The Shroud of Turin: 7 Intriguing Facts

The Shroud of Turin is a 14-foot linen cloth with an image of a crucified man who has become a popular Catholic icon. For some, it is the authentic funerary shroud of Jesus Christ. For others, it is a religious icon that reflects the story of Christ, not necessarily the original shroud.

More than 600 years after its first appearance in the historical archives, the Shroud of Turin remains an important religious symbol for Christians around the world.

1. The shroud appeared for the first time in medieval France.

The first historical documents of the Shroud of Turin place it in Lirey, in France, in the 1350s. A French knight named Geoffroi de Charny would have presented it to the dean of the church of Lirey as the authentic burial shroud of Jesus. It is unclear how de Charny got hold of the shroud, or where he was during the 1,300 years after Christ’s burial outside of Jerusalem.

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2. The pope quickly declared that it was not a true historical relic.

After the church in Lirey exposed the shroud, the church began to attract many pilgrims and also a lot of money. However, many prominent members of the church remained skeptical of its authenticity.

Around 1389, Pierre d’Arcis, bishop of Troyes, in France, sent a report to Pope Clement VII claiming that an artist had confessed to having forged the shroud. In addition, d’Arcis said that the dean of the church in Lirey knew that it was a forgery and that he had used it to raise money anyway. In response, the Pope declared that the shroud was not the true funeral fabric of Christ. However, he said that the church in Lirey could continue to display it if it recognized that the fabric was an artificial religious “icon”, not a historic “relic”. Today, Pope Francis still describes her as an “icon”.

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