Languedoc Topics
Mysteries of the Languedoc
The Turin Shroud


Where was the The Shroud before it came into public view at Lirey during its ownership by Geoffrey de Charnay. Was it hidden in the Languedoc?

The Shroud of Turin (or Turin Shroud) is a linen cloth bearing the hidden image of a man who appears to have been physically traumatized in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. Despite extensive evidence that it is a medieval fraud it is still believed by many Roman Catholics to be a cloth worn by Jesus Christ at the time of his burial.

The image on the shroud is clearer and more striking in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color. The negative image was first observed on May 28, 1898 on the reverse photographic plate of an amateur photographer, Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it as part of an exhibition for Turin Cathedral.

The origin of the shroud is disputed. Researchers have coined the term sindonology to describe its general study (from Greek sindon, the word used in the Mark Gospel to describe the cloth that Joseph of Arimathea bought to use as Jesus' burial cloth).

According to some, the Shroud's history can be traced back to biblical times, a couple of missing centuries being accounted for by the shroud being hidden by cathars in the Languedoc. The case is put most cogently Jack Markwardt. Below is a copy of his paper putting the case for this theory , with annotations by the webmaster.



The cloth is rectangular, measuring about 4.4 × 1.1 m (14.3 × 3.7 ft). The cloth is woven in a three-to-one herringbone twill composed of flax fibrils. It displays a faint, yellowish image of a front and back view of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and point in opposite directions. The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of the cloth. These views are consistent with an orthographic projection of a human body.

The "Man of the Shroud" has a beard, moustache, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. He is muscular. Various experts have measured him as from 1.75 m, or roughly 5 ft 9 in, to 1.88 m, or 6 ft 2 in). Reddish brown stains are found on the cloth, showing various wounds that correlate with the yellowish image, the pathophysiology of crucifixion, and the Biblical description of the death of Jesus.

  • one wrist bears a large, round wound, apparently from piercing (the second wrist is hidden by the folding of the hands)
  • an upward gouge in the side penetrating into the thoracic cavity
  • small punctures around the forehead and scalp
  • scores of linear wounds on the torso and legs claimed to be consistent with the distinctive wounds of a Roman flagrum.
  • streams of blood down both arms that include blood dripping from the main flow in response to gravity at an angle that would occur during crucifixion
  • no evidence of either leg being fractured
  • large puncture wounds in the feet as if pierced by a single spike

more on:

History of the Shroud

Theories of how the image on the shroud was formed

Scientific analysis of the Shroud

Analysis of the Image as a Work of Art

Reasons to Doubt the Shroud's Authenticity

Jack Markwardt's paper putting the case that the shroud was hidden in the Languedoc



Was The Shroud In Languedoc During The Missing Years?

Copyright Jack Markwardt, 1997 (webmaster's notes on the right)

INTRODUCTION: In 1204, a sydoine, bearing a full-length figure of Christ and a possible Apostolic pedigree,1 disappeared from Constantinople. Matching that cloth with the Shroud which appeared in Lirey, France a century and a half later requires an accounting of its hidden movements and an explanation for its acquisition by Geoffrey de Charny. This paper focuses upon the "Missing Years" in the history of the Shroud of Turin,2 presents a hypothetical reconstruction of several of the more mysterious chapters in the cloth's biography, and suggests that the sindonic path between Constantinople and Lirey runs directly through Languedoc.


The is an assumption here that the sydoine that disappeared from Constantinople is the same artifact we now know as the shroud of Turin. This has never been established for certain.

1204: FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO LANGUEDOC. In April of 1204, the Fourth Crusade attacked Byzantine Constantinople and, in the resultant chaos, someone pilfered the Emperor's cloth. If the thief had held orthodox beliefs or had viewed the Shroud as a sacred relic, he would not have kept it concealed for long, but, instead, would have promptly claimed the credit and wealth attendant to its ownership.3 Thus, the perpetrator probably had no affiliation to either the Crusade or the Church of Rome and probably considered the cloth to be something other than a purely religious artifact. In this regard, it is critical to note that, at the precise time of its disappearance, the Shroud was being treated less as a holy relic than as a palladium wielded by the Emperor, in weekly public exhibitions, against the military threat posed by the crusaders.4 In fact, for the preceding six and a half centuries, the Shroud, assuming its affinity to the Mandylion,5 had enjoyed a fabled reputation as a cloth possessing great powers of protection. In 544, it had reportedly saved the city of Edessa from a siege by the Persian army.6


The identification of the sydoine with the Mandylion has not been established for certain.

Thereafter, the cloth not only maintained its status as Edessa's holy palladium,7 but it also served as the model for numerous copies which were similarly employed as palladia throughout the Eastern empire.8 The protective virtues of such images were described by Edward Gibbon as follows: "In the hour of danger or tumult their venerable presence could revive the hope, rekindle the courage, or repress the fury of the Roman legions".9 In the sixth century, Pope Gregory commissioned his own copy of the image and had it brought to Rome where it was subsequently invoked for protection by Popes of the eighth and ninth centuries.10 In 944, the Byzantine Emperor forcibly compelled the transfer of the original image from Edessa to Constantinople in order to obtain "a new, powerful source of divine protection" for the capital city.11 Consequently, the peoples of Edessa and Constantinople came to view relics as possessing "palladian virtues which could protect them from their enemies".12

Substantially accurate

In 1204, when the Shroud disappeared, two sects of religious dualists, the Bogomils and the Paulicians, were openly practicing their faith in Constantinople and, as will be shown, possessed both the opportunity and the motive to take and conceal the cloth. During the preceding century, Eastern dualism had made its way to Western Europe13 and, by 1160, permeated Languedoc14 in the form of Catharism.15 Condemned by the Council of Tours in 1163,16 the heresy continued to spread despite ever- increasing persecution by the Church.17 All the while, the Cathars remained part of a single dualist communion with their brethren in the East18 and maintained such extremely close ties with them19 that they themselves were frequently referred to as Bogomile or Paulician.20 In 1172, Nicetas, the dualist bishop of Constantinople, travelled to Languedoc as a representative of the Eastern mother church,21 and, presiding over a Synod,22 persuaded the Cathars to adopt an absolute form of dualism,23 reconsecrated Cathar bishops, and approved reformation of the Cathar hierarchy.24 The dualists of the East provided Cathars with scriptures25 and answers to their religious questions26 and some moved West and became involved in the political and religious affairs of Languedoc.27 This federation of Eastern and Western dualists was maintained for many decades and, in 1224, the Easterners were to offer their homes to Cathar refugees and send them a spiritual leader.28


The links between the various Dualist groups is well established - but an important point, not mentioned here, is that none of these Dualist groups accepted Christ's bodily crucifixion, much less the survival of his burial cloth. Furthermore, they detested all supposed religious relics without exception.

In 1198, Innocent III became Pope and promptly demonstrated a proclivity to use military force whenever convenient to accomplish his religious and political goals29 and his fanatical hatred of heresy drove him to seek the elimination of Catharism in Languedoc.30 Thus, in 1204, and at the precise time when the Cathars desperately required protection from Innocent, their religious brethren in the East31 were, week after week, witnessing the exhibition and representation of the Shroud as a tried, true and mighty palladium. As Ian Wilson observed, the opportunity to take the cloth presented itself to some Byzantine who had access to it during the confusion of the crusader attack upon the city.32 Greek dualists enjoyed friendly contacts with the upper classes of the capital33 and harbored little love for a Church which had not only sent a Crusade to lay siege to their city, but had resolved to exterminate their fellow religionists in Languedoc. This paper suggests that it was they who snatched the relic, concealed it, and sent it to their persecuted brethren in Languedoc, not as an object of religious veneration,34 but as a powerful palladium which could be employed against the fanatically-militant Church of Rome.


All accurate except that there is no evidence that the shroud was taken to the Languedoc or that the Cathars ever used a palladium - which their religion regarded as worthless.

If these Greek dualists did send the Shroud to Languedoc,35 they would have entrusted it only to someone who could provide for its safekeeping and ultimate deployment in the hour of need. Fortunately for the Cathars, they had a wealthy, powerful, and pugnacious champion who could do so. Esclarmonde de Foix, the widowed sister of the count of Foix, was a vociferous opponent of the Church36 and the patroness of a great complex of heretical workshops, schools, and hostels in Pamiers.37 In 1204, the year of the Shroud's disappearance, she was ordained a Perfect,38 the highest order of the Cathar hierarchy, and sponsored the fortification of Montsegur,39 a castle stronghold which had collapsed into ruins.40 If the coincidental kidnapping of the Shroud and the fortification of Montsegur were, in fact, part and parcel of the same Cathar defense program, the cloth would likely have been sent to Esclarmonde, in Pamiers, with the expectation that, when needed, she would take it to Montsegur where its fabled powers of protection could be invoked to save Cathars, just as they had once been unleashed to rescue Edessa from the Persian army.41


Speculative. Esclaremonde did indeed receive the consolamentum and so become a Perfect, but this was not the "highest order of the Cathar hierarchy". The most senior Cathars in the area were Cathar Bishops, who did not count Esclaremond among their number. Also, it is not clear who ordered Montsegur to be refortified, though it certainly was refortified to provide defense against the coming Catholic Crusader army.

1204-1244: THE PALLADIUM OF HERETICS. There is circumstantial and anecdotal evidence that, from 1204 to 1244, the Shroud was kept as a palladium by the Cathars of Languedoc:


(1) 1205-1207: The Appearance of the Grail in Languedoc. The Holy Grail has been connected to the Shroud,42 the Cathars,43 and Esclarmonde.44 Between approximately 1205 and 1207,45 Wolfram von Eschenbach46 wrote a Grail legend, Parzival, which contained several apparent allusions to the Shroud47 and placed the Grail in Munsalvaesche, a name denoting a mountainous region of safety, very much like Languedoc, in general, and Montsegur, in particular.48 Wolfram's Grail was guarded by Templars who wore white surcoats with red crosses49 and, at that precise time, the Temple Order in Languedoc had been thoroughly infiltrated by persons from Cathar families or holding Cathar sympathies.50 In another poem, Wolfram named the lord of the Grail castle as Perilla,51 a transparent nameplay on Raymond de Perella, the lord of Montsegur from at least 1204 to 1244. Finally, in an unfinished work, Wolfram situated the Grail castle in the Pyrenees52 which border on Languedoc and lie quite near to Montsegur.53


There are fascinating hints that Wolfram von Eschenbach made reference to Montsegur, but that is not relevant to this argument.

