The Shroud of Turin - history and hoaxes

Since we are so close to Easter, maybe it's time to discuss something connected to the holiday. So why not the Shroud of Turin? Some claim the cloth carries the image of Jesus Christ, and others have pointed out that making a copy of it is relatively simple. And yes, Ancient Aliens are using the shroud as evidence for their alien hypothesis.

Today, we will deal with the cloth's historical events, from its shrouded origin to initial accusations of being a hoax and its journey to Turin.

In Digging up Ancient Aliens, our host Fredrik uses his background in archaeology to discover what is genuine, fake, and somewhere in between in popular media, such as Ancient Aliens, Ancient Apocalypse, and many other places.

In this episode:

Describing the shroud

The shrouds of Jesus

A medieval forger confess

Letter K(=N)

Letter J(=K)

Out from Lirey into the fire

Sources, resources and further reading suggestions

Oh, hello, I didn't see you there. Welcome to Digging Up Ancient Aliens. This is the podcast where we examine strange claims about alternative history and ancient aliens in popular media. Do their claims hold water to an archeologist, or are there better explanations out there?  

We are now on episode 59, and I'm your host, Fredrik. Since we are so close to Easter, maybe it's time to discuss something connected to the holiday. So why not the Shroud of Turin? Some claim the cloth carries the image of Jesus Christ, and others have pointed out that making a copy of it is relatively simple. And yes, Ancient Aliens are using the shroud as evidence for their alien hypothesis. 

Our exploration of the Turin Shroud will be divided into two parts, trying to make things easier to follow. Today, we will deal with the cloth's historical events, from its shrouded origin to initial accusations of being a hoax and its journey to Turin. Next, we will look more at the studies and tests performed in modern times, such as the famous photos and the C14 testing by S.Tu.R.P. in 1988. 

I've also done something a bit unusual: I translated some documents from Latin to English. While I quote bits, you can find the full version on the website.

On that note, I want to thank all of you who support the show through Patreon or the members portal. Your contributions help to make this show better and provide good information. If you want to help, stay to the end, and I'll tell you how.

Remember that you can find sources, resources, and reading suggestions on our website, There, you also find contact info if you notice any mistakes or have any suggestions. And if you like the podcast, I would appreciate it if you left one of those fancy five-star reviews I've heard so much about.

Now that we have finished our preparations, let's dig into the episode.

Describing the shroud

So, where do we begin a story and examination of something like the Shroud of Turin? An excellent place to start, I guess, is to describe it. As usual, we will begin looking at this through the eyes of the Ancient Alien promoters. I want you to pay close attention to how they discuss and choose to present the Shroud of Turin throughout the episode.

"The Shroud of Turin is a piece of ancient linen cloth, measures about 14 feet long by three and a half feet wide, and what's so important about this cloth is, there's a very faint imprint of a human being on the cloth who appears to have been crucified, which matches the biblical descriptions of Jesus Christ. So, many believe that this shroud, this relic, is the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ, and bears the wounds of crucifixion." – John de Salvo, Ph.D.

So that's the basic information about the Turin Shroud, a piece of linen cloth 4.4 meters long and one meter wide. Upon this cloth, yellow with age and riddled with holes, we can see a weak imprint of the front and back of what appears to be a man. His hand is laid so that it covers his private parts, and the soles of his feet have left an imprint on the cloth. Somehow, the hollow of the knee is still visible. So this is the basics regarding the Turin Shroud and something everyone can agree upon. Most things other than this are not often as clear. How would a believer describe our understanding of the Turin Shroud, then? Luckily, we have Father William Fulco, who can help us with this.

"The Shroud of Turin has such a fascinating history, and the question is: Is it authentic? Those who are against it say, no, this could easily have been a fake, and a body would never have left such an image and so on. The chemicals of an embalmed body would not have done such a thing. But the people who say that are not able to explain how the figure did get there. It's not painted. It doesn't seem to be a pigment that's applied to the cloth." – Fr. William J. Fulco, Ph.D.

