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The Shroud of Turin is real!
The Shroud of Turin, is it the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth? Is it a fraud? How did the image, the unmistakable image of a man with injuries eerily similar to those said to have been suffered by a crucified Christ, come to be made?
I read this article with great interest. Why you ask? Well, The Shroud of Turin makes an appearance in "The Arimathean", the followup to Slow Boat to Purgatory.
The history of the shroud is full of intrigue, mystery and gaping holes in its chain of possession. The circumstances of its discovery are murky at best. Was it discovered by Templars? Perhaps stolen from the ashes of Constantinople? How old is it really? Irresistible fodder for your's truly.
Below is a snippet from "The Arimathean", an excerpt that just happens to dovetail nicely with this article.
Turin Italy, October, 13 1988
The press conference was held in a bland, anti-septic, room which belayed the history and importance of the subject matter at hand.
Four men sat behind a table with thin stacks of paper arranged in front of them. One of the men was dressed in the robes of a catholic bishop, the other three, all professorial in appearance, were dressed in suits and ties. Microphones and tape recorders had been placed on the table in a haphazard way. Approximately thirty reporters were crammed into the room which further served to impart the impression of a hastily called but somewhat important news conference.
Six hundred miles away, in the Saint Germain district of Paris, in a room three levels below the ground floor of an elegant Mansion, eight men were gathered in much more gentile surroundings. Comfortable leather chairs had been set facing a large television which sat upon an ornate mahogany table. The room was dark except for the light put off by the television and from a fire crackling within a large fireplace behind the assembled group.
The smell of cigars and the sound of clinking ice in fine crystal imparted a wholly different atmosphere from that of the news conference. All eight men sat watching the television in rapt attention.
A continent away, behind non-descript walls of mud and brick in the center of Marrakesh, another television was tuned to the same news conference. The space behind the walls contained one of the city’s oldest dwellings, a place of stunning beauty and architecture.
The television was set on a long, low bench. It sat along one wall of a courtyard set in the middle of the riad. A fountain, protruding from the opposite wall of the courtyard, spilled water into a mosaic-tiled pool. Intricate patterns and phantasmal creatures were depicted by the tiles and shimmered in radiant colors below the surface of the water.
The pool was surrounded by tropical plants and trees in a variety of pots and vases. A large citrus tree, laden with bright orange orbs, dominated one corner of the courtyard and below its spreading branches pillows and cushions were arranged on an exquisite oriental carpet.
Three levels of balconies rose above the courtyard giving way to a square of purple sky tinged with streaks of orange and gold as the sun began it’s ascent from behind the Atlas mountains.
Three men sat on the array of cushions and pillows, laid out in front of the television, sipping hot tea. A fourth man stood on a rooftop terrace above the courtyard his ears tuned to the competing calls of the muezzins, his gaze on the snowcapped mountain peaks that towered in the distance.
At precisely 12:00 p.m. the bishop, seated at the table before the reporters, cleared his throat and shuffled the papers in front of him.
“Good afternoon and thank you for joining us today. My name is Bishop Sergio Orviestre. I am the bishop of Turin. I am joined today by Dr. Marcel Janey, the head of forensic science at the University of Paris. Also with me today is Dr. Phillip Blance, the head of the medieval antiquities department at the London Musuem of Natural history, as well as Dr. Wilhelm Francks who is the world’s foremost authority on the science of Carbon Dating.
“As you know we have collectively been overseeing what has come to be known as “The Shroud Project”. It has been our goal though the use of the most current and advanced technologies, including Carbon 14 dating, to ascertain once and for all the approximate age of what is commonly known as the shroud of Turin.
“I will now defer to Dr. Janey who will give us the results of the testing.”
Dr. Janey paused for a moment to take a sip of water from a glass in front of him.
“This study could not have happened without the generous assistance of the diocese of Turin, the keepers of the shroud, who allowed us to remove a series of small pieces from the shroud with which to conduct our testing and research.
“It has been six long months but we have reached a conclusion that we believe to be definitive and without flaw.
“Dr. Francks will now explain the results.”
“Thank you, Marcel”, Francks said. “As I am sure you all know the shroud of Turin has been surrounded by speculation and religious veneration for centuries, ever since its discovery in 1508. The claim, by some, that it is in fact the burial cloth of the biblical Jesus Christ makes it one of the most controversial artifacts in the world.
“Our goal during this study was, through the use of carbon 14 dating, to ascertain the approximate age of the shroud. We believe we have accomplished that.”
Francks paused briefly and picked up a sheet of paper from the table before him. Silence gripped the room. He began to speak again, this time reading from the paper in his hands, “We have determined that the samples tested, which were collected from the shroud of Turin are from the fourteenth century, specifically within a date range of 1350 to 1390. They are not from the first century.”
Shouted questions and exclamations erupted from the reporters. Bishop Orviestre raised his hands and attempted to quiet the crowd.
In Paris, the men gathered in the subterranean depths of the mansion, likewise began talking among themselves, all except for two. One of the silent men, a stone faced man dressed all in black, with black hair and stormy gray eyes, simply stared at the television. The other man, a diminutive man in a tailored suit, quietly rose from his chair, went to the television, and switched it off, a move that silenced the others.
Turning to face the group he began to speak, “It appears once again that modern science is subject to the failings of men. Our source within the shroud team has confirmed that the sample for the testing was taken from the repaired area, the patches made after the fire. Of course the conclusion that will be reached, that the shroud is and always was some sort of fraud foisted upon gullible believers, is something that all of us know to be in error. As our predecessors always believed, the shroud is what it was reported to be. Our quest is true and what we pursue remains somewhere out there awaiting us.
“Let the rest of the world believe what they will. We know the truth.
“Now, brother Dominicus will give us a report of his latest efforts and discoveries. Dominicus.”
The man dressed in black rose, turned to face the rest of the group, and began to speak.
In the Moroccan riad all four occupants now stood on the roof top terrace. The three who had been sitting in front of the television were standing behind the man still staring off into the distance toward the mountain range. One of the three spoke breaking the silence, “Now that the shroud has been declared a fraud surely those who pursue you will abandon their quest.”
It was a question really and the staring man emitted a barely audible chuckle.
“No, Randolph. While the people, the faithful who believe in the shroud may now abandon it, those who have pursued me and what I protect, will never stop. They believe what they pursue exists and they guess at its power. In the end they cannot give up nor will I.”
Finally turning to face the three men he smiled, “Or should I say, we will never give up.”
Reaching out to the one named Randolph he put his arm around his shoulders and together they headed for the stairway.
“Come, my friend, enough of this talk. It is time for Breakfast. Malamek, time to work your magic.”