The world-famous Turin Shroud is said to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ bearing an imprint of his face and entire body. But a new theory suggests the face is that of the Fisher King – a legendary figure in the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
British anthropologist David Adkins argues that the cloth wasn’t a funeral shroud for the Messiah two thousand years ago, but a tablecloth used by monks in the Middle Ages. So why does it bear this strange ghostly image that many have believed to be the dead Jesus?
Templar treasure, the Holy Grail, and the Fisher King
It all involves fleeing Templars, English sculptors, and monks keen to promote Burton Abbey – a place of worship in the English Midlands.
Adkins has previously claimed that the Knights Templar brought their treasure – including the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant – to England. The sacred horde, he contends, would have been held for a period in the town of Burton, which had a very wealthy abbey.
You won’t find it now as during the Protestant Reformation under King Henry VIII it was shut down amidst accusations of ‘idolatry’ and corruption. The worship of a statue of Saint Modwen was especially offensive to the new idol-and-relic-hating Protestant faith. The monks were kicked out and much of the monastic complex demolished or stripped for building materials over the years.
But two hundred years before the Reformation – in the 13th and 14th centuries – venerating statues was all well and good. Nobody thought it was a pagan practice. And to celebrate the arrival of the Holy Grail, Adkins thinks local craftsmen carved a life-sized statue of the Fisher King to put in the abbey. A mythical character who was the guardian of the Holy Grail in the Arthurian tales.
The material they used for this statue would have been alabaster sourced locally as there were deposits of alabaster and gypsum in the nearby mines. Traces of both these substances have been found on the Turin Shroud, Adkins notes.
How the Fisher King ended up on the Turin Shroud
Adkins explains how the Fisher King’s face ended up imprinted on the cloth. Up until 1350, the statue of the Fisher King was proudly on display. A reminder to the faithful that the Knights Templar had brought the Holy Grail there. But then the abbey was rebuilt, and its statues and effigies put into storage.
“They would have been wrapped in cloth and linen to protect them and, no doubt, stored in the abbey’s vaults and cellars. “It is highly likely the statue was left slumbering in the vaults of the abbey for over a decade – or at least until the new abbey church had been completed.
“Then it was retrieved and placed back on display. However, when the monks came to unwrap it, they noticed that the alabaster had reacted with chemicals in the mustiness of the cellar and left an image of the Fisher King on the old linen cloth. This is where the story of the Turin Shroud begins.
Confronted with a cloth bearing the likeness of a bearded male figure, the monks decided to concoct a story that this cloth had been part of the Templar treasure brought from Jerusalem. Churches and abbeys were always competing in the Middle Ages for who had the best and most holy relics.
Adkins claims the monks then destroyed the statue of the Fisher King to hide the true origin of the image. To bolster the credibility of the shroud being the burial cloth of the crucified Messiah, the monks added blood. Their own blood. Or that of patients who came to have bloodletting as the monastery acted as a kind of local medical centre.
So, to summarise Adkins’ theory:
- Gypsum on the shroud confirms it was used to wrap up a statue of the Fisher King in a part of England where there’s plenty of gypsum and alabaster
- There’s evidence of organic material on the shroud including the DNA of a marine sea worm. Adkins explains this stating that the shroud was previously used as a tablecloth at the abbey and the organic material is food remnants from the monks’ many meals. They then hastily used this tablecloth to wrap the statue of the Fisher King and then after a few years it became stained with the statue’s haunting image
- Radiocarbon dating places the shroud at somewhere between 1260 and 1390 which allows for the Templars bringing the Grail back to England, the statue of the Fisher King being made and then wrapped in the tablecloth
- The Turin Shroud is first recorded officially between 1353 and 1357 and that ties in with the rebuilding of Burton Abbey around 1350 and the monks selling the now sacred tablecloth to a buyer in Florence, Italy
- The criticism of the Turin Shroud that it is not anatomically correct can be explained by this theory because it was never used to cover a real man but a statue. Even the positioning of the right hand is said to be covering his groin – famously injured in the Arthurian story rendering the Fisher King impotent
Previous Templar related claims by David Adkins
Adkins is well known for his claims regarding the Holy Grail and Ark of the Covenant being brought to England – specifically, Burton-on-Trent. I previously posted about his assertion that these holy objects are buried in a labyrinth of tunnels underneath Sinai Park House – a mansion near Burton.
I’ve also written about other theories such as the bizarre claim from another source that the Turin Shroud bears the face of Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar.