Category Archives: The Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin, Part 1: An Examination of the Man

by Joseph Bergeron April 1, 2021

By Joseph W. Bergeron

The Shroud of Turin is a relic extraordinaire. It’s a linen cloth containing the front and back images of a crucified man matching the biblical descriptions of Jesus.1 Controversy surrounds the Shroud of Turin. Many believe it to be the cloth used to wrap Jesus’s body after crucifixion. Others wonder whether it’s merely an elaborate hoax.

In this post, we’ll focus not on the Shroud of Turin’s origins but rather on a medical description of the man whose image it bears, including a forensic analysis and a comparison to known Roman crucifixion practices. Later, in part 2, we’ll examine the physical characteristics of the cloth, its age, and how the image may have formed.

Roman Crucifixion
The crucifixion process began with the condemned being placed in the custody of a specialized team consisting of a group of soldiers supervised by a centurion. Scourges were made of leather strips with lead balls sown into the ends. Multiple soldiers participated in scourging the victim.2 Jesus’s beatings were doubly severe since he was beaten at the home of the Jewish High Priest before being delivered to the Romans for scourging prior to crucifixion (Matthew 26:67). Jesus was sentenced to death as a political insurgent: “the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37). This title heightened the ire of his Roman executioners who would have perceived Jesus’s crime as defiance of Caesar (Mark 15:16–20).

Roman executioners forced the condemned victim to carry the short, horizontal section of the cross (the patibulum) to the execution site. After nailing the victim’s hands to the patibulum, they lifted it with the victim attached and placed it on top of the stationary vertical section (the stipes) secured by a mortise and tenon joint. They then nailed the victim’s feet to the stipes.3

In most cases, the corpse was left on the cross to be eaten by scavenging animals,4 but upon request it could be obtained for burial instead. Prior to the body being released, it was likely common for the executioners to administer a coup de grâce to assure the victim was dead.5 Accordingly, before Jesus’s body was taken down a spear was driven through his chest (John 19:34). Additionally, the Roman governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilate required verification of Jesus’s death before the body could be released for burial (Mark 15:45).

Burial Preparation
It appears that the man in the Shroud of Turin was washed before being wrapped.6 This is consistent with known Jewish funerary customs in the Second Temple period. Burial was completed the same day as the death. The body was washed, anointed with oils or perfumes, and wrapped in a shroud. Spices were placed within the shroud, sprinkled over the bier, or left in the burial site.Jesus was buried according to the Jewish customs of his time (John 19:40). The Gospels state that his body was wrapped in linen cloth (Matthew 27:59Mark 15:46Luke 23:52).

Jesus was buried hurriedly after a cursory and incomplete preparation due to his death occurring late on Friday, the eve of the Jewish Sabbath during Passover week. Women returned to Jesus’s tomb on Sunday to complete the burial preparation with spices and perfumes they had compounded (Luke 23:52–24:1). According to biblical accounts, the women found burial cloths in the tomb, but Jesus’s body was gone (Luke 24:12John 20:2–9).

Examination of the Man of the Shroud
The Shroud of Turin bares front and back images depicting a naked, bearded, long-haired man about 183 cm (~6 feet) tall. 8 The man likely weighed  approximately 70 kg (~154 lbs). Tortuous streams of blood are noted in the matted hair, front and back.9 Hair appears by the sides of the face. The neck is not visible. There is swelling of the forehead, brows, right upper lip, and jaw. The nasal cartilage is separated.10 The right eyelid may be torn.11 Hands are placed below the umbilicus (navel). Thumbs are not visible. There are more than 100 scourge marks. The right shoulder is lower than the left with abrasions noted on both shoulders.12 There is a large oval chest wound between the right fifth and sixth ribs.13 Blood flow is visible from the chest wound, scalp, and both hands and feet.

Forensic Analysis
The Shroud of Turin images depict multiple blows to the face consistent with descriptions in the biblical account (Matthew 26:6727:30). Blood streams from the scalp indicate puncture wounds consistent with a crown of thorns (Mark 15:17). Scourge marks match the size and shape of the lead pieces Romans sewed into the ends of their whips. The scourge marks are also bidirectional, appearing to come from both sides of the body, suggesting a team of executioners (John 19:1Mark 15:15–16).14

The chest wound is consistent with spear penetration, which would collapse the lung and rupture the right chambers of the heart. Copious drainage from the chest wound suggests blood mixing with a pleural effusion (fluid collection around the lung, typically clear). The presence of a clear pleural effusion and subsequent cardiac rupture is also suggested in the biblical description (John 19:34). A smudge of dried blood or clot appears below the chest wound. Blood drains from the chest wound to the back, indicating the body was laid supine after being wrapped. Blood flow from the hands and feet are consistent with nail punctures ( John 20:24–27 ).

