The Enigma of the Shroud of Turin

A personal view...

The two profiles on the right give you an idea of how long I have been acquainted with the Shroud. The one on the left was taken in 1977 while I was making my first film on the subject – The Silent Witness. The second was taken in 2008 when I was making my next, Shroud - Material Evidence for the BBC. I have since made a third for the Archdiocese of Turin to mark the official exposition of the Shroud held in 2010. Over that period, having started as a skeptic, I now find it very difficult to believe that the Shroud is a mediaeval forgery and that it is very likely that it wrapped the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Since embarking on my own investigation I have become a Christian and there is no doubt that the Shroud played a part in that. I feel most comfortable in the Anglican church because that is my natural home by culture and geography. For most of us these two factors are the most critical considerations which determine our spiritual home. This leads me to what I think is one of the most significant aspects of the Shroud.
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The image is not only naked but also devoid of any marking or symbol that might point in the direction of any one church or denomination. Anyone, from any religious background, can view it without feeling their own particular beliefs and traditions are threatened by it. While the Catholic Church has cared for the Shroud they acknowledge that it does not convey any particular endorsement of its particular form of the faith. It is truly universal.

All that said, the precise nature of the person at the centre of the investigation is arguably the most disputed and controversial in history. For some, the Shroud will be a challenge to approach with an open mind. That is completely understandable. It took me a long time.

The body bears the suffering of a crucifixion yet somehow, the expression on the face, transcends it. Any artist using the complete panoply of the tools of his craft would be confounded to create it. Yet the image is a simple monotone with only the most subtle variations of intensity to convey all that it does. I believe that whatever its origins the Shroud and its image is a sublime work of genius. It is worth, at the very least, a few moments of anyone's time.