The Suffering, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus are made visible, tangible, and scientifically verifiable on a fourteen foot piece of cloth. The Shroud of Turin is a centuries old linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man. A man that millions believe to be Jesus of Nazareth. It is the single most studied artifact in human history. It is rectangular, measuring 14 feet long by 3.5 feet wide.
The Shroud of Turin may be located in Turin, Italy but in the world of academia it is located at the crossroads of theology, science and history. Some say it is a receipt left behind by Christ on purpose to show how much he paid to set us free.
The Catechism describes the Paschal Mystery as “ a day of long, eternal light is ushered in for us who believe in him, a day which is never blotted out: the mystical Passover”(CCC 1165). Likewise the Shroud is, for believers, an eternal, timeless imprint of an eternal and timeless event.
The Paschal Mystery is also historical, theological and scientific. The four marks of the Paschal Mystery are 1.) the Suffering of Christ that he endured during his last eighteen hours leading up to the 2.) death on the cross. After three days 3.) Jesus rose gloriously and bodily from the tomb. He appeared to those he loved and at one time to as many as 500 people. After forty days he 4.) ascended into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of the Father. The magnitude of the theological meaning is more than just kinda a big deal. It was the fulfillment of the Father’s plan as the source of our salvation. It makes possible the Holy Spirit’s work of bringing about our sanctification.
The Gospel narratives preserve in sporadic detail the events of the passion and death. When held up to the markings on the Shroud it is a positive match for Jesus who suffered, died, rose and ascended so that sins are forgiven and that we may have a new life.
The Shroud of Turin bears witness to each of these four parts of the Paschal Mystery.
The image on the Shroud bears the image of a 5’10” crucified man. Wounds include those from a crown of thorns with numerous punctures of the scalp. The image of the body shows over 120 scourges or whip marks. Abrasions and bruises on face. Wound in the side. Blood everywhere. Blood is from actual wounds and shows evidence of gravity from a vertical position. Nail wound in the wrists and feet.
The side wound shows the clear separation of the blood and serum which only occurs after death. Post mortem blood flow from side wound and on the back Legs are pulled up due to rigor mortis. The body was wrapped in a burial shroud and laid in a stone tomb (residue on shroud shows this)
The image appears as a photographic negative. The image is like an X-ray showing skeletal features The Image only appears on the very shallow depth of the linen fibers. The image was created while wrapped around the body. To generate the image it would take several billion watts of light radiation, which exceeds the maximum output of any source of UV radiation known today.
Since the time of the ascension, no corpse or resurrected body has ever been found that matches these wounds. The power of the radiation event shows us that it was something from out of this world that intervened. This person is other-worldy. The Gospel account is corroborated by the markings so it lends credence to the Gospel account of the Ascension as well.
I am a life-long Catholic, husband, dad, teacher and former football coach. I've been teaching the Catholic Faith to young men, religious educators and catechists since 1998. My academic background, MA is in Theology and Catechetics. I am the creator of www.apexcatechetics.com, the home of high quality catechetical resources for those who teach the Catholic Faith.