The neck and legs appear flexed. This is best explained by rigor mortis, which can occur rapidly when the victim is in a high metabolic state at the moment of death, often the case in violent death.15 Nails through the wrists would tether thumb abductor muscles, flexing the thumbs over the palms, which explains why the thumbs are not seen in the image. Rigor mortis at the shoulders was overcome in order to reposition the arms in front of the body.

The Greater Meaning
The Shroud of Turin portrays an accurate depiction of Roman crucifixion. Moreover, the image of the man matches the unique features of Jesus’s execution recounted in the biblical accounts. Questions of authenticity aside, the Shroud of Turin offers a visual representation of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ and points to the greater significance of God’s forgiveness.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. —Ephesians 1:7

  1. Matthew 27:27–50; Mark 16:16–37; Luke 23:26–46; John 19:1–30.
  2. Joseph W. Bergeron, The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Medical Doctor Examines the Death and Resurrection of Christ (Rapid City, SD: Crosslink, 2019), 92.
  3. Bergeron, The Crucifixion of Jesus, 93.
  4. Bergeron, 143.
  5. Bergeron, 178 n281.
  6. Frederick T. Zugibe, “The Man of the Shroud Was Washed,” Sindon N.S., Quad. No. 1, June 1989 (accessed February 2, 2021). See also, Frederick T. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry (New York: M. Evans, 2005), 218–27.
  7. Rachel Hachlili, Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 480.
  8. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus, 190–91.
  9. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus, 190–91.
  10. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus, 192.
  11. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus, 179.
  12. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus, 195.
  13. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus, 196.
  14. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus, 195.
  15. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus, 189, 212.

(original link)

The Shroud of Turin, Two Christians Debate

In this clip Ted Wright with Epic Archaeology and I discuss the evidence for and against the Shroud of Turin. Should Christians accept this piece of evidence as legitimate? If so, can it be used for evangelistic purposes?

You can connect with Ted through his social media accounts:


Facebook–Epic Archaeology



The Mystery Of The Shroud Of Turin – Could This Be The Burial Cloth Of Jesus?

Special guest, Joseph G. Marino, discusses the mystery of the Shroud Of Turin – was it the burial cloth of Jesus Christ? What is the history of the Shroud? What are some of the most unique features that provide convincing evidence this was the burial cloth of Jesus? Does science have an explanation for how the image was burned on to the cloth? How was the vivid image embedded in the cloth first discovered? What about carbon dating, do the critics have any compelling arguments against authenticity? What role did the Knights Templar have in the chain of custody of the Shroud? Why is the Shroud the most studied artifact in all of archaeology? Is it possible that the preservation of the Shroud is part of God’s plan of evangelism?

Holy Shroud: the latest amazing discovery sheds light on the Truth

Giovanni Bernardi – 11/02/2021

For some time there has been discussion around the Holy Shroud, with theses and counter-theses that confront each other around the ancient fabric that wrapped, for believers, the Son of God. 
Now, however, an extraordinary discovery has arrived that will surely open the eyes of many, and will undoubtedly instill a very strong question even in those who continue to persist in not recognizing the Truth that the Lord has given to humanity. 

sindone luce

Science seeks in all ways to refute the Truth 
The scientific community on several occasions has sadly shown itself to be divided, with a part fiercely hostile to the Christian faith.  The very idea of ​​such a great test of Jesus’ earthly life, evidently, deeply undermines the certainties of those who live a militant and ideologically aligned atheism in a preconceived way. 
It has been tried in every way to affirm that it is a medieval fake, but of all the attempts to give scientific support to this thesis, no one has ever gone through with it. In fact, there are questions that cannot be avoided and that require a scientific explanation that, obviously, cannot be found. 

sacra sindone

The questions that science, however, fails to explain 
 For example, one wonders:  how was it possible that the image of a man was imprinted on a linen cloth without using any kind of chemical or pictorial method?  Faced with this question, the ilmamilio website revealed that some researchers from Enea in Frascati have rolled up their sleeves and tried to give an answer. 
In fact, in the three synoptic Gospels we speak of the transfiguration of Jesus, that is, the passage from human form to a radiation of light.  That this fact could be at the center of a scientific discovery, however, few would have imagined. 

