The Shroud of Turin: What's Your Opinion?


You have summarised my position perfectly, thank you!


Mr Farey, thank you for the reply. I work away and it is impossible for me to post until I return to home at the weekend, which makes it difficult to engage. I think it is correct to finish this dialogue as I believe it has been an important contribution to this thread, namely your motivation as a leading “sceptic”.

You have kindly answered my question, to be clear, your motivation for seeking to demonstrate that the Shroud is non-authentic is to evangelise for the Catholic faith. I have expressed my view that I find it illogical, it is for the readers to make their own judgement. God will in the end be the final judge!

You are reading to much, see above.

On the point of engagement, this is both illogical and unfair. I have ipso facto been engaging with you by asking about your motivation. It is unfair given my stated inability to reply during the week, although you were not to know this.

Finally, I used the word “demolish” deliberately, the OED defines this as: “Comprehensively refute (an argument or its proponent)” I think this accurately characterises your approach.

Having established your motivation, what this heavily reminds me of is iconoclasm, with yourself as the main iconoclast regarding the Shroud. This is very much in the tradition of Byzantine iconoclasm, the Protestant position over idolatry and sacred images and of course the Islamic prohibition on images of Mohammad etc.


The statement is a straw man, I do not want anybody to be hushed, quite the reverse. I notice you did not withdraw your comment as I asked.

This is a total reversal of my position, so yes you have mischaracterised me. It is Mr Farey who has stated his motivation for his posts is evangelisation, not myself.

The Shroud is part of the rich Catholic tradition of relics, sacred art and objects that together sets the Western Catholic Church apart from the other Christian denominations and would be even if it is a fake. It is certainly not doctrine or dogma. If however, at some future point in time, it becomes accepted (for whatever reason) that it was authentic, it would naturally become the most important relic we have.


Good, thank you for the clarification.

I have made no false claims. I stated your comment appeared to criticise the small minority of people questioning whether the shroud is genuine relic. There is no reason for me retract that, as that’s how I experienced it.

No, you pretty much stated that you considered the shroud the most important relic in the entire world, so again, I asked for clarification because that appeared to be hyperbole.

Here let me reproduce your post.

I’m not sure why I should believe your claim that I made a ‘total reversal’ of your position.

Either you have a habit of using a lot of hyperbole in your statements, or your mind shifts a lot from one post to the other.

As for why I’m doing it. Then it is not out of a desire to be ‘iconoclastic’ or anything like that, though I think if Catholics were honest we’d agree that over 50% of all “relics” we have now are largely frauds made in a century where the sale and trade of them became highly popular. An embarrasing chapter in the history of the Church.

The shroud is popular because its believed by a lot of Catholics to be a genuine relic of Christ. There is no doubt that this is why it enjoys such an enormous popularity. However I don’t think the typical arguments given for why the shroud is genuine are very good. At the very least, bad arguments for it being genuine deserves to be criticized.

I see no reason why I shouldn’t post such criticism.

I don’t do it for evangelism. I do it because I believe in intellectual integrity, and that Catholics should love truth.


Hello Hugh,

do you have any comment on the Spanish cloth of Oviedo that has a documented history I believe that goes back to at least to the 7th century and which I have heard many times on Shroud documentaries that it has many 'points of congruence (agreement) with the shroud of Turin.

The cloth is purported to contain blood stains and is suggested to have been the cloth around Jesus head as he was taken down from the cloth.

I am assuming the charge against it is that there is not really a science of post mortem blood stains of face shrouds and that such findings start from a position of knowing what you want to find and then ‘finding the evidence’ accordingly.


We most certainly do NOT KNOW that. It is your opinion. It is NOT A FACT.


That’s quite alright.


You have indeed. It seemed to me that at this point, however, you wanted to leave the arguments for and against the authenticity of the Shroud to one side, and concentrate more on the motives of the presenters. Nothing wrong with that, although I hope that my credibility rests on my presentation of evidence and the conclusions I draw from them rather than my motives for posting at all.