Also it is questionable whether the Cathars were in any way associated with the Templars - certainly no evidence is offered here.

(2) 1207: The Pope's Call for a Languedoc Crusade. In 1203, the so-called cult of relics influenced the diversion of the Fourth Crusade to Constantinople for purposes of rescuing relics from the schismatic Greeks.54 By 1207, as Parzival clearly demonstrates, some had concluded that the Shroud was held captive by the heretics of Languedoc. On November 12, 1207, Innocent called for a crusade against the Cathars;55 however, a palpable pretext for crusade did not materialize until two months later when a papal legate was murdered by a servant of Raymond VI, the Count of Toulouse.56 Raymond's pleas for absolution were rejected by the Church in what Jonathan Sumption called "a scandalous breach of ecclesiastical law accomplished solely to excuse a military invasion of Raymond's dominions".57 Despite the Cathars having nothing to do with the murder, the Pope urged military action against them.58 By 1209, Raymond had completely capitulated to the Church and the Pope's plan to punish him was officially abandoned.59 Nevertheless, Innocent pushed forward with his war against the heretics, thus establishing that this crusade had always been designed to attack the Cathars, possibly to liberate the Shroud in furtherance of the goals of the cult of relics.


Innocent III's character is fairly represented here - but his objectives appear to have been to stop the whole region deserting the Catholic Church in favour of the Cathar Church. He certainly had other motives (his new claims to temporal power, the recovery of property claimed by the Church and the reintroduction of clerical taxation for example), but there is no evidence for this assertion, especially as the Crusades against the Cathars continued for a generation before Montsegur was attacked. Also it is significant that the attack in 1244 was the direct result of a series of incidents in 1242 - long after Innocent's death in 1216.

(3) 1209-1229: The Cathars' Three-Nail Crucifixion. In the early thirteenth century, the Crucifixion was typically depicted with Christ affixed to the cross with four nails, one placed through each of his hands and feet.60 During the Albigensian Crusade, reports were circulated of a three-nail crucifixion, prompting Innocent to proclaim an official four-nail dogma and resulting in the condemnation, as heretics, of anyone who asserted the use of three nails.61 In an attempt to win converts, some Cathars employed a crucifix which had no upper arm, the feet of Christ crossed, and three nails.62 There is no apparent explanation of why Cathars, who rejected the reality of Christ's death,63 would assert a three-nail crucifixion or employ a three-nail crucifix, particularly when attempting to proselytize orthodox believers who were accustomed to, and who were bound to believe in, a four-nail portrayal. A close examination of the Shroud reveals that only one nail pierced Christ's feet64 and the Cathars' possession of the cloth with its evidence of the use of one nail through both feet would explain their assertion of a three-nail crucifixion which contradicted the traditional and papally-mandated beliefs of the orthodox.


As noted here Cathars rejected the reality of Christ's crucifixion. The assertion that some Cathars employed a crucifix which had no upper arm, the feet of Christ crossed, and three nails is not reliably referenced and is at odds with Cathar theology. (This does not mean that other so-called heretics could not have preserved this ancient tradition about the crucifixion - modern science has only recently revealed the many varieties of crucifixion employed by the Romans)

(4) 1218-1224: The Cathars and the Flesh and Blood of Christ. Joinville's History of St. Louis contains an anecdotal story which, for many centuries, has been employed to strengthen faith in the sacrament of the Eucharist. According to this account, Amaury de Montfort, while leading the Albigensian Crusade,65 declined a Cathar invitation to come and see the body of Christ "which had become flesh and blood in the hands of the priest".66 The Cathars rejected Christ's incarnation and believed that his humanity was merely symbolic.67 For Cathars, there never was a body of Christ which could have become flesh and blood in the hands of their priest. In addition, the Cathars rejected the sacraments, including the Eucharist, as being vain and useless68 and their priests did not say Mass or make sacrifices of the altar.69 Instead, Cathars performed a simple daily benediction of bread and wine while reciting the Lord's Prayer.70 For Cathars, there was no ceremony or rite by which the body of Christ could have become flesh and blood in the hands of their priest.71 Cathars considered lying to be abhorrent72 and their Perfects, who were forbidden to engage in any trade which would expose them to lying or fraud,73 refused to prevaricate, even to save their own lives.74 Since Cathars would not have fabricated any claim, especially one which would repudiate their own religious beliefs, it appears that they invited Amaury to view a cloth which, when displayed in the hands of their priest, manifested a mysterious image of the flesh and blood of Christ. The Amaury story was written prior to 1272,75 a mere fifty years after the event which it describes, and was related, no doubt, to inspire readers to emulate a pious virtue admired by St. Louis;76 however, it appears to have a factual and historical basis, particularly in light of other circumstantial evidence which demonstrates that, during the precise period of the story's setting, the Cathars were in possession of the Shroud.


The story needs to be stretched beyond breaking point to accommodate this theory. Moreover medieval hagiographies are exceptionally unreliable and the idea that Cathars would entertain the idea of the body of Christ becoming "flesh and blood in the hands of the priest" is not tenable - it could only be the invention of a Catholic mind unfamiliar with Cathar theology. The obvious explanation is that the story was fabricated, not that it was a true story referring obliquely to a piece of cloth.

(5) 1209-1244: The Mystical Cathar Treasure of Montsegur. After the outbreak of the Albigensian Crusade in 1209, Esclarmonde took up residence in Montsegur and, in 1215, presided there over a Cathar court.77 Likewise, in 1209, the most important Cathar prelate, Guilhabert de Castres,78 moved to Montsegur79 and, for the next thirty years, used it as his base for missionary activities80 and the site of a Cathar Synod in 1232.81 In approximately 1240, Guilhabert was succeeded by Bertrand de Marty82 who remained at Montsegur until its fall in 1244.83 As previously mentioned, from at least 1204 to 1244, Raymond de Perella,84 a vassal to Esclarmonde's brother and a man with strong sympathies for the heretics, served as the lord of Montsegur.85 If the Shroud was taken to Montsegur, knowledge of its presence there was likely limited to a privileged few who undoubtedly ascribed the castle's survival through more than three decades of crusade and persecution to the linen palladium.86 So long as the Cathar hierarchy was headquartered in Montsegur, it is inconceivable that the Shroud would have been taken elsewhere. Coincidently, throughout the Crusade, Montsegur was rumored to hold a mystical Cathar treasure which far exceeded material wealth.87 In January of 1244, with Montsegur under siege, all of the gold, silver and money which had been stored there was taken out and hidden in the forests of the Sabarthes mountains.88 In February, the Montsegur garrison left the castle and launched an attack which ended in disaster and compelled surrender on March 2.89 The Cathars sought and obtained a fifteen-day truce90 which permitted them to hold a festival91and, when the truce expired on March 16, more than two hundred Perfects were thrown into a burning pyre.92 That same night, four Cathars, who had been concealed,93 used ropes to scale down Montsegur's steep western rock-face,94 and, according to tradition, they took with them the mystical Cathar treasure.95 This paper suggests that the mystical treasure was, or included, the Shroud and that the Cathars had procured the truce in a desperate, but unsuccessful, attempt to invoke their palladium's legendary powers96 during the closing weeks of the season of its origin--Easter.97


Difficult to square with the fact that for most of the 10 month siege the defenders were able to communicate easily with the outside world, so would have been able to get any material items out of the castle and away to a more remote site such as Usson.

There is no reason to suppose that the treasure was a piece of cloth - most commentators believe it to have been ancient Gnostic texts if it was anything material.

Another unlikely theory is that it was the Holy Grail. Another is that it was the treasure later discovered by Abbé Bérenger Saunier at Rennes-le-Château.

1244-1349: THE PROPERTY OF HERETICS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS. The four escapees from vanquished Montsegur carried the treasure to a valley in the Sabarthes,98 a region loyal to the Cathar cause and home to the heretical Auteri family.99 Approximately fifty years later, an Auteri descendant, Peter, assumed leadership of a Cathar organization which was still active100 but persecuted relentlessly by the Inquisition.101 After Peter Auteri was captured and executed in 1311,102 the heretical community began to disintegrate.103 In 1320, a group of Cathars were forced to recant in Albi104 and, the following year, the last Cathar Perfect, William Belibasta, was lured from hiding in Catalonia and burned to death.105 Between 1318 and 1326, Jacques Fournier, the future Pope Benedict XII, prosecuted the Carcassonne Inquisition from Pamiers and walled up a Cathar remnant in the caves of Lombrives, located in the Sabarthes.106 Thereafter, scattered groups of heretics and isolated individuals carried on occasional guerrilla warfare,107 but, by 1350, the two-century struggle between the Church and the Cathars of Languedoc was brought to a close.108


These statements are correct, but it is not clear what they seek to establish.

This paper suggests that, from 1244 to approximately 1349, the Shroud was kept in Languedoc, most probably in the Sabarthes, by heretical families descended from the survivors of Montsegur.109 Title to the relic could not legally pass from one generation to another inasmuch as heretics, their sympathizers, and their descendants were prohibited from making a will or receiving a legacy.110 In addition, all personal property of heretics, their sympathizers, and their descendants was required to be confiscated and forfeited to the crown.111 Consequently, for a little more than a century, the Shroud was scrupulously kept concealed in a region where survival itself depended on secrecy112 and, upon the deaths of its respective heretical owners, the cloth was quietly handed down to surviving family members.


Possible, but no more than speculation.

In October of 1347, the Black Death swept into Europe, ultimately killing more than a third of its population.113 Some towns with a population of 20,000 were left with a mere 200 and, in certain of the smaller villages, only 100 out of 1,500 survived.114 The Plague struck Marseille in January of 1348, with mortality rates of up to 60% and, by summer, had reached Montpellier, Carcassonne, and Toulouse.115 Montpellier's ultimate loss of life was so extensive that Italian merchants were granted citizenship rights just to allow the city to be repopulated.116 In Perpignan, just north of the Spanish border and not too distant from the region of heretical safe havens, the Plague killed 90% of the municipal physicians and barber-surgeons and 65% of the notaries.117 In Avignon, up to two-thirds of the population died,118and between February and May of 1349, as many as 400 of its people were killed every day.119 The Pope's physician, who advised Clement VI to flee the city until the Plague subsided,120 ultimately estimated that three-quarters of the entire population of France had been killed.121 In rural Languedoc, already devastated by famine and war, the Black Death killed close to 50% of the population.122 In 1350, the Plague killed King Alphonso XI of Spain,123 but finally ran its course in the Mediterranean Basin.124 By that time, however, it is statistically probable that, somewhere in the hill country of rural Languedoc, the heretical family that possessed the Shroud had been killed and that the cloth, as part of that family's possessions and personal effects, had been, or would soon be, confiscated and forfeited to the crown.


