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Question 4.

Αγαπητέ π. Χριστοφόρε,
Στο Τορίνο της Ιταλίας η Καθολική Εκκλησία φυλλάσει μια σινδόνη η οποία θεωρείται από τους κληρικούς της ως η σινδόνη με την οποία ο Ιωσήφ τύλιξε το αποκαθηλωμένο σώμα του Κυρίου. Ποια η ορθόδοξη άποψη περί της αυθεντικότητάς της;


Translation of Question.

In Turin of Italy, the Roman Catholic Church safeguards a sheet which is considered by her priests as the sheet that Joseph wrapped the Body of our Lord after it was taken down from the Cross. What is the Orthodox view on the authenticity of the Shroud.


Answer to Question 4.

Dear Constantine,
Greetings in Christ.

I read Ian Wilsonís book on the Turin Shroud very many years ago, but I seem to have misplaced my copy. As I cannot refresh myself on a few points, Iíll have to rely on my poor memory. I donít think the Orthodox Church has ever publicly voiced an opinion on the Turin Shroud, but personally I believe it is authentic. Wilsonís research into the origins of the Shroud came to the conclusion that it could only be what the Orthodox Church treasured as the Mandilion.

The Tradition of the Mandilion tells of a certain Prince Abgar, who was riddled with leprosy. He heard of Christ, the Healer of every pain and sickness, and sent a portrait-painter, Ananias, to Palestine with a letter to Christ, in which he begged the Lord to come to Edessa and heal him of his leprosy. In the event of the Lord's not being able to come, the prince commanded Ananias to paint His likeness and bring it, believing that the portrait would heal him. The Lord replied that he could not come, as the time of His Passion was at hand, and He took a napkin and wiped His face, leaving a perfect reproduction of His most pure face on the napkin. The Lord gave this napkin to Ananias, and on receiving the napkin, Abgar kissed it and the leprosy fell from his body. Then the prince smashed the idols that stood at the city's gateway and placed the napkin with the face of Christ above the entrance, stuck onto wood, surrounded with a gold frame and ornamented with pearls. The prince also wrote above the icon on the gateway: 'O Christ our God, no-one who hopes in Thee will be put to shame'. Later, one of Avgar's great-grandsons restored idolatry, and the Bishop of Edessa came by night and walled-in the icon above the gateway. Centuries passed. In the time of the Emperor Justinian, the Persian King, Chozroes, attacked Edessa, and the city was in great affliction. The Bishop of Edessa, Eulabius, had a vision of the most holy Mother of God, who revealed to him the secret of the Icon, walled-in and forgotten. The Icon was found, and by its power the Persian army was defeated.

After many years, the Mandilion was taken to the Church of Blachanae in Constantinople where it remained until the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders [Knights Templar] in 1204. Among the many relics that were sacked by the Crusaders, the Mandilion must also have been among them. Whether the Shroud is the Mandilion is something for the historians to prove. What we do know is that the Shroud was known as the Shroud in Constantinople before 1204. In 1203, a French soldier with the Crusaders camped in Constantinople (who were responsible for the sack of the city the following year) noted that a church there exhibited every Friday the cloth in which Christ was buried, and "his figure could be plainly seen there" (de Clari 1936:112).

There is enough evidence to prove that the Shroud was exhibited full length so there is no way the Byzantines could have mistaken the Shroud as the Mandilion, but knew what they had in their possession was the actual Shroud in which Christ was buried. After the fall of Constantinople in 1204, the Shroud disappeared and there is no record of it until after 150 years when it was found in the possession of Geoffroy de Charny in Lirey about 1355.

I believe the Turin Shroud is the same Shroud of Constantinople STOLEN with so many other relics by the Crusaders in their so-called ĎChristian Warsí. Scientific examination has also proved that there is no possible way known to man to artificially forge the image of the Shroud, even in our day and age, where almost everything is possible, let alone back in 1355. What is obscure is how it got to Constantinople. We had Wilsonís theory of the Shroud being the Mandilion in Edessa [Ulfa], we now have more theories like Jack Markwardtís theory of the Shroud in Antioch. Theories are but speculations to fill in the unknown years of the Shroudís history, which is more important to non-believers than the scientific facts, which prove that it is genuine. In recent years the west have invented many speculations on who Christ was, where he was from his childhood years until he appeared at his Baptism, that he was an alien, that he was married to Mary Magdalene, and countless other speculations. The fact that the Bible doesnít give us all the details of Christís life means that those details are not necessary for our salvation: we either believe that Christ is God or we donít and no amount of historical facts will ever change the minds of non-believers. I think the same applies with the Shroud. For someone who will not accept its authenticity, in spite of all the scientific evidence, he would still have the same view even if all the historical links were proven.