Shroud of Turin still draws millions of pilgrims

Georgene Rice of KPDQ-FM interviews Robert Wilcox author of the “Truth about the Shroud of Turin, Solving the Mystery” and discusses his investigations and the remarkable scientific and technological revelations.

Georgene: There’s a curiosity and fascination about the possibility there is a piece of cloth that may bear the negative image of Jesus Christ’s as it was laid over His tortured body during His historic death and burial. It will go on display again in April and it is expected to draw a crowd of over 2 million people, five times the number that attended the Winter Olympics.  Mr. Wilcox, what motivated you to pursue and understanding of the Shroud of Turin and why do you think it is especially important to authenticate this relic? 

Wilcox: I’m a writer always looking for amazing stories. The thought there could be material evidence of Christ, a picture of Jesus, if it’s true; a picture of His resurrection, if it’s true; and especially a picture of His passion which was just so terrible. Faith doesn’t have to be there because of that, but if you are a Christian, you want to see this.  The burden of proof is now on the doubters. There are just too many facts that point to authenticity. There is nothing in the world like the Shroud of Turin.

Georgene: For the sake of those who may not be familiar with the Shroud, describe for us what this is.

This is a length of ancient linen, Jewish experts identify was used during burial.  It has an image on it that looks almost like a stick drawing. When they took the first photographs of it in 1898 what they found was a photographic negative. It was the picture of a person in rigamortis, a person who had been beaten and scourged and crucified just like Jesus. From that point scientists began to study how it came about and to this day have not been able to figure it out. It’s either a chemical process or some kind of heat and light process that has made it.

This is the incredible part of the image. The cloth is made of linen fibers and each individual fiber is changed in a very mathematically precise amount—about half way down the fiber. We’re talking about a distance about 1/100th of a human hair. When the dark parts clump together you get the dark parts of the image. The areas that are lighter are not affected at all, they are just cloth.

There is only one other image that is sort of like this. When our NASA scientists take a photograph of a distant planet way out in our universe, in order to see the relief—mountains and valleys— they have special computers that can do this.  When they run computers over the Shroud of Turin they can produce a 3D image of the man in the Shroud, like a holograph. There is nothing in art that is like that. There is nothing in art that when scanned by the computers will produce a 3D effect like they can with the Shroud. That makes it unique in the world.

The idea that a painter could have done this is absolutely absurd. A painter would use some sort of liquid, but every fiber does not have discoloration inside. The inside is perfect. Nothing has seeped inside. It’s only on the outside that the discoloration occurred.

You’ve said the burden of proof is now on the doubters.  Let’s talk about what some of the skeptics have said in questioning its authenticity. First, with the carbon dating.

Wilcox: That was a big blow to the Shroud, when the Carbon 14 tests said it was from the 14th century. What happened was actually a colossal mistake on the part of the Turin authorities. The carbon testers tested a piece of the cloth that had been replaced back in the 13th century by a nobleman’s wife that had cut the Shroud to give a piece to another principality upon her husband’s death. She then brought in artisans to replace the piece, which was the area which they had Carbon tested.

Georgene: I understand scientists have tracked other materials on the Shroud such as thorns and leaf threads that give some indication of where it’s been.

Wilcox: Back in 1973 a scientists first identified pollens on the Shroud that could be located in both France and from Jerusalem. A botany professor says he can see pieces of plant like those you’d put on a grave at a funeral. These plants are only grown in the area around Jerusalem and bloom during the time of Easter in Jerusalem.

There is real human blood on the Shroud that is different from the image. The blood contains biliruben, which is only found in the blood of a person who has suffered great, great trama.

Georgene: There is a period of about 150 years in which the whereabouts of the Shroud was unknown.

Wilcox The Vatican has found misplaced documents that prove that the Knights Templer had it, which then dates the Shroud back to 500 AD or back to the tomb. Prior to finding these documents the Vatican has always backed off from the Shroud because of all the false relics that have came before. But, with these documents uncovered, for the first time in history the Pope is going to Turin where he is going to venerate the Shroud.

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