There seems to be an assumption of high mortality rates everywhere - not the case in remote areas like the Sabarthes, that a whole extended family died of the plague (unlikely but possible), and also that there were no trusted Cathar neighbours to take over stewardship.

Also, by this time there were no known heretic families. The Inquisition had exterminated all the known families, so any surviving Cathars were not known as Cathars and so were not liable to have their goods forfeited.

On top of this, much of the area still belonged to the King of Aragon at this time, so confiscations would go to him, not the King of France.

Cathars still thrived in northern Italy and probably Catalonia so they would have been more obvious places to keep a precious object.

1349-1354: THE ACQUISITION OF THE SHROUD BY GEOFFREY DE CHARNY. Wilson astutely observed that the question of how the Shroud came to be owned by Geoffrey de Charny lies at the very core of the Missing Years mystery.125 Historical evidence indicates that Geoffrey acquired the relic between April of 1349 and January of 1354.126 Yet, there is no record of a military campaign,127 a gift,128 or an inheritance which would have brought the Shroud to Geoffrey after 1349 and, in fact, throughout 1350 and during the first six months of 1351, Geoffrey was held as a prisoner of war in England.129



Although it may have been unusual for Geoffrey to have come to own the Shroud,130 the virtually unquestionable personal integrity131 of "the wisest and bravest knight of them all"132 would never have allowed him to obtain the cloth under dishonorable circumstances or by the employment of improper means. Thus, the mystery's solution must lie along a rightful and legal path, and one such channel was opened to Geoffrey in the Spring of 1349. At that time, Geoffrey held a life annuity of 1,000 livres, payable directly from the royal treasury. On April 19, 1349, this annuity was modified to 500 livres payable to Geoffrey and his heirs from the first forfeitures which might occur in the Languedoc senechaussees of Toulouse, Beaucaire, and Carcassonne.133


This paper suggests that, subsequent to April 19, 1349, the Shroud was discovered among the confiscated and forfeited personal goods of a Languedoc heretical family, perhaps one victimized by the Black Death, and that Geoffrey de Charny, by right of royal grant, legally and rightfully acquired title to the relic. Given the location of the Sabarthes and the other likely areas of heretical safe havens, the Shroud forfeiture probably occurred in the seneschalsy of Carcassonne where Geoffrey's trusted bailiff would have confiscated the forfeited property even if Geoffrey himself was being held in captivity.134 In Languedoc, local bailiffs administered both high and low justice, arrested heretics, pursued lawbreakers through the mountains, and attempted to recover stolen objects.135 A forfeiture precipitated by the Plague would have probably taken place in 1349 or 1350 and Geoffrey could have been aware of his acquisition of the Shroud either before he was taken prisoner at Calais on December 31, 1349 or during his imprisonment in London through June of 1351.136 Such knowledge may have been responsible for the melancholy religious poetry which Geoffrey authored during the period of his captivity.137



1349-1390: PERPETUAL SILENCE AND THE MISSING YEARS. Geoffrey has never been quoted as relating the manner in which he acquired the Shroud and Wilson speculated that something in the cloth's biography may have caused his silence.138 If this is the explanation, it may have been either a Cathar or a Templar history; however, there is another possibility.


Given Geoffrey's noble character and personal integrity, it is virtually certain that he fully reported the circumstances of his acquisition to the Pope in Avignon.139 Indeed, a report and petition, together with papal approval, was surely a prerequisite to holding the Lirey Shroud exhibitions of the 1350's,140 and the Pope would never have permitted the relic to become the object of worldwide pilgrimage141 unless he knew exactly how Geoffrey had acquired it and was convinced that it was genuine; i.e., the Shroud was the same cloth as that which had disappeared from Constantinople. Once the Pope had learned of the reasons underlying the Languedoc forfeiture, he would have deduced that Cathars and their descendants had been the Shroud's keepers for a century and a half and concluded that a disclosure of such information might embarrass the Church, raise questions concerning the motives for the Albigensian Crusade, create empathy for Cathars who had preserved Christianity's most precious relic, prejudice the Church's ongoing prosecution of heresy , and/or expose the relic to attack as the forgery or idol of heretics. In addition, had it become known that the cloth was only recently discovered among the personal effects of Plague victims, it may have aroused fear of contamination and a clamor for the destruction of the relic. Finally, a disclosure of the Shroud's genesis may have precipitated a demand from the Byzantine Emperor or the Eastern Orthodox Church that the relic be returned to Constantinople.


Geoffrey's noble character does not preclude him from being the victim of a hoax.

This paper suggests that, for these and/or other reasons, the Pope ordered Geoffrey and his family to remain perpetually silent on the subject of how the cloth had been acquired and, on that specific condition, authorized the exhibitions of the Shroud which were held in Lirey during the 1350's. Geoffrey, ever the perfect knight and obedient servant of king and Church, would have dutifully complied with the Pope's directive and would have never publicly spoken of how he had come into possession of the relic, thereby keeping the information secure among himself, his wife, and their son, Geoffrey II.142


In approximately 1389, Geoffrey's son initiated a new round of Shroud exhibitions and Pierre D'Arcis, the Bishop of Troyes, attempted to terminate them. In a draft memorandum, which probably never reached Pope Clement VII in Avignon,143 D'Arcis claimed that the cloth was a cunningly-painted fraud, offered to supply the Pope with all relevant information "from public report and otherwise", and expressed a desire to speak personally to the Pope due to his inability, in writing, to sufficiently express "the grievous nature of the scandal, the contempt brought upon the Church and ecclesiastic jurisdiction, and the danger to souls".144 D'Arcis' reference to ecclesiastic jurisdiction appears directly related to the Inquisition's ongoing prosecution of heretics145 and his allusion to scandal indicates that he had learned something of the relic's heretical, but not of its Byzantine, history. In any event, Clement was already familiar with the Shroud's Cathar biography and Constantinople pedigree through the records of his predecessors and/or his familial relationship with Geoffrey's son.146 There is no evidence of the Pope's having requested any elaboration from D'Arcis or having conducted any investigation whatsoever. Instead, Clement permitted the Shroud exhibitions to continue (subject to rather trivial conditions) and he twice sentenced D'Arcis to the same perpetual silence as that which had previously bound Geoffrey and his family.147 Thus, the mystery of the Missing Years was born of the papal mutation of witnesses who could have attested to a heretical forfeiture which, in turn, would have directed historians to the sindonic road from Constantinople to Languedoc.


Popes frequently prohibited - and still prohibit - discussion of topics they find uncomfortable, including the revenues generated by bogus relics.


POSTSCRIPT--HERETICAL CUSTODIANS OF THE SHROUD: It is entirely possible that, on three separate occasions, the Shroud was in the possession of heretics. It has been argued that, for at least one hundred and fifty years after the Resurrection, the cloth was in the possession of Carpocratian Gnostics before being brought to Edessa, during the reign of Abgar the Great (177-212 A.D.), and remained there, in the possession of Gnostics, for an additional lengthy period.148 In the eighth century, and as the result of an alleged loan transaction, the cloth was given to Edessan Monophysites and/or Jacobites and remained in their possession for a period of almost two hundred and fifty years (circa 700-944 AD).149 Since this paper suggests that the cloth was in the possession of Cathars and their descendants for approximately one hundred and forty-five years (1204-1349 AD), the cumulative heretical history of the Shroud may exceed five centuries in length and constitute more than twenty-five per cent of its present life.





1. Ian Wilson hypothesized that this sydoine was the Mandylion which could be traced back to before 50 AD Wilson, pp. 128-130.

2. Wilson, p. 172. It should be noted that an earlier period of "Missing Years" (from the Resurrection to 544 AD) also remains unaccounted for, except in the hypotheses of sindonologists.

3. See Wilson, pp. 176-177.

4. Wilson, p. 169, citing Robert de Clari, The Conquest of Constantinople, p. 112, trans. E.H. McNeal (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936). "The Byzantine Emperor had always relied on his relics to protect his throne and his city, and in 1204 both were gravely threatened by the Frankish Crusaders". Drews, p. 50.

5. See Wilson, pp. 112-124.

6. Wilson, p. 170.

7. Wilson, p. 140.

8. Wilson, pp. 140-141.

9. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 49, as cited in Wilson, p. 141.

10. Wilson, p. 144.

11. Wilson, pp. 147-148.

12. Currer-Briggs, pp. 126-127.

13. Warner, Vol. 1, pp. 14-15. Dualists in Constantinople may have converted French crusaders to their heretical beliefs. Sumption, p. 36. Crusaders, pilgrims and merchants were the likely carriers of the heresy to Western Europe. Wakefield, p. 29.

14. Sumption, pp. 17; 24. Baigent, p. 23.

15. Sumption, p. 39. The term "Cathar" is derived from the Greek word for "purified" and was probably first used in Northern Europe in about 1150. Sumption, p. 39. Wakefield, p. 30.

16. The Council branded Catharism a "damnable heresy". Lea, p.118. Warner, Vol. 1, pp. 41-42.

17. Including a small military campaign. Wakefield, pp. 82-86.

18. Hamilton, p. 115.

19. It is "incontrovertible that Bogomils and Cathars had close relationships after the middle of the twelfth century". Wakefield, p. 29.

20. Warner, Vol. 1, pp. 11; 14. Absolute dualists held that there were two equal Gods, one good and one evil. Moderate dualists believed in one God who created an evil demiurge who, in turn, created the world. Paulicians were absolute dualists. The Bogomils started as moderate dualists but, as the result of a schism which likely occurred in the mid-twelfth century, split into factions of absolute and moderate dualists. By 1172, the absolute dualists had gained control over the Church of Constantinople. Hamilton, pp. 115-124.

21. Warner, Vol. 1, pp. 15-16. The date of the Synod was originally reported as 1167. See Hamilton, p. 116, f11. Reports were spread that the Cathars followed a pope headquartered in the Balkans. Wakefield, p. 32.

22. Warner, Vol. 2, p. 10. The Synod was held in the village of St. Felix-de-Caraman. Wakefield, p. 31.

23. Hamilton, pp. 116-117.

24. Lea, pp. 119-120. Sumption, pp. 49-50. Warner, Vol. 1, pp. 15-16.

25. Hamilton, p. 118. On a document located in the archives of the Inquisition of Carcassonne, it is noted: "This is a secret document of the heretics of Corcorezio, brought from Bulgaria by Nazarius their Bishop, full of errors". Warner, Vol. 1, p. 12.

