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New book: riddles of the Shroud, questions science can’t answer

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Capuchin Father Paolo Palombarini, parochial vicar of the Shrine of the Holy Face, explains the compatibility between the Holy Face of Manoppello and the Shroud of Turin as he overlays copies of the images in the museum at the shrine in Manoppello, Italy. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

A mystery that refuses to go away. Evidence for Shroud’s authenticity continues to mount

For 124 years science has been trying to unravel the riddles of the Shroud of Turin. At the same time, evidence for its authenticity has been growing steadily and is now immense.

“The most intriguing fact about the Shroud is that, from what we now know, the only possible explanation for the impossible image on the cloth is that it is a miracle.”

These words are from Australian journalist William West, author of the book, Riddles of the Shroud – Questions Science can’t Answer.

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West said he wrote the book to explain why so many scientists still believe the Shroud is authentic.

“Because of the famous 1988 carbon dating of the Shroud,” he said, “I had assumed, like so many others, that the Shroud was a medieval forgery, but three years of research changed that.

“When you look at the evidence that now exists, the case for authenticity is overwhelming.”
Riddles of the Shroud comes in the wake of a new scientific dating of the linen cloth in April this year that indicated the Shroud was 2000 years old.

The dating, by a member of Italy’s National Research Council, Dr Liberato de Caro, used a new X-ray technique designed specifically for dating linen.

Dr de Caro, a researcher from Italy’s Institute of Crystallography, said the new technique used a method known as wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS), which he said was more reliable than carbon dating.

He said this was because carbon dating can be dramatically wrong due to contamination of the thing being dated. It is well known that the Shroud is highly likely to be contaminated.

The X-ray dating found that the Shroud’s age is similar to another cloth that has been reliably dated to between 55 and 74 AD.

Riddles of the Shroud details these dating tests, along with three others that conclude the Shroud is not from the Middle Ages.

At the time the latest dating results were revealed, British filmmaker David Rolfe bet the British Museum, a million dollars, that it could not replicate the Shroud.

Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, papal custodian of the Shroud of Turin, stands in front of the shroud during a preview for journalists in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, April 18. A public exposition of the shroud, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus, runs from April 19 through June 24, 2015. PHOTO: CNS/Paul Haring

Rolfe, who made the Shroud famous in the 1980s with his award-winning documentary, The Silent Witness, explained that the Museum oversaw the 1988 carbon dating and made the claim that it was a fake from the Middle Ages:

“They said it was knocked up by a medieval conman, and I say: ‘Well, if he could do it, you must be able to do it as well. And if you can, there’s a one-million-dollar donation for your funds.’”

West commented: “When you follow the trail of evidence left by the Shroud, it is easy to see why Rolfe can be so confident that he won’t lose his money.”

Evidence outlined in Riddles of the Shroud includes forensic and other scientific evidence, along with historical evidence indicating the Shroud had a long history in Eastern Europe before it became prominent in the West.

The book points to many questions about the Shroud that no one has been able to answer despite more than a century of scientific research.

“To this day,” said West, “no scientist or artist has ever reproduced the image on the Shroud or even come up with an explanation of how the original was done, even though there has been no shortage of attempts.

The face on the Shroud of Turin is seen in souvenir prints near the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

“Blood chemistry and other forensic details indicate that the man on the cloth is real, that the wounds are real, and the blood is real.

“And then there is the well-known fact that the Shroud image has been shown by modern technology to be a photo-like, high-resolution, three-dimensional, negative image – something that can’t be done today, let alone in the Middle Ages.

“The simple fact is that no medieval forger could have conceived all the impossible features of the Shroud, let alone have created them. The evidence that exists now includes four different scientific dating tests carried out in recent years establishing that the Shroud is from the first century.

“It is a profound puzzle. It cannot be explained without accepting that some kind of miracle was involved. As Shroud researchers like to say: ‘If God made the Shroud, it was a small miracle. If a human being did it, it was an incredible miracle.’”

Riddles of the Shroud is available through as a soft-cover book and as a Kindle e-book and will soon be released as an audiobook on Audible.

It is available in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
William West has worked as a journalist and editor for almost 50 years, including nearly 20 years on The Australian newspaper.

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