New scientific tests on the Shroud of Turin have dated the material to a period between 300 BC and 400 AD. The new research has caused a stir as it gives weight to the belief that the shroud was used to wrap the body of Jesus after his crucifixion and that the image visible in the shroud is indeed that of Jesus.
Previous tests on the shroud carried out in 1988 dated the material from 1260 to 1390 A.D. which would mean the shroud was someone else at least or at worst, a fake. The new tests used the same scraps of material as used in the 1988 tests but came to a different result.
Also found in the new tests were traces of pollen and dust that could only have come from the middle east.
In a statement to mark the Shroud of Turin going back on public display, Pope Francis called the shroud an ”icon” (as opposed to a relic).
“This image, impressed upon the cloth, speaks to our heart and moves us to climb the hill of Calvary, to look upon the wood of the Cross, and to immerse ourselves in the eloquent silence of love,” he said.
“This disfigured face resembles all those faces of men and women marred by a life which does not respect their dignity, by war and violence which afflict the weakest,” he said. “And yet, at the same time, the face in the Shroud conveys a great peace; this tortured body expresses a sovereign majesty.”
The Vatican has been careful not to call the cloth an authentic image or relic of Christ whilst still maintaining a certain reverence for it. Measuring approximately 14 foot long and 4 foot wide, the cloth holds an imprint of the front and back of a body.
Calls from some researchers for new tests to be carried out on the cloth have so far been denied by the Vatican. The new research is contained in a book by Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua, The Mystery of the Shroud.