26. The Council branded Catharism a "damnable heresy". Lea, p.118. Warner, Vol. 1, pp. 41-42.

27. Baigent, p. 30. In addition, the Cathars employed Bogomil scripture. See Wakefield, p. 35.

28. The Cathars' new leader, "Pope" Bartholemew, created bishops, consecrated churches, made official visits, and consulted with heretics throughout Languedoc. Warner, Vol. 2, pp. 109-110.

29. Innocent III employed the French to crusade, in 1199, against Markward of Anweiler, Emperor Henry VI's representative in Sicily, and, in 1202, against the Moslems. Strayer, pp. 45-47. In Languedoc, he first attempted to control the heresy by replacing local clergy and investing local legates with the power to excommunicate, to interdict, and to remove clergy with neither notice nor right of appeal. Sumption, pp. 60; 68.

30. Sumption, p. 67. Innocent referred to heresy as a "hateful plague" and a "spreading canker", and called heretics "vile wolves among the Lord's flock".

31. As noted, in approximately 1172, Nicetas had converted the Cathars from moderate to absolute dualism. Thus, in 1204, they shared religious beliefs both with the Paulicians and with the faction of the Bogomils which controlled the Church of Constantinople. The Cathar ascetic lifestyle was modeled on the Bogomils, who renounced worldly possessions, rather than the Paulicians, who owned property, married, and fought as warriors. Hamilton, pp. 115-124.

32. Wilson, p. 173.

33. See Hamilton, p. 123. The dualists of Constantinople had been permitted to have their own places of worship by the Byzantines. Currer-Briggs, p. 140.

34. The Cathars rejected relics as devices through which salvation could be procured. Lea, p. 93.

35. The Cathars also had sympathizers in the Knights Templars (see the discussion on the Grail appearance, infra., and endnote 48) and it is possible that a Templar crusader pilfered the Shroud in Constantinople and sent it to a Cathar friend or relative in Languedoc for their protection. Currer-Briggs initially believed that Templars, for their own purposes, may have brought the Shroud directly from Constantinople to Montpellier, in Languedoc. Currer-Briggs, p. 92.

36. Esclarmonde once sent her sons on a raid of a local monastery. Warner, Vol. 2, p. 11. During a disputation held in Pamiers, she heckled the Church's representatives, provoking a monk to exclaim: "Go away, woman, and spin at your distaff. It is no business of yours to discuss matters such as these". Sumption, p. 72. Warner, Vol. 2, p. 10. Oldenbourg, p. 60.

37. Warner, Vol. 2, pp. 10-11.

38. Lea, p. 138. Sumption, p. 60.

39. Warner, Vol. 2, p. 11. Perched 3,500 feet high atop an almost sheer rock, Montsegur was apparently a part of Esclarmonde's inheritance. Oldenbourg, p. 317.

40. Oldenbourg, p. 317.

41. A retelling of the Edessa saga appears in Wilson, pp. 137-138.

42. See, e.g., Currer-Briggs, pp. 1-29; 72-73.

43. See, e.g., Baigent, pp. 20; 34.

44. Maurin, pp. 60-61.

45. A conclusion reached by Prof. A.T. Hatto, a translator of Parzival. See Currer-Briggs, p. 16.

46. Wolfram may have obtained some of his Grail/Shroud information from his patron, the Landgrave Hermann of Thuringia, the owner of a psalter containing one of the first-known illustrations of the Crucifixion where three nails were used rather than four; i.e., in a manner consistent with the evidence of the Shroud. See Currer-Briggs, pp. 192-193 and the discussion on the Cathars' three-nail Crucifix, infra.

47. For example, at precisely the time when the Shroud remains hidden, Wolfram declares that the Grail is not a fantasy, but, rather, a clue to something of immense importance which has been concealed. See Currer-Briggs, p. 14. Wolfram also links the Grail with the concept of resurrection. Wolfram, p. 124. Currer-Briggs, pp. 14-15. Baigent, p. 266.

48. Currer-Briggs, p. 17. These and other coincidences between certain details of Parzival and circumstances involving the Cathars were first noted, in 1934, by a Nazi author, Otto Rahn in Kreuzzug gegen den Graal. See Currer-Briggs, pp. 16-18.

49. Wolfram, p. 124. Currer-Briggs, p. 15.

50. The Cathars had developed a close relationship with the Knights Templar by donating vast tracts of land to the Temple Order and by infiltrating its ranks to such a degree that, at the beginning of the Albigensian Crusade, a significant proportion of high-ranking Languedoc Templars derived from Cathar families. See Baigent, p. 46, citing E.-G. Leonard, Introduction au cartulaire manuscrit du Temple, Paris, 1930, p. 76.

51. Baigent, p. 34; p. 62.

52. Baigent, p. 274. The work was entitled Der Junge Titurel.

53. Warner, Vol. 2, pp. 10-11.

54. The cult of relics, such as the Passion and the True Cross, formed the premise and genesis of the Fourth Crusade. See Currer-Briggs, pp. 124-127.

55. The Pope proclaimed: "Let the strength of the crown and the misery of war bring them back to the truth". Sumption, pp. 75-76.

56. Sumption, p.15.

57. Sumption, p. 159.

58. Sumption, pp. 81-82. The Pope predicted that, if Raymond did not come to the aid of the heretics, "nothing should be easier than to finish them off" and counseled that, when the Cathars had been eliminated, the crusade should turn its attention to the Count of Toulouse. See, Oldenbourg, p. 15.

59. Wakefield, p. 97. Once Raymond had declared himself an obedient son of the Church and submissive to any condition which the Pope might impose upon him, he literally destroyed half of the raison d'etre of the Crusade. Oldenbourg, p. 14.

60. Currer-Briggs claims that, in an illustration appearing in a psalter dated to 1211-1212 and owned by the Landgrave Hermann of Thuringia, Christ is first portrayed as being pierced by three nails, with one nail driven through both feet, consistent with what Currer-Briggs believes to be the evidence of the Shroud. Currer-Briggs, pp. 191-192. It is an interesting coincidence that this depiction of the Crucifixion appears in the prayerbook of the patron of Wolfram von Eschenbach whose Grail legend seems to place the Shroud in Languedoc between 1205 and 1207.

61. Currer-Briggs, p. 192.

62. This was an "unconventional" form of the Crucifixion. Lea, pp. 102-103. Apparently, the hands were nailed above the head and parallel to the body, with either one hand nailed above (but not overlapping) the other or with one hand nailed to each side of the upright beam.

63. Sumption, 48-49.

64. See, e.g., Barbet, Pierre, Proof of the Authenticity of the Shroud in the Bloodstains: Part II, Shroud Spectrum International, No. 23, p. 10. Currer-Briggs, p. 192.

65. On June 25, 1218, the Crusade leader, Simon de Montfort was killed and was succeeded by his son, Amaury who served in that capacity until January 14, 1224 when he made peace with the Counts of Toulouse and Foix.

66. Joinville (Trans. Joan Evans), p. 15. The precise date and circumstances of the invitation remain unknown. Guilhabert de Castres, who was probably among the privileged few to have viewed the Shroud, was in Castelnaudary during Amaury's eight-month siege of the city in 1220-1221 and escaped to continue his missionary work in the surrounding areas. Strayer, pp. 119-120. Sumption, p. 228.

67. Oldenbourg, p. 36.

68. Warner, Vol. 1, p. 31.

69. Lea, p. 93.

70. Lea, p. 94.

71. There is, however, one uncorroborated account of a Cathar Easter Day celebration in which the participants profess their belief that consecrated bread and wine is the body and blood of Christ. See Warner, Vol. 1, pp. 80-82.

72. Sumption, p. 234.

73. Warner, Vol. 1, pp. 73-74.

74. Lea, pp. 103-104.

75. Joinville (Trans. Rene Hague), pp. 5-6.

76. Including the future Louis X, who was presented with the book in 1309. Joinville (Trans. Rene Hague), p. 9.

77. Meanwhile, at the Fourth Lateran Council, Esclarmonde's brother, the Count, denounced her as an evil and sinful woman and the Catholic Bishop of Toulouse railed that she had perverted many. Oldenbourg, p. 182. Warner, Vol. 2, p. 85. The Count maintained that he was not responsible for his sister and that he had no authority over Montsegur. "Am I to be ruined for my sister's sins?", he asked. Sumption, p. 180.

78. Guilhabert was appointed Cathar Bishop of Toulouse in 1208. Madaule, p. 51; Wakefield, p. 169.

79. Sumption, p. 228.

80. Sumption, p. 228. Guilhabert's missionary work has been favorably compared with that of the Apostles. See Madaule, p. 51.

81. Sumption, p. 237.

82. Wakefield, p. 169.

83. Oldenbourg, p. 363.

84. Warner, Vol. 2, p. 152.

85. Oldenbourg, p. 317. Sumption, p. 236.

86. Montsegur remained untouched even as surrounding areas were captured by crusaders in 1209 and 1212. See Sumption, p. 236. Oldenbourg, p. 317f.

87. Baigent, pp. 30-31.

88. Oldenbourg, p. 353. Baigent, pp. 31; 35.

89. Oldenbourg, pp. 355-356.

90. The request was made, apparently, for some religious purpose. Sumption, p. 240.

91. Baigent, p. 33. Easter was the most important celebration of the Cathar religious year. Warner, Vol. 1, p. 81.

92. Sumption, p. 240. The victims included Raymond de Perella's wife, daughter, and mother-in-law. Oldenbourg, pp. 362-363.

93. Oldenbourg, p. 361.

94. Sumption, p. 241. Baigent, p. 32.

95. Baigent, p. 32. Some survivors of Montsegur claimed that these men were sent to retrieve the treasure which had been removed in January. Oldenbourg, p. 362.

96. It is rather ironic that the three most important years in the palladian history of the Shroud involve "forty-fours"; i.e., the Shroud saved Edessa in 544, it was taken from Edessa to protect Constantinople in 944, and it failed to rescue Montsegur in 1244.

97. In 1244, Easter fell on April 3.

98. Madaule, p. 136.

99. The Auteris lived in Ax-les-Thermes and had been heretics since 1230. Madaule, p. 136.

100. As late as the mid-1270's, the nobility of Aragon sought support against the King of France from Cathars hiding in the Pyrenees. Shneidman, p. 321. From 1298 to 1309, the Cathars hid an itinerant Perfect in the southern highlands of Languedoc. Sumption, pp. 242-243.

