It’s a four metre long piece of cloth with the imprint of a man from the front and the back. For centuries this ancient fabric has been revered as the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. Kept in Turin cathedral, it has been worshipped by millions of pilgrims.
Modern detractors and sceptics have poured cold water on the notion that it could be the shroud of Jesus. Carbon dating placed the date of the material between 1260 and 1380 CE, a long time after the crucifixion.
Historians like Charles Freeman think the church has backed itself into a corner that it could have avoided. He believes that in the medieval period, when the the shroud originated, people knew what it was – a prop for a play performed at Easter. Originally, it would have been much more brightly coloured with a Christ covered in bloody wounds – a gory depiction of Jesus that became more popular in the 14th century.
The shroud has passed through different hands and the myth of its origin has grown to the point of absurdity in Freeman’s view. This has got the point where scientists at the Politecnico di Torino tried to argue that it truly dated from the death of Jesus and the imprint was caused by a release of neutrons as a result of an earthquake in 33 CE – giving us the exact image of Jesus.
But this leaves us with the conundrum that the material in the shroud dates from the Middle Ages, long after the death of Christ. In a book called ‘The Second Messiah: Templars, the Turin Shroud and the Great Secret of Freemasonry‘, a theory is advanced to explain this.
The shroud is not Jesus. The shroud is in fact the image of the last Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay. The bloody imprints are the marks of the torture he endured at the hands of the King of France and the Pope in 1314. But why the certainty that it’s De Molay and not somebody else tortured and killed in the fourteenth century? The evidence advanced includes links between those families that owned the shroud for centuries and the Templars.