Shroud of Turin Facts

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The 2002 Restoration

Textile experts, headed by Mechtild Fleury-Lemberg, undertook a radical "restoration" of the Shroud under the auspices of the Archbishop of Turin. Some scientists think that the restoration, conducted in secret for security reasons following 9/11, was reckless and perhaps dangerous to the long term preservation of the cloth. Thirty patches sewn to the cloth by Poor Clare Nuns in 1534 to repair burn holes from the 1532 fire are removed. The backing cloth, also sewn on in 1534 is also removed and replaced with a new backing cloth. Carbonized material near the burn holes was scraped clean. Weights attached to the edges, along with steam, are used to flatten many creases in the cloth and steam is used where necessary. Scientific experts who understand the nature of the images on the cloth are not consulted. Because the images are formed by microscopically thin coatings of starch fractions and sugars that adhere to some of the Shroud's fibers, there is a real possibility that the stretching and the use of steam could loosen some of the image bearing material. According to Barrie Schwortz, "They set off a firestorm of controversy, criticism, debate and recrimination that ultimately engulfs, polarizes and divides the Shroud research community.

Schwortz also said:

Frankly, I could not find even one sindonologist (outside of the group that organized and performed the tests), who thought this was a good idea or could understand why such a major alteration of the venerated relic would even be permitted. There is no question that carbonized material from the edges of the repaired burn holes was loosened and trapped between the two cloths. This was a simple assumption considering the Shroud had been kept rolled on a dowel in a silver casket for hundreds of years and unrolled and rerolled scores of times over the centuries. (It is only since 1997 that it has been stored flat in a special case). Yet no papers or articles have been published anywhere that imply these loose particles, or the "problematic" creases mentioned in some of the press releases, were observed to cause any particular damage to the cloth. In fact, the creases in the Shroud continue to play an important role in the research done by historians attempting to trace the cloth's history. According to one expert I spoke with, "There is no way you can perform such a dramatic procedure on the Shroud without causing some loss or damaged data."

So where does that leave us? Well first, we have to remember that the work has been completed and is irreversible. And no amount of debate or recrimination can change that. For better or for worse, the deed is done and we will all have to live with the consequences. There are others, more qualified than me who might wish to say more, but I plan to do the only thing I can do and wait patiently, like the rest of the world, to see the results. What else can I say?

See: Comments on the Restoration

  The scientific study of the Turin shroud is like a microcosm of the scientific search for God: it does more to inflame any debate than settle it.”

  And yet, the shroud is a remarkable artefact, one of the few religious relics to have a justifiably mythical status.

  It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made.”

Scientist-Journalist Philip Ball
Nature, January 2005

Nature, that most prestigious of scientific journals, that once had bragging rights to claim that the Shroud was fake, responding to new, peer-reviewed studies that discredit the carbon 14 dating and show that the Shroud could be authentic.


  1. The Shroud of Turin is certainly much older than the now discredited radiocarbon date of 1260-1390. It is at least twice as old and it could be 2000 years old.  FACTS
  2. Though no one knows how it was made, the image is a selective caramel-like darkening of an otherwise clear coating of starch fractions and various saccharides.  FACTS
  3. The blood is real blood.  FACTS
  4. Much of what we think we see in the image is an optical illusion FACTS

Shroud of Turin Facts Check: 2005 Facts