101. In 1299, Cathars were arrested at Albi and in 1310, the Inquisition of Toulouse extracted Cathar confessions. Lea, p. 97.

102. Warner, Vol. 2, p. 209.

103. Warner, Vol. 2, p. 214.

104. Warner, Vol. 2, pp. 214-216.

105. Sumption, p. 243. Madaule, pp. 137-138.

106. Madaule, p. 137.

107. Warner, Vol. 2, p. 216.

108. Strayer, p. 162.

109. Parenthetically, a Cathar-based Shroud biography which ends in the years after Montsegur still lends itself to a subsequent Templar possession and Geoffrey's acquisition of the relic through his family's putative Templar connections. The Temple Order, infiltrated by Cathars, provided safe havens for Cathar refugees who may have given the Shroud to their Templar protectors. See Baigent, p. 46.

110. Warner, Vol. 2, pp. 145-146; p. 174.

111. In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council relegated punishment of condemned heretics to the State which was expected to confiscate their goods. Warner, Vol. 2, p. 90. In 1228, Louis IX ordered his bailiffs to seize the goods of the excommunicated. Warner, Vol. 2, pp. 194-195. The Statutes of Toulouse, promulgated in 1233, provided that all goods found in a heretic's house or hiding place were to be confiscated and that all heretical inheritances were to be forfeited unless the children could prove their own orthodoxy.In 1243, Pope Innocent IV approved the twelve statutes of Emperor Frederick which consigned condemned heretics to the State for punishment, treated heretical sympathizers as if they themselves were heretics, and deprived the heirs and successors of both heretics and their sympathizers of all temporal benefits. Warner, Vol. 2, pp. 153-154. In Toulouse, all forfeited real property was divided between the king and the bishop and all forfeited personal property belonged exclusively to the crown. Warner, Vol. 2, pp. 194-195.

112. Even up in the mountains, a careless word could lead to imprisonment or persecution by the Inquisition. See Le Roy Ladurie, pp. 13-14.

113. Gottfried, p. 42.

114. This according to the "thoroughly reliable" Gilles de Massis. Nohl, p. 40.

115. Gottfried, p. 49.

116. Nohl, p. 40.

117. Gottfried, p. 49.

118. Nohl, p. 40.

119. Gottfried, 50.

120. Gottfried, p. 50.

121. Nohl, p. 40.

122. Gottfried, p. 50-51. In Montaillou, one of the last centers of Catharism, only half of the population survived the catastrophes of the second part of the fourteenth century. Le Roy Ladurie, p. 3.

123. Nohl, p. 37.

124. Gottfried, p. 53.

125. Wilson, p. 86.

126. A change in Geoffrey's burial plans appears to pinpoint this period as the time frame for his acquisition of the Shroud. See Crispino, Dorothy, Why Did Geoffroy deCharny Change His Mind?, Shroud Spectrum International, Vol. 1, pp. 30-31.

127. Geoffrey fought at Calais in 1349 and 1351; at Picardy in 1353; at Normandy in 1354; and at Breteuil in 1356. See Crispino, Dorothy, Why Did Geoffroy deCharny Change His Mind, Shroud Spectrum International, No. 1, pp. 28-29.

128. Least likely is a gift from the king. See Wilson, p. 193.

129. Wilson, p. 196.

130. Wilson, p. 87.

131. Wilson, p. 192.

132. Froissart, p. 129.

133. Crispino, Dorothy, Geoffroy de Charny in Paris, Shroud Spectrum International, No. 24, Sept. 1987, p. 13. The grant is preserved in the Archives Nationales JJ77 #395, folio 245 and is hand-copied in the Wuenschel Collection.

134. In these three areas of Languedoc, Geoffrey probably employed bailiffs to represent his interests. See Crispino, Dorothy, Poor Geoffrey, Shroud Spectrum International, Spicilegium, 1996, p. 24. A bailiff (bayle) was generally a non-native who acted as mayor, chief of police, judge, tax collector, and army mobilization officer all in one. See Wilson, p. 204.

135. Le Roy Ladurie, p. 11.

136. Even while imprisoned, Geoffrey would have readily learned of his good fortune since his servants were travelling between London and Paris in connection with raising a ransom for his release and Geoffrey himself was released on parole in September of 1350 to attend the wedding of King John in Paris. Crispino, Dorothy, To Know the Truth, Shroud Spectrum International, No. 28/29, p. 34.

137. See Wilson, p. 90.

138. Wilson, p. 87. Wilson believes this something to be the Shroud's hypothetical Templar history and the memory of that Order's "savage downfall". Wilson, p. 195.

139. In all likelihood, Geoffrey made his report to Clement VI, who became Pope in 1342 since Geoffrey would have probably filed his petition subsequent to his release from prison in June of 1351. Pope Clement VI died in December of 1352 and construction of the Lirey church took place between February and June of 1353, during the papacy of Innocent VI, who reigned until 1362. Both Clement VI and Innocent VI were French.

140. The documents have not yet been found, but certainly must exist. Crispino, Dorothy, Why Did Geoffroy deCharny Change His Mind?, Shroud Spectrum International, No. 1, p. 32. Church approval was sought in 1389 by Geoffrey's son who obtained it directly from the Pope's French legate, Cardinal de Thury, thereby circumventing Bishop D'Arcis of Troyes. Wilson, Appendix B, pp. 267-268.

141. At least as reported by Pierre D'Arcis in his draft memorandum of approximately 1389. See, Wilson, Appendix B, p. 267.

142. Geoffrey's son said only that it had been graciously given to his father, and his granddaughter stated merely that Geoffrey had acquired it. Crispino, Dorothy, Why Did Geoffroy deCharny Change His Mind?, Shroud Spectrum International, No. 1, p. 29. Crispino, Dorothy, To Know the Truth, Shroud Spectrum International, No. 28/29, pp. 30-31.

143. See, e.g., Bonnet-Eymard, Bruno, Study of Original Documents of the Archives of the Diocese of Troyes in France with Particular Reference to the Memorandum of Pierre D'Arcis, Shroud News, No. 68, pp. 8-9.

144. Wilson, Appendix B, pp. 266-272.

145. The Inquisition's Piedmontese trials were held in 1388. See, Lea, p. 96f.

146. Clement was the nephew of Geoffrey's widow, Jeanne de Vergy, through her second marriage. Wilson, p. 206.

147. Wilson, pp. 209-210. Wilson concluded that Pope Clement VII knew of the Shroud's Missing Years biography (albeit Templar-based) and suppressed the truth both for political reasons and in "a pious attempt to introduce a genuine relic for public veneration". Wilson, pp. 208-210.

148. This argument claims that the image on the Shroud is manmade. See, Drews, pp. 75-96.

149. The relic was pawned to a Monophysite, Athanasius bar Gumayer, and was deposited into the Jacobite Church of the Mother of God in Edessa. See Wilson, pp. 149; 254, citing J.B. Segal's, Edessa the Blessed City.



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Currer-Briggs, Noel, The Shroud and the Grail, Weidenfeld and Nicolson (London, 1987).

Drews, Robert, In Search of the Shroud of Turin, Rowman & Allanheld (Totowa, 1984).

Froissart, Jean, Chronicles (Trans. Geoffrey Brereton), Penguin Books.

Gottfried, Robert S., The Black Death, The Free Press (New York, 1983).

Hamilton, Bernard, Monastic Reform, Catharism and the Crusades (900-1300), Variorum Reprints (London 1979).

Joinville, Jean de, The History of St. Louis (Trans. Joan Evans),

Oxford University Press (London, New York and Toronto, 1938).

Joinville, Jean de, The Life of St. Louis, (Trans. Rene Hague), Sheed and Ward (New York, 1955).

Lea, Henry Charles, A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, The Macmillan Company (New York, 1908).

Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel, Montaillou, The Promised Land of Error (Trans. Barbara Bray), George Braziller, Inc. (New York, 1978).

Madaule, Jacques, The Albigensian Crusade (Trans. Barbara Wall), Fordham University Press (New York, 1967).

Maurin, Krystel, Les Esclarmonde, Editions Privat (Toulouse 1995).

Nohl, Johannes, The Black Death, A Chronicle of the Plague (Trans.

C.H. Clarke), Harper & Rowe (New York and Evanston, 1969).

Oldenbourg, Zoe, Massacre at Montsegur (Trans. Peter Green), Pantheon Books (New York, 1961).

Shneidman, J. Lee, The Rise of the Aragonese-Catalan Empire, 1200- 1350, New York University Press (New York, 1970).

Sumption, Jonathan, The Albigensian Crusade, Faber & Faber (London and Boston, 1978).

Strayer, Joseph R., The Albigensian Crusades, The Dial Press (New York, 1971).

Wakefield, Walter L., Heresy, Crusade and Inquisition in Southern France, 1100-1250, University of California Press (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1974).

Warner, H.J., The Albigensian Heresy, Russell & Russell (New York, 1967).

Wilson, Ian, The Shroud of Turin, The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?, Image Books (Garden City, N.Y., 1979).

Wolfram, von Eschenbach, Parzival (Trans. Andre Lefevere), The Continuum Publishing Company (New York, 1991).


History of the Shroud of Turin

Possible history before the 14th century: The Image of Edessa

According to the Gospel of John (John 20:5-7), the Apostle Peter and the "beloved disciple" entered the sepulchre of Jesus, and found the "linen clothes" that had wrapped his body and "the napkin, that was about his head."

There are numerous reports of Jesus' burial shroud, or an image of his head, of unknown origin, being venerated in various locations before the fourteenth century. None of these reports has been connected with certainty to the cloth held in the Turin cathedral. Except for the Image of Edessa, none of the reports of these (up to 43) different "true shrouds" was known to mention an image of a full body.

The Image of Edessa was reported to contain the image of the face of Jesus and its existence is reported since the sixth century. Some have suggested a connection between the Shroud of Turin and the Image of Edessa. No legend connected with that image suggests that it contained the image of a beaten and bloody Jesus. It was said to be an image transferred by Jesus to the cloth in life. This image is generally described as depicting only the face of Jesus, not the entire body. Proponents of the theory that the Edessa image was actually the shroud posit that it was always folded in such a way as to show only the face.

