Experts have called the Shroud of Turin “the most analyzed artifact in the world.”
But dozens of devout people who visited SS. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Plymouth last week to see a replica of the famous shroud, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, came not to analyze but to pray and feel inspired.
“It’s the thrill of a lifetime,” Geri Kolotelo of Hanover Township said.
“Just looking at it, just thinking about it, I get choked up,” said Ann Beshada, also of Hanover Township.
The museum-quality replica has been touched to the original Shroud of Turin, which is preserved at St. John the Baptist Church in Turin, Italy, said the Very Rev. Archpriest Daniel Troyan, who gave a talk about the cloth and its mysterious image of a man whose wound marks correspond to the biblical accounts of Jesus’ scourging, crowning with thorns and crucifixion.
When the ancient Romans punished someone, Troyan said, “They wanted it to be gruesome. They wanted it to be memorable. They wanted to show what would happen to you if you broke their laws.”
So scourging was a cruel, bloody whipping. There would be a certain number of lashes, Troyan said, and if a blow didn’t draw blood, it didn’t count.
When officials sentenced a person to scourging, they typically released him to the crowd afterward, as a lesson to everyone. If a person was to be executed, Troyan said, they wouldn’t scourge him first.
However, Gospel accounts describe both scourging and crucifixion for Jesus, and the image on the cloth shows a man whose back and legs are lacerated with scourges and who has nail marks in his hands and feet.
When the replica was on display in Philadelphia, Troyan said, a young man with tattoos and piercings came and cried in front of it. “I asked him why he was crying, and he said ‘I don’t know,’ ” Troyan said. The young man returned, bringing his friends, and was not embarrassed to show them he was moved by the sight.
Area residents who would like to see the replica for themselves may do so from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day through Saturday at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Plymouth. At 6 p.m. Friday, they are invited to the 90-minute, multimedia “Shroud Encounter” presentation by shroud scholar Russ Breault of Atlanta.
Breault has interviewed scientists whom the Vatican allowed to examine the shroud for several days worth of tests in the 1980s.
From March 16 through 29, the Shroud will be displayed at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Edwardsville. Troyan, who is curator for the shroud replica for the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, will talk at 2 p.m. March 16, the opening day for the display at St. Vladimir’s.
Both Troyan and Breault explain the original shroud has undergone many scientific tests, including particle analysis, chemical analysis, photo microscopy, radiography and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry.
The shroud does test positive for components of human blood, Breault said in a phone interview, and it does not test positive for inorganic pigments or paints that would indicate it is the work of an artist.
“If it was the work of some medieval artist, there should be some evidence of paint, ink, dye or pigmentation,” Breault said. “But there’s not. There’s a pattern of blood stains, AB blood with human DNA. What we see appears to be the wounds, or the exudate of wounds. Everything would suggest that this cloth has wrapped a corpse.”
What caused the cloth to retain the image isn’t clear, Breault said.
“Science can tell you what it’s not,” he said. “But we can’t replicate the resurrection in a laboratory.”