire month's work setting, it suggests that there were lights above, and lights closer to the work which were on all the time. What kind of lights were these and were UV filters used to protect the Shroud cloth? It is well known among conservators that UV has a residual effect on cloth that keeps working long after the lights have been turned out. Observers who saw the Shroud after the recent intervention say it appears "darker" or "more faded." STURP has long insisted that the only difference between the image and the background cloth is that the image is made of dehydrated oxidized cellulose. In other words, the image area is dryer than the background area. But if the drying process of the background area is speeded up, the image and the background would blend together and the image would no longer be seen. The heat alone can play a serious role here. Can we imagine a month of this exposure?A PUZZLE
When one looks at the face of the Man of the Shroud it is arguably the most prominent feature of the entire image. It has been described by observers as regal, bearing the marks of the Passion, yet serene in death's repose and remarkably detailed. In fact, in photographs, beginning with Secundo Pia's and even more clearly in the magisterial orthochromatic work of Giuseppe Enrie, the face stands out in all its magnificence. The details are seen in the epsilon-shaped blood rivulet on the forehead and flows down each side on the hair (which Dr. G. R. Lavoie brilliantly deduced actually came from the face. Pellicori examined the beard and determined that there were blood traces in this area and, presumably, also the moustache. Medically trained specialists have noted that one of the cheeks were swollen consistent with a blow across it, and the nose also appears to have been struck. In short, the face was likely covered in blood from the wounds from the crown of thorns on the head and the blows delivered to his features. When one of the investigators was about to take samples from the face in 1978 he was quickly prevented from doing so. And understandably so! It was felt that this majesty should not in any way be altered. I agree!
In the Summer of 1988 I was given some information about this face that astounded and disturbed me. It came from an absolutely impeccable and first hand source. It seems that after one of the private displays in the early 1980s, when the Shroud was still being rolled up for storage in the silver casket, when it was unrolled for the radiocarbon sample removal earlier that year, they discovered with great dismay that there were three fresh wrinkles across the face! I was asked point blank if I knew how those wrinkles might be removed.
Yet, when I studied the new photographs emanating from this Summer's intervention I could see no evidence of these wrinkles. The famous diagonal wrinkle across the beard, as already noted, is still there. But no evidence of these three fresh ones seems apparent? How were they removed?
In the list of items of equipment provided by the Turin Archdiocese there is something called an "ultrasonic vaporizer." How was this used? Was it used on the face? I ask this because a comparison of the frontal face with all its vivid details is matched by an "image" (?) whose details are generally lost and "out of focus" that appears on the backside of the cloth. Were the wrinkles removed somehow using steam? There is no evidence of image anywhere else on the backside of the cloth. Why is there evidence of some sort of ill-defined imprint here in this specific place? If blood soaked into the fabric from the entire face–and my study of this seems to suggest to me that wherever we can see "image" on the backside, it may in fact co-register with a blood feature on the image side of the cloth. If steam or a vapor was used to remove the wrinkles–whether during this Summer's work or at some earlier time–did that operation effect the strange penetration in this singular area? Or are we looking only at blood that naturally penetrated here just as it did elsewhere on the Shroud cloth, a principle generally known since the Poor Clares did their repairs in 1534 and confirmed in 1978 by STURP both visually and through the very valuable light transmission photographs? I don't have the answer to my questions. But the matter needs to be further elucidated.
And while I am thinking of it, those light transmission photographs would be hard to beat–except if new photos of this sort had been done with the backing cloth now removed and a separate diffuser used. Was this accomplished during the Summer intervention? I have seen no mention of it.THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE CONSERVATION EFFORT
Behind the latest efforts to conserve the Shroud lies a basic philosophy that appears to this writer to be inimical not only to the future of Shroud research but even to its preservation. My fear is that by the very practices applied to the Shroud we do damage to its longevity. Adler often emphasized to me that we can never stop deterioration–we can only slow it's progress. But the horrible thought also occurs that we may unwittingly speed it up if we, in ignorance of all the factors, do something now that later proves to have been very wrong. What are the evidences for the backdrop of the decisions made to proceed as the conservation commission did?
The clues came early on. First, during the latter part of the Summer when the statement was made "This is an effort for conservation, not science." Clearly, the thinking here was that conservation and science are at opposite poles. But, were Adler alive today, he would quickly insist that we cannot have good conservation without science.
Let's examine the very thesis that lead the conservation commission to act. They did a scanning operation on the backside of the Shroud in 2000 during which they inserted specially designed scanners between the backing cloth and the Shroud and discovered the black burn shards accumulating in the spaces behind the patches. For them, this confirmed that Adler was right (as they interpreted him)--that they had to act as soon as possible to save the Shroud! However, if the scientific attitude had prevailed--and this would resolutely have been the approach Adler would have employed--controls would have been used and a sequence of laboratory events would have been designed to test the hypothesis that the burns were still advancing. Then a preliminary paper would have been written presenting the evidence and this would then have been submitted to referees--peer reviewers--who would evaluate and critique the work before being published in a technical journal where it would get a wider reading by the experts. But Adler--and here is a critical point at which I believe the commission failed--would have taken his lab work a step further before putting things in print. He was unafraid of his peers nor embarrassed by what he didn't know and when proven wrong would acknowledge it and moved forward. He would have submitted his ideas and his findings to a cellulose chemist and would have discussed matters with him or her. Sadly, during his last year before his death he was quite ill but wouldn't admit it to most. So much of what he might otherwise have done in the lab feeling well, went undone.
Were cellulose chemists involved in the debate over the "traveling" or "walking" of the burns? How does one explain the 470 years the Shroud has existed, apparently in safety from the burns, without exploding or bursting into flames? Why were those 470 years not considered when they discussed the issues about this thesis? And what is their evidence that proves beyond any doubt that the fire was advancing? After all, one could simply conclude that all the rolling, folding, and mechanical manipulation over the years produced that accumulation of broken burn shards. Were any cellulose specialists brought into the picture to test the tensile strength of those fibers?
STURP scientists have often compared the image with the 1532 burns. Way back in 1978 Ray Rogers made an interesting comparison between the image and the non-image portion of the Shroud: that something had weakened the image fibers so that it was easier to pull the tapes away from the cloth there than in the non-image areas. The burned areas contain extreme versions of the weakened image fibers.
Second, deep secrecy was kept not only during the actual operation, as it should be, but even at the level of the commission's discussions. But secrecy is always the death knell to peer review. They are mutually exclusive. It is here that I believe the policy employed by the commission is of greatest danger to the future of the Shroud. Even if the debate had moved in the direction of the conclusion finally reached by the members of the commission, had they at that point submitted their thinking to a wider range of specialists, they would quickly have gotten feedback on whether or not their direction was correct. Normally, in science where an issue is of exceeding importance, broad discussion of that issue would provide parameters not thought of by the initial discussants.
I am 99.999 percent convinced that this operation need not have been done in the very first place--at least not for the reason given by the commission. And certainly it need not have been acted upon with the speed they did.THE FUTURE
Instead of respecting all three lines of focus, the commission abrogated history and science and focused singularly on conservation! And not just "conservation" in a broad sense, but rather upon a singular feature: the cloth alone! But at this critical juncture we must raise another question: Just what exactly is the conservation of the Shroud? What do we mean by that term? It is now clear that what it meant to the conservation commission is vastly different from what it means to many investigators around the world who were not a part of the planning. Adler had often raised this question with me. But so far as I know no one has ever put together a panel discussion at any of our congresses with all the experts sharing their input on this single but crucial question. In the aftermath of this event--and so far as the Shroud is concerned, it is invasive and earthshaking--we must all think seriously on this matter.
But even after a broad definition of conservation as applied to the Shroud has been achieved, how can we further develop a way to protect the Shroud in any future conservation effort or scientific or historical investigation? I believe we need to explore the creation of a protocol about how to go about studying the Shroud. This can only be done at the level of the international congresses and after much input and review by specialists across the field. I once counted some 70 plus sub-disciplines that had applied their knowledge and expertise to the Shroud. And clearly there are more that have not yet had a chance. The fields are vast and their intertwinings even more complicated. It will take years to formulate this.
After the creation of what a majority would come to believe is an appropriate protocol, we must submit our efforts to the Vatican and the current custodian of the Shroud to get their input. No protocol, no matter how well thought out, will ever be effective if the Church authorities are not involved at some level. They are the ones who must put it in place and see that it is followed. We can never blame Church officials for what has happened. They are not scientists nor can we expect them to be. But there are numerous among the clerics of the Church who have scientific training and expertise and these should be brought into the discussion. Only with some kind of guidelines for our approach to the Shroud will we ever hope that the future of the Shroud will be secured.
As for secrecy, I believe here is where we can "have our cake and eat it, too." As always, for the safety and security of the Shroud, we MUST have secrecy about the timing and actual hands-on activities working with it. But where it comes to the planning stages we MUST have an open court where the ideas are batted about freely and where peer review in its broadest sense and in its scientific sense is available at every stage.
Must we choose between conservation, history, or science? I argue here that to do so will lead us down a dangerous path because something keenly significant in one field may impinge importantly on that of another. The recent intervention cautions us that we must broaden and carefully hone our definition of "conservation" and certify that our horizons adequately protect the future planning for the Shroud. We cannot safely assume that by conserving the cloth, and the cloth alone, all the rest will follow along.
Author's Note: I wish to thank the many contributors to my thinking: those who provided valuable input of facts, those who offered commentary, and those who shared other reflective notes about what happened over the past few months when news first began appearing in the international press revealing the secret operation. I would normally like to identify them here in print. But I have chosen to keep their identities anonymous in every case out of respect because many of the issues surrounding this intervention are highly volatile.
Emanuela and Maurizio Marinelli
About the recent intervention on the Shroud, we think that the delicacy and the professional skill of the operators, Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg and Dr. Irene Tomedi, are undisputed, but this does not mean that a lot of possible information on the object has not probably been lost. A faultless cleaning has been achieved, but one has to wonder whether that was the priority aim.
