No one knows for sure how long the Shroud of Turin has been around, but the first documented evidence of its existence dates to about 1353 A.D. in a small village South of Paris, France. Since then it has held the attention of the world with many believing it is Christ’s burial shroud and the faded, vague image is indeed that of Jesus Christ.
That fascination was in evidence Thursday evening March 2 at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Weyburn, when James Richards gave a power point presentation to about 40 fellow parishioners. He showed photos of the Shroud and presented information about the various research projects that provides evidence both for and against the image being that of Christ.
Richards is not a recognized expert on the Shroud but admits to a fascination with it since he was a teenager and first heard about it. He firmly believes the image is that of Christ. “The evidence in favour of it being Christ’s image, to me, is more compelling than evidence against. It is agreed by many who have studied the shroud that it is not a painting, as some believe, because there is no evidence of brush strokes anywhere on the shroud,” Richards said in speaking with the Prairie Messenger a few days after his presentation.
Radio carbon dating has placed the linen in the middle ages but as Richards points out, other researchers have suggested the linen may have been repaired at some point using more current materials. He also notes that the shroud does contain pollen of plants that grow nowhere else except in the Jerusalem area. Most who study the Shroud believe the image is of a Roman man because it contains marks that show the man was flogged with an instrument known to be used by Roman soldiers, but whether it is Christ’s image is something else. Richards also notes that thus far no one can explain how the image got on the linen. The Church will not allow any further testing in fear of destroying the image and so far as is known, nothing has been scraped off the image for analysis.
The Shroud is kept in a hermetically sealed container in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin and is not on display; it is brought out for display only on special occasions. Richards said, when the Last of the Savoy family that previously ruled Italy died in the 1980s the shroud was willed to Pope John Paul II and his successors.