Your next few sentences show that you try to consider your words carefully, which is splendid. I do the same myself. However, “demolishing” a “relic” is not at all the same thing as “demolishing” an “argument” as I’m sure you’ll agree. As I said before, if the Shroud of Turin is not a “relic”, then I am obviously not “demolishing” it. If it is a relic, then I have no more wish to “demolish” it than the most ardent authenticist.

No doubt you also used the word ‘iconoclast’ advisedly. Unfortunately, it is, I fear, ill chosen, as quite clearly I am the opposite of an iconoclast. I champion the image, and other images. If you mean that the motive behind iconoclasm was to prevent people worshipping idols, then I don’t think it applies to me, as I don’t think people worship the Shroud. What’s more, the concept of the acheiropoieton (and belief in both such objects and their value) was to some extent advanced by the iconoclastic movement precisely in order to permit ‘miraculous’ images while at the same time condemning man-made ones.

I have already stated that I am not a Baha’i. Do I now have to state formally that I am not a Protestant or a Muslim?!


I am not an expert on the Sudarium of Oviedo as most of the investigations carried out on it have not been published, and those few that have are mostly in Spanish and not on the internet. However … (!)

  1. The date. The Sudarum of Oviedo seems to have been dated several times - at least twice - and invariably found to be round about the 7th century. The reason for this is most likely to be because it is a 7th century artefact. Just because 700AD is closer to 1st Century than 1300AD is not evidence that the Sudarium is authentic.

  2. Pollen. It is often alleged that Max Frei-Sulzer carried out similar studies on the Sudarium to the ones he did on the Shroud. I can find no evidence for this, and note that at the 2007 conference on the Sudarium, palynologist María José Iriarte stated “that she has not been able to identify pollen that could pin the cloth down to any given geographical location.”

  3. Blood. The Sudarium does seem to be covered in blood, in a broadly symmetrical pattern which, if the cloth is folded in two, broadly corresponds to the forehead, nose and mouth area of a man. To suggest that the blood on the Sudarium corresponds exactly to the blood on the Shroud is extraordinary. There is almost no blood on the face of the Shroud. If the blood on the Sudarium comes from a man, it seems to have flooded out from the nose and mouth, in three separate phases, with time for each phase to dry between each outpouring. Attempts to demonstrate that this could have occurred while the dead body was being lowered from the cross and prepared for burial are to my mind very far fetched. In addition, there is some variation in the alleged ‘serum-stains’ of the Shroud and the Sudarium, in that the first fluoresce under UV light and the second don’t.
    Finally there are some more defined stains on the Sudarium which slightly resemble the blood clots on the back of the Shroud images head. When overlaid, inevitably there are places where these stains overlap, and other places where they don’t. I do not consider this a definitive ‘match’.


I actually do want to return to the Shroud! I have some questions, which may contribute to the debate itself, but I wanted to ask re motivation in the first instance. This point has been closed satisfactorily, but I still have a problem which has been prevalent in the responses:

Quite so, which is where my problem lies. The problem is that I believe you have misconstrued some of my comments, which as you clearly articulate does make me concerned over other points you have made, in particular very detailed and scientific points that are difficult for non-experts like myself to check.
I will give you 2 examples from your last post:

It is clear that I did not mean “demolish” in a literal sense, but in the metaphorical sense of proving it is not authentic, i.e. demolish its status. If this is does not describe your position, I don’t know what does.

I have never said you were a Bahai and it seems to me I used plain and clear language regarding the point around iconoclasm (I expected you to refute this which you duly did). I gave 3 examples of religious iconoclasm, I did not state that you are simultaneously a Byzantine, Protestant and a Muslim, which would be absurd.

The thread should return to the Shroud itself, I quite agree, it is important to make my point though.


Just because some people postulate that the earth is flat does not mean that heliocentrism is not proven.
And likewise just because skeptics refuse to acknowledge the Shroud of Turin for what it is does not mean that it is not proven to be the burial cloth of Jesus containing His miraculous Image.


