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from issue no. 06/07 - 2008

INTRODUCTION. Awaiting new research

Indications of the triumph of His Passion

After the last display for the Jubilee of 2000 and the restoration done in 2002, a new display of the Holy Shroud of Turin has been announced for Spring 2010

by Lorenzo Bianchi

A detail of the Holy Shroud , in positive, before the restoration of 2002

A detail of the Holy Shroud , in positive, before the restoration of 2002

Last 2 June Pope Benedict XVI announced that there would be a new display of the Holy Shroud of Turin in Spring 2010. He was speaking of the linen cloth that is considered to have wrapped the body of Jesus in the tomb before the Resurrection. The last display was held for the Jubilee of 2000.
The announcement came a few weeks after the debate that seems to have been rekindled in the media following a documentary on the history of the Shroud made by the BBC and broadcast on 24 March 2008 also by Italian television. New developments were announced in an interview in the documentary with Professor Christopher Bronk Ramsey, the new director of the Oxford laboratory, one of the three centers (the others were Tucson and Zurich) which in 1988 carried out the famous carbon dating on the cloth. The result, announced by Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero on 13 October 1988 and published in the scientific journal Nature on 16 February 1989 is well known: the Shroud was dated – according to a test considered definitive – to the Middle Ages, somewhere between 1260 and 1390.
It was leaked that Ramsey, who was at the time one of the twenty-one signatories of the verdict, admitted, in the interview the possibility of an error in the test. In fact, as then emerged, it was not a matter of that but rather of a positive willingness to consider – where reliable – new elements that may in some way have skewed the test result. A sign, however, of constructive openness towards a result that seemed immediately unacceptable to many scholars, especially because it clashed with what, even at the level of dating, numerous researchers in various scientific fields, each with its specific methods, had obtained, or were obtaining, in the wake of the fundamental data gathered in a series of tests carried out on the Shroud in 1978 by the STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project, consisting of about thirty scientists, most of them American). Research that thinned out after the publication of the results of the 1988 C14 dating, that shifted the direction and focused it largely on analysis of that result.
The occasion of the next display may also perhaps be propitious – as we hope – for starting up a new program of multidisciplinary enquiry. The scholars thereby hope to acquire new direct data on the object and see published what emerged from the restoration of the Shroud in 2002. During that restoration the patches attached in 1534 following the fire of Chambery were removed, the scorched areas scraped and the back of the Shroud viewed by a high definition scanner.

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