The removal of the carbonized material and dusts has involved the loss of the opportunity to study them in situ; moreover, the mixture of the carbonized material with other particles has made the possibility of a separate study be lost. There was an incredible worry: "the carbonization process had "walked" and probably had not ended yet." These are Mgr.Giuseppe Ghiberti's words, president of the diocesan commission for the Shroud. But the timeliness of the intervention being based on fear of the carbonized parts gaining ground is simply unbelievable. The worry for the further weakening of the ancient singed Cloth, deprived of the Holland cloth and the patches which supported it avoiding the possibility of whichever laceration, is proper.
The variation of the dimensions of the sheet is also worrisome: one of the long sides has grown approximately four centimeters and the other approximately eight. In order to stretch the folds, lead weights were applied and among the instruments used, an ultrasound vaporizer is listed. The stress of the manipulation, and besides done with bare hands, has been aggravated by more than a month of exposure to light. In the film that documents the intervention, one can also see an incandescent lamp directing light on the cloth without anybody at work. Everyone who has seen the Shroud on other occasions finds it darker now.
From the historical point of view, the loss of the folds, which could testify to the way the Shroud was kept in more ancient ages, is feared. The 16th century restoration itself, which has been destroyed, was an historical testimony, now irretrievably gone.
The intervention has raised remarkable perplexities: in fact, such a drastic intervention did not appear necessary and urgent. The decision to carry out such an operation has been taken by a very narrow group of people, without a wider consultation among the scientists and the historians, who have been interested in this Relic for many years. In fact, nobody had proposed any intervention of the sort at any of the eight international conferences held in the last four years (Turin 1998, Richmond 1999, Rio de Janeiro 1999, Turin 2000, Orvieto 2000, Dallas 2001, Paris 2002, Rio de Janeiro 2002). Not even those convened by the Turin International Center of Sindonology (Turin 1998) and by the Archbishop of Turin (Turin 2000) included such a proposal.
No article that motivated the necessity of such an intervention appeared in any review or journal, neither scientific nor popular. That the necessity to complete such an intervention was "strongly underlined by the lamented Prof. Alan Adler, member of the Commission for the Conservation," as has been communicated officially, contrasts with the fact that this distinguished scientist never wrote it in his scientific works.
The operation, led in secret and by few people, prevented many other researchers from carrying out the research they officially proposed after the conferences of Turin 2000 and Orvieto 2000. For such significant interventions, a wider preventive consultation and an increased debate among experts would be necessary, in order to avoid possible further irretrievable damage to the object that is the most important Relic of Christianity. It would be appropriate, therefore, that the commission for the conservation of the Holy Shroud be widened. Also the diocesan commission for the Shroud should have to be widened and transformed into an international scientific commission for the Shroud, under the protection of the Papal Academy of Sciences.
It is obvious that, for practical reasons, the Shroud Custodian appointed some scholars living in Turin as his close collaborators, but every one of them should have been the coordinator of a sub-commission, in which all the experts of the same discipline (there are some thirty involved in the study of the Shroud) all over the world, should join. The Shroud cannot be considered a diocesan property of Turin! Obviously, the information concerning the Holy Shroud must be made public officially and in a timely and transparent way.
Joseph G. Marino and M. Sue Benford
While we have not seen the restored Shroud in person, it appears from the photographs that the image is not as clear as before, although the degree of photographic enhancement in both the pre-restoration pictures and the post-restoration pictures may be factors in this perception.
It is clear from comments made from experts who have seen the restoration that much significant historical and scientific information has probably been lost due to the restoration, including the possibility of using material from beneath the patches for new C-14 datings. Given the still-widespread perception that the Shroud is just a medieval forgery due to the 1988 C-14 dating, the manner in which the restoration was planned and executed was irresponsible. It is all the more disconcerting given the fact that Ray Rogers, following up on theories of other researchers, including Dr. Al Adler, has recently concluded that the area from which the C-14 samples was taken was definitely not representative of the main cloth.
There is another aspect in this issue that is possibly being overlooked, related to the spiritual message behind the Shroud. What will happen if the image eventually disappears, as many theorize it will? Will the Shroud still continue to hold our attention as it does now? It would still be revered, but with no riveting image on the cloth, it likely would lose some of its appeal. Perhaps this is a wake-up call for us to focus on the spiritual meaning of the Shroud rather than on the physical cloth itself. This is where some of our pursuits have been but now will be even more strongly focused in the future.
Comments on the Shroud "Restoration"
A terrible tragedy has befallen the Shroud, worse even than that of 1532. The fire at Chambery was of course an accident, and the precious relic was heroically saved from the flames, then mended as carefully as possible and with great reverence by the Poor Clare nuns in 1534. What was done to the Shroud in the summer of 2002 by the Commission for Preservation was no doubt well intentioned, but these intentions paved the road to disaster.
As an archaeologist who has researched the Shroud since 1980, I believe it to be the most intriguing object in the world. But even if the Shroud were nothing more than an ordinary medieval relic without an image, the patches and backing cloth sewn on in 1534 form part of its history and heritage, and should have been preserved as a visual link to that event.
The Shroud's unique image still poses a mystery and a challenge to science, and for that reason alone the relic deserves special consideration, to be properly conserved so that any data which it contains may be extracted. But since the possibility exists that the Shroud is the actual burial cloth of Christ bearing His image and blood, then it becomes of supreme importance that any data which the cloth contains should be safeguarded, and not lost due to ignorance, poor handling, lack of proper consultation and planning. Unfortunately, it is clear that MUCH valuable data has been lost in this ill-conceived operation.
Furthermore, wonderful opportunities for sophisticated scientific research and for radiocarbon dating have been needlessly squandered during the "restoration." There was absolutely no urgency in the situation, the operation was totally unnecessary, it was planned and executed in secret by a small circle without any consultation with other Shroud experts. Amazingly, even the four textile experts who had been closely involved with the Shroud in recent years were excluded from the process. I have confirmed that Sheila Landi, Jan Cardamone, Franco Testore and Piero Vercelli were not consulted on the operation and were not aware that it had taken place. The latter two are residents of Turin.
The premise on which the entire operation was based is false. There is no chemical or interaction threat to the cloth posed by the carbonized areas and the carbon dust, as witnessed by the fact that these have been on the cloth for 450 years. Photographic documentation exists since 1898, and detailed scientific measurements since 1978; there is not one shred of evidence to suggest that the carbonized areas around the burn holes have had any impact on the uncharred areas adjacent to them. Ray Rogers is one of the foremost pyrolysis chemists in the world, and has been involved in the study of the Shroud since 1978; he has assured me, over the course of several conversations, that there is ABSOLUTELY no threat from the charred material or carbon dust in any chemical sense. Apparently the Commission for Preservation misunderstood the late Alan Adler's concern over the spread of particulate carbon due to handling, rolling and unrolling, gradually adding a darker visual element to the cloth and image. The root of this problem was eliminated when it was decided in 1997 to keep the Shroud stored flat; the residual effects could have been eliminated in a well planned, sampled and recorded vacuuming of the image side.Consultation Shunned
Even though the Commission sincerely (but erroneously) believed that the Shroud was at threat, the situation was handled with ineptitude. What is most difficult to fathom is the lack of consultation and peer review. Even if there was a sense of urgency, WIDE CONSULTATION WAS REQUIRED. As I wrote to Karlheinz Dietz, a Commission member, even if a new species of rapidly spreading, cellulose-eating bacteria had been discovered on the Shroud, radical surgery would not have been justified unless the world's experts in bacteriology and cellulose chemistry were consulted first. Extracts from this letter and other notes on the Shroud "restoration" are posted on my web page at
Jan Cardamone is a textile chemist/conservator who was at the March 2000 conference in Turin, and she knew nothing of this "conservation" plan. Neither did any other expert in the various facets of Shroud research. One can only conclude that the operation was conducted recklessly, unscientifically, without proper peer review, without even a second opinion from any of the four textile experts cited above who knew the Shroud very well and had been involved in the study of its conservation. This is simply a disgrace, an absolute disgrace.
Especially perplexed and disappointed are many of those who attended the March 2000 conference organized by the Turin Archdiocese. This meeting upheld the noble ideals of international cooperation, careful scientific investigation, peer review, openness, dialogue and the exchange of ideas; proposals or ideas for future research, measurement, testing and conservation of the Shroud were invited, and a future review process for proposals was outlined. And yet, the very people who were planning this confused and tragic mission to "conserve" and beautify the Shroud participated in the conference for three days, read papers and took part in the discussions, and NOT ONCE was there any mention of this radical intervention, this major alteration that was being considered. In a letter dated Sept 3, 2002 signed by nine of the conference participants (full text may be seen on the webpage cited above), questions were raised as to why the proposed operation was not mentioned at the conference, why the promised international cooperation and dialogue did not take place after the conference, and why the one specific recommendation of the conference concerning conservation was not followed. The only answer thus far to these questions is that it later became apparent to the Commission that the "restoration" was necessary.
The complete lack of consultation with experts and peer review of the proposed actions is compounded by a serious conflict of interest that applies to most members of the Commission, who not only decided (entirely in secret) that the work was necessary, but then authorized themselves to conduct the work (again in secret). Access to the Shroud for first hand observation and research is a valuable commodity; "restoring" the Shroud is an important and historic task. Those who carry out these functions acquire significant status and importance as a result. They clearly should not be the same ones who make the decision about whether the work is necessary. Using the latest published list of Commission members, one sees that most of the members were directly involved in the operation.