The hypothesis of the Frascati scientists and the great discovery 
The scientists of Frascati in fact started from this assumption to give a scientific explanation to the Holy Shroud.  For scholars, in fact, it was precisely in this way that the Son of God, on the day of the Resurrection, left his image imprinted on the linen sheet that wrapped his remains inside the tomb.  In short, the so-called “radiative” hypothesis has arrived at the scrutiny of scientists.  In this way we try to explain the origin of that of the double human figure that appears faintly on the sheet and that recalls the Calvary of the Crucifixion. 

The surprising results of the Frascati laboratories 
Thus, from the ENEA laboratories in Frascati, the local website writes, surprising results have been obtained. Scientists Giuseppe Baldacchini and Paolo di Lazzaro would have shown that if you try to use an ultraviolet laser for an irradiation process on a linen fabric, the color obtained is practically identical to that present on the Holy Shroud.

The outcome of the study, therefore, was nothing short of surprising.  In fact, no one had ever managed to reproduce in such a similar way the chemical property linked to the shroud that enveloped the Lord before his initial ascent to heaven.  An absolutely shocking testimony about one of the greatest relics in the history of Christianity and humanity has come to light, it is appropriate to say, in these days.  The debate of the scientific community remains open, and as is well known preconceived theses and ideologies are difficult to eradicate.  But it is difficult to overlook a test like this, which if it is not left on the sly will certainly open up important spaces for discussion. 


Is the Shroud of Turin Foreshadowed In the Transfiguration Story? (Matthew 17.1-9)


The story of the Transfiguration highlights the important truth of the transcendent, glorious nature of Jesus, the Son of God. The author provides evidence for postulating that the burial shroud of Jesus (i.e., the Shroud of Turin) is present in the background of that story. The Shroud became a powerful witness for the early Church, testifying to the truth of the Gospel of God.

New Testament Texts and the Shroud of Turin -an English- Language Bibliography

Joe Marino

Published 2021

Publication Date: 2021

Any discussion about the authenticity of the Shroud encompasses detailed analysis of the Gospel texts. All four gospels mention Jesus’ burial cloths. Matthew (27:59-60), Mark (15:46) and Luke (23:53) use the Greek word sindon, normally interpreted as “shroud,” when describing what Joseph of Arimathea provided for Jesus, whereas John uses the Greek word othonia, usually interpreted as a plural term for burial cloths.
John also mentions, to the exclusion of the other three gospels, a napkin or face cloth (20:7). However, Luke, when describing what Peter found in the tomb, does not use his original term, sindon, but rather, othonia (24:12).

In recent years, some researchers have come to believe that even the Pauline letters may have references to the Shroud, the most notable one being Galatians 3:1, in which Paul says, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.”
These researchers argue that the word “portrayed” (per the original Greek) fits very well with the possibility of having seen the cloth known today as the Shroud of Turin. I have previously written two other bibliographical articles (accessible on that cover Jewish burial customs as they relate to the Shroud: “The Turin Shroud in Light of First-Century CE Jewish Burial Practices According to Jewish Sources – a Bibliography” and “The Turin Shroud in Light of First-Century CE Jewish Burial Practices According to Jewish Sources – a Bibliography.”
Since the burial customs aspect is inextricably intertwined with the exegesis of the gospel texts, there will be some overlap between those articles and this article. This article will be updated as needed.

Shroud of Turin Leads to Conversions, Founding of Shroud Center

“The Shroud seems to have a great pastoral mission, causing many unexpected conversions,” says the founder of the Shroud Center of Southern California, “especially from among young people.”

August Accetta, founder of the Shroud Center of Southern California
August Accetta, founder of the Shroud Center of Southern California (photo: Shroud Center of Southern California)

Jim Graves Blogs March 12, 2021

“To them [Christ] presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs …” (Acts 1:3)

In 1994, after years of intensive study, California physician August Accetta reached his conclusion about the Shroud of Turin. In his mind, the scientific evidence was overwhelming. The Shroud, indeed, is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. As he gazed upon the image of Christ’s crucified face, miraculously imprinted on the Shroud and preserved through the centuries, he knew he had to confront a personal issue that he had been pondering over the previous two years of his study: How could he remain agnostic?

The Shroud of Turin is taken out periodically to be venerated by the faithful. In 1998, Pope St. John Paul II knelt in prayer before the Shroud and later remarked that it is “a challenge to our intelligence … an image that everyone can see but no one can yet explain.”

Accetta also made the journey to Turin that year, observing the Shroud in reverential silence for nearly two hours with other spellbound pilgrims. He recalled, “It was overwhelming. Words cannot describe it.”