Proving the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin has been the goal of Sindonologists for a long time. In the 1950s, investigations of the Turin Shroud were looked at as if they were its own discipline, and the term Sindonology was adopted for this perceived new field. It will become evident that while Sindonology sounds scientific, it's not really. Like the many pseudo-scientific claims we look into, this discipline usually starts at its preferred result and tries to work backward to find evidence that fits. As we look into the allegations and history of the Turin Shroud, we will see a lot of cherry-picking, moving of goalposts, and several other logical fallacies. We will see how evidence is strangely ruled out, and the claim that nobody can explain how the image appeared will be a mantra that is so often repeated. We already have two quotes from the show, yet we don't know anything about the Turin Shroud history or what's going on and what's been examined. So let's change this.

The shrouds of Jesus

Let's shift into the history and the beginning of the Shroud of Turin. You might wonder why I and the literature always use the term Turin Shroud, often shortened to TS, or the Shroud of Turin. If this would be the burial shroud of Jesus, why not call it the shroud or the shroud of Jesus? That's because, as with other relics, there are several shrouds out there that are claimed to be Jesus's shroud. The Turin Shroud is just the most known. As with many relics, the churches are cluttered with these items, like the pile of clothes on a teenager's bed. Theologian John Calvin opined over the amount of True Crosses in existence in 1543. He wrote, "In short, if we were to collect all these pieces of the true cross exhibited in various parts, they would form a whole ship's cargo."

John Calvin was not a fan of those out to deceive with these relics; he portrays them quite harshly like snake oil salesmen. His words were not kinder when he, in "Treatise on Relics," talks about the numerous shrouds in existence: "For whoever admitted the reality of one of these sudaries shown in so many places must have considered the restas wicked impostures set up to deceive the public by the pretense that they were each the real sheet in which Christ's body had been wrapped." So, there seem to be several shrouds in existence in 1543, and Clavin was not buying it continuing. "But it is not only that the exhibitors of this one and the same relic give each other mutually the lie, they are (what is far more important) positively contradicted by the Gospel." So, how many shrouds have there been? It's not an easy question to answer, but in "Relics of the Christ," Joe Nickells cited Thomas Humber as having 42 known shrouds in medieval Europe. We have, for example, the Shroud of Compiègne, which was widely visited and celebrated. It was, however, lost during the French Revolution when a taste of ash, dust, and freedom filled the air.

Another example would be the Holy Shroud of Caduin, brought to France by the Crusaders in 1098. Surviving wars and revolutions, it was worshipped until 1935 when, as Nickells and Humber point out, the ornamental bands on the Holy Shroud consisted of Khufic writings with Muslim blessings. The message mentioned that the textile had been created for the vizier of the Caliph of Cairo, who fought during the First Crusade. We also have accounts of a Holy Shroud of Constantinople, supposedly later split into pieces and sent across the continent. Another famous example is the Holy Shroud of Besançon. Unfortunately, it met the same fate as the Shroud of Compiègne and was swallowed by the flames of the revolution. An intriguing thing regarding the Besançon shroud is that while the fabric is no longer, we have depictions of it. A 17th-century engraving shows the shroud, and this depiction does look eerily similar to the Turin Shroud. 

When Sindonologists discuss the Turin Shroud, they rarely mention that there are several competing shrouds. The Turin Shroud seems to have taken the lead due to its great publicity, which you will see later. For now, though, I think we should shift our attention to the shroud's history—a history that, again, is often left out of the narrative by believers. 