On Sept. 20, after the private briefing and viewing of the Shroud arranged by Cardinal Poletto and his advisers, I tried to communicate to him the tragedy of what had happened, by a simple analogy. If he had a minor infection on his foot, went to see a doctor and was told that amputation of his leg was required, what would he do? He looked puzzled on hearing this, and one of his advisers jumped in with the remark : "But we didn't amputate anything." I said to Poletto: "I know what you would do. You would go straight to another doctor for a second opinion." This exchange was quoted in the official press conference the next day, with the comment from his adviser that it was more comparable to being given some medicine for an illness.Conservation Violated
The patches and backing cloth should not have been removed. Ancient additions to or repairs of an object become part of the object to be preserved unless 1) they pose a definite threat to it, or 2) they seriously detract from the appreciation of the original. There would be no disagreement among conservators on this point. It would be a very foolish conservator who would erase medieval graffiti from a Roman temple in the name of cleanliness or restoration.
Further, if even minimal consultation had been conducted, the Cardinal and the Commission would have learned that the radical invasive procedures employed during this "restoration" are very rarely conducted by archaeological conservators, and only when there is clear and unequivocal danger to the object itself. In an article discussing modern textile conservation methods relating to "objects of awe," two leading American conservators (Orlofsky and Trupin, 1993, in the Journal of the American Institute of Conservation) wrote:
"As illustrated by the Shroud of Turin, awe probably plays the strongest role in religious and reliquary objects ... Awe severely limits a conservator's options; it is the greatest inhibitor of choice. Sometimes religious textiles like a saint's tunic have come to be considered so precious that their dust is not seen as detritus but as treasure. It seems to follow that the greater the awe with which the conservators behold the textile object, the more likely they are to preserve every stain, thread, and historic dirt particle. In such cases, all concerned instinctively recoil from intrusive treatment because they understand that any action may negatively affect the future significance of the object. ... Most textile conservators now consider only preventative conservation in the form of passive mounts, developed in a variety of creative styles, and upgraded storage for archaeological and ethnographic pieces. It is hard for the textile conservator to justify elaborate sewing on these pieces, let alone incorporating any restoration work. ... Invasive treatment is no longer considered appropriate for textiles of unique significance. ... It is universally acknowledged that overambitious treatment may prejudice artistic or cultural significance. ... The race to distance conservation from restoration became a strong characteristic of our field from the 1960s to the mid-1990s."
(Ed. Note: The above quote is from JAIC (Journal of the American Institute of Conservation, 1993, Volume 32, Number 2, Article 2, pp. 109 to 118). You can use the following link to read the entire article online:
"The Role of Connoisseurship in Determining the Textile Conservator's Treatment Options").
The "restoration" of the Shroud was thus clearly in opposition to modern conservation practice. I insist on putting the word restoration in quotation marks because it was not a true restoration either, but a series of radical, invasive alterations and cleaning operations for either cosmetic purposes or grossly misinformed conservation purposes. The precious relic was handled for almost a month in bare hands without gloves, often with unnecessary lighting directed on it, and subjected to considerable stresses in the removal of patches and backing cloth, and addition of a new backing cloth. To what purpose? The Holy Shroud, the most intensely studied object in the world, was treated as if it were an antique tablecloth needing "restoration" and cleaning to be more attractive and somehow improved.Data Lost
Ever since the first scientific examination of the Shroud in 1933, there has been a great and entirely proper emphasis on non-invasive techniques. Modern conservation shares this emphasis, as noted above, and for archaeological objects no invasive methods are employed that would put information at risk. There is close collaboration between the archaeologist or museum curator and the conservator. In the case of the Shroud, this should have meant direct consultation with the experts from various fields who have studied the cloth and know the types of data it contains, and most importantly, how this data needs to be collected or extracted.
Piero Savarino, scientific adviser to Cardinal Poletto, told me last month in Turin that "nothing was lost or thrown away, everything was kept." I tried in the space of two minutes to explain to him why it is not simply retaining every dust particle that is important, but it is above all the structure of the evidence that must not be lost, and that the manner in which samples are collected is vital. It would be useless to present an archaeologist with all the objects from a stratified site, collected in four giant bags corresponding to north, south, east and west quadrants, with all stratigraphic and contextual information lost. During this "restoration" we are told that the debris and dust was collected and saved in more than 30 glass containers. This makes it clear that a tremendous amount of information has been lost, since all 32 burn hole areas under the patches plus the four sets of "poker holes" have been vacuumed, front and back. There should have been several hundred divisions of this material for rigorous study. Furthermore, we see that vacuuming is done all around the edges of the burn holes, but no microscopic search of the areas was carried out beforehand. Any microremains that could have been identified and extracted by micromanipulator with precise provenance were instead aspirated into the container along with all the other debris from that area.
Worst still is the destruction of the charred edges of the burn holes. Here the structure of evidence is crucial, and it was deliberately reduced to dust, for what reason one can hardly imagine. It seemed that the Commission decided that no cutting would take place, and this would have moderated somewhat the loss of data if the decision had been strictly adhered to, and only loose particles were aspirated away. As a group of us gathered in the hotel lobby in Turin prior to the Sept. 20 briefing, we were told by an elated Ian Wilson that members of the Centro had just informed him that no charred material had been cut away. This news provided a momentary relief, only to be horribly dashed during the briefing. No charred material was cut away, but it would have been infinitely better if it had, rather than the method chosen, which was to chew or scrape it away. A slide showed a scraping tool lying beside a new edge that had been created at the burn hole, with a pile of charred particulate debris lying beside it. It was instantly clear to me what had been done, and this was confirmed later in a video shown on Italian TV which has five seconds of the scraping around a "poker hole." Even though I had already imagined how it was done, seeing the brutal treatment that the treasured relic was subjected to left me with a deep sadness and sense of outrage. A clip of this video can be seen athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkecpU5n78Q [Note: Updated to YouTube version 5 June 2015]
along with other clips showing the unnecessary exposure to light and constant touching of the Shroud during the "restoration," but note that a high-speed DSL or broadband connection is required to view these clips.
There are several categories of evidence that might have existed in the structure of the charred material at the edges of the burn holes that was scraped away and pulverized. The intersection of the image and blood stains with the charred area was, in the view of several STURP scientists, crucial for the study of these phenomena, especially if any paint, pigment or other substance was used to create or touchup the image or bloodstain. The physical and chemical changes that the deposits would have undergone in the charring would be most important and diagnostic pyrolysis products might remain. Whatever evidence there was is now gone. In addition, the "poker holes" are often thought to have been the result of burning pitch, or some acidic substance, being dropped onto the cloth and eating through four layers. Any residues that might have been on the inner surface of the holes is now dust residing in a container, the structure of its original in situ deposit destroyed. This wanton destruction of evidence is unforgivable.
There are several other aspects of data that have been lost. One is the evidence beneath the patches that were effectively sealed since 1534. With general aspiration of the sealed and open areas, this evidence is lost. Another is the opportunity to take highly sophisticated measurements of the degradation of the linen under and outside the sealed areas, and on the backside of the cloth, to quantify how much the open area has degraded due to exposure to light during the last 450 years.
Finally, there are the old foldmarks and creases, important for studying how the Shroud was kept in earlier times, a subject researched by John Jackson. During the "restoration" an attempt was made to smooth these creases out by stretching the cloth, which did not entirely succeed. But new sewing on each of the burn holes puts new tensions on the cloth, and many of the old creases may not be visible for much longer. An important area where an old crease ran under a patch and into a charred area was scraped away.Opportunities Lost
With the (erroneous) decision to remove the backing cloth, significant opportunities were created for sophisticated scientific research on the backside of the cloth. Instead of inviting proposals and considering the best that the world could offer, the Commission appears to have simply invited a few firms or teams to do measurements, without any independent review of the protocols and without any specific research objectives. Sites for sampling by aspiration and/or sticky tape were apparently decided on the spot. X-ray radiography was not done. It is still not known whether photographs in raking or transmitted light were made and in what detail.
The charred material around the burn holes could have provided quite a few excellent C14 samples, probably ten or more, but scraped away and pulverized the material has been rendered virtually useless. In some cases, one centimeter or more was scraped away. If these tiny segments had instead been cut and keep intact, they could have been examined for possible contaminants charred along with the linen cellulose. Those segments that were at the intersection of image or bloodstain could have been studied with their deposits intact. As powder they are of much reduced value for C14 and other analyses, and their provenance cannot be independently established. The removal of this material from the Shroud should have been done in a systematic manner, with proper controls and comprehensive recording, for use of the samples in C14 dating or other scientific studies.Future in Doubt
Last but not least, what may have been lost, perhaps for a generation, is the hope and promise of a new cooperative era in Shroud research that seemed to have been born in the spirit of the Villa Gualino conference of March 2000 in Turin. For me personally, it was an enormous disappointment to see the dynamic new archbishop Cardinal Poletto ill-advised, misinformed and misled into allowing such a tragedy to take place. It remains to be seen whether the world of Shroud research can recover any time soon from this tragedy. The matter is largely in the hands of one man -- Severino Cardinal Poletto.
Ceterum, sindon carbone recomputanda est!
("Furthermore, the Shroud must be re-dated!" -- with acknowledgments to Cato the Elder).
A Current Opportunity In Shroud Research
Kevin E. Moran, October 7th 2002
It is good to see that the Turin Shroud is still being studied rather than simply put away. With the Holland Cloth backing on the Turin Shroud now replaced, the linen should be smoother or at least more flattened to help make proper observations at high magnification. Thus further study of the image properties ought to be given new consideration. It is the unique means of darkening the linen fibers that should be given scientific study so that preservation of this body image feature can be enhanced.
Micro scanning, via computer control, was proposed in the "Atlas Project" in November 2000. This would allow statistical measurement of the individual darkened sections of the linen fibers. This would lead to a better understanding of how the image was made. These fibers are about one fifth the diameter of the human hair, so special consideration needs be given to stabilizing the micro/camera at high magnification.
This is now possible with a smoother surface to the cloth. A technique has been developed to take a vertical series of digital micro photos to build a 3-D image of the fibers as they lie in the cloth. Furthermore these images can be assembled into a mosaic to give a larger area that will correlate to the observed macro image.
