“The Shroud, investigation of a mystery among science, faith and history”: conference in Trabia. Interview with the rapporteur Emanuela Marinelli, scholar of the sacred cloth

(from esperonews.it) – It took place in Trabia, in the Parish of Santa Petronilla, a conference on the theme “the Shroud, investigation of a mystery among science, faith and history ". A scientific presentation of the sacred cloth with the final exposure of a life-size reproduction.
To speak the sindonologist Emanuela Marinelli, among leading experts on the subject. We interviewed her.

How this passion for the Holy Shroud was born in her?
It was pollen research that caught my attention, because I have a degree in Natural and Geological Sciences. In 1977 I learned of the analyzes conducted on material taken from the Shroud by Max Frei Sulzer, a Swiss scientist, internationally renowned criminologist and expert in micro-traces. The pollen species identified on the Shroud by Frei are fifty-eight; of them, only seventeen grow up in France or Italy, while the abundance of those that do not exist in Europe is truly surprising, but they grow in the Middle East. Many are typical and frequent in and around Jerusalem.

From science teacher to apostle of the Shroud: how science and faith come together before the Mystery?
The most interesting researches are scientific ones, who proved how the Shroud really wrapped a corpse. Attempts to prove that it is an artistic work have all failed. The comparison between the tortures suffered by the Man of the Shroud and the story of the Gospels shows that it is Jesus.
A believer finds in the Shroud a confirmation for his faith, but he does not consider the Shroud authentic by faith. This is a point where confusion is often made. It must be made clear that faith has nothing to do with the authenticity of the Shroud, because Jesus Christ existed as a historical figure and the preservation of his funeral sheet is also admitted by non-believing scientists. The authenticity of the Shroud is not a theme of faith, it is a science theme. Once the authenticity of the Shroud has been ascertained for scientific reasons, the believer finds in it reasons for confirmation and meditation for his faith. Looking at the Shroud is like reading the Fifth Gospel.

What does he mean when he says that looking at the Shroud is like reading the Fifth Gospel?
The journalist Orazio Petrosillo said that the Shroud is the "news from Calvary". In fact, on the Sacred Linen you can see the streams of blood of the Man of the Shroud and through their observation you can perform a virtual autopsy of his corpse and see how his wounds tell us what happened to him in his last hours of life. The sequence of tortures endured leads to retrace, as in a Via Crucis, the moments of his suffering and everything coincides with what is described in the Gospels. Here then is that the relic itself becomes like a fifth Gospel that faithfully describes all the moments of the Passion of Christ.

What have been the main representations of the Face of Christ in history?
Up to the fourth century symbolic representations of Christ are imposed (agnello, pane, pesce) together with the use of features derived from other religions: Christ the sun, Shepherd, Orfeo, Ercole, Thaumaturge, Maestro, Philosopher. In many cases the representation of the young and beardless Christ is used in order to emphasize his divine nature.
After the freedom of worship granted by Constantine to Christianity and sanctioned by the so-called Edict of Milan of 313, a different image of the face of Jesus begins to spread, characterized by a not too long beard, from the mustache, with a majestic appearance, with long hair that falls to the shoulders and sometimes shows a central parting that divides them. The close relationship between the Shroud and the depictions of the Face of Christ from the 4th century onwards is evident.
The similarity cannot be attributed to pure chance, but it seems to be the result of a correlation, mediated or immediate, of one image from another and of all from a common source: the Shroud.

Why do you think, there are still many controversial points about the truthfulness of the sacred cloth?
There are those who deny the authenticity of the Shroud out of ignorance, some for prejudice, who for his interests. The scientific research carried out on the Shroud is already more than enough to guarantee its originality, but some don't like that. It is the same situation as the historicity of the Gospels, already amply demonstrated but stubbornly denied by someone: it is clear that Jesus bothers, today as 2000 years ago, to those who do not share his words because to accept them he would have to radically change his life.

Carbon tests 14 made in 1988 they dismissed the Shroud as a medieval cloth, therefore as a sensational fake. It was a deliberate falsification of the original data? If, because?
An important article, which I wrote together with researcher Tristan Casabianca, to Dr.. Giuseppe Pernagallo, data analyst, and to Prof.. Benedetto Torrisi, professor of statistics at the University of Catania, appeared last year in Archaeometry, examines from a statistical point of view the raw data of the radiocabonic analysis of the 1988, that is, the data derived from the individual measurements. The laboratories did not accept, for almost thirty years, to disclose these raw data. Only in 2017 they granted them to Casabianca, who has taken legal action to obtain them.
Statistical analysis shows that the samples were not homogeneous, therefore they could not be considered representative of the entire sheet. The outcome of that test, therefore, it does not allow to retain the medieval Shroud, as was stated in the 1988.
The British Museum statisticians who worked on the data must have realized that something was wrong. They decided to publish the processed data anyway, hoping that no one would ask for the raw data and notice the inconsistencies. But it was naive to think that the truth would never emerge!

What do you think the historical value is, theological, spiritual and scientific of the Holy Shroud?
I would distinguish the historical and scientific value from the theological and spiritual one.
The historical and scientific value concerns everyone, even non-believers. The Shroud is a unique object, there are no other funeral sheets with the image of the deceased imprinted, an image that is still inexplicable. It would have great historical and scientific value even if it were from the Middle Ages, but its value is even greater due to its antiquity. Studying the Shroud we have really interesting news on a cloth from two thousand years ago, on its fine craftsmanship, on the micro-traces it contains, on the Roman crucifixion
The theological and spiritual value, on the other hand, only interests believers, who through the Shroud can meditate on the passion of Christ, retracing all the painful moments of his sufferings. But they can also rejoice in his resurrection, because “our resurrection is closely linked to the resurrection of Jesus; the fact that He is risen is proof that there is a resurrection of the dead. He is risen, and because He is risen we too will rise " (Papa Francesco, general audience, 4 December 2013).