The story in front of us doesn't start in the small town of Turin in Italy but in France. To be precise, in a small village named Lirey, a skip and a stone southeast of Paris. While we know where it starts, the when is a bit shrouded in mystery. As Nickell points out, there are accounts mentioning 1353 as the year the Turin Shroud entered the scene. According to this version, Geoffroy de Charny, a knight of honor and chivalry, presented the shroud to the Dean of the Lirey Abbey. De Charny then built the Church of Our Lady of Lirey to store this relic. The issue regarding this claim is that, while the church was built, an inventory taken during 1357 doesn't mention the shroud. To be fair, de Charny could have kept the fabric at home for some reason. What we know for sure is that the Shroud of Turin went up on display in 1357 and was advertised as the "real burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

The advertising worked, and soon, pilgrims started to flock to Lirey. Pilgrims that brought money with them. Humans have not changed much, and our love for knicknacks and souvenirs seems to have not changed. Of course, the little wooden Church of Our Lady was prepared for this and had little medallions struck. A small, and most likely rather expensive, token to remember the visit by. Two known Lirey Pilgrim's badges are still in existence; one was found in the Seine River in 1855 by a man named Forgeais. The actual mold was found in 2009. Unfortunately, it was uncovered by a group of hobby metal detectorists operating against French law. Something Ian Wilson discovered when researching the mold. This object is still in private possession. Looking at the badge, however, we see that the print seems more visible. It's not the faint picture we see today. Again, it resembles the Besançon shroud in how it is depicted. 

A medieval forger confess

The money and claims about the relic would gain the church's attention. 1389, Bishop Pierre d'Arcis launched the first investigation into the Turin Shroud. In a letter to the first anti-pope of Avignon, Clement VII, d'Arcis wrote about his suspicions and the evidence he had accumulated.

"The case, Holy Father, stands thus. Some time since in this diocese of Troyes the Dean of a certain collegiate church, to wit, that of Lirey, falsely and deceitfully, being consumed with the passion of avarice, and not from any motive of devotion but only of gain, procured for his church a certain cloth cunningly painted, upon which by a clever sleight of hand was depicted the twofold image of one man, that is to say, the back and front, he falsely declaring and pretending that this was the actual shroud in which our Savior Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb. This story was put about not only in the kingdom of France, but, so to speak, throughout the world, so that from all parts people came together to view it. And further to attract the multitude so that money might cunningly be wrung from them, pretended miracles were worked, certain men being hired to represent themselves as healed at the moment of the exhibition of the shroud, which all believed to be the shroud of our Lord."

Pierre d'Arcis is quite straightforward and doesn't spare words. The shroud was a forgery. In this memorandum preserved for us, d'Arcis continues to state what his investigation had revealed: that the burial cloth was made by human hands.

"Eventually, after diligent inquiry and examination, he discovered the fraud and how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, that it was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought or bestowed."

Pretty daming accusations. The bishop confidently asserts that de Charny lied about and forged the burial cloth from the beginning. So what did come out of all of this? Nothing. This does not mean he did not try; d'Arcis certainly tried, as we will see. But he was a little bit unlucky, to say the least. In late July 1389, the bishop contacted Pope Clement VII. From what we can tell, he quickly felt side-lined and tried to bypass the ecclesiastic route by going straight to King Charles VI. The King took the Bishop's suspicions seriously. He sent out his bailiffs to siege the cloth presented as the burial vestments for Jesus. The knights did an honest try but were not allowed into the treasury by the Dean of the church. They put a seal on the door and went to dinner; the next day, Dean Nicole Martin filed official appeals, and the knights let the whole thing go. It is worth mentioning that around this time, Geoffrey II de Charney was part of the King's entourage for the coronation of Queen Isabel of Batavia. Having direct access to the King's ear might explain why the bailiffs quickly gave up recovering the shroud.

In 1389, the head of the de Charny household was Geoffrey II, the son of the original alleged custodian of the Turin Shroud. Unknown to the Bishop, Pope Clement VII, and Geoffrey had close family ties. As Shorud proponent Ian Wilson put it. 

"Before Clement became Pope he had been known as Robert of Geneva. His father was the cousin of Aimon of Geneva, Geoffrey II de Charny's stepfather, who had died the year before. Geoffrey II de Charny was thereby 'family' for Clement. And although we cannot be certain that he and Geoffrey were actually together at the time Bishop d'Arcis's letter arrived in Avignon, the family tie certainly goes some way to explaining what happened next." - The Shroud p 234.