Research should continue and results published to the world.
What Was the Priority Aim?
Serge N. Mouraviev
Except for a few minor points I entirely share the views expressed here by Paul C. Maloney, William Meacham and Emanuela and Maurizio Marinelli and I am in good agreement (with some reservations) with the statements by the Rev. Albert "Kim" Dreisbach, Jr., and Giulio Fanti. I shall not repeat what they have already said. Instead I shall try to dig a bit deeper into what I believe to be the hidden motives and goals (hidden perhaps even to themselves) that prompted the decision makers and actors of this disastrous "restoration" to do what they did. (I shall call them "the R.s" = "the Restorators".) This of course will be only a hypothesis but not a groundless one, as I hope to show.
As the Marinellis put it, "A faultless cleaning has been achieved, but one has to wonder whether that was the priority aim". This is the central question: What was the true (conscious or unconscious) priority aim ?
We can start examining this problem from the important observation made by Maloney that (a) the R.s "abrogated history and science and focused singularly on conservation" and moreover (b) restricted "conservation" to the cloth alone. This conclusion is supported by Meacham. Both Maloney and Meacham however seem to miss (or to avoid mentioning) one very important point. Such an attitude is in full agreement with a certain conception of the importance of the Shroud. While the attitude of Meacham and Maloney, or my own, reflects another very different way of undestanding this importance. Which of the two is more legitimate is an issue I shall return to at the end.
These two different and conflicting understandings may be expressed by two terms: (1) relic, and (2) archaeological document. As shown by the way they acted, for the R.s the Shroud is first and foremost a relic. For scientists (historians, archaeologists, physicists etc.) it is an exceptionally informative document, a source of unhoped-for historical and scientific knowledge on an event on which very little is known : the origin of Christianity.The Shroud As A Relic
What is most important about a relic? First of all its spatio-temporal link with some holy man, or miraculous event, or divine intervention. This link is based not on historical research, not on material or (new) literary evidence, but on (oral and written) tradition, on a tradition which is supposed to have been continuous, faithful and uninterrupted from the times to which the relic belongs and up to the present time.
The big problem created by the Shroud's reappearance in Lirey was that in this case the tradition had been broken (or perhaps that the circumstances of the period between 1204 and 1357 could not be publicly acknowledged). Yet, thanks to a century of scientific research (and to John-Paul's II personal commitment), and despite the effects of the radiocarbon testing - to which the Church was all too ready to give heed in 1988 -, now the Catholic Church as a whole is inclined to believe in the authenticity of the Shroud. Therefore, it believes it now to be a true relic (and at that a very important one) rather than an "icon" (as Cardinal Ballestrero had put it).
The second important thing about a relic is that its material condition does not matter much (or at all), provided it still exists (or even is merely thought to exist ; cf. the Vatican Veronica). What matters the most is the link attested by tradition. We know of hundreds of relics which are never shown. What the devotees and the pilgrims see is only the richly ornamented caskets, the reliquaries, the envelopes. The traditional link is quite sufficient for the relic to exercise its impact. And the devotees are usually quite satisfied with it. Because what matters to them is (a) the story (the traditional link) with all its religious (sometimes even theological) and emotional content and environment, and (b) the opportunity this link gives them (as a kind of shortcut) to convey more directly their prayer unto God, to speak to Him or even converse with Him. Since they have faith, they do not need knowledge.
A relic is then an object of awe, adoration, devotion and worship, a means of mystical communion with God drawing its power from tradition and faith, not from the results of scientific inquiry.
True enough, the case of the Shroud is a bit special because of the nonhandmade images, which must be shown and which are probably fading. But these images are still there after the "restoration", and even if the floodlight illumination to which they have been subjected will in the long run accelerate their disappearance, they will obviously survive for a much longer period of time than all of us including the members of the Commission of R.s. As to the more distant future, as was once said, "après moi le déluge". Moreover, were the images to fade, we now have scores of photographs (both analogic and digital) to document their former presence and to confirm the link.
Morality: apart from the conservation of the fabric and (for the time being) of the image, so as to be able to exhibit it when unavoidable (the next exposition, as you remember, has been postponed until 2025!), the R.s needed nothing else. This explains their focus on the cloth, on its tidiness and on the cleanness of the image, - and their almost complete disregard for the possible scientific losses.The Shroud As An Historical Document
However this disregard only explains the way the R.s understood the goals of any such restoration. It does not explain the "restoration" itself, the priority aim, the reasoning behind the decision to "restore" the Shroud and the secrecy in which the "restoration" was actually performed. To understand the thread of thoughts that led the organisers of this ordeal to do what they did it is necessary to consider the Shroud in its other hypostasis, that of an archaeological document.
Provided it is authentic, provided the images on it are real and true to life imprints of the body and stains of the blood of a man who was crucified ca. 33 of our era in the way they show it and in full agreement with what is told in the Gospels about the crucifixion of Jesus, provided this (and I am persuaded that it is really so), the Shroud is an invaluable and immensely important archaeological document. It documents the very event, the very fact from which the Christian religion arose and began its triumphant march throughout the Roman Empire and all over the world.
Apart from the canonical Gospels which were written somewhat later, the number of such ancient documents prior to the destruction of Jerusalem is extremely small and their importance much lower: the inscription from Caesarea mentioning Pontius Pilatus, the inscribed ossuaries of Caiapha and of «Jacob (James), son of Joseph and brother of Jesus » (newly discovered in Jerusalem), the testimonies of Flavius Josephus (controversial), Pliny the Younger and Tacitus (both attesting the existence of Christians)... And that is practically all.
The value of the Shroud qua archaeological document springs up from a number of its properties.
First of all, it is demonstrably an ancient object, and a very exceptional one at that (how many ancient shrouds do we have? how many samples of such ancient weaving?). This makes it precious to the historians of the material culture of mankind. Secondly, it is connected by tradition to and is supposed to have been the burial sheet of an exceptional historical figure, the founder of the Christian religion, a religion which says that he was the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, and that after dying he resurrected and ascended to Heaven. This should have attracted to te Shroud the attention of the historians of religion and of the origins of Christendom (who so far remain strangely reluctant to use it as a source - but this is a case of 'sindonophobia', a disease of the scientific community which also deserves close examination but with which we are not concerned here).
Thirdly-and this of course is its most extraordinary property-it bears realistic, quasi photographic negative images showing the dead body of this man, his face, his wounds, and it has on it stains of his blood. I need not enumerate here all the scientific disciplines to which this object offers hoards of most precious information: about the man himself, the circumstances and causes of his death, the influence which the image of his face has had on medieval iconography, etc... almost ad infinitum.
And add to this the "ongoing mystery" of the image formation mechanism which is a real challenge to science!
So, an archaeological or historical document is something quite different from a relic. Its main characteristic is that it contains invaluable information which is not directly available and can (must) be gotten from it only by various procedures of scientific inquiry. Since these procedures are in constant development and have recourse to more and more sophisticated technological means, the document must be thoroughly protected from all possible external deteriorating factors, so as to preserve for the future that part of the information which remains inaccessible.The Common Ground and the Main Contradiction
Thus the Shroud is two "objects" at once: an object of faith and an object of scientific study, the sole object of 'sindonology'. From 1898 until 1998, for a whole century, both these "objects" coexisted more or less peacefully.
The agnostic scientific community, many representatives of which flatly rejected the very historical existence of Jesus, ignored it completely (with a few honorable exceptions, like Yves Delage), while some "scientific" journalists and self-styled scientists tried to demonstrate that it is a hoax or a fake. The first did not care to study seriously an "impossible object". The second, more sensitive to its persuasiveness, attempted to "refute" it with inadequate means.
The catholic community - or, more widely, the Christian community as a whole - was divided: partly enthusiastic and partly suspicious. The more scientifically minded (such people as Vignon, Barbet, the STURP members etc.) immediately saw the amount of unquestionably new and precious knowledge about Jesus ("the Man on the Shroud") and his death that could be gotten from the Shroud. Many Christians, and among them many members of the clergy, saw what an unhoped-for opportunity the Shroud gave to the Church to demonstrate at last to the non believers that Jesus was indeed an historical figure and that he was really crucified the way the Gospels tell he was. And most believed that the images on the Shroud proved the reality of Christ's resurrection. Some Christian scientists, forgetting what science is about, even tried to explain scientifically the mechanism of miraculous resurrection by resorting to nuclear physics and the like.
Yet until recently, except for the last point, science and faith could (and often did) successfully and fruitfully coexist in the minds of the researchers who had responded to the challenge of the Shroud. But just as the incompetent refuters of the Shroud had sensed somehow that their agnosticism was endangered by an object which did really look like an irrefutable proof of resurrection, similarly some more religiously minded laymen and clergymen were dissatisfied with the gradual desacrilization of their most precious relic, the gradual replacement of pure and simple devotion by impure and unwholesome scientific curiosity, the obvious loss by the Shroud of the powerful mystical impact it had formerly had on the believers.The Priority Aim
The 1998 exhibition - and in particular the sindonological conference held at the end of it (the Acts of which remain unpublished) with its wild and contradictory variety of - sometimes ludicrous and fantastic - theories (but including also some very important communications and our own attempt to scientifically explain the images without resorting to any miraculous resurrection*) - as well as the more recent exhibition of the year 2000 (with its much lower attendance and its sindonological meeting behind closed doors) probably marked the turning point in the balance of strength in the corridors of the Catholic Church. Those who believed that the relic had to be saved qua relic, i. e. taken away from the scientists and placed under the sole control of the Church, took the upper hand. The Shroud is the property of the Holy See, so there was no legal obstacle. The only problem was to choose the way to stage this coup de théâtre in order to make it look as resolute as possible on the one hand, as little shocking as possible on the other, and to dismiss the scientists without having to openly dismiss sindonology as such. They chose to take secretely unannounced measures of conservation.
