Some very interesting news is coming out of the academy regarding the Shroud of Turin. The Catholic News Agency is reporting that new atomic resolution research indicates that the Shroud of Turin does in fact contain the human blood indicative of a torture victim. The study conducted by the Italy’s National Research Council and the University of Padua’s Department of Industrial Engineering, concluded that the man wrapped in the Shroud of Turin suffered a strong polytrauma or multiple traumatic injuries. The research was recently published in a peer-reviewed academic journal and is making quite the stir in the academy and the culture at large.

What’s so interesting here is that the conclusions of this study corroborate earlier ones that did in fact conclude that the remnant stains on the shroud were in fact human blood. I had a student of mine who did her research thesis on the topic of the Shroud of Turin, and she pointed out that previous studies determined that the blood on the Shroud is real, it is human male blood of the type AB. It is a rare blood type, present in only about 3 percent of the world’s population. And these studies also found a high concentration of the pigment bilirubin (yellow to orange bile pigment), which is consistent of someone dying under great stress or trauma.

Well, here, with these latest findings coming out of Italy, we have corroboration for just that; that the blood of the victim exemplifies a high degree not merely of trauma, but of multiple traumatic injuries such as to the head, torso, wrists, and legs and feets. The blood, in this current study, found “nanoparticles” of a very particular structure, size, and distribution, which are not typical for the blood of a healthy person, but rather contain levels of creatinine and ferritin found in patients who endured multiple violent traumas, like torture.

Now of course, these findings contradict the skeptical charge that the shroud was merely painted using ancient dye pigments and through some kind of process that ended up leaving a kind of photo-negative image on the cloth. No, it turns out, this was not paint, it was in fact blood, and the blood of a torture victim.

And indeed this blood matches that of another relic in the Cathedral of Oviaydo in Spain, which is known as the Face Cloth of Christ, or the Sudarium Christi. It’s a linen cloth that does not have an image on it but it does have blood stains that match the blood chemistry found on the Shroud of Turrin; the blood on the Shroud and the blood on the Sudarium or face cloth came from the same victim. Now the Sudarium or face cloth has been historically purported to be the cloth that covered the head of Jesus immediately after the crucifixion as witnessed to in the Gospel of John chapter 20 verse 7. And now it appears that scientific study has in fact corroborated that it came from the same blood as that of the Shroud. It’s really amazing if you think about it.

The Shroud of Turin has also been found to have pollen particles that are specific to the area of Jerusalem, and amazingly, found only at the beginning of spring time, say in late March, which would have been the time of the Passover when Christ was crucified.

Now of course, there was the rather infamous 1988 carbon dating that located the origin of the shroud to the medieval period, and that in many respects has closed the case for many skeptics. But few realize that carbon dating was in many respects disproved by a Russian scientist who subjected a similar Jewish artifact that dates back a couple of thousand years to the same tests. We have to remember that the Shroud has survived a couple of fires, and this scientist theorized that the intense heat caused isotopic discharges from the silver, wood, and other materials in the artifact’s container to affect the molecules of the cloth. And so he ran similar tests with an ancient Jewish artifact and found that the carbon dating test located this artifact to a significantly more recent period than from where we know it originate. So, in other words, it was not the cloth that dated back to the medieval period, but rather the container in which the cloth was stored that dates back to such a period, which of course makes sense.

Dating tests since 1988 have concluded that the shroud originated approximately right around the time of Christ, the first century AD.

With the dating of the cloth to the first century, its proximity to Jerusalem via the pollen particle testing, and the human blood revealing a figure who suffered trauma like that suffered by Jesus of Nazareth in his crucifixion, my student concluded that the image on the Shroud of Turin is in fact the face of Jesus Christ.

So the Shroud of Turin continues to be one of the most mysterious, perplexing, and indeed fascinating enigmas of our time. It appears to be another historical indicator marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and the blossoming of world, wherein all things are made new.


For more on baptism and the Apostle Paul’s vision of a sacramental society, see my book, The Ritualized Revelation of the Messianic Age: Washings and Meals in Galatians and 1 Corinthians, available here.