The Enigma of the Shroud of Turin

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Welcome to the Shroud mystery

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I first encountered the Shroud of Turin when Ian Wilson sent me its image and some notes about his new historical discoveries in response to my publicised request for film ideas. I was an atheist and not the least bit interested in its religious significance. What interested me was the fact that it appeared to be some form of photographic negative existing hundreds of years before the invention of photography. Research for the film located several scientists and scholars all absorbed with the same mystery and who, in that pre-internet age, were largely unaware of each other. Their combined discoveries, when joined with Wilson’s historical provenance produced a compelling case for the Shroud’s authenticity. The film won a BAFTA and many other international awards and - combined with Wilson’s book - triggered worldwide interest and eventually an undeniable demand for further research. The ultimate goal was a carbon 14 test. The success of the film meant that I was asked by the BBC to film the C14 test when Vatican approval eventually came. I witnessed at close quarters the farce unfold as the world’s top C14 labs fought and schemed to be chosen to do the work. Whoever pronounced on the Shroud of Turin would be guaranteed international and lasting recognition. So bad did the internecine struggle become the Vatican were forced to cede total control relying on the labs themselves to maintain the protocols originally agreed to ensure a reliable result. I was in Turin to sign the contract for the BBC film the day this news was relayed to the Turin professor charged with supervising the test, Luigi Gonella. He was devastated. And so was I. I could no longer offer the necessary assurances to the BBC about the validity of the test or the means by which its results would be released. Effectively, the Vatican had washed it hands and allowed an effective free-for-all among the labs. It was a scandal now meticulously recounted in a book by New York lawyer, John Klotz.