So I am convinced that what the R.s really wanted to achieve was not so much to improve the conservation of the cloth but rather to demonstrate their right to use the Shroud at their own discretion and thus get rid of (some of?) the scientists and dilettanti (whether believers or not) who poked their noses into everything, distracted the devotees from their devotion by uncovering a steadily growing number of clues to a steadily growing number of far-fetched problems and who discredited the Shroud as a witness to resurrection by proposing conflicting theories to explain the physical mechanisms of this miracle. This to my mind was their true 'priority aim'.
Were they right or wrong? Was their position legitimate? All depends on the criteria we use to decide. But normally no one can deny to a believer the right to venerate a relic. And normally no one can deny to a scientist the right to have access to a unique document he needs for his research. Except the owner. But if the owner - such an owner! - chooses to deny access to the one or to the other and does it overtly, he is open to public criticism, which criticism can only be detrimental to him in the eyes of at least some members of his flock.
Which poses a very serious problem to the sindonologist who cares about not losing access to the Shroud and getting reliable information on its former and present states and who wishes to be able to continue enquiring into the nature of its images, reconstructing the historical circumstances of Jesus' death, analyzing the chemical, biochemical and biological composition of the dust on it, etc. This will probably require from him some very difficult negotiations with the owner of the Shroud, the Holy See, negotiations to be held with all the respect due to the feelings of the devotees but aimed nevertheless at recovering what science seems to be actually loosing: the possibility to study the Shroud and have a say on the ways to best preserve it from destruction and decay for the future generations.
Coming to terms with the owner will require from the scientist - and especially if he is also a Christian - finding new approaches to the eternal problem of the relationship between faith and science. But one crucial condition must inevitably be met on both sides: the common goal both of faith and of science being truth, faith has to pay heed to the scientific procedures of finding the truth or testing it even if only in order to be able to judge their results and (when necessary) criticize them; and science has to study the foundations of faith in the same way with the same aims. Each must have a clearly defined own field of competence (they sometimes share a common ground, but more often have different domains) even inside the same skull and be ready to abandon erroneous views in favor of truer ones coming from the other, whatever their source. Thus scientists must reconsider from A to Z the way the carbon tests were made (we have a lot of hypotheses, but not a single proof), while believers must try to understand that scientific explanation and miracle are mutually exclusive terms and can in no way be combined.
Comments on the June-July 2002 Restoration of the Shroud of Turin:
Loss of Chemical Information
Raymond N. Rogers
During the conference at which The Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) was organized [Kenneth Stevenson (Ed.), 1977 United States Conference of Research on The Shroud of Turin, 23-24 March 1977, Albuquerque, NM, USA, Holy Shroud Guild, 294 East 150 St., Bronx, N. Y. 10451], I presented information on how existing photographs of the damage from the fire of AD 1532 gave us a large amount of information on the chemical composition of the cloth and image. The information in 1977 made me doubt that the image was painted, and that made the project interesting; however, the restorers completely ignored the valuable chemical information contained in the areas they changed.
If the image had been painted or retouched, some foreign materials had to be added to the cloth. The pigments and vehicles (e.g., glair, gums, and glues) would have been subjected to a violent "chemical test" during the fire. The temperatures, temperature gradients, pyrolysis products, and water used to extinguish the fire would have changed the chemical composition of most foreign materials. Before going to Turin in 1978, we did many experiments on the stability of the painting materials. We could not find historical evidence for oil media in the 14th Century, but they were also tested.
Although the fire of 1532 nearly destroyed the Shroud, it created opportunities for many types of chemical studies. We would never use the same destructive methods of observation on an undamaged relic, but misadventure handed us a goldmine of information in 1532.. The important fact is that, before the restoration, we could look at the chemistry of specific locations on the Shroud where scorches intersected image, blood, serum, and water stains. The restoration totally destroyed any chemical information at those intersections.
A large body of chemical information is available on the interactions among reactive pyrolysis products and known or suspected Shroud components. For example, McCrone claimed until his death that the image was painted with hematite. Experiments we did before 1978 proved that the pyrolysis products from the fire would reduce red hematite to black magnetite on the Shroud. No such effect could be observed on the Shroud during the hurried observations of 1978, but I took tape samples from all important areas for later study. Unfortunately, the tape samples were inadvertently returned to Turin and have been lost to scientific observation. Now it will never be possible to confirm the absence of magnetite (and many other components) in scorch areas.
All paints that were used during or before Medieval times are changed by heat and/or the chemically reducing and reactive pyrolysis products of the cloth (e.g., formaldehyde, furfural, organic acids, CO, etc.). Some Medieval painting materials become water soluble, and they would have moved with the water that diffused through parts of the cloth at the time of the fire. A huge amount of chemical information existed in the scorches.
Most organic colors are much less stable than cellulose (linen) and the normal inorganic pigments. Experiments in 1978 showed that scorch lines in impurities precede the scorches in pure linen. Most organic materials, including natural products, change in predictable ways in response to heating and the known products of cellulose pyrolysis. We even tested squid ink, which had been reported being used in ancient times. The products of the reactions can be extracted from cloth and used to prove original compositions. Such information was important for suggesting the chemical composition of the image. Most possibilities for studying the effects of the fire on image materials were destroyed by the restoration of 2002.
Visual observations of the Shroud in 1978 indicated that image color did not move with the water. Other unidentified products did move. We had counted on the tape samples and possible future direct studies on the scorch/water-stain areas of the Shroud for detailed chemical confirmation of what did and did not move with the water.
Lignin is a structural polymer that is found in all plants, including flax. Linen is bleached in an effort to remove as much lignin as possible, but some lignin always remains in linen. Lignin slowly ages with the loss of vanillin (4-hydroxy-2-methoxybenzaldehyde). A very sensitive microchemical test exists for the detection of traces of vanillin. It is easy to find vanillin in the lignin of modern linen, it is harder to find in Medieval linen, and no test can be obtained from the few Shroud fibers that are still available for study. This observation would suggest that the linen of the Shroud is very old, casting doubt on the accuracy of the 1988 date. The obvious question is how temperature gradients affected the lignin at the time of the fire. The restoration truncates and confuses any such study of linen/scorch intersections.
All of the scorch areas that contained chemical information have been destroyed by the restoration. It would be some comfort if scrapings were segregated with regard to location, but the effects of temperature gradients would still be lost.
One powerful chemical analytical method that has become more easily available since the early stages of Shroud science planning is Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis (ESCA). It enables the determination of the structures of organic materials on the top few molecular layers of a sample. Such observations were the "Holy Grail" for those of us who were interested in Shroud science, especially image-formation. We might have been able to identify the actual chemical processes that produced the color of the image. Since the surface of the entire Shroud has now been disturbed, such an approach is unlikely to succeed. This is a terrible, discouraging loss for Shroud chemists.
The persons involved in the restoration of June and July 2002 did not consult any chemists or chemically-oriented textile conservators; consequently, any future studies will be much more difficult and expensive as a result of the restoration, and a large amount of potentially critical information has been lost forever.
Comments of the Intervention Done on the Shroud of Turin in June-July 2002
Daniel Scavone, Ph.D., 12 December 2002
I must take my stand, as a historian, on the side of those who regret the possible loss of much historical information as a result of the unfortunate intervention in 2002. As a result of the stretching of the Shroud so as to deliberately remove its historical fold-marks, the fairly clear raking light photographic evidence of its folding in eight layers may be nullified. Only these fold-marks can support its existence at the time of the original (6th c.) writing of the otherwise largely legendary Acta Thaddaei. The relic in Edessa until 944 and then in Constantinople until 1204 was consistently described as only a face of Jesus. If fold-marks cannot prove that the Shroud itself (and not merely a copy) was so folded to produce the artists' copies of the Shroud showing only the face in a central tondo (as in the 10th c. Sakli and other examples), then the linkage of the Shroud to the Edessa facial image (the image accepted by even non-Shroud historians—Drijvers, Gunther—-to be as early as 200 AD, and by other historians a century earlier or later, is negated and the earliest clear eyewitness evidence of the present Turin Shroud would be the report of Robert de Clari in 1204. The "folding in eight" alone makes sense of the hundreds of 2nd-8th c. documents and 10th c. artistic copies relating to the unique Edessa facial image, and it alone provides an early history for the Shroud. Let us hope that the raking light photographs may still tell their story.
What story is that? Shroud historians all seek to establish as firm a history for the Shroud as possible. We all wish to find documentary evidence that the Shroud goes back to the time of Jesus. Unfortunately, there are no clear references to the survival of Jesus’ burial cloth in all the literature that sindonologists can adduce in efforts to reconstruct that history. Before 958 (the letter of Constantine VII mentioning the presence of Jesus’ sindon in Constantinople—but no image) one finds only sporadic, if tantalizing, clues about the presence of a face of Jesus on cloth. Even when Gregory Referendarius seems to refer to the side wound in 944 (which can be accepted, though his words are ambiguous), he still does not call the cloth just arrived from Edessa a burial cloth. Yet clues there are, and I do not minimize their abundance and possible value. The sindonoclasts have correctly noted the absence of references to Jesus’ burial shroud, the absence of its image and, more so, the absence of any clue to a twin image. The first truly clear eyewitness literary reference must wait until 1204 in the words of Robert de Clari. The famous illumination in the Hungarian Pray Codex (1192) is also important as a clue for the appearance of Jesus’ body and of the pattern of the Shroud’s four burn holes seen there. But these are much too late to prove the Shroud as that of Jesus in the first century. Indeed, every reference or clue to the Shroud in Constantinople is too late.
