The Shroud of Turin: What's Your Opinion?


It is a fact that medieval artists did not paint in the negative, which the image is. It is also a fact that the science of photography did not exist in the 14th century. Paul Vignon and Pope Pius XI reached the correct conclusion based on these facts. That conclusion is a logical one. It’s not proper to dismiss it as “statement of belief.”

Your own conclusion is, in reality, nothing more than a statement of belief and it is not based on any facts at all, only the presentation by an atheist of an erroneous interpretation of the C-14 data. You have stated repeatedly that you don’t think that further C-14 testing will confirm what the correct interpretation of the raw C-14 results revealed. That, sir, is belief and not fact.


“It is a fact that medieval artists did not paint in the negative”

The Shroud of Turin is not ‘painted in negative’ whatever this means. That would involve painting lighter colours onto a dark background.

“It is also a fact that the science of photography did not exist in the 14th century”

The shroud is also not a photograph. This is in fact even more difficult to reconcile with the ‘atomic radiation’ proposal you’re advancing. This would require the radiation to be completely vertical and attenuated by the atmosphere, in which case the edges would not have received any radiation at all.

Nor do I think that Our Lord was poised beneath an enormous set of lenses and mirrors in anticipation of light spilling out of His corpus.

Hugh_Farey may correct me on this, but to achieve a ‘negative_image’ with ‘3d information’ all you need to do is simply paint the appearance of a relief statue of Christ onto the linen. A possibility is that the shroud was painted with a very thick vermillion paint with red ochre. This would cover only the top fibres, and would then dehydrate and cause acidic damage, browning the fabric. Later the paint might have been washed off, which explains there’s only traces amounts of these paints.

“That conclusion is a logical one. It’s not proper to dismiss it as ‘statement of belief.’”

It is the opinion of Pope Pius XI, and as such, is opinion. Not binding. If someone has reasons to think otherwise, then they may do so, with respect, without any accusation of even the smallest degree of impiety.

“Your own conclusion is, in reality, nothing more than a statement of belief and it is not based on any facts at all,”

Hugh_Farey, has done nothing but referencing documents, and articles by the researchers who worked on it. Those articles, as to the methodology of the C-14 dating, the details of the shroud, etc… etc… are facts.

In contrast you’ve only referred to two third hand sources, and the opinions of a Pope.

“the presentation by an atheist”

You’re committing a logical fallacy here. That a person is an atheist is irrelevant, when he is commenting on something that is within his expertise.

“You have stated repeatedly that you don’t think that further C-14 testing will confirm what the correct interpretation of the raw C-14 results revealed.”

Actually Hugh_Farey has stated at least once that one might be able to test the ‘atomic radiation’ hypothesis, since it follows that the fibres at the center of the linen would by so skewed that a C-14 date would result in a date out in the future. I agree with this. However I also consider it unlikely to be the case.

If a test was made of the linen, again, from the center of the cloth, with Jesuit witnesses at hand, and all manners of protocols followed to the strictest degree, and we again get back the exact same date. Would that at all lower your confidence in the Shroud being genuine?


Hello Hugh,
my understanding is that the results are supposed to reflect any difference in chemical composition which could be from various causes.

So perhaps the corners are different because of all the handling over the centuries. Perhaps the lines on the shroud are a result of folding (perhaps for very long periods of time) where moisture or heat over the centuries has caused a certain reaction, perhaps in the growth of bacteria in the folds etc.

Also it is possible that the shroud could have been kept in a jar where a section was exposed to water damage, again over a long period of time.

All of this is speculative of course but serves to be an example of why there may be some validity to the results.

This is especially so with Ray Rogers claiming the testing section contains certain chemicals not found in the main section of the shroud. I accept that he could be wrong and it is just a co-incidence that the quad mosaic results agree somewhat with his finding. I am not sure I would be so quick to throw out the results without more certain knowledge of why we can ignore them.

