Pope Benedict XVI says Shroud of Turin the real deal


Unlike his predecessor John Paul II, Benedict XVI has now affirmed the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. It is, he says, “an icon written in blood,” the very grave-clothes of Jesus of Nazareth.

To me, the 13th-14th century provenance claimed by the carbon-daters makes more sense: that was a period of intense interest in the actual events of Christ’s life and, especially, of his Passion. For more on that, see my article for CT on late medieval Passion devotion.

This also seems a bold move by a pope–to declare something authentic that it is well within the realm of science to later declare a fraud (though so far no conclusive proof has been given).

What do you guys think?

7 responses to “Pope Benedict XVI says Shroud of Turin the real deal

  1. I think to call it an icon is the best description. Meredith has done the same reading I have; I am convinced that its authenticity is possible, but in terms of an artifact, it has poor provenance. I didn’t deal in ancient artifacts or even in rarities as a museum curator when that was my job, but for authenticity, provenance must be proved. There cannot be gaps in its known history, and the Shroud’s history is one of theft, secrecy and smuggling. Poor provenance!

    I agree with Chris that, like an icon, it is a focus of meditation and wonder. Is it miracle-working? In the sense that God uses the moments of divine attention that we give holy objects in order to reach us and heal us, yes, I think it could be. If that is what Benedict means by ‘authentic” then he is the man to so declare.

  2. Meredith Nyberg

    I have read some of the information put out by the STURP team that investigated the shroud using the most up-to-date equipment available in the late 80’s and I am convinced that the shroud certainly might be Jesus’ shroud. It seems the best explanation when you take into account that the image is embedded in the fibers, the age and type of fibers, the mud that was found around the feet, the blood which soaked in which is mixed with fluid around the spear wound, and even the flower images and pollen–some of which are only found in the area right around Jerusalem. That said, it is irresponsible for the Pope to declare as a certainty that the shroud is Jesus’ burial shroud, because it cannot be proven even though it cannot be dis-proven. Just as we must do with all evidence of the resurrection, there is only so much “proof”, but there is also faith and the wonder of the possibility of the miraculous. The more I investigate the shroud, the more wonderful it seems to me. I am for embracing the wonder!

  3. Travis, that seems quite reasonable. I’ve always thought, though, that the early and medieval cult of relics has something useful to tell us, theologically and spiritually. Something about the embodiment, the full humanity, of Christ shines through so vividly in this particular (reputed) relic. It has a kind of magnetic appeal that points to what the West used to, and the East still does, believe about the Incarnation: The Incarnation doesn’t just lead us to the crucifixion, but it also ennobles, even deifies, humanity–including our bodies.

  4. Another, in a string, of unfortunate decisions by the current Pope. Too bad.

  5. I think the blood of Christ which has been transfused in us to raise our dead-from-sin bodies merits our attention more than a bit of cloth with dried blood on it that He might have worn once.

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