John Damascene mentions the image in his anti-iconoclastic work On Holy Images, describing the Edessa image as being a "strip," or oblong cloth, rather than a square, as other accounts of the Edessa cloth hold. However, in his description, John still speaks of the image of Jesus' face when he was alive. On the occasion of the transfer of the cloth to Constantinople in 944, Gregory Referendarius, archdeacon of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, preached a sermon about the artifact. This was rediscovered in the Vatican Archives and translated by Mark Guscin in 2004. This sermon says that this Edessa cloth contained not only the face, but a full-length image, which was believed to be of Jesus. The sermon also mentions bloodstains from a wound in the side. Other documents have since been found in the Vatican library and the University of Leiden, Netherlands, confirming this impression.

In 1203, a Crusader knight named Robert de Clari claims to have seen the cloth in Constantinople: "Where there was the Shroud in which our Lord had been wrapped, which every Friday raised itself upright so one could see the figure of our Lord on it."

After the Fourth Crusade, in 1205, the following letter was sent by Theodore Angelos, a nephew of one of three Byzantine Emperors who were deposed during the Fourth Crusade, to Pope Innocent III protesting the attack on the capital. From the document, dated 1 August 1205:

"The Venetians partitioned the treasures of gold, silver, and ivory while the French did the same with the relics of the saints and the most sacred of all, the linen in which our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death and before the resurrection. We know that the sacred objects are preserved by their predators in Venice, in France, and in other places, the sacred linen in Athens."

(Codex Chartularium Culisanense, fol. CXXVI (copia), National Library Palermo)

Unless it is the Shroud of Turin, then the location of the Image of Edessa since the 13th century is unknown.

Some historians suggest that the shroud was captured by the knight Otto de la Roche who became Duke of Athens, but that he soon relinquished it to the Knights Templar.

It was subsequently taken to France, where the first known keeper of the Turin Shroud had links both to the Templars as well the descendants of Otto. Some speculate that the shroud could have been a major part of the famed 'Templar treasure' that treasure hunters still seek today.

The association with the Templars seems to be based on a coincidence of family names, especially since the Templars were a celibate order, and so unlikely to have (especially acknowledged) children. However, the location of the Shroud in the 13th-14th centuries is interesting, since the Frankish (French) contingent in 4th Crusade, which resulted in the sack of Constantinople, was led by Tibaut of Champagne. Lirey, the first known location of the Turin Shroud, is located in the territory of this Count.

14th century

The known provenance of the cloth now stored in Turin dates to 1357, when the widow of the French knight Geoffroi de Charny (said to be a descendant of Templar Geoffroy de Charney who was burned at the stake with Jacques de Molay) had it displayed in a church at Lirey, France (diocese of Troyes).

During the fourteenth century, the shroud was often publicly exposed, though not continuously, because the bishop of Troyes, Henri de Poitiers, had prohibited veneration of the image. Thirty-two years after this pronouncement, the image was displayed again, and King Charles VI of France ordered its removal to Troyes, citing the impropriety of the image. Sheriffs were unable to carry out the order.

In 1389, the image was denounced as a fraud by Bishop Pierre D'Arcis in a letter to the Avignon Pope (now Antipope) Clement VII. Despite the pronouncement of Bishop D'Arcis, Clement VII (first "antipope" of the Western Schism) prescribed indulgences for pilgrimages to the shroud, so that veneration continued, though the shroud was not permitted to be styled the "True Shroud."

Alternative 14th century origins

The Second Messiah by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas argues that the Shroud's image is that of the final Knights Templar leader, Jacques de Molay.

On Friday, 13 October 1307, the Templars were arrested by Philip the Fair under the authority of Pope Clement V. De Molay was nailed to a door and tortured, and his almost comatose body was wrapped in a cloth and left for 30 hours to recover. According to the hypothesis of Dr. Alan A. Mills in his article "Image formation on the Shroud of Turin," in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 1995, vol. 20 No. 4, pp 319–326, convection currents from the lactic acid in de Molay's perspiration created the image. The image corresponds to what would have been produced by a volatile chemical if the intensity of the color change were inversely proportional to the distance of the cloth from the body, and the slightly bent position accounts for the extension of the hands onto the thighs, something not possible if the body had been laid flat.

Further, according to Knight and Lomas, de Molay, and co-accused Geoffroy de Charney, were then cared for by brother Jean de Charney, whose family retained the shroud after de Molay's execution on 19 March 1314.

15th century

In 1418, Humbert of Villersexel, Count de la Roche, Lord of Saint-Hippolyte-sur-Doubs, moved the shroud to his castle at Montfort, Doubs, to provide protection against criminal bands, after he married Charny's granddaughter Margaret. It was later moved to Saint-Hippolyte-sur-Doubs. After Humbert's death, canons of Lirey fought through the courts to force the widow to return the cloth, but the parliament of Dole and the Court of Besançon left it to the widow, who traveled with the shroud to various expositions, notably in Liège and Geneva.

The widow sold the shroud in exchange for a castle in Varambon, France in 1453. Louis of Savoy, the new owner, stored it in his capital at Chambery in the newly built Saint-Chapelle, which Pope Paul II shortly thereafter raised to the dignity of a collegiate church. In 1464, the duke agreed to pay an annual fee to the Lirey canons in exchange for their dropping claims of ownership of the cloth.

Beginning in 1471, the shroud was moved between many cities of Europe, being housed briefly in Vercelli, Turin, Ivrea, Susa, Chambery, Avigliana, Rivoli, and Pinerolo. A description of the cloth by two sacristans of the Sainte-Chapelle from around this time noted that it was stored in a reliquary: "enveloped in a red silk drape, and kept in a case covered with crimson velours, decorated with silver-gilt nails, and locked with a golden key."

16th century to present

In 1532, the shroud suffered damage from a fire in the chapel where it was stored. A drop of molten silver from the reliquary produced a symmetrically placed mark through the layers of the folded cloth. Poor Clare Nuns attempted to repair this damage with patches. Some have suggested that there was also water damage from the extinguishing of the fire. However, there is some evidence that the watermarks were made by condensation in the bottom of a burial jar in which the folded shroud may have been kept at some point. In 1578, the shroud arrived again at its current location in Turin. It was the property of the House of Savoy until 1983, when it was given to the Holy See.

In 1988, the Holy See agreed to a radiocarbon dating of the relic, for which a small piece from a corner of the shroud was removed, divided, and sent to laboratories. Another fire threatened the shroud on 11 April 1997, but a fireman was able to remove it from its heavily protected display case and prevent further damage.

In 2002, the Holy See had the shroud restored. The cloth backing and thirty patches were removed. This made it possible to photograph and scan the reverse side of the cloth, which had been hidden from view.

Using sophisticated mathematical and optical techniques, a part-image of the body was found on the back of the shroud in 2004. Italian scientists had exposed the faint imprint of the face and hands of the figure. The most recent public exhibition of the Shroud was in 2000 for the Great Jubilee. The next scheduled exhibition is in 2025.

Theories of how the image on the Shroud was formed

The image on the cloth has many peculiar and closely studied characteristics, for example, it is entirely superficial, not penetrating into the cloth fibers under the surface, so that the flax and cotton fibers are not colored; the image yarn is composed of discolored fibers placed side by side with non-discolored fibers so many striations appear. Thus the cloth is not simply dyed, though many other explanations, natural and otherwise, have been suggested for the image formation. Alone among published researchers, McCrone believed the entire image to be composed of pigment - no one disputes that some of it, notably the "blood" is actually a pigment.

Miraculous formation

Believers have hypothesized that the image on the shroud was produced by a side effect of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Maillard reaction theory

The Maillard reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning involving an amino acid and a reducing sugar. The cellulose fibers of the shroud are coated with a thin carbohydrate layer of starch fractions, various sugars, and other impurities. In a paper entitled "The Shroud of Turin: an amino-carbonyl reaction may explain the image formation," R.N. Rogers and A. Arnoldi propose that amines from a recently deceased human body may have undergone Maillard reactions with this carbohydrate layer within a reasonable period of time, before liquid decomposition products stained or damaged the cloth. The gases produced by a dead body are extremely reactive chemically and within a few hours, in an environment such as a tomb, a body starts to produce heavier amines in its tissues such as putrescine and cadaverine. This raises questions as to why the images (both ventral and dorsal views) are so photorealistic, and why they were not destroyed by later decomposition products. Removal of the cloth from the body within a short enough time frame would prevent exposure to these later decomposition products.


Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas (1997) claim that the image on the shroud is that of Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar, arrested for heresy at the Paris Temple by Philip IV of France on 13 October 1307. De Molay suffered torture under the auspices of the Chief Inquisitor of France, William Imbert. His arms and legs were nailed, possibly to a large wooden door. According to Knight and Lomas, after the torture De Molay was laid on a piece of cloth on a soft bed; the excess section of the cloth was lifted over his head to cover his front and he was left, perhaps in a coma, for perhaps 30 hours. They claim that the use of a shroud is explained by the Paris Temple keeping shrouds for ceremonial purposes.

De Molay survived the torture but was burned at the stake on 19 March 1314 together with Geoffroy de Charney, Templar preceptor of Normandy. De Charney's grandson was Jean de Charney who died at the battle of Poitiers. After his death, his widow, Jeanne de Vergy, purportedly found the shroud in his possession and had it displayed at a church in Lirey.

Knight and Lomas base their argument partly on the 1988 radiocarbon dating and Mills' 1995 research about a chemical reaction called auto-oxidation and they claim that their theory accords with the factors known about the creation of the shroud and the carbon dating results. The counter argument is that the Templars acquired the shroud upon one of the crusades and brought it to France where it remained a secret until Jean de Charney died.

Photographic image production

Some suggest that there is a strong resemblance between this purported self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci and the Man of the Shroud. Skeptics have proposed many means for producing the image in the Middle Ages. Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince (1994) proposed that the shroud is perhaps the first ever example of photography, showing the portrait of its purported maker, Leonardo da Vinci. According to this theory, the image was made with the aid of a "magic lantern," a simple projecting device, or by means of a camera obscura and light-sensitive silver compounds applied to the cloth.

Although Leonardo was born a century after the first documented appearance of the cloth, supporters of this theory propose that the original cloth was an inferior fake, which was replaced with a superior hoax created by Leonardo. However, no contemporaneous reports indicate a sudden change in the quality of the image. The Turin Library holds a drawing of an old man that is widely but not universally accepted as a self-portrait by Leonardo. As the image depicts a man with a prominent brow and cheekbones and a beard, some consider that it resembles the image on the Shroud and have suggested that as part of a complex hoax, Leonardo may have placed his own portrait on the Shroud as the face of Jesus. There is however, no mention of this supposed resemblance in any known contemporary account, nor any reference to a connection between the Shroud and Leonardo.

