shroud, Florida Catholic

Bill Wingard, of Shroud Talks, speaks to an audience about the history of the Shroud of Turin Feb. 27, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. (BOB REDDY | FC)

Presentation unveils mystery of the Shroud of Turin

VENICE  |  St. John Paul II once called the Shroud of Turin “the most splendid relic of the Passion and the Resurrection.” For centuries, the shroud has been one of the most analyzed artifacts in the world, yet mystery remains. 

The Knights of Columbus Council 7052 brought in an expert, Bill Wingard of Shroud Talks, for a presentation “Shroud of Turin: One of the World’s Greatest Mysteries.” During the talk Wingard let the audience see a full-sized shroud replica, hear the history and the science, all while he helped incorporate the experience of the Passion of Jesus in a new way.

“What a fascinating talk,” said Sharon Bryant. “I honestly have no doubt about the shroud’s authenticity. This just made me want to fly to Italy to be in its presence. The entire presentation opened my eyes more about the Passion of Our Lord.”

Wingard explained the history of the 14-foot-long linen cloth, which has been in Turin, Italy, for more than 400 years and bears the faint front and back image of a 5-foot-10 bearded, crucified man with apparent wounds and bloodstains that match the crucifixion account recorded in the Bible. Millions of people over the centuries have believed it be the actual burial shroud of Jesus.

The historical trail tracked from the Holy Land, to Asia Minor (Turkey), where the shroud was venerated and protected by the Muslims who worshiped there, as Jesus is a much-celebrated prophet in the religion, Wingard said. The shroud was acquired by crusaders and eventually presented to a royal family in France where it was held for several centuries. A fire in the 14th century caused extensive damage, so major repair work was done, and the shroud was transferred to Turin, Italy, where it is placed on display for special occasions.

Wingard then detailed several scientific discoveries about the shroud, including in the late 1800s when a photo image was taken and revealed a face in a form that shocked the world. The negative (how early images were first processed) revealed a positive image (an image in depth), something that is impossible to replicate. Nearly 100 years later, an international team of 24 scientists concluded the shroud was not the work of an artist as they found no visible trace of paint, pigment, dye or other artistic substances on the cloth. The blood is type AB with human DNA as determined in 1995.

Skeptics have mounted numerous attempts to show how a medieval artist could have produced the image, but all have been inadequate to explain how it was formed. If the cloth indeed wrapped a corpse, there are no stains of body decomposition. Carbon dating done in 1988 increased skepticism of the Shroud, which was dated the object to the time of the fire. Wingard explained that the sample was done incorrectly and where an obvious repair had been done. Many scientists now believe the carbon dating result is inconclusive.

Wingard concluded his talk by explaining that the story of the shroud is really about the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. It is a link to the moment that the son of God transformed everyone’s life and has similarly been challenged by science but takes true faith to understand and believe.