Back to the folds. Ian Wilson first saw their importance. They tend to demonstrate that the Shroud was once kept folded in eight layers so that the face-panel alone appeared to the viewer. This has the merit of relating the artists’ Sakli-style copies of the Edessa face made after 944 to that facial image mentioned in Edessan texts: the 4th c. Syriac Teaching of Addai containing the legend of Abgar V, and most significantly to the image on a rhakos or sindon tetradiplon ("cloth or shroud folded in eight") described in the 6th c. Greek Acta Thaddaei. The evidence of the folds is all the more important, since they do not seem to be visible to the naked eye. It is for this reason that we who are not specialists in image analysis should accept scientifically demonstrable evidence, such as the analyses derived by experts in image analysis from the raking light photographs made in 1978.
Another reason why the ability to study the folds is crucial is that the Greek terms for folding are extremely difficult to define. After diplous ("folded in two" or, significantly, "twice as much"), Greek terms for folding in more than two layers are ambiguous or not even given in the lexica. The dominant meaning of tetraplous, for example, is not “folded in four layers,” but “four times as much.” Tetradiplon is especially difficult to define because of the rarity of its use. The only translation that makes sense of the Shroud’s literary and iconographical history is "folded in eight," for this alone describes the manner in which the Edessa cloth was seen so as to "reveal" only a facial image." This meaning has been confirmed by the folds revealed by the photography of the Shroud in 1978. The record of the folds and the evidence for the Shroud’s antiquity have been endangered by the 2002 intervention.
Yes, it is important to accept that the Shroud was once folded in four, thus lining up the four prominent sets of burn holes seen at the hips of man of the Shroud. But one cannot imagine—and it makes little sense—that the frontal face which alone is prominent in the legend, literature, and iconography of the Edessa cloth was folded right down the middle in its permanent keeping so that that entire face was not the center of attraction to the bishop and, on albeit rare occasions, to the Christian congregation of Edessa. The record of the folds is of immense value as evidence that the Edessa face of Christ might be identical with the folded Shroud of Turin. It resonates with Clari's remark that the sydoines "stands up" (=was gradually unfolded) every Friday in Blachernes. And the folding was remarked in the Acta Thaddaei, 600 years before Clari. Without the record of the folds, sindonologists will have lost centuries of the Shroud's documented history. It is the chief reason why historians must regret the recent misguided attempt to nullify this evidence by stretching the Shroud.
I read in the words of other Shroud scholars about other failings, about loss of other valuable information, and about unnecessary contaminations as a result of the intervention. Many scholars, therefore, have found it outrageous that a small group of well-intentioned persons who had the attention of the official curator of the Shroud should have used his influence at the papal court to gain permission to perform such radical and invasive surgery on the cloth. They did so with absolutely no discussion with experts and knowledgeable scholars who are also vitally concerned about all matters relating to the precious Shroud—but who were taken by surprise by the announcements only when the operation was a fait accompli. Whatever could have been the unspoken motives of the interventionists that moved them to such secrecy, haste, and the consequent carelessness?
Finally, permit me to add that, although burnt particles removed from the Shroud may have been carefully and properly kept separate as to their original location on the cloth, their value when used in any future carbon dating of the Shroud is much diminished or even negated. If any material or charred portions of the Shroud should be carbon-dated in the first century, sindonoclastic opponents of the Shroud's authenticity who were not present witnesses at their removal and storage during the intervention may still reject the new date as faked or manipulated.
The Recent Renovation of the Turin Shroud
The secret and unexpected intervention executed on the Shroud between June 20th and July 23rd has taken many Shroud researchers by surprise and generated both concern and disappointment about possible lost data and inadequate procedures followed in attempting to preserve the Shroud linen.
In discussing these Shroud alterations with professional conservators, it became apparent that the Shroud has been in the care of the more aggressive practitioners of the restoration and conservation art. In general, conservationists and restorers fall into one of two groups when working on ancient artifacts - those who approach any conservation effort with caution and minimize any changes to the object whenever possible and those who take a more aggressive approach and make any alterations they deem necessary on the object to be conserved so long as the object itself survives.
The observations of Dr. Carla E. Spantigati, a member of the Shroud Conservation Committee, outlines the approach taken in the recent renovation effort. In Sindone le immagini 2002, her observations were characterized as follows:
"The nearly five hundred years spent by the Shroud in the company of its Holland cloth and its patches had established a characteristic of a stable tradition in the life of the Shroud familiar to generations of worshippers and visitors. In respect to this history and to all who have known the Shroud with these characteristics, it would be wise to continue the present situation. Were it to be shown, however, that there were well-founded reasons for thinking that a substantial advantage for conservation would be conferred upon the Shroud by removal of its patches and Holland cloth, then the sentiments of a traditional past must give way to the needs urgently rising from the Object itself."
Thus, the Shroud conservationists apparently proceeded along the major alteration path they took because they believed there were well-founded reasons for doing so. These reasons were described as concerns about the damaging effects of the carbonized material from the fire of 1532 - concerns attributed in part to the now-deceased Dr Alan Adler - and concerns about the "increasingly numerous and harmful wrinkles on the sindonic figure, especially the face."
With this as background, I thought it might be informative to extract Dr. Adler's views on conservation issues from the videotapes of the Shroud Conference held in Richmond in 1999 and which have not heretofore been published. He did not mention any concerns about the materials from the 1532 fire either publicly at this conference or in any of the private communications he and I held over the year prior to his death.
In Richmond, his conservation focus was almost exclusively devoted to the effects of light:"Getting it (the Shroud) conserved properly is NOT a trivial problem!"
Dr. Alan Adler
Richmond Shroud Conference
This remark was made in response to a Panel on Imaging held as a part of the Conference. The panel participants (Messrs. Grundfest, Propp, Schumacher, Schwortz, and Whanger) had made several remarks pointing out the potential for light to induce potentially damaging changes on the Shroud.
Dr. Adler expanded on the panel's comments with the following comments of his own:
- Bilirubin, which is found in the bloodstains on the Shroud, is NOT light-stable. Every time it's illuminated, whether by ambient light, fluorescent light, photographic imaging lighting or even a flashbulb, the clock runs down to the time when the bilirubin will change in color. Further, the effects of these light-induced chemical changes on the adhesion of bilirubin to the linen is not known and could be detrimental.
- The image on the Shroud is a conjugated carbonyl. Since the image fibers are at or near saturation and the surrounding cloth isn't, the surrounding cloth will gradually get darker and darker with time until the image first becomes a silhouette and later finally disappears altogether. It is imperative, therefore, that we MUST archive, using the best possible imaging techniques available, the entire Shroud if only to preserve it for posterity.
Following these comments by Dr. Adler, one of the panel participants made the following observation:"I've always liked to think of the Shroud as a portable archaeological site…and it should be treated as such. It needs to be treated much like archaeologists treat their sites. They try not to trample on them, move things around or destroy things."
Comments such as these, and those of others at this and other conferences on the Shroud held since then, describe the general tenor of what many Shroud researchers had come to expect as the most reasonable approach to any conservation or exploration efforts to be proposed for the Shroud - minimize light exposure, don't move things around and don't trample or destroy anything in any future conservation or research effort.
Unfortunately, the information provided to date by the Turin authorities does not appear to have provided a "well-founded reason" to make the alterations to the Shroud and it's Holland cloth in the manner and timeframe in which they were made. As part of the conservation effort, the Shroud was exposed to prolonged periods of bright artificial light, "things' were removed from it and new "things' were added to it.
The wrinkles on the Shroud have been a part of the cloth for many generations. Indeed, one research team has published several papers that relate the folds and wrinkles on the Shroud to its presence in Constantinople in the twelfth century. At least one independent Byzantine scholar agrees with this dating.
Waiting another five or ten years to provide time to evaluate these wrinkles more thoroughly and closely would not have further endangered the Shroud. Fortunately, many of the wrinkles were not completely removed, but the wrinkle-removal procedure used did change the physical dimensions of the Shroud by several centimeters. If there is scientific evidence detailing the need and urgency in removing the wrinkles, then hopefully the Conservation Committee will publish this data when they produce a more detailed documentation of their efforts.
The concern noted about the carbonized materials found between the Shroud linen and the Holland backing cloth might be significant and relevant if the chemistry of this material had been described. However, no evidence of a detailed chemical evaluation of any of this material, performed prior to the removal of the backing cloth, has yet to be presented. If the carbonized material is non-reactive with the Shroud's linen, then there would be no urgency to remove it and the rationale for doing so would be mitigated.
Given the situation as it now stands, our focus should be on identifying any possible data problems that have resulted from this intervention, noting any apparent procedural inadequacies and highlighting possible new information gleaned from the intervention with the goal of assisting the Shroud Conservation Commission in addressing these issues in their forthcoming scientific publication.
1. Imaging - high quality, high resolution photographic images, a handful of which are published in Sindone le immagini 2002, promise to improve the level of detail available to both researchers and the general public. Further, the imaging of the back side of the Shroud with the same high quality imaging system adds an entire new set of data to be evaluated. As one example of this, the tantalizing hint of an image of the face of the Man of the Shroud on the back side cloth is already touching off debate within Shroud research circles. In addition, the videomicrographic images of various sites on the Shroud should add further to the level of knowledge available.
2. Spectrographic studies - UV/VIS reflectance and fluorescence measurements as well as Raman spectroscopic measurements were taken at different locations on the cloth after the patches and carbonized materials were removed. Depending on the number of such measurements taken, this data promises to add significantly to the physical and chemical knowledge we have of the Shroud. Hopefully, the detailed data as well as an evaluation of it will be made available in the detailed report to be produced by the Turin authorities.
The listing that follows is one attempt to identify some of the broad areas of concern that result from the recent intervention. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive listing. Perhaps others would add to the list to make it as useful and thorough as possible.
Possible Data issues:
1. Provenance - manual extraction and removal of carbonized materials from the Shroud damages the provenance of the material extracted and limits the usefulness of these materials for a variety of scientific tests including possible future radiocarbon dating. Unless thread by thread detailed documentation was created when the intervention was performed, valuable data which tied each thread's physical and chemical characteristics to its precise location on the Shroud linen may have been lost. It is to be hoped that a thorough, detailed and complete record of every step taken when each of the carbonized materials were removed will be made available in the future to ameliorate the limitations associated with these extractions.
