Exhaustive Tests Show Sacred
Cloth Much Older Than
By Mary Jo Anderson
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
- OVIEDO, Spain
-- Scientists and forensic specialists gathered in Oviedo, Spain, this
week to examine an obscure relic that many have claimed authenticates the
Shroud of Turin -- believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
- The Sudarium of Oviedo is reportedly the other linen
cloth found in the tomb of Christ, as described in the Gospel of John.
The relic, whose dramatic history is intertwined with the Knights Templar,
Moors, El Cid, saints and bishops, has been in Spain since 631 A.D.
- Meanwhile, in Turin, Italy, the last pilgrims of the
Jubilee Year are winding their way past the Shroud of Turin before the
exhibit closes on October 23.
- Verses 5-8 of the 20th chapter of "The Gospel According
to St. John" records, "... he went into the tomb and saw the
burial cloths there and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the
burial cloths, but rolled up in a separate place." This head cloth,
the sudarium, has become the focus of increasing debates over the validity
of the carbon-14 tests on the Shroud of Turin. The carbon-dating tests
set the age of the shroud in the 13th century, which would make the Shroud
of Turin a pious icon at best, a clever fraud at worst.
- However, the scientific community is divided over the
shroud dates because -- with the exception of the carbon dating tests --
medical, artistic, forensic and botanical evidence favors the authenticity
of the shroud of Turin as the burial cloth of Jesus.
- One example of microscopic testing that supports the
Shroud as authentic is the 1978 sample of dirt taken from the foot region
of the burial linen. The dirt was analyzed at the Hercules Aerospace Laboratory
in Salt Lake, Utah, where experts identified crystals of travertine argonite,
a relatively rare form of calcite found near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.
It is a stretch, say researchers, that a 13th century forger would have
known to take the trouble to impregnate the linen with marble dust found
near Golgotha in order to fool scientists six hundred years later.
- The debate over the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin
is elevated by the new discoveries resulting from the studies on the Sudarium
of Oviedo. Unlike the Shroud, the Sudarium, which covered the face of Christ
for a short time before the body was wrapped in the longer burial cloth,
does not carry an image of a man. Instead, the cloth, held against a face
of a man who had been beaten about the head, shows a distinct facial impression
and pattern of stains. The cloth is impregnated with blood and lymph stains
that match the blood type on the Shroud of Turin. The pattern and measurements
of stains indicate the placement of the cloth over the face.
- These patterns have been extensively mapped to enable
researchers to compare the markings and measurements with those of the
Shroud of Turin. These measurements and calculations, digitized videos
and other forensic evidence indicate that the Sudarium of Oviedo covered
the same head whose image is found on the Shroud of Turin.
- Part of Jewish burial custom was to cover the face of
the dead, sparing the family further distress. The sudarium, from the Latin
for "face cloth," would have been wrapped over the head of the
crucified Christ awaiting permission from Pontius Pilate to remove the
body. Stains made at that time indicate a vertical position with the head
at an angle. There are stains from deep puncture wounds on the portion
of the cloth covering the back of the head, consistent with those puncture
marks found on the Shroud of Turin, theoretically made by the caplet of
- A separate set of stains, superimposed upon the first
set, was made when the crucified man was laid horizontally and lymph flowed
out from the nostrils. The composition of the stains, say the Investigation
Team from the Spanish Centre for Sindology, who began the first sudarium
studies in 1989, is one part blood -- type AB -- and six parts pulmonary
oedema fluid. This fluid is significant, say researchers, because it indicates
that the man died from asphyxiation, the cause of death for victims of
- Recently, Dr. Alan Whanger, professor emeritus of Duke
University, employed his Polarized Image Overlay Technique to study correlations
between the Shroud and the Sudarium. Dr. Whanger found 70 points of correlation
on the front of the sudarium and 50 on the back.
- "The only reasonable conclusion," says Mark
Guscin, author of "The Oviedo Cloth," "is that the Sudarium
of Oviedo covered the same head as that found on the Shroud of Turin."
Guscin, a British scholar whose study is the only English language book
on the Sudarium, told WorldNetDaily, "This can be uncomfortable for
scientists with a predetermined viewpoint; I mean, the evidence grows that
this cloth and the Shroud covered the same tortured man."
- Guscin also points to pollen studies done by Max Frei
of Switzerland. Specific pollens from Palestine are found in both relics,
while the Sudarium has pollen from Egypt and Spain that is not found on
the Shroud. Conversely, pollen grains from plant species indigenous to
Turkey are imbedded in the Shroud, but not the Sudarium, supporting the
theory of their different histories after leaving Jerusalem.
- The significance of the Sudarium to the Shroud, in addition
to the forensic evidence, is that the history of the Sudarium is undisputed.
While the history of the Shroud is veiled in the mists of the Middle Ages,
the Sudarium was a revered relic preserved from the days of the crucifixion.
- A simple cloth of little value, other than that it contained
the Blood of Christ, the Sudarium accompanied a presbyter named Philip
and other Christians fleeing Palestine in 616 A.D. ahead of the Persian
invasion. Passing through Alexandria, Egypt, and into Spain at Cartegena,
the oak chest containing the Sudarium was entrusted to Leandro, bishop
of Seville. In 657 it was moved to Toledo, then in 718 on to northern Spain
to escape the advancing Moors.
- The Sudarium was hidden in the mountains of Asturias
in a cave known as Montesacro until king Alfonso II, having battled back
the Moors, built a chapel in Oviedo to house it in 840 AD. The most riveting
date in the Sudarium's history is March 14, 1075. On this date, King Alfonso
VI, his sister and Rodrigo Diaz Vivar (El Cid) opened the chest after days
of fasting. This official act of the king was recorded and the document
is preserved in the Capitular Archives at the Cathedral of San Salvador
in Oviedo. The King had the oak chest covered in silver and an inscription
added which reads, "The Sacred Sudarium of Our Lord Jesus Christ."
- Juan Ignacio Moreno, a Spanish magistrate based in Burgos,
Spain, asks the critical question. "The scientific and medical studies
on the Sudarium prove that it was the covering for the same man whose image
is [on] the Shroud of Turin. We know that the Sudarium has been in Spain
since the 600s. How, then, can the radio carbon dating claiming the Shroud
is only from the 13th century be accurate?"
- Mary Jo Anderson is a contributing reporter to WorldNetDaily.
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