Have the people who did the quad mosaic testing accepted the possibility of your hypothesis?



Hi Abucs,

The different colours in any photograph are due to a variety of things associated with the different reflectivity of the surface. Chemical composition can be one of them, and light intensity is another. If you examine the quad mosaics, you can clearly distinguish the holland cloth backing and the 1354 patches as being different from the Shroud itself, for example, and the burn marks are black. In white light, it is clear that the edges of the Shroud are somewhat darker than the middle, which may be due to moisture, heat, etc, as you say. This obviously contributes to the different colours on a photograph. However, by far the biggest colour differences in the quad mosaics are the wide blue bands across the Shroud observed in three of them. These in themselves demonstrate that the colour differences are far more due to light fall-off than to chemical composition.

It may be held that the blue bands, and the red bases, and the green corners, all represent different chemical composition, but it is not scientific to claim that one specific colour difference in one specific corner represents a chemical difference, but not any of the other colour differences in other places in other images. That really would be spectacular special pleading.

“Also it is possible that the shroud could have been kept in a jar where a section was exposed to water damage, again over a long period of time.”

Indeed it is. In fact Aldo Guerreschi demonstrated that the water stains on the Shroud could have been caused by exactly that. If so, you might expect that at least some chemical differences might have been established between the soaked area and the dry area, especially over a long period of time. The quad mosaic identifies them as reddish fringes, hardly discernible from other reddish areas of the cloth. One of these fringes (better identified in ordinary light in fact) crosses the 8cm strip cut out by Giovanni Riggi almost exactly halfway along, such that the radiocarbon sample sections were immediately above it, and the ‘reserve’ section and Raes sample were right in the middle of it. This may account for the gum and pigment found by Ray Rogers, although this is a topic I am currently researching and not decided upon just yet.

Sadly the people who did the testing are dead.


I agree that medieval artists did not paint in the negative. I’m not sure how relevant that is, although I shall be happy to comment further if required.

I agree that the science of photography did not exist in the 14th century. I’m not sure how relevant that is, although I shall be happy to comment further if required.

Paul Vignon most firmly believed and carried out careful experiments to show that the image on the Shroud was due to gaseous emanations from the dead body of Christ, affecting the chemistry of the cloth. He did not think the image was from any kind of radiation. Is that what you mean by “the correct conclusion”?

A conclusion drawn from facts is indeed not a fact in itself, but an opinion that may or may not be true. The idea that my conclusions are “not based on any facts at all” is puerile.

I am happy to continue to state that I don’t think further radiocarbon testing of the Shroud will make any difference to the medieval date. I am happy to agree that that statement is a belief and not a fact.


ok thanks, let’s leave the talk on contamination there (for at least a while).

So there are claims from many disciplines that suggest its testing points to something other than a medieval forgery.

Let’s take the pollen / flower claims first from Max Frei. So the claim is that some pollens (and other plant pieces) have been found on the shroud exclusively coming from the Holy Land, Edessa, Constantinople etc and it is reported on the web that these findings have been confirmed by other experts.

I think I have heard you criticise the credibility of Max Frei previously. Could you speak about that and if his claims in fact have been confirmed?

Is there anything that the pollen testing on the shroud reliably tells us?


Hi abucs,

Max Frei-Sulzer more or less invented the ‘tape-lifting’ method of obtaining microscopic debris from surfaces in 1951, and his doctorate was on the botany of Sicily, so his authority in the palynology of the Shroud was, in the 1970s, more or less unquestioned. The highlight of his career was being appointed by the UN as the forensic expert investigating the air crash which killed the UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961. However he lost credibility in 1971 when the evidence he had given to send Walter Gross to prison ten years previously for murder was proved wrong, after which he retired, and became a laughing-stock in 1983 when his authentication of the celebrated “Hitler Diaries” was also proved spurious. He was very much “brought out of retirement” to examine the Shroud, which he no doubt hoped would re-establsh his reputation. To a certain extent it did.

