Shroud, the image was not produced by artificial means

Professor Emanuela Marinelli and the studies on the sheet that according to tradition wrapped Jesus


In Turin, Italy, a sheet is preserved that tradition attributes to the burial of Jesus: the Holy Shroud. In recent years, this cloth has been subjected to numerous scientific investigations. We talked about it with Prof. Emanuela Marinelli, author of numerous books on the subject; Via Sindonis (Edizioni Ares) was recently published, written by the theologian Don Domenico Repice.

Professor, can you explain the title of your book, Via Sindonis?

On the Shroud, in addition to the conspicuous traces of burns due to a fire in 1532, the negative imprint of the body that was wrapped in it and the stains of his blood are visible, which on analysis turned out to be real human blood, transferred from the wounds of the corpse in a time estimated at around 36–40 hours. He is a man who has received around 120 lashes, his head has been covered by a helmet of thorns, his face has swelled due to beatings and falls, his shoulders have carried a rough beam which was the crossbar of the cross, his wrists, and feet they were pierced by the nails of the crucifixion, his right side was wounded with abundant blood and serum leakage.

Through the medico-legal analysis of the image present on the Shroud we can reconstruct the last hours of the life of the man who was wrapped in the sheet and everything coincides with what is described in the Gospels, like a real Shroud Via Crucis. This is why the title Via Sindonis was born.

Do the Gospels talk about the Shroud?

Certainly. The three Synoptic Gospels speak of the purchase of a sheet (in Greek sindon) by Joseph of Arimathea, an authoritative member of the Sanhedrin, who had the courage to ask Pontius Pilate for the body of Jesus to give him a worthy burial. John writes that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin, wrapped Jesus’ body in cloths, along with spices. Nicodemus had brought thirty kilos of it. It is a high-level honorific burial that the Shroud fully confirms. On the relic, there are traces of aloe and myrrh; furthermore, there are numerous pollens of Middle Eastern origin. The palynologist Marzia Boi has identified some pollen that come from the plants most used to make expensive balms, which were used in the ancient funerary rites of the Middle East. For this reason, Boi states that the body wrapped in the Shroud was treated with the honor of a king.

Was the Shroud the ordinary funeral sheet that was used for all the deceased?

For those condemned to death on the cross there was no burial in a sheet. Usually no one had the courage to ask the Roman authorities for the body, exposing themselves as a friend or relative of a criminal. This crucifix, on the contrary, was not only buried with a sheet, but with a very valuable sheet, in a herringbone pattern. Only a wealthy person like Joseph of Arimathea could afford a purchase of this level.

And where could he have bought it?

Very fine linen fabrics, called byssus, were available in the Temple in Jerusalem for the robes of the priests. These precious fabrics also came from India. In the Mishnah, the traditional post-biblical Jewish doctrine, we read that on the afternoon of Yom Kippur the High Priest dressed in fine Indian linen. One of these precious linens available in the Temple of Jerusalem may have been used for Jesus’ burial. A geneticist from the University of Padua, Gianni Barcaccia, has identified notable traces of DNA typical of Indian populations (38.7%) on Shroud samples. The DNA of Europe is only 5.7%. Conspicuous traces of Middle Eastern DNA were also found (55.6%).

How did the Shroud come to us?

According to some sources, in Edessa, in the south-east of present-day Turkey, a Face of Christ was preserved, miraculously printed by himself on a cloth. Subsequently, it will be discovered that the cloth was a long-folded cloth: at this point, it is reasonable to think that it was indeed the Shroud. The sacred image was transferred to Constantinople in 944; here in 1204 a crusader, Robert de Clari, saw the Shroud displayed in the church of  It was probably taken away and transferred to France by Othon de la Roche. A great-granddaughter of this crusader marries another crusader, Geoffroy de Charny, who owns the Shroud in Lirey, France in the mid-1300s. A hundred years later, one of her descendants would give it to the Savoys, who kept it in Chambéry until 1578, when they transferred it to Turin.

Everything seems to converge towards the authenticity of the Shroud, however the analysis with the Carbon 14 method of 1988 places the origin of the Shroud between 1260 and 1390 AD. C.

The corner from which the fragment of fabric to be dated was taken was found to be contaminated and mended. It was one of the two corners that were touched to expose the Shroud by hand. In 2019, the statistical analysis of the raw data of the radiocarbon test, carried out by the French researcher Tristan Casabianca, together with me and two statisticians from the University of Catania, Benedetto Torrisi and Giuseppe Pernagallo, definitively disproved the validity of that result, as the samples used were non-homogeneous and not representative of the entire sheet. It is significant that the publication of this new research took place precisely in Archaeometry, a journal of the same Oxford University which also hosts one of the three laboratories that dated the Shroud in 1988.

An enigma remains: how could the body wrapped in the sheet leave its mark?

The image of the body is a yellowing of the fabric due to a degradation of the linen, which is oxidized and dehydrated. It was not produced by artificial means. The most interesting experiments were conducted at ENEA (National Agency for new technologies, energy and sustainable economic development) in Frascati (Rome), where some linen fabrics were irradiated with an excimer laser, a device which emits high intensity ultraviolet radiation. The results, compared with the Shroud image, show interesting similarities and confirm the possibility that the image was caused by directional ultraviolet radiation. The image present on the Shroud may have been caused by a light released from the body of Christ at the moment of the Resurrection.

One last question: for those who want to deepen their knowledge of the Shroud, are there study courses?

The Institute of Science and Faith of the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University organizes every year a course to obtain a specialization diploma in Shroud Studies which can be followed remotely, optionally in one of these three languages: Italian, English, Spanish. Coordinator of the Diploma is Father Rafael Pascual LC. The program can be found at this link:

The interview in Polish was published in the weekly “Niedziela”