That’s OK. No hard feelings. I didn’t really think you thought I was a Protestant Muslim! By all means hit me with hard questions. Several very sensible points have been made on this thread, and I can’t answer all of them. If I could, the issue of the authenticity of the shroud would be much easier to determine.


Ok, I would like to ask a simple question to the main protagonists of each camp, Mr Farey for the sceptics and undead_rat for the authenticists:

What, if any, is the most compelling evidence/data that indicates the Shroud is the opposite of your stated position?

i.e. for Mr Farey, what is the best evidence that supports authenticity?
for undead_rat, what is the best evidence that supports the fake position?

Thank you in advance


Oooh, that’s a challenge. What I am searching most earnestly for at the moment is some kind of reference, perhaps in a church inventory, that clearly shows that other ‘shrouds with images’ existed. So I suppose that for me, the lack of a contemporary parallel is what gives me the biggest pause for thought.


Is that a book or a set of scrolls he is holding in the picture???


Which brings us neatly to your thoughts on the Hungarian Prayer Index and how the pictures therein of Jesus’ shroud has been said to copy the Turin shroud in the weave of the cloth and the ‘L’ shaped burn holes.

Of course the Index is said to be from before the earliest carbon dating date given to the Turin Shroud.


No need to search as the Shroud of Turin is the one and only Shroud. It is indeed the Shroud of Christ.


Yes. I wonder who it was who first associated the Pray Codex pictures with the Shroud. I’m afraid I think a great deal of nonsense has been written about it, although there are a couple of mysterious elements which I will agree are difficult to explain. Still, here we go…

There are two pictures on one page of the Pray Codex which show the Anointing and the Three Women at the Tomb. In subject matter, and iconography they are wholly concordant with thousands of other similar pictures.

Bodies with arms crossed over the pelvis are as common was those with arms by the side or crossed over the chest, and the convention of not showing thumbs is also quite common. The body of Christ shows quite a young person, with no beard or moustache. He looks nothing at all like the the man in the Shroud. Some authenticists identify a tiny smudge above the Pray Christ’s right eye as the episilon blood mark over the left eye of the Shroud Christ, which I think is unrealistic - it is incredible, in my view, that an artist could fail to copy anything at all accurate about the face of Christ except to make a tiny dot over one eye. I concede that the fact that Christ is nude is unusual.

The picture below, like thousands of others, shows the tomb of Christ, a curiously angled, rectangular lid, and the crumpled shroud of Christ on top. An angel stands on the lid, and three women attend. The angled lid is patterned with a series of concentric zig-zag pyramids. There is no possibility that this lid can be the shroud, and the claim that the zig-zag pyramids in any way resemble herringbone weave is too far fetched to be credible. However, both the tomb below, and its lid, do have designs of little circles on them, which some authenticists insist must reflect the pattern of the alleged ‘poker holes’. I find that incredible, although I certainly admit I don’t know why they are there myself. As with every other version of the “Three Marys” or “Holy Women at the Tomb” I have ever seen - and I have seen hundreds - there is no suggestion of an image on the Shroud.

ps. The Codex is named after its discoverer Gyorgy Pray, and has nothing to do with ‘Prayer’, although it is, in general, a prayer book.

[new edit] pps. A Codex is the general term for an early manuscript “book” as opposed to a “scroll”. It is not an Index. The Pray Codex doesn’t have an Index…


Have you seen how naive / childlike the drawings on the bayeux tapestry are? Its the same with the many ‘drawings / paintings’ from centuries past. The pray codex is a good example of that.


The evidence mentioned by prominent theologians such as James Tabor is very simply the confluence of the C-14 data with the first European public appearance of the Shroud.

Skeptics say that it is just not credible to regard this confluence as a coincidence. I have previously addressed this issue as to why I think that the C-14 data appears to coincide with the Shroud’s public display in 1357.
It is no coincidence.


You have indeed. For the benefit of those who might have missed it, you wrote: “this ought to be a sign to us that our Creator is willing to trick those who oppose Him”.

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