Scientific tests on the Shroud of Turin indicate it is no more than 728 years old and cannot be the burial cloth of Christ, the archbishop of Turin announced today.
Scientists are “95%" sure of the accuracy of tests dating the shroud between 1260 and 1390, the archbishop, Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero, told a news conference. “I see no reason for the church to put these results in doubt,” he said.
But Luigi Gonella, the archbishop’s scientific adviser, bristled at suggestions the shroud is a forgery. “A forgery is for the specific purpose of deceiving people. It could be possible, but there is no proof,” Gonella said. “This could be a medieval icon. We don’t even know how it was made.”
The shroud--14 feet, 3 inches long and 3 feet, 7 inches wide--bears a faint yellowish negative image of the front and back of a man with a thorn mark on the head, flogging lacerations on the back, bruises on his shoulders and knees, and wounds in the side, wrists and feet.
For centuries it has been revered by some as the burial cloth of Jesus and dismissed by others as a clever forgery.
Ballestrero repeated that the Roman Catholic Church never claimed the shroud to be a holy relic. But he and Gonella said the image on the shroud has great symbolic importance.
Ballestrero said he personally saw the shroud as the “revelation of the face and the body of Christ.”
“The church believes in the image and not in the history because this image of Jesus Christ in fact is very interesting and the people believe deeply in Jesus,” Ballestrero said.