On January 5, 1390, Clement VII sent a letter and a Papal bull. Instead of being approved to investigate the matter further, the bishop d'Arcis was ordered to leave the matter and remain silent under the threat of excommunication. These letters have been preserved in a few copies; one is stored in the National Library in Paris and one in the Vatican Archives. While the bishop is ordered to let this go, the Pope seems to somewhat believe d'Arcis. In the letter, we can read that the church:

"/.../shall not perform any solemnities that are accustomed to be performed in showing relics, and that therefore no torches, lights, or candles should be lit for any solemnity, nor any lights whatsoever be used there for that purpose, and that the one showing the said figure, when a larger crowd of people has gathered there, should at least sometimes, while a sermon is being given there, publicly proclaim to the people in a loud and intelligible voice, with all deceit ceasing, that they do not show the said figure or representation as the true Shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but as a figure or representation of the said Shroud, which is said to be of the same Our Lord Jesus Christ." Chevalier p. 36-37, own translation (F. Trusohamn).

Letter K(=  N)

Clement, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his beloved sons Lingonen. and Eduen. and Cathalaunen. officials, greetings and apostolic blessing. — Some time ago, on behalf of our beloved son, the nobleman Gaufridi, lord of the place of Lireyo, of the diocese of Troyes, it was explained to us that recently, on behalf of our beloved son Peter, cardinal priest of the title of Saint Susanna, on behalf of the same Gaufridi, it was explained that formerly out of zeal for devotion of his father etc., as is more fully contained in our letters made on this subject up to the previous point. We, seeking to provide for the manner of such display, to remove all matter of error and idolatry, by apostolic authority, have decreed and also ordained that whenever the said figure or representation happened to be shown to the people, the dean and chapter of the aforementioned and other ecclesiastical persons showing such figure or representation, and being present at such display, should perform no solemnities which are accustomed to be done in displaying relics, and that for this reason neither twisted candles, torches, nor candles should be lit for any solemnity, nor should any lights whatsoever be used there, and that the one showing the said figure, whenever a large multitude of people gathered there, at least whenever a sermon happened to be given there, should publicly address and say to the people in a clear and intelligible voice, with all deceit ceasing, that the aforementioned figure or representation was not being shown as the true shroud of our Lord Jesus Christ, but as a figure or representation of the said shroud, which is said to be of the same Lord Jesus Christ of ours. We decree that if they did not observe our said will, decree, and ordinance, and its effect, they would be rendered void, as is more fully contained in our other letters. Therefore, desiring that our will, decree, and aforementioned ordinance be inviolably observed, we command your discretion through apostolic writings, that you, either both of you, or one of you by yourselves or by another or others, wherever and whenever you see fit, solemnly publish the aforementioned will, decree, and ordinance by our authority, making it to be observed firmly by ecclesiastical censure, and by restraining the contradictors with a similar censure, setting aside any appeal. Notwithstanding if it has been granted to the same dean and chapter and persons, collectively or individually, by the apostolic See, that they cannot be interdicted, suspended, or excommunicated by apostolic letters not making full and express mention, word for word, of such grant. — Given at Avignon, on the eighth day before the Ides of January, in the twelfth year.

Vatican Archives,

Reg. Avign. 261,

f 259 v.

At the top, on the right: namely 32 Sous Tournois of tax:

in the margin:

"Corrected by order of Jo. de Neapoli.

The same corrections in the text of the first draft as in the previous document.

Paris, National Library, Latin collection, ms. 10410, f" ii3 v.

(B). — Cf. Piano, op. cit., vol. II, p. 286-7.

