Symposium on the Holy Shroud

Symposium on the Holy Shroud

Zenit News Service

A symposium to study and reflect about scientific research regarding the Holy Shroud was held in March in the city of Turin. Encouraged by the Diocesan Commission for the exhibition of the Holy Shroud, more than 40 experts gathered at the Italian city to discuss several aspects of the Sindone - considered the shroud that covered Jesus' body after his death - in the light of the latest research.

Almost half of the participants were Italians, while the rest came from countries in America, Asia and Australia. Results are to be given to the Archbishop of Turin, official custos of the Holy Shroud, who also attended. The symposium had as its main theme "The Sindone of Turin. Past, present and future."

The event consisted of four main sessions, each of them focusing on crucial themes about the Shroud. The first session discussed how did the image come to be printed on the shroud. During the second session, experts focussed on the stains of blood present in the Sindone, in the light of chemical and physical analysis made. A more historic point of view was considered during the third session, with discussion of the relationship between the Gospel and the shroud, as well as historical data documenting the existence of the shroud through the centuries. The last session examined the validity of Carbon 14 dating, and considered, as well, later research.

Over the last years, several studies have increasingly validated the authenticity of the Holy Shroud. In 1998, a group of experts from three different countries gathered to analyse the shroud, from their different scientific disciplines, with the latest scientific equipment. These scientists concluded that there was a two million against one probability that the Shroud was authentic. And in August last year, botany professor Avinoam Danin of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem concluded that the origin of the Shroud of Turin was Jerusalem after an analysis of pollen grains and plant images on the cloth. He identified these as coming from species only found in the months of March and April in the Jerusalem region.

Pollen identified as Gundelia tournefortii was also found in the Sudarium of Oviedo, a 83 x 52 cm cloth that has several blood stains and believed to be the burial face cloth of Jesus. A 1983 study showed that both the Shroud and the face cloth - the latter of which is documented from the First Century and kept in the Cathedral of Oviedo in Spain since the 8th Century - were stained with type AB blood.

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