Is the Turin Shroud really a self-portrait by Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci?

He was the ultimate Renaissance man - studying anatomy, designing a rudimentary helicopter and creating some of the most admired paintings of the age.

But could Leonardo da Vinci also have perpetrated history’s greatest art forgery?

That’s the suggestion of one expert, who claims that Leonardo was responsible for faking the Turin Shroud.

The relic has inspired generations of pilgrims who have flocked to see what they believe is the face of the crucified Jesus.
But it has also provoked bitter controversy after scientists carbon-dated it to the Middle Ages.

Now an American artist has entered the fray, putting forward her own theory about its origin.

Lillian Schwartz, a graphic consultant at the School of Visual Arts in New York, claims that the image is a self-portrait of Leonardo, which was made using a crude photographic technique.


Italian scientists says Holy Shroud dating inaccurate

From May 26th 2009. In 1988, carbon-14 tests concluded that the Shroud of Turin, the piece of cloth widely regarded by history as having wrapped the body of Jesus after his death, was a fake fabricated around the year 1260.

Italian scientists, however, are now debunking that this idea, claiming that the dating test did not work and that the laboratory hid errors.

Vatican insider Marco Tossati has repeated vital calculations and says that the original test was not valid.

No, the shroud is not a self-portrait by da Vinci.

The story provides no concrete evidence at all.
It only provides conjecture.

And this passes for news these days…:rolleyes:

If you know anything about the shroud, you know that it is impossible for it to have been created by any type of human painting. The shroud is actually a negative, and yet the principles of photography were not understood until recently. It also had a 3 dimensional aspect to it, such that the parts of the body on the shroud that would have been more physically distant are less clear than the parts that would have been closer. A computer program has been used to turn the shroud into a 3 dimensional object. No human hand could produce such an image.


There is not a shred of evidence that de Vinci created the shroud. It’s just speculation. Having said that, I doubt the shroud is authentic. When the Church gives her judgment, than I’ll believe.

I conducted a few searches and came upon a great site on this topic:

 Apparently when people mistakenly believed the results of the 1988 radio carbon tests, they began trying to explain the unexplainable, coming up with the most bizarre conclusions.  What really took place is that the STURP committee examining the Shroud in 1988 made a monumental blunder, they took only one tiny sample from a fabric repair made in the 14th century.  An Australian author Brendan Whiting debuted this discovery in his book “The Shroud Story”.  At first he was ridiculed, but now it appears all the facts support his claims.

 The sample was proved to be completely different than the rest of the Shroud.  The sample contained dye to match the rest of the cloth, but no dye was found anywhere else.  There was a gum substance that is only used for repairs in the sample, but nowhere else.  And the sample was also made of a different material (cotton) than the rest of the Shroud.

God Bless

Couldn’t have been Leonardo - if the shroud was fabricated in the late 1200s, since that was a good 200 or more years before Leonardo was born.

“Who could forget the famous October 13, 1988 conference, when the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) committee of Chemists, Researchers, Shroud Scholars and Scientists assured the world (with 95% confidence levels, and between 1000 and 1500 with 99% confidence levels) that the Shroud cloth dated between 1260 and 1390 AD. Immediately afterwards, headlines throughout the worlds touted the Shroud as a 14th Century forgery. How could 3 independent labs be wrong?”

1390 (also considering the + or - 50 years accuracy) is a lot closer to da Vinci, the later date is what got these nuts going.

God Bless

Even if we take the 1390 and add +50 years, that puts us at 1440 - which is still before Leonardo was born. There seems to be a vague notion in our culture that medieval people couldn’t figure out times and dates so all the birthdates are guesswork. This is the only explanation I can think of for why people continue to cling to the daVinci theory.

Photography is said to have been invented in 1835 and that is when a permanent image was made with light. Photographic processes were used prior to that but they had no way to “fix” the image and make it no longer light sensitive.

This theory of the shroud would have us believe that a fixing agent was found and used for this one “photographic” image then was lost for a few hundred years.

The story also leaves off things like scientists don’t know how the image was put on the cloth. Each strand of fiber that has tint that makes up the image only has the tint on one side of the strand. A photosensitive solution would have soaked into the fibers and the scientists would have been able to remove some of it and find the silver salts that make up the tint.

The story also ignores things like the traces of minerals on the knee areas of the shroud are from the middle east. There are pollen grains from the middle east, which had to have been in bloom during the spring.

The blood type matches the Sudarium of Oveido which has a better chain of custody and is said to be the cloth that covered the face of Jesus. There are also about 68 (if memory serves me) blood points that match up between the shroud and the sudaruim showing a common person and crown of thorns used for the person buried in them.

I could go on, but get a good book on the subject. John C. Iannone has a good book out that is a scientific look at all of the evidence.

The theory of Leonardo is interesting but doesn’t explain enough.

I recently saw a show on the Discovery Channel that showed the shroud to be of a man (Jesus) from 30 or 40 ad or something, I thought they were gonna show proofs that it is not of Jesus, but they didn’t. This show is something recent I think everyone should see it. They show what happened wrong with the carbon dating, it is pretty interesting. I cant remmember the name.