However, being the sole authority on something is not necessarily a good thing, as there is a tendency to assume everything the expert says must be correct, even when it is really not much more than a hunch.

Frei-Sulzer’s published work is in Shroud Spectrum International Issues 3 (,10 (, and 27 (; the last two being by his friend Werner Bulst after Frei-Sulzer himself had died.

However, as palynology became better known, a number of serious flaws were detected in Frei-Suzer’s work. These are enumerated and explained in my own article at

  • Frei claimed to have identified over 50 species of plant on the Shroud. This in itself is extraordinary. Even today, most pollen is usually not identifiable at species level, and to do so requires careful SEM analysis.
  • Frei claimed to have used SEM analysis, but did not publish any of the images this required. Although his papers are all in the possession of the ASSIST group, they have not seen fit to settle the doubt that he ever used SEM analysis.
  • Most of the species of plant identified come from insect-borne pollen, which does not usually fall from the air onto cloth. Although it could have come from flowers placed on the Shroud, such is its variety that it would have meant that people rushed all over the Jerusalem area - and as far as the shores of the Dead Sea, to collect the variety of flowers required to fulfil the pollen content.


Much of the Shroud world’s faith in Max Frei-Sulzer’s pollen identification lies in its confirmation by Avinoam Danin, one of Israel’s foremost botanists. However, he did not look at the pollens. He based his confirmation on what he thought were images of flowers all over the Shroud, some of which he identified as the same as Frei-Sulzer’s list. In fact he only found flowers corresponding to ten of Frei-Sulzer’s fifty-eight species, which is not as confirmatory as his claim sounded. Furthermore, his flower identifications have been largely rejected, other palynologists declared Frei-Sulzer’s identifications impossible, and eventually Danin himself repudiated the entire business as unreliable. Other palynologists, such as Uri Baruch, Thomas List and Marzia Boi, have also rejected Frei-Sulzer’s identifications.

I won’t go on, as it is all clearly set out in my article. However, it forces a fair person to ask how Frei-Sulzer could have been so wrong, given his authority in the field, if not by deliberate falsification (which has been suggested, but which I am reluctant to endorse). He made two basic errors. Firstly, he assumed that the Shroud came from the Israel and Turkey, which should have been a priori unjustified for a fair assessment of the evidence, and secondly he assumed that pollen was much more species-specific than it actually is. With these in mind, and in he absence of any comprehensive pollen-indexes, Frei-Sulzer went on pollen-collecting forays to Israel and Turkey, and then, by comparing his Shroud pollen with his reference specimens, identified any apparent matches as confirmed species. In fact, as subsequent palynologists have found, one thistle pollen looks very like another, and had his pollen-collecting forays been to Japan or Texas, he could have made just as many - and just as wrong - specific identifications.

All in all, it is not impossible that there is some pollen from some Middle Eastern flowers on the Shroud. It would almost certainly have got there by the placing of souvenirs from pilgrimages being placed on the Shroud while it was in Chambéry or Turin.


A most excellent analysis.


Just looking at the picture below does not prove to me that the Shroud is true or false , but it certainly impresses me .

Knowing what the picture is I ask myself , “Could someone have faked that back in 1300 or whatever ? And since then , especially in the modern scientific era , why has no one succeeded , or come anywhere near to succeeding in creating a replica ?”


It impresses me too, Rob2. And quite deeply affects me, as do several other artworks of the passion. But the question “could someone have faked it?” is a little odd. Do you mean “Could an artist have produced as affecting an image of Christ?” (I which case no doubt several other artworks, such as Michaelangelo’s Pieta might be suggested), or “Could a medieval artist have had the technique to produce an image which would appear negative on cloth but positive on a photo?” which is a technical rather than an emotional question. The answer, of course, is yes. Any artist familiar with wood block printing knew how to make an impression on cloth, and I hypothesise that this may have been the basis of the method, although instead of a woodblock, a bas relief effigy similar to the Weinhausen or České Budějovice effigies might have been the source of the imprint.