2. Light exposure - documentary photos in Sindone le immagini 2002 show the Shroud directly exposed to both overhead artificial lighting and to artificial lighting directed by the two conservationists as they sewed the new backing cloth to the Shroud. In addition, the photographer may also have used a separate lighting arrangement to take the documentary photos shown. Moreover, the gantry-controlled high resolution digital imaging performed may also have used some form of illumination. Since this conservation effort took more than a month to complete, it would thus appear that the Shroud was exposed for a prolonged period of time to bright artificial light that could potentially exacerbate the chemistry concerns noted in Richmond by Dr. Adler. It is unclear what, if any, color/intensity benchmarking was performed at the beginning and conclusion of this intervention to provide some possible measurements of any changes induced on the Shroud cloth. Obviously, if any such benchmarking was performed, the results should be made available.3. Exogenous biological contamination - the documentary photos noted above also show a number of people visiting the Shroud as it is being restored as well as the two conservationists working without any protective clothing. Protective gloves were not used and as a result it is likely that the Shroud now contains microscopic bits of skin, DNA residues, body oils and microscopic bits of the clothing, pollen and other debris carried by any who visited during the renovation procedure. The extent of this additional contamination is unknown.
4. Nature of new "Holland" cloth - the new backing cloth, described as a length of raw linen purchased in Holland some fifty years ago, may possess unknown chemical reactants. Brighteners are often used in modern linens and this linen was washed several times to de-size and soften it. Precisely how it was washed is not described. As a result of all of this, there is the potential for a chemical interaction between the new "Holland" cloth and the Shroud if the new cloth isn't completely non-reactive insofar as the Shroud linen is concerned. Any such interaction could distort future spectroscopic or other evaluation that might be found useful or necessary. Perhaps in the scientific documentation to be produced in the future, the Conservation Committee could provide details as to the washing procedure and chemistry of the new backing cloth as well as providing chemical information about the old backing cloth.
5. Problematic techniques - the use of mechanical devices to pull off and remove carbonized material from the cloth may have contaminated the surrounding cloth as the result of the absence of gloves and other protective clothing by those removing the materials. In addition, an ultrasonic vaporizer was employed although its purpose is not clear. Vaporizers like this are occasionally used by some restorers to assist in the removal of wrinkles in old fabric. If the vaporizer was used to remove wrinkles by subjecting them to water vapor, then such a procedure may have altered the physical distribution of various salts found on the cloth, particularly those found by Dr Adler using FTIR spectroscopy and mass spec analysis. The distribution of these salts may be an indication of sample contamination problems with the 1988 radiocarbon dating. Unfortunately, if a vaporizer was used in the radiocarbon sample area, the salts embedded there may have migrated as a result of their interaction with the water vapor. Accordingly, each use of the vaporizer should be detailed in any future documentation.
1. Open access - the renovation work was performed in an area that was readily accessible to visiting dignitaries and other non-specialists who were not directly involved with the restoration work taking place. This access both compromised the secrecy that was required - though not with the Shroud research community - and introduced additional sources of inorganic and organic contamination. Any future research or conservation work should take place in a 'clean room' type of environment with access strictly controlled.
2. Lack of protective clothing - the two conservators most directly in contact with the Shroud did not use protective clothing while working. Their hands were directly in contact with the Shroud on numerous occasions thus adding to the contamination of the cloth. Future researchers should be required to wear protective gloves and other protective garments to minimize the possibility of additional contamination.
3. Consultation - while the Shroud Conservation Committee spent over ten years discussing the elements of the conservation effort that just took place and the Turin authorities had requested proposals for future scientific research on the Shroud two years ago, virtually no one outside the Committee was aware of the nature of what was being contemplated. The non-consultative approach to the restoration has badly damaged the sense of international research cooperation that had developed over the past few years. To avoid this problem in the future, a Commission should be established, perhaps under auspices of the Pontifical Academy of Science, to guide any future access to the Shroud to insure that all points of view are given a just and fair hearing before proceeding with any future research or any other conservation effort.
The intervention that just occurred most likely lost valuable data as a result of the experimental design utilized. This data loss did not have to occur. Something as simple as taking the UV/VIS and Raman measurements before removing any of the patches or carbonized materials could have conserved at least some of the data measurements desired by researchers.
From all reports, the level of workmanship on applying the new backing cloth was technically first-rate and the new storage methodology - laying the Shroud out flat with no tension on it - should retain whatever folds and wrinkles are remaining on it.
In the future, to insure collaboration and the best possible experimental design, the Turin authorities should make every effort to coordinate any intervention with the widest possible group of international researchers. They do not need to disclose where and when an intervention may take place, but must be willing to discuss and debate any intervention plan - perhaps under the auspices of an independent Commission.
Comments on the restoration of the Shroud of Turin
Prof. Alan D. Whanger
As an attendee at the Conference held in Turin in March 2000 for a limited group of Shroud researchers for review and planning, I was invited to Turin again by Cardinal Poletto for a meeting on 20 September 2002 for an explanation of the recent restoration and preservation procedures that were done on the Shroud in June and July 2002. As I did not learn of those procedures until August, I had a high level of interest in whatever had been done or not done when the patches were removed and the backing cloth replaced.
At the September 20 meeting, presentations were given by Cardinal Poletto, Custodian of the Shroud; Mgr. Giuseppe Ghiberti, chairman of the diocesan committee for the Shroud; by Prof. Piero Savarino, scientific advisor to the Custodian; and by Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, the restorer. These were accompanied by many photographs and videos.
The rationale for removing the patches and the original backing cloth was the presence of a considerable accumulation of burn material from the fire of 1532 and other debris under the patches and on the backing cloth that might have considerable long-term detrimental effects on the Shroud and on the images. Each patch and the associated debris was saved and labeled for further research. The only work done on the front side of the Shroud was the removal of bits of charred fabric still attached to threads using tweezers or light scraping. Micro aspiration of carbon particles immediately around the burn holes was carried out, and the material was saved.
In order to strengthen the Shroud for future displays and for scientific studies, a new backing cloth was secured to the Shroud around each burn hole and in some other areas by meticulous stitching with a very fine silk thread. Dr. Flury-Lemberg was certainly highly qualified and competent to do this meticulous work.
Photographs and full-length digital imaging were done on the front side and then on the backside after the backing cloth had been removed. Some other imaging studies were also done on the backside before the new backing cloth was attached. Some sticky tape samples were taken from the backside.
After these presentations, there were over two hours of open questions and discussion, with the exchange of a variety of opinions and reactions. Then we went to see the Shroud itself, replaced flat in its heavy metal container and covered with protective glass. We were allowed to come almost to the edge of the container. Only superficial observations could be made since the lighting was somewhat subdued, we were viewing the Shroud from the side, and our time was limited.
The Shroud looks rather different without the patches. When I began getting used to the new appearance, I felt that it is an improvement because a bit more of the Shroud itself can be seen and the distraction of the various patches is no longer there. The new stitches are apparent only on very close observation.
We were all invited to attend the press conference the next day. Only part of what was said at the press conference was translated or presented in English, but I think that most of the same ground was covered for the media as had been done for us the previous evening. After questions and answers, we again had an opportunity to view the Shroud in the Cathedral, and were allowed to walk entirely around the container.
We were all given two nicely produced books, one on the findings of the scanning of part of the back side that was done in 2000, and one produced after the recent restoration. In addition, we were given a CD showing five images.
In conclusion, I was glad to learn of the care used in the restoration and that all of the removed materials were identified and saved for future studies. I better appreciated the reason for the secrecy, since the Shroud had to remain outside of its case during the lengthy restoration procedures and hence was much more vulnerable than usual.
Our (mine and my CSST colleagues) particular research interest deals substantially with the fine details of the many faint non-body images on the Shroud and with microscopic particles, especially with pollen grains as they are related to the floral images. Having seen only a very small representation of the recent photographs and digital imaging, I cannot tell at this time whether they will be adequate for our detailed studies. We cannot tell yet what subtle changes in the body images themselves may have occurred in recent years.
Extensive restorative and conservation measures have now been done on the Shroud. We have no idea what of the many suggested research studies may be allowed in the future, but we hope they will include meticulous digitized image studies of particular non-body areas, as these help to more clearly identify who the Man of the Shroud is, to more fully identify and appreciate the complex circumstances of the Crucifixion, to accurately date the Shroud and locate its origin, and to better understand the nature of the image-forming process. These doable scientific studies can help greatly to counter the still prevalent ideas that the Shroud is a medieval artistic production of some sort, and can assist many who are seriously seeking important answers to find them on this unique object.
The New, Restored Turin Shroud
For well over four centuries the Shroud has been sewn onto a piece of sixteenth century ‘Holland cloth’ that has prevented access to, and thereby full examination of, its underside. Throughout this same period some 30 patches, some sewn on in 1534, others by later repairers, have covered disfiguring holes from the fire damage that the Shroud sustained in 1532. Because it was necessary to sew these patches onto still intact portions of the fabric they have concealed such areas as well as those holed and scarred from the fire damage.
Now, after a thirty-two day conservation program carried out between 20 June and 22 July by Swiss textile conservator Mechthild Flury-Lemberg and assistant Irene Tomedi the backing cloth and the patches have been removed, and the Shroud rendered what the Church authorities have officially described as ‘naked’. The operation, carried out in Turin Cathedral’s new sacristy, built after the fire of 1997, was performed under strict secrecy, not least because of post-September 11 concerns for the Shroud’s security while it was being kept outside its protective case. Sadly, when news of the work became leaked by Rome journalist Orazio Petrosillo, loud protests were voiced alleging that the advice of Shroud experts had been ignored and that potential vital microscopic evidence had been destroyed by the conservation process.
