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Templars and the Shroud of Turin

T he Shroud of Turin is one of the most curious of all relics of Christendom. If it is genuine, it is the absolute proof of Jesus' existence that all Christians crave. Should it be a forgery, it is done with such extraordinary skill that it almost becomes genuine in its own right. This fantastic piece of cloth has traditionally been linked with Templars, and therefore we need to examine some of the claims associated with it.

T he first recorded appearance of the Shroud happened in a small French village called Lirey in 1350. The local bishop sent a letter to the Archbishop of Toulouse stating that such an artefact had been found, but he lacked belief in it and consequently presented it as a fraud. The man who brought the cloth into the bishop's attention was a knight called Geoffrey de Charny. It was said that the cloth was capable of performing miraculous cures. (On the other hand, you could build a house from all the wood attributed to the True Cross and also said to perform miracles.)

T he Shroud is a piece of linen, some 4 meters long and 1.5 wide, on which is recorded the image of a man lying down with his arms on his lap. The man has several distinct features that link him with Jesus, such as wounds on wrists and blood seeping onto the forehead from scratch marks of a thorn brace around the head. Usually it was folded four times, so that only the head of the figure remained visible.

T he pros of the Shroud being genuine are mainly these: it cannot be reproduced by painting, because painting always leaves an outline of the brush and no such thing is visible in the Shroud. Its graphical features fit with the descriptions that are available of Jesus' body after the crucifixion, and it fits the burial customs that were in use in Palestine in those days. It also has some pollen residue that is typical of Palestinian plants, along with Western European and Turkish pollen residues. The image on the Shroud can also be seen in Roman coins in circulation in Palestine in the first century, and in a prayer book found in Budapest that dates to the 11th century. Therefore it has had to be in existence before the 13th century.

T he biggest con against the authenticity of the Shroud is that it has been carbon dated to be from the time between 1290 - 1350. The dating was made in 1989, but even that has been contested with reasonable doubt: in another similar dating experiment, eight laboratories produced estimates that varied 800 years. Another con is that there is no record of the Shroud before the 14th century, and it can be reasonably expected that such a powerful relic would have been known to the Christian world.

H ow is the Shroud linked to the Order, then? The biggest link is that between the names of the owner of the Shroud in 1350, Geoffrey de Charny, and the last Visitor of the Order, Geoffrey de Charney. It has been put forward that the Shroud passed to Charny family from the Order in 1307 when the Order was attacked. Another link is a curious face painted in the former Templar church in Templecombe, England. It bears an uncanny resemblance to that of the Shroud. It was also in some testimonies given by Templars that Baphomet was a face with four legs; if you open the Shroud, it has four legs (and two heads, mind you).

A s to the verifiability of any of these links, I would first like to see the Shroud verified one way or another. It is much too often that any kind of semi-mythic event or piece becomes associated with other such stuff even when no actual connection should even be searched for. Should it be proven that the Shroud is genuine, I will have renewed interest in tracing the links between the Order and the Shroud, but as for the moment, I consider the case to be Pub-based material.

Armory Bailey Barracks Chapel Dungeon Library Pub

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