Letter J(=K)

Clement, etc., for future memory of the matter. — The providence of the Apostolic See, attentive to circumstances, sometimes modifies and regulates them as the quality of affairs and times requires, and it discerns expediently in the Lord. Some time ago, it was explained to us on behalf of our beloved son, the nobleman Gaufridi, lord of the place of Lireyo, in the diocese of Troyes, that recently, on behalf of our beloved son Peter, cardinal priest of the title of Saint Susanna, it was explained on behalf of the same Gaufridi, that moved by zeal for devotion of his father, a certain figure or representation of the Shroud of our Lord Jesus Christ had been liberally offered, and had been placed with reverence in the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lireyo, of the said diocese, of which he himself was the founder. And finally, by God's permission, those regions had been severely afflicted by wars and pestilences, and the said figure or representation, even by the order of the local ordinary and for other certain causes, had been transferred from the said church of the Blessed Virgin Mary to another more secure place and had been hidden there until then, and had been reverently kept; and that the same Gaufridus desired for the decoration of the aforementioned church, the devotion of the people, and the increase of divine worship, that the aforementioned figure or representation be restored in the said church, the same cardinal, whom we had then appointed for certain of our and the affairs of the said Roman church, to our beloved son in Christ, Charles, the illustrious king of the Franks, and who during the prosecution of such affairs, was empowered to do, manage, and exercise within the cities, dioceses, and provinces through which he traveled to and fro and resided, whatever might be done, managed, and exercised by the office of the legation of the Roman church cardinal within the limits of his legation, and who had passed through the province of Sens, from which the said diocese of Troyes exists, had granted to the same Gaufridus, during the prosecution of such affairs, the power to place and cause the said figure or representation to be placed in a fitting, honorable, and decent place in the said church of Saint Mary, without seeking or obtaining the permission of the diocesan or any other, through his letters; and that the said figure or representation, by the force of such indulgence, had been decently placed in the said church of the Blessed Mary; and that afterwards, our venerable brother Peter, bishop of Troyes, moved by the aforementioned indulgence, in his latest synod, had prohibited rectors of parish churches and those whom it might concern to make any mention, either in good or in evil, of the Shroud of Jesus Christ, or its figure or representation in their churches or sermons; and finally, our beloved son, the dean of the said church of the Blessed Mary, had been inhibited from showing or exhibiting the said figure or representation to anyone under penalty of excommunication; and that indeed, by virtue of this inhibition, an appeal had been made to the same dean to the apostolic See, and because the said figure or representation, after such appeal, had been exhibited and shown to the public, we confirmed the aforementioned indulgence from certain knowledge by apostolic authority; and nevertheless, we granted to the same dean and our beloved sons of the chapter of the said church of the Blessed Mary, that notwithstanding this inhibition, they could validly show and cause to be shown the same figure or representation to the public, whenever it would be opportune, imposing perpetual silence on the same bishop concerning the aforementioned inhibition, as is more fully contained in our letters made on this subject. Therefore, seeking to provide for the manner of such display, to remove all matter of error and idolatry, we wish and by the tenor of these presents, by apostolic authority, we decree and also ordain that whenever the said figure or representation henceforth happens to be shown to the public, the dean and chapter of the aforementioned, and other ecclesiastical persons showing such figure or representation, and being present at such display, for as long as the display itself lasts, shall by no means wear capes, surplices, albs, copes, or any other ecclesiastical vestments or ornaments for that reason, nor shall they perform any other solemnities which are accustomed to be done in displaying relics, and that therefore neither twisted candles, torches, nor candles shall be lit, nor shall any lights whatsoever be used there, and that the one showing the said figure, whenever a large multitude of people gathered there, shall publicly address and say to the people in a clear and intelligible voice, with all fraud ceasing, that the aforementioned figure or representation is not the true Shroud of our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather a certain painting or picture made in the likeness or representation of the Shroud, which is said to be of the same Lord Jesus Christ of ours. We decree that if they do not observe our said letters and their effect, we judge them to be rendered void. Therefore, let no one, etc., infringe upon this page of our will, statute, ordinance, and constitution, etc. — Given at Avignon, on the eighth day before the Ides of January, in the twelfth year. — Delivered and recorded on the eighth day before the Ides of February, in the twelfth year (H. Monachi).

Vatican Archives,

Reg. Avign. 261,

f° 258 v".

At the top, on the right, there are x marks indicating the tax collected for this.