Dr. Accetta grew up in Huntington Beach in Southern California, and was an active parishioner in his parish as a teen, and later became the parish’s youth minister. In college, however, he immersed himself in scientific study alongside many agnostics who considered religion and science incompatible. In time, he came to share their view. He married a fundamentalist Protestant, Stacey, with whom he had two children. He joined her church and enjoyed the fellowship there, but had little supernatural faith.

Throughout this time, the Shroud remained a curiosity to him. He first read of it as a teenager and later, in medical school, developed a friendship with a prominent Shroud scientist, Allan Wanger of Duke Medical School in North Carolina.

The Shroud is said to be an ancient burial linen 14’3” long and 3’7” wide. On the front and back are faint, blood-stained images of a 6-foot, 175-pound man who bears the same wounds as those inflicted upon Christ as described in the four Gospels. Approximately 700 wounds of various sizes appear on the body, signs of a brutal death. To those who accept its authenticity, it offers a graphic and compelling insight into the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, and a “snapshot” of his Resurrection.

The first written description of the burial cloth comes from the 14th century by a French crusader who described it in a report to Rome. It was moved to Turin in 1578, and for centuries attracted large numbers of pilgrims. An Italian photographer, Secondo Pia, first captured it on film in 1898 and made a startling discovery that would touch off a flurry of scientific investigation — the negative produced a white, ghostlike image of far greater clarity than the original.

The investigation culminated in an intensive 1978 study by a team of 40 scientists, led by Colorado physicist John Jackson. The results were generally favorable to the Shroud’s authenticity. A decade later, however, carbon-14 dating placed the Shroud’s origin between 1262 and 1390, thereby making it a clever forgery. Many scientists disregard these findings today, however, believing the single carbon-14 test sample to have been contaminated and the scientific method used flawed.

While the Vatican takes no official position on the Shroud’s origins, it has encouraged the faithful to venerate it as an image of the crucified Christ. 

Accetta’s Personal Studies

Accetta’s personal studies of the Shroud centered on his areas of interest: medicine, chemistry and physics. As a doctor of medicine, for example, Accetta sees in it an image of a body in the state of rigor mortis, but which has not yet begun to decompose, as would occur five days after death — consistent with what Scripture says about Christ’s Resurrection on the third day after his crucifixion.

Yet others with different backgrounds bring new perspectives. Hungarian-born artist Isabel Piczek (1927-2016), for example, who was a friend of Accetta’s, was an expert in art history. She concluded that the image could not have been painted by a medieval artist, and that its appearance on the cloth is unexplainable.

Studying the Shroud intensively between 1992-1994, Accetta’s questions about its authenticity were answered one-by-one. This period was simultaneously a “growth process” for his faith, and by 1994, he knew it was time to rededicate his life to Christ. He observed, “In contrast to many in the last century or so, science brought me back to God.”

Yet Accetta’s conversion is not unique. There are many examples of Shroud scientists who were atheist, agnostic or otherwise non-Christian before their study, and have since become Catholic and ardent promoters of the Shroud. Wanger converted from atheism, and at least one scholar, Joseph Marino, became a priest.

Piczek said, “The Shroud seems to have a great pastoral mission, causing many unexpected conversions, especially from among young people.”

Convinced that the Shroud once bore the body of Christ, Accetta wanted to know which of the world’s thousands of Christian denominations was the one Christ founded. Studious by nature, Accetta dove into studies of theology and Church history. When he began reading the works of the early Church Fathers and saw Catholic doctrine in their teaching and practice, he knew he had found his answer: “I was exhilarated to find Christ in the Catholic Church. When I began my study I never intended to return to it, but that’s where my process of truth-seeking led.” He stressed that it is “no coincidence” that the Shroud is entrusted to the care of the Catholic Church.

Shroud Center of Southern California

With the zeal of a convert (or in his case, revert), he resolved to make the Shroud of Turin a household name. In 1996, he founded what is today the Shroud Center of Southern California, located at the Santiago Retreat Center in Silverado in Orange County, California. Its exhibits and volunteers tell the story of the Shroud, including the science and research behind it. It has drawn many volunteer tour guides through the years, including Stephen Shehyn, who was given a tour by Accetta and left in tears. 

“I felt I was standing in the presence of Our Lord,” he said, “experiencing both his humanity and divinity.”