What is the Shroud for you and what it represents for your life?
The Shroud is above all a fascinating mystery from the scientific point of view and for this reason it is worth studying it. The identification of the Man of the Shroud with Jesus, however, makes it much more important, because it is an extraordinary relic, that everyone should know and think about. This is why I thought it right to write books and articles, give lectures and radio and television broadcasts, open a website and a group on facebook… I do everything I can to spread this good news: we still have Christ's funeral sheet today, soaked in his blood and imprinted with his image, which bears witness to his resurrection. One cannot remain indifferent to this gift of the Lord.

During his many conferences, he saw fruits of conversion in those who came into close contact with the Man of Sorrows?
I have witnessed conversions, more than one, and these are truly miracles that God performs in the heart of those who approach the Shroud with the desire to understand its mystery. A mystery of pain and light that fascinates in its eloquent silence.

Card on the Shroud
The Shroud (from the Greek sindon, bed sheet) it is a long linen cloth (442 cm for 113 cm) which certainly enveloped the corpse of a tortured man. An ancient tradition considers it the burial sheet of Jesus Christ. The precious relic has been in the possession of the Savoy since 1453 until the 1983, when Umberto II gave it to the Pope. From 1578 the Shroud is kept in Turin.
The first certain historical records of the existence of this relic date back to the mid-fourteenth century, when Geoffroy de Charny delivered the Shroud to the canons of Lirey, in France. His wife, Jeanne de Vergy, she was a great-granddaughter of Othon de la Roche, a crusader knight who most likely took her away from Constantinople during the sacking of the 4th crusade (1204).
The Shroud may have arrived in Constantinople on 16 August 944 coming from Edessa (today Urfa, in Turkey) with the name of Mandylion, a cloth on which the image of Jesus was thought to be miraculously imprinted. All depictions of Christ, from the 4th century onwards, they are inspired by the Shroud. An ancient tradition attributes to St. Jude Thaddeus the Apostle the transport from Jerusalem to Edessa of the fabric with the imprint of Christ.
In 1988 the Shroud was dated with the Carbon method 14. Based on this analysis, it would go back to a period between 1260 and 1390 d.C. But the methods of the withdrawal operation, the sampling area and the reliability of the method for fabrics that have gone through vicissitudes such as those of the Shroud are considered unsatisfactory by a significant number of scholars.
In 2013 three new analyzes, conducted at the University of Padua, they dated the Shroud to the time of Christ. These are two chemical dating, based on vibrational spectroscopy, and a mechanical dating method.
A recent statistical survey, based on official data and raw data from the dating of 1988, published in Archaeometry in 2019, showed that those results are not reliable due to the inhomogeneity of the samples used.
Many other scientific analyzes confirm the authenticity of the Shroud: the great abundance of pollen of Middle Eastern origin and of aloe and myrrh; the rudimentary manufacture of cloth; the presence of aragonite similar to that found in the caves of Jerusalem; a side seam identical to those existing on first century Jewish fabrics; conspicuous traces of Middle Eastern DNA.
The negative imprint of the body that was wrapped in it is visible on the Shroud, besides the stains of his blood. There is a perfect coincidence between the wounds observed on the Shroud and what is described in the Gospels: scourging, crowning with thorns, carrying the cross, crucifixion with nails, spear blow to the side, short stay in the sheet.
The human footprint, due to dehydration and oxidation of the superficial flax fibrils, it can only be explained by assuming that the body has emitted light radiation. The Shroud therefore takes us to the threshold of the mystery of the Resurrection.

Emanuela Marinelli graduated from the University of Rome La Sapienza in Natural Sciences and Geological Sciences with 110 and lode. He obtained the Diploma of Catechist Specialized in Catechesis of the Passion at the Vicariate of Rome and the Roman Center of Sindonology, where she was a teacher. He has lectured on Iconography, Christian Iconology and Symbology at the LUMSA University and on the Iconography of Christ and the Shroud in the Postgraduate Diploma in Shroud Studies at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University. She was the coordinator of the Organizing Committee of the World Congress of Orvieto Sindone 2000. He has written many articles and twenty books on the Shroud, translated into various languages. She was among the promoters of the Link pro Sindone www.sindone.info Nel 2015 in Bassano del Grappa (WE) she was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit of Catholic Culture. In 2017 she was awarded the Castello di Prata Sannita literary prize and was awarded the honor of Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. Among his works “The Shroud, analysis of a mystery ", Sugarco (Milan) 2009; “The Shroud, witness of a presence ”S. Paolo (Cinisello Balsamo, Milan) 2010. With Maurizio Marinelli "Discovering the Shroud" Edizioni Messaggero Padova (Padova) 2010. With Maurizio Marinelli “The Shroud, a mystery between history, science and faith ”Shalom (Camerata Picena, Ancona) 2010. With Marco Fasol “Light from the Sepulcher” Faith&Culture (Verona) 2015. With Livio Zerbini “The Shroud, history and mysteries ”Odoya (Bologna) 2017. With Marco Fasol “Jesus and the Shroud” Arachne (Rome) 2020. (the care of) “New light on the Shroud” Ares (Milan) 2020.

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