Shroud of Turin

Shroud of Turin
Turin shroud positive and negative displaying original color information 708 x 465 pixels 94 KB.jpg
The Shroud of Turin: modern photo of the face, positive left, digitally processed image right
Size4.4 by 1.1 metres (14 ft 5 in × 3 ft 7 in)
Present locationCathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Turin, Italy
Full-length image of the Turin Shroud before the 2002 restoration.

The Shroud of Turin, also called the Turin Shroud (Italian: Sindone di Torino, Sacra Sindone [ˈsaːkra ˈsindone] or Santa Sindone), is a length of linen cloth bearing the negative image of a man. Some believe the image depicts Jesus of Nazareth and the fabric is the burial shroud in which he was wrapped after crucifixion. Historical and scientific evidence points to it being a medieval creation. It is first securely attested in 1390, when a local bishop wrote that the shroud was a forgery and that an unnamed artist had confessed; radiocarbon dating of a sample of the fabric is consistent with this date.

It is kept in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, which is located within a complex of buildings which includes the Turin Cathedral, the Royal Palace of Turin, and the Palazzo Chiablese in Turin, Piedmont, northern Italy.

The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.[1] Pope John Paul II called the Shroud "a mirror of the Gospel".[2][3] Other Christian denominations, such as Anglicans and Methodists, have also shown devotion to the Shroud of Turin.[4] Diverse arguments have been made in scientific and popular publications claiming to prove that the cloth is the authentic burial shroud of Jesus, based on disciplines ranging from chemistry to biology and medical forensics to optical image analysis. In 1988, three radiocarbon dating tests dated a corner piece of the shroud from the Middle Ages,[5] between the years 1260 and 1390. Some shroud researchers have challenged the dating, arguing the results were skewed by the introduction of material from the Middle Ages to the portion of the shroud used for radiocarbon dating.[6][7][8][9] However, all of the hypotheses used to challenge the radiocarbon dating have been scientifically refuted,[10][11][12] including the medieval repair hypothesis,[13][14][15] the bio-contamination hypothesis[16] and the carbon monoxide hypothesis.[11]

The image on the shroud is much clearer in black-and-white negative - first observed in 1898 - than in its natural sepia color. A variety of methods have been proposed for the formation of the image, but the actual method used has not yet been conclusively identified.[17] The shroud continues to be both intensely studied and controversial.[18][19][20][21]


Secondo Pia's 1898 negative of the image on the Shroud of Turin has an appearance suggesting a positive image. It is used as part of the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. Image from Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne.

The shroud is rectangular, measuring approximately 4.4 by 1.1 metres (14 ft 5 in × 3 ft 7 in). The cloth is woven in a three-to-one herringbone twill composed of flax fibrils. Its most distinctive characteristic is the faint, brownish 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.[22]

The image of the "Man of the Shroud" has a beard, moustache, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. He is muscular and tall (various experts have measured him as from 1.70 to 1.88 m or 5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 2 in).[23] Reddish-brown stains are found on the cloth, showing various wounds that, according to proponents, correlate with the yellowish image, the pathophysiology of crucifixion, and the Biblical description of the death of Jesus.[24]

In May 1898 Italian photographer Secondo Pia was allowed to photograph the shroud. He took the first photograph of the shroud on 28 May 1898. In 1931, another photographer, Giuseppe Enrie, photographed the shroud and obtained results similar to Pia's.[25] In 1978, ultraviolet photographs were taken of the shroud.[26][27]

The shroud was damaged in a fire in 1532 in the chapel in Chambery, France. There are some burn holes and scorched areas down both sides of the linen, caused by contact with molten silver during the fire that burned through it in places while it was folded.[28] Fourteen large triangular patches and eight smaller ones were sewn onto the cloth by Poor Clare nuns to repair the damage.