The documentary is called “Unwrapping the Shroud: New Evidence” on the Discovery Channel.

I think they are gonna show it on July 22, 2009, I might be wrong.

Here is a pretty good review of the show you are discussing:


For science to demonstrate that the image of the shroud is a human creation, scientists must first be able to replicate the results of the shroud using scientific methods.

I don’t think that such a replication has been created by modern science yet. Until then, …

we had a special program at church before Easter this year. one of our priests did a presentation on the Shroud of Turin. i learned many things i did not know before. the history of the Shroud is fascinating. i saw the program that was mentioned in another post. it was very good. i believe next year it will be on display to the public again. i wish i could afford a plane ticket to italy to go see it.
my own opinion is that i do not think it is a self-portrait by da vinci. i would like to believe that it is the image of Christ on the Shroud, but i do not know when or if they will ever be able to prove that.

Even if they ever do, then the question comes along to show that the technology was knowable and doable at the time the shroud appeared.

If the tech to replicate the results is greater then the tech of the time the shroud appeared, then there are more questions asked then answered.

FWIW - I believe whole-heartedly that the Shroud is real. Along with the forensic evidence, I find it beyond incredible that anyone would possibly conceive that a shroud would create an image like this, and then use that theory to create a fabricated shroud of Jesus.

Think about it. To conceive of such an idea, one would have to assign plausibility to such a phenomena in order for it to be believable, and therefore, worth doing in the first place. But the fact that this is so unusual - and to our knowledge - the only known example of an image being emblazoned on a burial cloth - there is therefore no precedent from which an artist to base his creation.

So, forensics aside, there’s simply no conceivable reason that an artist would think that a burial cloth would capture an image of its inhabitant - and in a negative image on top of it.

Great find Gilliam! I think people are missing this, read the review that Gilliam found in its entirety! It is a must read!

Its exactly what was in Brendan Whiting’s book mentioned in post 5. Whiting was also racing against time to get his book out, as he was dying of cancer (Leukemia), just like Rogers.

Author / Shroud Researcher Brendan Whiting got the reweaving story out first in his book in 2006, then came the Discovery show: “Unwrapping the Shroud: New Evidence”.

God Bless

The original link provided that the Shroud was a self-portrait of Da Vincie was laughable as I saw the original experiment attempt on T.V. You couldn’t photograph lacerations on the body, or any of the other details seen on the Shroud. More convincing than all the rest of the Shroud "replications’ put together, this at least corroborates the Shroud’s image character as a photograph rather than a painting and nobody knew of photography in the 13th Century of the carbon-dated hypothesis. So this story actually helps the case for shroud’s authenicity.

Other arguments for authenticity:

  1. the carbon dating tests done in the seventies (which claimed a 13th century provenance) was off because some parts of the cloth were either contaminated with overlays of bacteria (people always touching it) or because the parts taken for testing were from the recent middle age materials interwoven into the original cloth after portions of it were burned in the middle ages;

  2. studies done on the garment stitching of the Shroud by historical garment analysts confirm the stitch used on the Shroud of Turin was a common stitch to cloths in First Century Judea; nobody could have known that in 13th century Europe;

  3. biological studies of pollen and flower marks on the funeral shroud show the provenance of flowers and petals commonly found in Judea, not Europe;

  4. there is real blood on the shroud as can be seen in up-close imagery of the shroud which shows how the blood spattered on the cloth; paint could not do this; same goes for the crown of thorns, the lacerations on the body appearing exactly as they would if administered by a cato’ninetails; and the crucifixion marks through the wrists and feet.

  5. the shroud shows “perspective” of the body’s image, a concept that would not enter Western arts until some centuries after the carbon-dated presumed 13th century;

  6. nobody, with all the technologies we have today can explain how that image got there;
    some say the image on the Shroud was caused by Christ’s resurrection.

Food for thought. And also the fact that the image of Christ represented in Churches throughout those centuries, whether Byzantine or Latin bear an uncanny resemblance to the image on the Shroud. It was said the shroud was revealed fully to the public in Edessa in the 5th century, exactly the time that images of Jesus switched from the until the Roman-like representations.

If anything I have heard someone actually was able to cotton squab or tape remove (without permission) blood from the shroud to find its makeup and compare it to Christ’s sudarium.

Read Ian Wilson’s The Blood and the Shroud.

The most convincing argument against the photography theory I can find is by Barrie Schwortz, the STURP photographer who produced all the famous Shroud photographs and 3-D imagery. Previously, I was a little skeptical of his opinions, as he is Jewish and might be biased against authenticity. On the contrary, as I read through his many articles, I’m starting to realize that he has been very scientifically objective and sincerely compassionate pertaining to Catholic beliefs and concerns.

The controversial c-14 dates were determined in 1988. There are two basic contentions to the 14th Century date. First is that the 1532 fire (that nearly destroyed the Shroud) somehow changed the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 and carbon 13 isotopes in the cloth. The second was that a biological polymer had grown on the fibers of the cloth and that this newer material skewed the results. Both these contentions were proved erroneous by STURP Researchers.

Currently, most Shroud Researchers are confident the 14th Century c-14 date is the result of the sample being taken from a 14th Century repair.

God Bless

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit