For those of you not in the know, there is a view put forward in a book called ‘The Second Messiah: Templars, the Turin Shroud and the Great Secret of Freemasonry‘ that the mysterious shroud held in Turin cathedral and claimed to be imprinted with an image of Jesus is in fact the burial shroud of Jacques de Molay, the last Templar Grand Master.
Only this year, Pope Benedict went to Turin to pray before the shroud presumably waving aside all that nonsense about carbon dating that has placed its creation around 1260 to 1380 AD. Faith after all, can move mountains – even carbon dated ones it seems.
But that dating also blew apart a theory that the shroud had been taken by the Templars during the siege of Constantinople – when the greatest city in the world was sacked by crusaders in the year 1204 – and brought back to Europe. 1204 is a few decades before 1260 and so that theory has largely died.
So along comes the next hypothesis stating that the body of De Molay was wrapped in this and you can see the marks of his torture.
I just want to raise one obvious and possibly naive objection to this ‘theory’ from the outset – if Molay was burnt to death, how on earth can you wrap his body in a shroud? I mean, you’d just be wrapping up some scraps of bone and cinders. Am I being flippant?
I’m sure I’ve also read that after his burning, every scrap of what was left was swept up and dumped (in the Seine?) to avoid any worship of his remains. He had after all died a heretic to the church and effectively a rebel/outlaw in the eyes of the French king. They were hardly likely to let anybody politely remove what was left of him.
The shroud connection to the Templars is almost supported by one fact and that is the first owner of what we now call the ‘Turin Shroud’ was the widow of a French knight Geoffroi de Charney who was, according to some sources, the nephew of a Templar who had exactly the same name. He was head of the preceptory in Normandy and burnt with de Molay.