There is also conjecture that he was commissioned by the royal family of Turin, with whom he was friends, to create a work which could return to Turin that which had been lost for so many years. Such theories are however, conjectural and are not taken seriously by most scholars.

The photography theory also needs to account for lighting directionality, which produces shadowing in photographs, and is absent from the Turin Shroud. Analysis including side-by-side photos of Shroud and self-photo by Prof. Nicholas Allen using means available to da Vinci, was written in 2000 by STURP photographer Barrie Schwortz.


In 1977, a team of scientists selected by the Holy Shroud Guild developed a program of tests to conduct on the Shroud, designated the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP). Anastasio Cardinal Ballestrero, the archbishop of Turin, granted permission. The STURP scientists conducted their testing over five days in 1978. Walter McCrone, a member of the team, upon analyzing the samples he had, concluded in 1979 that the image is actually made up of billions of submicrometre pigment particles. The only fibrils that had been made available for testing of the stains were those that remained affixed to custom-designed adhesive tape applied to thirty-two different sections of the image. (This was done in order to avoid damaging the cloth.) According to McCrone, the pigments used were a combination of red ochre and vermillion tempera paint. The Electron Optics Group of McCrone Associates published the results of these studies in five articles in peer-reviewed journals: Microscope 1980, 28, 105, 115; 1981, 29, 19; Wiener Berichte uber Naturwissenschaft in der Kunst 1987/1988, 4/5, 50 and Acc. Chem. Res. 1990, 23, 77–83. STURP, upon learning of his findings, confiscated McCrone's samples, and brought in other scientists to replace him. In McCrone's words, he was "drummed out" of STURP and continued to defend the analysis he had performed, becoming a prominent proponent of the position that the Shroud is a forgery. As of 2004, no other scientists have been able to confirm or refute McCrone's results with independent experiments, because the Vatican refuses to cooperate.

Dr. John Heller and Dr. Alan Adler, the scientists whom STURP asked for a second opinion after McCrone's, examined the same samples as McCrone researched. They confirmed McCrone's result that the cloth contains iron oxide. However, they concluded, both due to the exceptional purity of the chemical and due to comparisons with other ancient textiles which showed that retting flax draws in iron, that the iron was not the source of the body image. McCrone's response to their analysis has been vehement and negative.

Other microscopic analysis of the fibers seems to indicate that the image is strictly limited to the carbohydrate layer, with no additional layer of pigment visible. Proponents of the position that the Shroud is authentic say that no known technique for hand application of paint could apply a pigment with the necessary degree of control on such a nano-scale fibrillar surface plane. Moreover, they claim the technical skill required to produce the photographic or near-photograpic realism in the image on the Shroud would be impressive in any century, much less the twelfth or thirteenth. However, Renaissance painters have produced photorealistic art.


Solar masking, or "shadow theory"

In March 2005, N.D. Wilson, an instructor at New Saint Andrews College and amateur sindonologist, announced in an informal article in Books and Culture magazine that he had made a near duplicate of the shroud image by exposing dark linen to the sun for ten days under a sheet of glass on which a positive mask had been painted. His method, though admittedly crude and preliminary, has nonetheless attracted the attention of several sindonologists, notably the late Raymond Rogers of the original STURP team, and Antonio Lombatti, founder of the skeptical shroud journal Approfondimento Sindone. Wilson's method is notable because it does not require any conjectures about unknown medieval technologies and is compatible with claims that there is no pigment on the cloth. However, the experiment has not been repeated and the images have yet to face microscopic and chemical analysis. In addition, concerns have been raised about the availability or affordability of medieval glass large enough to produce the image and the method's compatibility with Fanti's claim that the original image is doubly superficial.

Using a bas-relief

Another theory suggests that the Shroud may have been formed using a bas-relief sculpture. Researcher Jacques di Costanzo, noting that the Shroud image seems to have a three-dimensional quality, suggested that perhaps the image was formed using an actual three-dimensional object, like a sculpture. While wrapping a cloth around a life-sized statue would result in a distorted image, placing a cloth over a bas-relief would result in an image like the one seen on the shroud. To demonstrate the plausibility of his theory, Costanzo constructed a bas-relief of a Jesus-like face and draped wet linen over the bas-relief. After the linen dried, he dabbed it with ferric oxide and gelatin mixture. The result was an image similar to that of the Shroud. The imprinted image turned out to be wash-resistant, impervious to temperatures of 250 C (482 F) and was undamaged by exposure to a range of harsh chemicals, including bisulphite which, without the help of the gelatine, would normally have degraded ferric oxide to the compound ferrous oxide. Similar results have been obtained by author Joe Nickell. Instead of painting, the bas-relief could also be heated and used to burn an image into the cloth.

Second Image on back of cloth

During restoration in 2002, the back of the cloth was photographed and scanned for the first time. The journal of the Institute of Physics in London published a peer-reviewed articlePDF (1.52 MiB) on this subject on April 14, 2004. Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo of the University of Padua - Italy, are the authors. They describe an image on the reverse side, much fainter than that on the front, consisting primarily of the face and perhaps hands. Like the front image, it is entirely superficial, with coloration limited to the carbohydrate layer. The images correspond to, and are in registration with, those on the other side of the cloth.

Supporters of the Maillard reaction theory point out that the gases would have been less likely to penetrate the entire cloth on the dorsal side, since the body would have been laid on a stone shelf. At the same time, the second image makes the electrostatic hypothesis probable because a double superficiality is typical of coronal discharge and the photographic hypothesis is somewhat less probable.




Scientific Analysis of the Shroud

Radiocarbon dating

In 1988, the Holy See agreed to permit six centers to independently perform radiocarbon dating on portions of a swatch taken from a corner of the shroud, but at the last minute they changed their minds and permitted only three research centers to undertake such analysis. The chosen laboratories at Oxford University, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, produced consistent results indicating that the analysed portion of the shroud dated from the 13th to 14th centuries (1260–1390). The scientific community had asked the Holy See to authorize more samples, including from the image-bearing part of the shroud, but this request was refused. One possible account for the reluctance is that if the image is genuine, the destruction of parts of it for purposes of dating could be considered sacrilege.

Chemical properties of the sample site

One argument against the results of the radiocarbon tests was made in a study by Anna Arnoldi of the University of Milan and Raymond Rogers, retired Fellow of the University of California Los Alamos National Laboratory. In an interview with Harry Gove, father of modern carbon 14 testing, Gove acknowledges that bacterial contamination, which was unknown during the 1988 testing, would render the tests inaccurate. By ultraviolet photography and spectral analysis they determined that the area of the shroud chosen for the test samples differs chemically from the rest of the cloth. They cite the presence of Madder-root dye and aluminum-oxide mordant (a dye-fixing agent) specifically in that corner of the shroud and conclude that this part of the cloth was mended at some point in its history. Plainly, repairs would have utilized materials produced at or slightly before the time of repair, carrying a higher concentration of carbon-14 than the original artifact.

A 2000 study by Joseph Marino and Sue Benford, based on x-ray analysis of the sample sites, shows a probable seam from a repair attempt running diagonally through the area from which the sample was taken. These researchers conclude that the samples tested by the three labs were more or less contaminated by this repair attempt. They further note that the results of the three labs show an angular skewing corresponding to the diagonal seam: the first sample in Arizona dated to 1238, the second to 1430, with the Oxford and Swiss results falling in between. They add that the variance of the C-14 results of the three labs falls outside the bounds of the Pearson's chi-square test, so that some additional explanation should be sought for the discrepancy.

Microchemical tests also find traces of vanillin in the same area, unlike the rest of the cloth. Vanillin is produced by the thermal decomposition of lignin, a complex polymer and constituent of flax. This chemical is routinely found in medieval materials but not in older cloths, as it diminishes with time. The wrappings of the Dead Sea scrolls, for instance, do not test positive for vanillin.

These conclusions suggest thatother samples, from a part of the shroud not mended or tampered with, would need to be tested in order to ascertain an accurate date for the shroud. Since the Vatican has refused to allow such testing, the age of the shroud remains uncertain.

Raymond Rogers' 20 January 2005 paper in the scientific journal Thermochimica Acta argues that the sample cut from the shroud in 1988 was not valid. Rogers concludes, based upon the vanillin loss, that the shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.

Skeptics contend that the carbon dating was accurate and that Rogers' study was flawed.

Bacterial residue

A team led by Leoncio A. Garza-Valdes, MD, adjunct professor of microbiology, and Stephen J. Mattingly, PhD, professor of microbiology at the University of Texas at San Antonio have expounded an argument involving bacterial residue on the shroud. There are examples of ancient textiles that have been grossly misdated, especially in the earliest days of radiocarbon testing. Most notable of these is mummy 1770 of the British Museum, whose bones were dated some 800 to 1000 years earlier than its cloth wrappings. The skewed results were thought to be caused by organic contaminants on the wrappings similar to those proposed for the shroud. Pictorial evidence dating from c. 1690 and 1842 indicates that the corner used for the dating and several similar evenly-spaced areas along one edge of the cloth were handled each time the cloth was displayed, the traditional method being for it to be held suspended by a row of five bishops. Wilson and others contend that repeated handling of this kind greatly increased the likelihood of contamination by bacteria and bacterial residue compared to the newly discovered archaeological specimens for which carbon-14 dating was developed. Bacteria and associated residue (bacteria by-products and dead bacteria) carry additional carbon-14 that would skew the radiocarbon date toward the present.

Harry E. Gove of the University of Rochester, the nuclear physicist who designed the particular radiocarbon tests used on the shroud in 1988, stated, "There is a bioplastic coating on some threads, maybe most." If this coating is thick enough, according to Gove, it "would make the fabric sample seem younger than it should be." Skeptics, including Rodger Sparks, a radiocarbon expert from New Zealand, have countered that an error of thirteen centuries stemming from bacterial contamination in the Middle Ages would have required a layer approximately doubling the sample weight. Because such material could be easily detected, fibers from the shroud were examined at the National Science Foundation Mass Spectrometry Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry examination failed to detect any form of bioplastic polymer on fibers from either non-image or image areas of the shroud. Additionally, laser-microprobe Raman analysis at Instruments SA, Inc. in Metuchen, NJ, also failed to detect any bioplastic polymer on shroud fibers.