There have been remarkably few attempts to replicate the Shroud. A cloth of similar weave costs over $2000 to produce, and few individuals have sufficient funds for extensive experimentation with that. Using ordinary cloth, some interesting results have been obtained, which, with sufficient funding, may lead to a definitive possibility of exactly how the image was created in due course.


The Shroud has been around for a very long time and many, many replications have been made. It was first known as the Image of Edessa. When in 944 AD General John Cucuras was extracting this sacred cloth from Edessa, he had to take a priest from a nearby city to confirm that what he was getting was the original. The Christians in Edessa twice tried to pass off a copy on him. Apparently their copies were very well done.

While the Shroud was in Constantinople, there known as the Mandylion, many icons of the facial image were painted. Some of these made there way to Italy as “vera iconica” or “true icons” because they had been copied directly from the miraculous Image of Jesus’ face on the Shroud.

Sometime after the year 1204 AD the Shroud entered Europe and copies continued to be made. The Church authorities ordered at least one of these to be destroyed as idolatrous. Since Pia’s shocking photo of the Shroud was taken in 1898, person’s opposed to the idea that the Shroud is actually Jesus’ burial cloth containing His Image have attempted to make ther own negative images of a corpse on a cloth. None have succeeded—very simply because the Image was produced by the vanishing of our Lord’s corpse, a miraculous event that cannot be reproduced by man.

Those that think that Jesus did not actually perform miracles are always telling us that “in just a few more years” someone will determine the non-miraculous method as to how this Image of Jesus was made. They have been saying that for a long time now, and they are wasting their time in this vain endevour.


Modern science cannot say how the image was produced.

The image lays on the very top part of the cloth fibres. Nobody in ancient times could do that.

The dating done was in error as it was taken from a medieval ‘repair’.

I believe the cloth is of Jesus. Faith is what moves me to believe that. Plus, all the evidence that points to no known solution for its construction!

The image lays on the very top part of the cloth fibres. Nobody in ancient times could do that.

The dating done was in error as it was taken from a medieval ‘repair’.

Actually painting image on top of fibres isn’t that difficult, it can be done with a very thick paint dabbed onto cloth.

And I’m reposting this answer, to another person who advanced the ‘repair’ hypothesis. I understand why you do it, but at this point it has largely been discredited.

"Furthermore following the restoration in 2002, the ‘invisible repair’ hypothesis, was shown to be very unlikely. ‘Invisible repairs’ (which aren’t actually invisible), are very obvious when looking at it from behind, but after the backing of the Shroud was removed no signs of stitches of any kind could be found.

As for the pollen only one of the researchers advanced this claim, but no one has been able to verify the species identification, and its been largely descredited. "


Firstly, the ‘image’ is not of any known ‘paint’ known to man. If it were, it would have seeped through the fibres deeper than what is shown. The scientific evidence shows the image to have only penetrated the very top most layer of the fibres.

Nobody has ever been able to produce the ‘image’ 100%, EVER!

The date sampling was taken from ‘repaired’ area of the shroud. FACT.

In ancient times, as of today, the only thing that could produce that image was / is a MIRACLE.

Jesus, i believe, left His image for us. There is no other human explanation!


It’s fine if you believe that. Just as long as you don’t claim that Catholics are required to believe it, or that anyone who does not believe it is not a Catholic.

My examination of the evidence has led me to conclude that it is a pious fabrication from the later middle ages. There’s nothing “miraculous” about it.


Some interesting ideas; thank you, although most are either misleading, perhaps unintentionally, some are statements of facts with which I am not familiar and will need to check, and some are commitments to a belief which it would be unChristian to challenge.

