London - The image on the Turin Shroud could not be the work of medieval forgers but was instead caused by a supernatural “flash of light”, according to scientists.
Italian scientists have found evidence that casts doubt on claims that the relic - said to be the burial cloth of Jesus - is a fake and they suggest that it could, after all, be authentic.
Sceptics have long argued that the shroud, a rectangular sheet measuring about 14ft by 3ft, is a forgery dating to medieval times.
Researchers from Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development spent years trying to replicate the shroud’s markings.
They have concluded only something akin to ultraviolet lasers - far beyond the capability of medieval forgers - could have created them.
This has led to fresh suggestions that the imprint was indeed created by a huge burst of energy accompanying the Resurrection of Christ.
“The results show a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” the scientists said.
The image of the bearded man on the shroud must therefore have been created by “some form electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength)”, their report concludes. But it stops short of offering a non-scientific explanation. Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro, who led the study, said: “When one talks about a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things such as miracles.
“But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate.”
For centuries, people have argued about the authenticity of the shroud, which is kept in a climate-controlled case in Turin cathedral. One of the most controversial relics in the Christian world, it bears the faint image of a man whose body appears to have nail wounds to the wrists and feet.
Some believe it to be a physical link to Jesus of Nazareth. For others, however, it is nothing more than an elaborate forgery.
In 1988, radiocarbon tests on samples of the shroud at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology dated the cloth to the Middle Ages, between 1260 and 1390.
Those tests have been disputed on the basis that they were contaminated by fibres from cloth used to repair the shroud when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages.
More recently, further doubt was cast on its authenticity when Israeli archaeologists uncovered the first known burial shroud in Jerusalem from the time of the Crucifixion.
Its weave and design are completely different from the Turin Shroud, they said. The Jerusalem shroud has a simple two-way weave Ð but the twill weave used on the Turin Shroud was introduced more than 1,000 years after Christ lived. - Daily Mail