Shehyn had only recently returned to the Catholic Church at the time, and found his faith greatly affirmed by his study of the Shroud. He described it as “the fifth Gospel, which makes us confront the reality of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.” He returned to the Center as a dedicated volunteer. He added, however, that his faith would not be shaken if the Shroud were proven a fraud.

Yet not all have been receptive to the Shroud. In a few instances, Accetta learned of Catholic organizations that hosted anti-Shroud speakers, which he has approached and offered to present the contrary position, from a purely scientific point of view. They declined.

“Some Catholics prefer a faith that is experiential and personal, rather than one based on fact,” he opined. “But the Resurrection of Christ is a fact. Proofs of the Resurrection — including witnesses who had seen the resurrected Christ — were important to the early Christians.”

The negative response of some Catholics has been a great disappointment to Accetta, especially since he has encountered much enthusiasm from non-Catholics. His apostolate received a boost, however, when Norbertine Father Francis Gloudeman of St. Michael’s Abbey showed up at his door one day. He was delighted a priest had shown interest, and invited him to become the Center’s spiritual director. He accepted. Father Francis remarked, “When friends come into town, I have another place to take them besides Mission San Juan Capistrano — the Shroud Center.”

He added, “In encourage Catholics, especially priests, to approach this Shroud with an open mind and loving heart. Let this burial cloth of Jesus help you to know and love Jesus and his Paschal Mystery more and more.”

Jim Graves

Jim Graves
Jim Graves is a Catholic writer and editor living in Newport Beach, California. He previously served as Managing Editor for the Diocese of Orange Bulletin, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Orange, California. His work has appeared in the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, Cal Catholic Daily and Catholic World Report.

The seam and missing corners of the Turin Shroud as characteristics of John Mark’s temple garment

Adrie Vd Hoeven

In this article I identify the garment left by the young man who “ran away naked” (Mark 14,51-52) with the burial shroud of Jesus (John 19-20) and that young man with the secret disciple John Mark, co-author of the Gospel of John. I explain that it is possible and probable that Joseph of Arimathea bought the garment to give Jesus a burial “as is the burial custom of the Jews” (John 19,40), namely: in a garment.
I also identify John Mark as having a high office in the temple, for which he wore a white sindōn with a Pharisaic margin, at the corners of whicha blue cord could be fastened or loosened, in order to fulfill both the commandment of Num 15,38 for all garments and the conflicting commandment of Ex 28,5-6 for temple garments. This may account for the seam and margin in the Turin Shroud.
I also account for the two missing corners of the Turin Shroud margin as an effort by John Mark to hide the fact that the burial shroud was his unique temple garment. The image of an oval plate with three Hebrew letters on it, which can be seen under the chin of the body on the Turin Shroud, may be the image of JohnMark’s  petalon , the Jewish ornament which distinguished him as a ruler.

On Cleaning Methods and the Raw Radiocarbon Data from the Shroud of Turin

by Larry Schwalbe (former member of the Shroud of Turin Research Project) and Bryan Walsh

*International Journal of Archaeology 2021; 9(1): 10-16 doi: 10.11648/j.ija.20210901.12 ISSN: 2330-7587 (Print); ISSN: 2330-7595 (Online)

*Published on March 12, 2021.

The Shroud of Turin is a long, narrow strip of linen cloth believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus. The Shroud is unique because faint images of a crucified man are clearly visible on one surface. These body images along with accompanying blood stains have been the subject of scientific inquiry for over a hundred years, yet the process of the image formation has been and remains unknown.
Among the more recent of coordinated studies of the Shroud was a radiocarbon dating of excised samples. The results, published in 1989, place the origin of the cloth to sometime in or around the 14th century. The objective of the present study is to survey the cleaning methods (or pretreatments) that were applied to the samples removed for the radiocarbon study. Specifically, we explore the extent to which these methods may have given rise to a peculiar structure in the “raw” radiocarbon data published in 2019.
The data from two of the participating laboratories, Zurich and Arizona, appear to bifurcate into groups separated by roughly 100 radiocarbon years. By comparing the pretreatment for each subsample and its group membership, we conclude that these pretreatments do not account for the bifurcation effect.
As all subsamples represent portions excised from an originally intact and continuous sample of Shroud material, we assume they are all the same calendar age. Granted this assumption and given the results of the present study, two hypotheses remain to account for the curious anomaly: either 1) the carbon isotope ratios 14C/12C of the fabric itself were altered by some currently unknown process, or 2) a non-isotropic distribution of contamination remained after the samples underwent the documented pretreatments. A resolution of the question is important for deciding whether future radiocarbon studies are called for and, if so, how the testing protocols should be structured.