Very few attempts to replicate the Shroud have ever been attempted. This should not be confused with attempts to copy the Shroud, which of course have abounded since the 16th century. However the two should not be conflated. Replicating the Shroud has been an entirely 20th and 21st century occupation, as before there was any idea about the physics and chemistry of the cloth and its image, any attempt to duplicate it would be a matter of guesswork. Critics of replication rarely comment on whether an attempt actually looks like the Shroud, but concentrate on whether the image lies exclusively on the top surface, what pigment or discolouration technique has been used, and so on.

Those who think that the Shroud existed before the 14th century, and that ‘replications’ were made, apparently ‘very well done’, will be aware that there are no ‘negative’ images of Christ at all to be found before the 14th century, so it is difficult to claim that any image of Christ on a cloth or banner is a replication of the Shroud, in my opinion.

I am not familiar with the ‘fact’ that the Church ordered a copy of the Shroud to be destroyed. I should be grateful for a source of this information. A primary source would be best, but a secondary source will do as long as it has a mention of where its information came from. Otherwise I’m afraid I think it is a misunderstanding of something else.

I may indeed by wasting my time in a vain endeavour to replicate the Shroud because it is miraculous, however it is my time and nobody else’s, and I do not find, and have not found, the investigation to be worthless.

Anybody with a fibre-tipped pen, a biro or a brush of dry powder, can very easily make a sketch on the topmost fibres of a cloth. Anybody with a soldering iron can, slightly less easily, discolour only the topmost fibres of a cloth. Medieval equivalents were readily available. One of the reasons for the Shroud being particularly easy for this operation is that the three/one twill weave results in three-quarters of each surface being of the same direction of thread (warp or weft), so that even if a paint soaks every thread with which it comes in contact, even so only one-quarter of those threads is exposed on the other side of the cloth.

Lost4words’s faith is fine, and faith needs no evidence. Unfortunately, statements of faith are often accompanied with alleged ‘evidence’ which is usually slightly naive. If Lost4words thinks that not being replicated is evidence of a miracle, then I suggest he looks at the Stonehenge, the Great Pyamid of Khufu, and the Taj Mahal. Miracles indeed.


“i have an opinion” might be better than saying “I believe” , because the Shroud will never be a question of doctrine or dogma .

Elsewhere on this thread I said something to the effect that it is an open question , and always will be for Catholics . I would never say that Catholics have to believe in the authenticity of the Shroud or that if a Catholic does not believe he is in error .

It is my opinion from what i know of the Shroud , and my knowledge is very little compared to Sindonologists whose work of a liftime is devoted to study of the Shroud , that the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus . I am about 99% certain .

Tomorrow someone may come up with evidence that shows irrefutably that the Shroud is a fake . Then I would have to change my opinion . I would be very disappointed , but that’s life .


“Firstly, the ‘image’ is not of any known ‘paint’ known to man.”

Walter McCrone found trace amounts of iron oxide and vermillion on the shroud. Its likely the image originally was painted with something like this. The actual image on the shroud however isn’t caused by paint, or blood, but rather a discoloration of the fibres, which has darkened by what appears to be dehydration and contact with something acidic.

“Nobody has ever been able to produce the ‘image’ 100%, EVER!”

In order to demonstrate the plausibility of it being either a forger or an icon, one wouldn’t need to replicate it ‘100%’, it would be sufficient to demonstrate that the most salient features such as ‘negative image’ (which I take to mean that the details are more readily apperent in a negative image than otherwise) and ‘3d information’, using techniques available in the 14th Century.

Such replications have been done, with those features. They’re not identical, but they have the same features, which shows that those features aren’t strong evidence. They can be reproduced by human beings using normal methods.

Here is an example of a replica made by the art professor Luigi Garlaschelli, like the Shroud of Turin, it has basically all the features you’d care for in terms of photo negativity and 3d-information, and looks very similar.

That being said I don’t think the techniques he used were identical, but I think that’s on the right track to finding out how the Shroud of Turin was produced.


How did they fabricate it then please?

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