The same is repeated in a second letter sent that day but with the added phrase: "but rather a certain painting or picture made in the form of or representation of the Shroud, which is said to be of the same Our Lord Jesus Christ." In the Vatican copy, however, the words painting or picture were crossed out on May 30, the same year, by John of Napoli. Most likely to make the copy stored in the archive more like the letter sent out the same day. As labeled in Chevalier, the letter J (K) lacks the reference to this being a painting, while the Letter K (N) has. This change is not reflected in the copy stored in the National Library in Paris. Some Sindonologists claim that this change shows that this shroud must be the natural burial cloth of Jesus. Somehow ignoring that the Pope stated that this is not the Shroud of Jesus, but a representation. Maybe the change was implemented to keep a single narrative, that they accidentally give d'Arcis right in that the shroud was just a painting that could have been used against them. Or they wanted to ensure there was enough ambiguity about the shroud when the church containing the Turin Shroud was given the right to sell indulgences in June. This later part is some speculation on my side; we know that there are some differences in the letters and that, for some reason, they struck three words a few months later.

A reasonably easy question that d'Arcis asks from the start but never answers is how de Charny got the cloth. Looking at the letters and accounts we have, this has never been answered. Something that would be pretty easy to do if Geoffrey de Charny, the elder, got the shroud during the Crusades. One might then ask why the shroud was not used as Peter Bartholomew's Holy Lance in Antioch. Maybe de Charny wanted to keep it to himself for later, but would not this be used to prove the authenticity? Or if it was acquired through trade, where, and when. These are not hard questions to even make up an answer to. But still, it just appeared one day in 1350. 

I do have to give d'Arcis that he was tenacious. He really did his best to prove his case that the Shroud of Turin was fake and a forgery. If it would not have been that the Pope was related to de Charny or that the King had not invited de Charny as part of his entourage. Who knows what the investigation would have turned up. Maybe we would even know the name of the artist who created the shroud. Unfortunately, if history tells us something, you can get away with anything with the right connections.

Out from Lirey into the fire

A burning question that we might not have answered yet is how on earth the Turin Shroud ended up in Italy. This was done with the help of Geoffrey II de Charny's daughter, Margaret de Charny. With her husband, Humbert de Villersexel, they took the shroud from the abbey for "safe keeping," as they put it. Humbert even promised it would be returned to the church when the hostilities from the Hundred Years War, which lasted 116 years, were over. Margeret never gave it back and instead sold it to Louis I of Savoy. While some claim this was a gift, Margeret got the sum of two castles for it, as Nickells points out. 

This stunt did not impress the church where the Turin Shroud was initially housed. Having the relic removed from the church had affected their income from pilgrims and the sale of indulgences. The Canon, a title for one part of the ecclesiastic rule, demanded the Turin Shroud to be returned to them, or Margeret would face excommunication. After several warnings, an official excommunication was issued on May 30, 1457. Margeret answered that a compensation of 800 gold ducats would be issued to the church in Lirey. Trying to convert ducats to modern value is tricky since it's hard to factor in the spending power of the time. I'll put it like this: toward the end of his life, Leonardo Da Vinci was paid 400 ducats a year by the French King. To Leonardo, one ducat would have been pocket money, but it would have been a 10-day pay for one of his apprentices.

The month came and went, but no gold, silver, or even a piece of copper was sent to the church in Lirey. So, on January 19, 1458, Margeret was called in front of the Provost, a rank similar to that of a bishop of Troyes. She did not show up for this hearing but was defended by her half-brother, Charles de Noyers. He promised that the 800 ducats would be paid, with an additional 300 for the church's legal fees. For this, the church pledged to lift the excommunication temporarily, and if the fine was paid by October 1458, it would be suspended. October came and went with no money sent to the church. Margret would die in 1460.

The canons in Lirey had not given up, however, and now went after the house of Savoy. They did not have much luck retrieving the cloth back, but Duke Louise offered a small yearly token amount to be paid to the church. A sum that was paid until Louise's death; his descendants would not continue to pay this token amount. At this point, the clergy went to the King of France. Unfortunately, we don't know the outcome of this complaint. We can tell that the shroud was left in Savoy Chapel and that the wooden church in Lirey had gone into disrepair and would not soon be abandoned. Some who want to give Margeret a good reason for keeping the cloth try to argue that she did not give the cloth back due to the state of the church. However, this argument doesn't really work from a historical perspective since the church did not deteriorate until the money source dried up.