Describing himself as ‘embittered’ by such criticisms Turin’s archbishop Cardinal Severino Poletto, the Shroud’s official custodian on behalf of the Pope, held a press conference on 21 September to show the Shroud in its new form, and to explain the true facts behind the conservation work. The evening before this conference he and those in Turin most closely responsible for Shroud matters invited some thirty international ‘Shroud-watchers’ for a special preview, one of those attending this gathering being myself.
Having travelled at very short notice from Australia to take advantage of this invitation, I was very relieved to find the alarmist allegations totally unfounded. The Shroud’s so-called ‘denuding’ has definitely not impaired it visually. Indeed the removal of the patches now enhances attention to the all-important image, and previously occluded parts, such as to one side of the bloodstain from the wound in the side have been revealed for the first time. Also any reasoned appraisal of the work that has been carried out can only be one of admiration for its painstaking care and total professionalism.
The Shroud is now being kept in a side chapel to the left of Turin Cathedral’s high altar, beneath what looks to the outside observer like a rather plain, box-like altar. On the night of 20 September the two halves of this ‘box’ were slid apart to reveal the Shroud laid out full-length and entirely flat inside an inner container with a full-size protective plate glass cover. We were admitted into the chapel in groups of twelve, the protective glass cover enabling us to view the Shroud at the closest possible range without compromise to its safety.
Visually the now revealed holes are little more obtrusive than the patches that formerly covered them. Conservators Flury-Lemberg and Tomedi, during their painstaking removal of the patches and the backing cloth, became increasingly astonished at the amount of carbon debris that had accumulated beneath the patches. The numerous occasions on which the Shroud was rolled and unrolled for display purposes during the centuries since 1534 had caused repeated abrasion of the charred edges to the areas holed in the fire. Because of the dislodged particles of carbon debris being acidic, their accumulation behind each patch posed a continual ‘loose cannon’ danger to the Shroud. The alarmist press reports suggested that this debris, and thereby its potential value as historical and scientific evidence, had either been destroyed or at best been gathered carelessly and indiscriminately. But neither was the case. The materials accumulated behind each patch, also some in the process of abrading, were carefully gathered and recorded, then sealed in canisters individual to each site from which they were removed. The array of these canisters is being kept in Cardinal Poletto’s care awaiting proposals for how they may best be examined scientifically, the intention certainly being that every minutest scrap of evidence should be made available to those most competent to study it.
Another criticism was made that after removing the old 16th century backing cloth Mechthild Flury-Lemberg sewed the Shroud on a fresh backing cloth, thereby again denying ready access to its underside. But this was done solely and specifically to facilitate fresh expositions of the Shroud during which, as traditionally, it would need to be presented in a vertical display mode. The replacement cloth chosen, ironically deriving from Holland like that used in 1534, is not new, having originally been purchased decades ago by Flury-Lemberg’s father for household purposes, and not in the event used until now. It was specially selected for its not having been treated with dyes, starches, bleaches and other potential contaminants, and its natural colour harmonises well with that of the Shroud. Even the thread used for the thousands of stitches was specially selected as from the finest silk, so that in the event of any excessive strain or stress it would break before cutting into the Shroud’s threads.
The removal of the backing cloth enabled the Shroud’s underside to be viewed in full for the first time, and every opportunity was taken for conventional photography, scanning and other approaches. Not least of the discoveries was that although in the main the so-called body image does not show through to the Shroud’s underside, a notable exception to this is the image of the hair, particularly the two sidelocks framing the face. A possible explanation for this show-through may be the cloth coming into direct contact with hair oils, natural and artificial, that had coated the hair, these, like the blood, becoming absorbed through to the underside. The blood stains notably register nearly as clearly and completely on the underside as they do on the side of the cloth that (theoretically) would have been in direct contact with the crucified body. A superbly-produced new booklet by Don Giuseppe Ghiberti, Sindone le imagini 2002 Shroud images with text in both English and Italian, includes a 3ft wide full length colour photograph of this underside, clearly illustrating these details.
Another of the alarmist concerns raised was that there had been a smoothing out of creases that provide vital evidence for how the Shroud was folded in previous centuries. This allegation similarly proved unfounded. The subdued light in which we viewed the Shroud the night of September 20th was particularly conducive to showing up creases and other irregularities on the Shroud’s surface, and reassuringly, these were still readily apparent. And precisely because of the removal of the patches, the continuousness of some of the more ancient crease lines was visible for the first time. It was pointed out that the patches were responsible for creating some of the creases, and with the removal of these some crease lines had simply and naturally dropped out. But there had been positively no attempt to iron out old creases, as had first been feared.
Another of the criticisms leveled against Mechthild Flury-Lemberg and Irene Tomedi’s work was that this had been carried out hastily, and without due consultation. But as explained by Don Giuseppe Ghiberti, speaking on behalf of the Turin archdiocese, a Commission specifically to consider matters of the Shroud’s conservation had been formed as early as 1992, during the time of Cardinal Saldarini. Express permission to remove the patches and backing cloth was sought from the Shroud’s formal owner, Pope John Paul II via a letter dated 10 November 2000. To emphasise that he and his aides are hiding nothing, Cardinal Poletto read out the full text of a letter from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Sodano, dated 3 November 2001, specifically and unequivocally empowering him to get the work done. As was further pointed out during the meeting, the idea of removing the backing cloth had been approved even at the time the Shroud was still owned by the Savoy family, i.e. before 1983, the agreement being that if the cloth were detached it would be returned to the Savoy family.
On a personal level the visit to Turin enabled me to view the Shroud in its new setting for the first time. Because of the table-top display height and the protective glass it was possible to study details as closely as one foot distance, a point of marvel being the fineness and near-invisibility of Mechthild Flury-Lemberg and Irene Tomedi’s stitching. Thanks to viewing the Shroud again in artificial light some concerns that I had been nurturing that the image might be fading – as first aroused by my viewing in March 2000 - were satisfactorily allayed.
Throughout the near four decades that I have been actively interested in the Shroud there has often been a tendency to remoteness towards English-speaking ‘Shroudies’ on the part of those in Turin. A point of great happiness, therefore, was that this recent occasion, together with the Villa Gualino Symposium in March 2000 were notable for the great openness and cordiality exhibited by Cardinal Poletto and his aides. Whereas previous archbishops of Turin have often just said a few introductory words at Shroud gatherings, and have left the rest to their officials, Cardinal Poletto is clearly deeply and personally interested in the Shroud. He made regular ‘drop-in’ visits to view Flury-Lemberg and Tomedi’s conservation work while this was in progress, and he speaks most authoritatively on the subject, from direct observation, and from the heart, rather than from texts prepared for him by others. The fine initiative that was first set by the calling of the Villa Gualino Symposium in March 2000 is clearly being sustained. From my personal perspective those in Turin deserve not any harsh criticism but the warmest congratulations for their recent endeavours, and I feel confident that the Shroud has never been in more capable and caring hands.
Frederick T. Zugibe, M.D., Ph.D.
Lectures and slide and video presentations were given in the Seminary at via XX Settembre, 83 from 7 P.M. until after 9:30 P.M. after which we were taken to view the post-surgical Shroud in all of its glory. After viewing the Shroud, Cardinal Poletto asked for comments from the various invitees. I commended the extremely fine workmanship performed by textile Shroud expert, Mechthild Flury Lemberg and her associate Irene Tomedi, indicating my familiarity with such workmanship because my wife is a fashion designer and also executes fine needle art.
However, I then stressed that for obvious reasons, serious Shroud researchers in the various disciplines should have been consulted for their input prior to embarking on such an irrevocable project since these manipulations could have a serious effect on future Shroud research. I then expressed my chagrin that both Lemberg and Tomedi were not wearing surgical gloves and apparently were not wearing dust free garments as the numerous movements of the hands in contact with the Shroud during the laborious sewing operations as shown on the video presentation, would cause skin oils and numerous epithelial cells to slough off onto the cloth.
This type of contamination onto the Shroud could seriously influence DNA and other determinations. The garments they were wearing may also have released fine particulates onto the cloth adding to further contamination. I stressed the fact that there was no excuse for not wearing fine surgical gloves because even eye surgeons and micro surgeons wear them during extremely delicate surgical operations. There is no doubt that the surgery was a success but did the patient die??
A Petition to Pope John Paul II
A petition is being drawn up to Pope John Paul II arising out of the controversial alterations made to the Shroud last summer. The text of the petition is given below, followed by instructions for those who wish to sign the petition.PETITION TO HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II
In the light of recent alterations to the Shroud of Turin, we the undersigned are deeply concerned about the future scientific study of this precious object treasured by many people all over the world.
We request that Your Holiness consider appointing an international commission of respected scientists and other knowledgeable persons, to advise on all matters relevant to the Shroud's conservation, scientific testing and long-term preservation as an object of study.
Such a commission would, we hope, also include representatives of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Vatican Museum, and the Pontifical Commission for the Heritage of the Church.
We request further that the commission operate on the basis of peer-review prior to recommendation of any proposal, that it invite public comments on matters before it, and that its deliberations be published regularly.
We believe that the appointment of such a commission will contribute significantly to progress in our understanding of this fascinating object.
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This petition has already been sent in. Anyone who wishes to support it may do so by writing directly to:Secretary of State for the Vatican
GUIDELINES FOR SUBMITTING COMMENTS: This page is not provided as a forum for personal attacks on or by any group or individual. Authors are asked to stick to the factual science, clearly state their opinions and justify them in a civilized and professional manner. It would be particularly helpful if participants did not stray too far from their fields of expertise. Although I will not limit the length of people's comments (at this moment anyway), I ask that everyone be as brief as possible. This page is not planned as a bulletin board for the general public, but rather as a forum for qualified experts who have been or are currently actively involved in serious Shroud research. As always, I reserve the right to edit any materials submitted for publication on this website, although my hope is to find that unneccessary. The comments and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the individual authors. Their inclusion on this page is strictly for information purposes and does not constitute an endorsement by the editor of this website.