April 2018 - District Superior's Letter

The Holy Shroud

As we have heard earlier this week, on the night of Holy Thursday, Our Lord loved his own “in finem” “until the end” (John 13:1). This expression is interpreted by the Fathers as until the end of His life by His Passion and death, or more intensely, infinitely. We can also understand it, by putting it in parallel with another word, until the "end of the world”.

The Shroud of Turin which wrapped the body of the Saviour when He was put in the sepulchre conveys these two meanings of "in finem": 1) it reminds us of the event of the bloody Passion and death of the Son of God and also of His Resurrection (as we will see below); and 2) it is the visible mark of His infinite love for us. All of this is brought to us in an extraordinary way to modern day, especially since 1898, when the first photos were taken of this unique relic.

These first photos taken by Secondo Pia, the official photographer of the House of Savoy, open the scientific era of the studies on the Holy Shroud, an era which will probably never cease in view of the miraculous aspects of this burial cloth.

Let us not forget, despite hearing the Gospel frequently, Our Lord said He was God, and has proven His Divinity by performing miracles and fulfilling the prophecies. Let us remember the role of miracles in this plan of Redemption. The great sign, or miracle, that the Jews wanted to see that would be the irrefutable proof of his messianity, which Our Lord announced a few times: would be the sign of Jonah: his own death and his resurrection three days later.

This miracle was not only for the Jews at the time, it is valid "until the end of the world". This extraordinary proof, this sign that Our Lord has announced, is given to us with this Holy Shroud. It contains, we could say, the sequence of the Passion, from the scourging, the crowning of thorns, the carrying of the cross, the crucifixion, to the burial and the moment of His glorious resurrection from the dead.

The long list of discoveries exhibited on this first century piece of linen is remarkable. Let us mention just a few discoveries, starting with the most recent one regarding the Carbon 14 tests. To be brief: it is now scientifically proven (in 2004, by Ray Rogers, member of STURP) that the samples examined in 1988 contained fabric threads from the sixteenth century cotton which was used to repair the shroud, and spliced to linen threads of the first century. This is what caused the miscalculation on the date of the fabric studied.

From the 1970s to this day, the specialists who have examined the Shroud with all the most sophisticated scientific devices have yet to find what caused the image, since it is also proven that no pigment of any kind was added to make the image.

In addition, the photos of 1898 showed that the image has all the characteristics of a photographic negative, although at the same time, the blood stains have those of a positive image! This discovery would be inexplicable for a forger of the twelfth or fourteenth century to replicate.

Not only is there evidence that the blood on the shroud is human blood, of the AB group, but also because of the superabundant presence of bilirubin (an element of the blood) which causes the bloodstains to remain reddish. This excess is a scientific proof that it is the blood of someone who has been tortured. In addition, it is also proven that the blood has arrived on the Shroud before the body image, because where there is blood, the fibers of the shroud are not marked by the discoloration of the fibers of the body image areas. In plain language, the blood arrived on Good Friday at the burial, and the image was produced by the "flash" of the Resurrection on Easter morning.

Professor John Jackson, PhD, the leader of the team of 40 American researchers, the STURP, has also discovered that the image has a three-dimensional aspect, that is, the image corresponds mathematically to the distance between the body and the shroud, as if the Shroud was flat over the body while it actually wrapped it. Another mystery for science! To explain scientifically this three-dimensionality, Jackson finds only one explanation: "It's a pretty radical hypothesis," he says, "but the resurrection is still something rather radical!"

"Imagine that the body inside the Shroud becomes a radiation source, it becomes like light--it is the best analogy I can find--and imagine that this cloth falls in this radiating volume as this body becomes mechanically transparent, I think you can explain all the characteristics of the Shroud of Turin with that single radical idea. The 3-D is explained by the cloth intersecting the body at slightly different times, the verticality of the image is explained by the law of gravity: that means that although the cloth is draping the body, the image is perpendicular to the body. Since this is the cloth that would have wrapped the body of Jesus at the time of his passion, death and resurrection, the tantalising question is, did that event of the resurrection have physical consequences that the Shroud saw, in the physical sense? Maybe that body image is that physical consequence!”

Let us add clarity and detail to the words of this scholar of NASA. When Our Lord rose again, he only kept his five wounds. The Shroud shows all the wounds of the Passion. On the one hand, the wounds are present, on the other, there is a radiant body of light. Thus we can conclude that the image on the Holy Shroud contains Our Lord not only resurrected, but resurrecting. That is to say during the precise act of the Resurrection, just before he closed all his wounds, He kept His five glorious wounds to prove that it was the same body that suffered and resurrected.

Let us study the Shroud-- it is a miracle given to us for our time, to a world that no longer believes in the miracles of the Gospel. It is an extraordinary instrument of apologetics, by which Our Lord tells us all: “Put your finger here and see my hands, advance your hand and put it into my side, and do not be incredulous but faithful!” (John 20:27).

Fr. Daniel Couture
District Superior