So, the Shroud of Turin was kept in Savoy's possession in the Savoy Chapel. But since it's not known as the shroud of Savoy, there is still a small part left of the story. In 1471, Amadeus IX of Savoy petitioned Pope Sixtus IV to be able to build a sanctuary for the shroud. The wish was granted, and in 1502, it was finished. In 1506, after petitioning Pope Julius II, the church was named the Sainte Chapelle of the Holy Shroud. With this, a special feast was instituted for the shroud. With this new honor, droves of pilgrims started to arrive at the chapel. Everything was well and good until 1532. On December 4th, a fire would spread through the chapel. Two Franciscan monks were able to save the shroud by the skin of their teeth. With a feat like that, one would think someone would have bothered to name these monks, but no. Unfortunately, molted silver had dripped on the edges of the folded shroud, making large holes that you are most likely familiar with. 

In 1535, the shroud would go on a tour and be displayed at a handful of places in Italy and France. Turin would later be the final resting spot due in part to a political act to move the Savoy capital. Except for a brief period during World War II the shroud would not leave Turin again. At this point, it was rumored to have extraordinary powers, and the proclaims of Clement VII were long forgotten. 

That is the known history from the cloth beginning to becoming the shroud of Turin. 

So, to wrap it all up, we've traversed a landscape dotted with twists and turns. From the start, there seem to have been questions regarding the authenticity of the shroud of Turin. It's intriguing to ponder the what-ifs. What if Pope Clement VII had green-lighted an exhaustive investigation? What if the artist, assuming there was one, had been given credit for what could arguably be the greatest art hoax of the millennium?

But from the information we have so far, the evidence leans more toward fabrication. The sudden appearance and the focus on money for most of its history are usually telltale signs that this is a hoax. Not necessarily with intent from de Charny; they could have bought it from someone else and might have been fooled. Yet, if they had purchased it, why not disclose this when those questions were asked? Why was the origin kept secret from the get-go? 

Again, there are many what-ifs, but is there any hard scientific evidence? Some say yes, others say no. So, in the next episode, we will go through the scientific evidence claimed to exist around the shroud of Turin.

Sources, resources, and further reading suggestions

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Bar-Adon, P. (1977). Another Settlement of the Judean Desert Sect at ʿEn el-Ghuweir on the Shores of the Dead Sea. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 227. doi:

Borrini, M. and Garlaschelli, L. (2018). A BPA Approach to the Shroud of Turin. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 64(1), pp.137–143. doi:

Boyle, A. (2011). Was Holy Shroud Created in a flash? Italian Researchers Resurrect Claim. NBC News. [online] 22 Dec. Available here

Casabianca, T. (2013). The Shroud of Turin: A Historiographical Approach. The Heythrop Journal, 54(3), pp.414–423. doi:

Casabianca, T. (2016). Turin Shroud, Resurrection and Science: One View of the Cathedral. New Blackfriars, 98(1078), pp.709–721. doi:

Chevalier, U. (1903). Autour Des Origines Du Suaire De Lirey, Avec Documents Inédits. Bibliothèque Liturgique, [online] 5(4). Available at: Available here

Dunning, B. (2021). What Made the Shroud of Turin Immortal. [online] Skeptoid. Available at:

Fanti, G. (2011). Hypotheses Regarding the Formation of the Body Image on the Turin Shroud. A Critical Compendium. Journal of Imaging Science and Technology, 55(6), pp.1–14. doi:Available here

Fossati, L. (1983). The Lirey Controversy. Shroud Spectrum International, (8), pp.24–34.

Fossati, L. (1993). The Memorandum of Pierre d’Arcis and the Writings of Clement Vll. Shroud Spectrum International, (42), pp.35–39.

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“Folie hatt” by Trallskruv

Lily of the woods by Sandra Marteleur