Detailed discussion of the carbon-dating

There are two books with detailed treatment of the Shroud's carbon dating, including not only the scientific issues but also the events, personalities and struggles leading up to the sample taking. The books offer opposite views on how the dating should have been conducted, and both are critical of the methodology finally employed. These books have been reviewed on

In Relic, Icon or Hoax? Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud (1996; ISBN 0750303980), Harry Gove provides an account. Gove describes the struggle between Prof Carlos Chagas, chairman of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and Cardinal Ballestrero, with Gove and Gonella as the main combatants from each side. He provides a detailed record of meetings, telephone conversations, faxes, letters and maneuvers.

The Rape of the Turin Shroud by William Meacham (2005; ISBN 1411657691) devotes 100 pages to the carbon dating. Meacham is highly critical of STURP and Gonella, and also of Gove. He describes the planning process from a very different perspective and focuses on what he claims was the major flaw in the dating: taking only one sample from the corner of the cloth. Meacham reviews the main scenarios that have been proposed for a possibly incorrect dating, and claims that the result is a "rogue date" because of the sample location and anomalies. He points out that this situation could easily be resolved if the Church authorities would simply allow another sample to be dated, with appropriate laboratory testing for possible embedded contaminants.

Material historical analysis

Much recent research has centered on the burn holes and water marks. The largest burns certainly date from the 1532 fire (another series of small, round burns in an "L" shape seems to date from an undetermined earlier time), and it was assumed that the water marks were also from this event. However, in 2002, Aldo Guerreschi and Michele Salcito presented a paper at the IV Symposium Scientifique International in Paris stating that many of these marks stem from a much earlier time because the symmetries correspond more to the folding that would have been necessary to store the cloth in a clay jar (like cloth samples at Qumran) than to that necessary to store it in the reliquary that housed it in 1532.

According to master textile restorer Mechthild Flury-Lemberg of Hamburg, a seam in the cloth corresponds to a fabric found only at the fortress of Masada near the Dead Sea, which dated to the first century. The weaving pattern, 3:1 twill, is consistent with first-century Syrian design, according to the appraisal of Gilbert Raes of the Ghent Institute of Textile Technology in Belgium. Flury-Lemberg stated, "The linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin does not display any weaving or sewing techniques which would speak against its origin as a high-quality product of the textile workers of the first century." However, Joe Nickell notes that no examples of herringbone weave are known from the time of Jesus. The few samples of burial cloths that are known from the era are made using plain weave.


The 'restoration' of 2002

In the winter of 2002, the Shroud was subjected to an aggressive restoration which shocked the worldwide community of Shroud researchers and was condemned by most. Authorized by the Archbishop of Turin as a beneficial conservation measure, this operation was based on the claim that the charred material around the burn holes was causing continuing oxidation which would eventually threaten the image. It has been labeled unnecessary surgery that destroyed scientific data, removed the repairs done in 1534 that were part of the Shroud's heritage, and squandered opportunities for sophisticated research.

Detailed comments on this operation were published by various Shroud researchers. In 2003, the principal restorer Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, a textile expert from Switzerland, published a book with the title Sindone 2002: L'intervento conservativo — Preservation — Konservierung (ISBN 88-88441-08-5). She describes the operation and the reasons it was believed necessary. In 2005, William Meacham, an archaeologist who has studied the Shroud since 1981, published the book The Rape of the Turin Shroud (ISBN 1-4116-5769-1) which is critical of the operation. He rejects the reasons provided by Flury-Lemberg and describes in detail what he calls "a disaster for the scientific study" of the relic.


Biological and medical forensics

Details of crucifixion technique

The piercing of the wrists rather than the palms goes against traditional Christian iconography, especially that of the Middle Ages. Many modern scholars suggest that crucifixion victims were generally nailed through the wrists. A skeleton discovered in Israel shows that at least some were nailed between the radius and ulna. This was not common knowledge in the Middle Ages. Proponents of the shroud's authenticity contend that a medieval forger would have been unlikely to know this operational detail of an execution method almost completely discontinued centuries earlier.

Blood stains

There are several reddish stains on the shroud suggesting blood. McCrone identified these as containing iron oxide, theorizing that its presence was likely due to simple pigment materials used in medieval times. Other researchers, including Alan Adler, a chemist specializing in analysis of porphyrins, identified the reddish stains as type AB blood and interpreted the iron oxide as a natural residue of that element always found in mammalian red blood cells.

Unlike McCrone, Heller and Adler are neither forensic serologists nor pigment experts, nor are they experienced in detecting art forgeries. The 1983 conference of the International Association for Identification where forensic analyst John E. Fischer demonstrated how results similar to Heller and Adler's could be obtained from tempera paint. Skeptics also cite other forensic blood tests whose results dispute the authenticity of the Shroud. "Forensic tests on the red stuff have identified it as red ocher and vermilion tempera paint." Skeptics also note that the apparent blood flows on the shroud are unrealistically neat. Leading forensic pathologist Michael Baden observes that real blood never oozes in nice neat rivulets, it gets clotted in the hair.

Pollen grains

Researchers of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported the presence of pollen grains in the cloth samples, showing species appropriate to the spring in Israel. However, these researchers, Avinoam Danin and Uri Baruch, were working with samples provided by Max Frei, a Swiss police criminologist who had previously been censured for faking evidence. Independent review of the strands showed that one strand out of the 26 provided contained significantly more pollen than the others, suggesting deliberate contamination.

Olive trees surrounding Jerusalem would have been in full bloom at the time, meaning that there should have been a significant amount of olive tree pollen on the Shroud. However, there does not seem to be any at all.

Catholic veneration of the Shroud by the faithful probably involved touching it. Public display of the Shroud in the past may have contributed to its contamination not only by bacteria but also by pollen and other air-borne plant material

Digital image processing

Using techniques of digital image processing, several additional details have been reported.

NASA researchers Jackson, Jumper, and Stephenson reported detecting the impressions of coins placed on both eyes after a digital study in 1978. The coin on the right eye was claimed to correspond to a Roman copper coin produced in AD 29 and 30 in Jerusalem, while that on the left was claimed to resemble a lituus coin from the reign of Tiberius. There is however no recorded Jewish tradition of placing coins over the eyes of the dead.

Greek and Latin letters were discovered written near the face (Piero Ugolotti, 1979). These were studied by André Marion, professor at the École supérieure d'optique and his student Anne Laure Courage, graduate engineer of the École supérieure d'optique, in the Institut d'optique théorique et appliquée in Orsay (1997).

Textual criticism

The Gospel of John also states, "Nicodemus . . . brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. They took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury" (John 19:39–40, KJV). No traces of spices have been found on the cloth.




Analysis of the Image as a Work of Art

Correspondence with Christian iconography

There are alleged similarities between traditional icons of Jesus and the image on the shroud. As a depiction of Jesus, the image on the shroud corresponds to that found throughout the history of Christian iconography. For instance, the Pantocrator mosaic at Daphne in Athens is similar. Skeptics attribute this to the icons being made while the Image of Edessa was available, with this appearance of Jesus being copied in later artwork, and in particular, on the Shroud.

Analysis of proportion

The man on the image is taller than the average first-century resident of Judaea. The right hand has longer fingers than the left, along with a significant increase of length in the right forearm compared to the left.


Analysis of optical perspective

One further objection to the Shroud turns on what might be called the "Mercator projection" argument. The shroud in two dimensions presents a three-dimensional image projected onto a two-dimensional surface, just as in a photograph or painting. A true burial shroud, however, would have rested nearly cylindrically across the three-dimensional facial surface, if not more irregularly. The result would be an unnatural lateral distortion, a strong widening to the sides, in contrast to the kind of normal photographic image a beholder would expect, let alone the strongly vertically elongated image on the Shroud fabric.




Reasons to Doubt the Shroud's Authenticity


The shroud is known to be a medieval forgery

In 1389, the image was denounced as a fraud by Bishop Pierre D'Arcis in a letter to the Avignon Pope (now Antipope) Clement VII, mentioning that the image had previously been denounced by his predecessor Henri de Poitiers, who had been concerned that no such image was mentioned in scripture. Bishop D'Arcis continued, "Eventually, after diligent inquiry and examination, he discovered how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, that it was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought or bestowed."

The letter of Bishop D'Arcis also mentions Bishop Henri's attempt to suppress veneration, but notes that the cloth was quickly hidden "for 35 years or so," thus agreeing with the historical details already established above. The letter provides an accurate description of the cloth: "upon which by a clever sleight of hand was depicted the twofold image of one man, that is to say, the back and the front, he falsely declaring and pretending that this was the actual shroud in which our Saviour Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb, and upon which the whole likeness of the Saviour had remained thus impressed together with the wounds which He bore."

The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1912 seems to have been aware that the shroud was not genuine:

Extract from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1912: The Holy Shroud (of Turin):

... This Shroud like the others was probably painted without fraudulent intent to aid the dramatic setting of the Easter sequence:

Dic nobis Maria, quid vidisti in via
Angelicos testes, sudarium et vestes.

As the word sudarium suggested, it was painted to represent the impression made by the sweat of Christ, i.e. probably in a yellowish tint upon unbrilliant red. This yellow stain would turn brown in the course of centuries, the darkening process being aided by the effects of fire and sun. Thus, the lights of the original picture would become the shadow of Paleotto's reproduction of the images on the shroud is printed in two colours, pale yellow and red. As for the good proportions and æsthetic effect, two things may be noted. First, that it is highly probable that the artist used a model to determine the length and position of the limbs, etc.; the representation no doubt was made exactly life size. Secondly, the impressions are only known to us in photographs so reduced, as compared with the original, that the crudenesses, aided by the softening effects of time, entirely disappear.

Lastly, the difficulty must be noticed that while the witnesses of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries speak of the image as being then so vivid that the blood seemed freshly shed, it is now darkened and hardly recognizable without minute attention. On the supposition that this is an authentic relic dating from the year A.D. 30, why should it have retained its brilliance through countless journeys and changes of climate for fifteen centuries, and then in four centuries more have become almost invisible? On the other hand if it be a fabrication of the fifteenth century this is exactly what we should expect.

Scientific Confirmation

Radiocarbon dating in 1988 by three independent teams of scientists yielded results published in Nature indicating that the shroud was made during the Middle Ages, approximately 1300 years after Jesus lived.

As indicated above, no scientific tests have shown the shroud to date from the first century AD and many of them provide independent reason to doubt the shroud's authenticity.



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