Mystery in History The Shroud of Turin Part 3

About the famous holy relic the Shroud of Turin, mystery and history of the shroud's veneration.


The Event: The Veneration of the Shroud of Turin

Although there are many ancient burial cloths in existence today, none but the shroud of Turin bears a body imprint. Other shrouds are marred by stains and smudges resulting from the decomposition of the body. The fact that the shroud of Turin contains no such smudges seems to lend credence to the Christian belief that Christ was resurrected. Or his body was removed from the crypt by someone before it had a chance to begin decomposing. Some have even theorized that he was buried alive and that either he was rescued later by friends or he revived and left on his own.

If the Turin shroud was Christ's, how was the unique imprint created?

Sindonologists have spent years puzzling over this question, and many bizarre experiments have been performed in a vain attempt to recreate the process. According to Robert K. Wilcox, author of Shroud (Macmillan, 1977), these are the main theories that have evolved.

1. Contact stain theory. Embalming oils and spices smeared on the body came in contact with the cloth, leaving an image. Experimenters have produced images this way, but they have been distorted and much less detailed than the one on the shroud.

2. Vapograph theory. Ammonia gases or other vapors leaving the body acted chemically on the cloth. Images of a sort can be produced this way too, but vapors don't move through space in a straight line and thus don't leave a true image.

3. Scorch or flash-of-heat-and-light theory. Those who have faith in the Resurrection have suggested that at the moment of that miraculous event, an extraordinary burst of heat or light was generated which burned an impression the cloth. This theory obviously can't be proven through experimentation.

4. Radiation theory. Jesus, perhaps because of his highly developed consciousness and the stress of his agony before death, emitted an extraordinary amount of radiation, which acted on the cloth in a manner analogous to the way light acts on a photographic plate. Proponents of this theory point to the development of radiation field photography by the Russian electrician Semyon Kirlian and others, who have purported to photograph the "auras," or radiant emanations, of animate and inanimate objects. Although this theory is intriguing, the science of bioradiation is still in its infancy, and such theories are at this point highly speculative.

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