Michelle Laque Johnson:
‘A presentation by Fr Robert Spitzer at the 2017 NAPA Institute Conference in California will be aired on EWTN in a six part series from, “EWTN On Location”. It begins at 9 a.m. ET, Saturday, Nov. 11 and ends with “A Remarkable Relic of the Resurrection: The Shroud of Turin and New Scientific Evidence,” which airs at 2:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 12 *. In this case, last is certainly not least!’
[* Times may vary for EWTN UK/Ireland and other parts of the world.]
“The Shroud of Turin is a 14 foot linen cloth on [which] is etched the figure of a man,” says Fr. Spitzer. “There are blood stains throughout. No other historical document has been examined by scientists in more ways than the Shroud of Turin. There is no other image like it in the history of images. What’s so special is that you have essentially a perfect three dimensional photographic negative image on a non-photographically sensitive linen cloth. This is a most remarkable thing because it not only gives us a very good sense of Jesus’ crucifixion, and historical validation of it, but a very good sense of His resurrection and even an historical validation of that! There is really a supernatural remnant of that resurrection embedded on this cloth.”
Small wonder that it has been examined so thoroughly. But before Father gets into the meat of his talk, he unravels the shocking story behind what was seen as a valid scientific finding that at one time devastated the Christian world. It was 1988, 10 years after a host of scientists had come to Turin, Italy and examined the shroud for nearly a week. They had performed every test imaginable and they let the world know that were convinced it was authentic from a variety of points of view. However, in 1988, two people came to Turin and took samples from the Shroud and sent them to labs to be carbon dated. Father says the two people who went over there “seemed to be good people.” The samples went to three labs whose reputations were academically unstained. Their findings: The Shroud was determined to be from the 15th Century, which meant it couldn’t be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
“Everyone was devastated,” Father said.
So that was that, right? Well, not quite.
“Starting in 2000, the problem of that 1988 carbon dating began to unravel,” Fr. Spitzer said. The team that validated the Shroud in 1978 had sent out scientific protocols for how carbon testing on the Shroud was to be done. Seven samples were to be taken from the Shroud. Before each sample was taken, it was to be analyzed by a materials analyst and a thermochemical analyst to insure it came from the original linen, and these seven samples were to be sent to seven different labs.
Unfortunately, says Father Spitzer, that’s not what happened.
“What happened is that two people took a single strand from a highly controversial patch in the corner of the Shroud [more on that in a moment], divided it into three [pieces] and sent it to three different labs. Every single protocol was violated. The materials and thermochemical experts were there, but they did not look at the Shroud. So strange things happened.”
Fortunately, in 2000, two people named Sue Binford and Joseph Marino examined some “sticky tapes.” These tapes are used by scientists, who press them (in this case) onto the Shroud in an area that was very close to the patch from which the Shroud sample was removed in 1988. They were shocked to discover that their sticky tapes contained cotton fibers since the Shroud of Turin is made of very fine linen — not to mention the fact that there was no cotton in Israel in the First Century. “They threw doubt on the sample taken from the Shroud,” says Father. Their findings were published on the Shroud website.
However, Dr. Ray Rogers, a prominent thermochemist from the 1978 Shroud research project, asked that the Binford/Marino article be taken down. He said it was “absolutely unthinkable that a sample would have been taken from a bad part of the Shroud.” He was asked to disprove the team’s findings and he agreed. After subjecting the sample to four tests, it became clear that not only was cotton embedded in the sample, but that it also contained dye that was only available in Europe in the 15th Century. “Alarm bells were going off,” Fr. Spitzer said. “Dr. Rogers, with his incredible reputation, discredited the sample. This was validated again and again and again by many different fibers from many different sticky tapes. There is no question about it, this was an invalid sample. Don’t ask me why this was utilized … don’t ask me why the material analysist did not examine it, don’t ask me why only one single fabric was taken from this highly controversial patch, don’t ask me why they selected this to send to the lab, but in my opinion, there is something very, very strange going on here!”
So how did cotton fibers get onto the Shroud in the first place? Father explains that after the Shroud was damaged in the “fire of Chambery,” some sisters in the 1400s sewed together the damaged parts of the Shroud. “You can see those patches on the side of the Shroud,” he says. And yes, unlike the original Shroud which is made of linen, the patches were made of dyed cotton fibers. Therefore, “the fiber from the patch taken for dating purposes was completely invalid.”
Of course, Father goes on to cement the authenticity of the Shroud with even more scientific evidence and then helps us see what the Shroud reveals about Jesus’ death and resurrection! You won’t want to miss this!