Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Shroud of Turin and the Mystery Surrounding Its Authenticity

A Most Cherished Relic

Sainte Chapelle
Sainte Chapelle
 

After being taken on tour and exhibited throughout Europe for more than 150 years, the shroud was given a new and semi-permanent home in 1502. The Savoy family had built the Sainte Chapelle at Chambéry, specially constructed to house the sacred relic. Initially, the cloth was displayed on the high altar within the chapel. It was eventually relocated to an altar at the rear of the chapel and enclosed behind iron bars for security.

Wrapping of Jesus painting
Wrapping of Jesus painting
 

Approximately four years after the shroud was placed in its new home, the chapel was officially renamed the Sainte Chapelle of the Holy Shroud. The renaming was a momentous occasion that attracted royalty and dignitaries of the time. However, the highlight of the event was not just the chapel, which was decorated in an ornate fashion befitting the relic, but the holy shroud itself.

In fact, the shroud was so revered that European kings and queens requested private exhibitions to view what was believed to be one of the most venerated objects in Christendom. Moreover, the shroud was often brought out and displayed during royal weddings and funerals. It was likely used to sanctify the event, which usually lead to increased public approval. 

With the exception of special events and tours, the shroud remained in the chapel for more than three decades, safe from the ravages of war and plundering armies. However, it was not secure from the threat of fire. In 1532 a blaze broke out in the chapel. Members of the church rushed to save it from almost certain destruction, risking their lives in the process.

Relic, Icon or Hoax
Relic, Icon or Hoax
 

The shroud escaped ruin, suffering only a burn stain left by molten silver that dropped onto it from the melted chest in which it lay. According to Harry Goves book, Relic, Icon or Hoax: Carbon Dating the TurinShroud, nuns repaired the damage by sewing 16 patches onto the damaged area to strengthen the cloth.

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