The Shroud of Turin and the Mystery Surrounding Its Authenticity
The Emergence of the Shroud
During the mid 1350s pilgrims by the thousands flocked to
Although Geoffroys shroud was accepted as genuine by most, some were highly skeptical of its origin and validity. One of the earlier and more vocal skeptics of the shrouds authenticity was a man named Pierre dArcis, the Bishop of Troyes. Based on evidence collected during an investigation initially launched by the previous bishop Henri de Portiers and then taken up by his successor dArcis, there was reason for them to believe that the shroud was a fake.
In a letter to the Pope written in 1389, dArcis stated that Geoffroy falsely and deceitfully... procured for his church a certain cloth which had been cunningly painted, and pretended that it was the actual shroud in which our Savior Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb. It was suggested that the shroud was the centerpiece of an elaborate marketing campaign launched by Geoffroy, and intended to drive up the sales of accompanying souvenirs he sold to the masses for a substantial profit. According to dArcis, the shroud was the work of human skill, and the identity of the person who forged the shroud had been established, although his name was never mentioned.
The allegations were the first known mention of fraud concerning the shroud. At the time it was written Geoffroy had already been dead for thirty-three years. The reason dArcis pursued the matter well after the knights death was because by the 1380s the shroud was being exhibited for profit by Geoffroys son, who bore the same name.
According to Joe Nickells book, Inquest on the Shroud of Turin, Geoffroy II went to great lengths to circumvent dArcis in an attempt to get consent to display the shroud. Nickell wrote that Geoffroy II deliberately went over the bishops head by appealing to the cardinal for permission, which was eventually granted. Moreover, he reported that Geoffroy II downplayed his claims made at earlier exhibitions that the shroud was authentic.
Despite dArcis appeals to King Charles VI of France and Pope Clement VII, Geoffroy II was granted permission to exhibit the shroud. However, the pope instituted restrictions that included prohibiting Geoffroy II from displaying the shroud as a holy relic. He decreed that every time it was displayed in public, the exhibitor had to inform onlookers that the shroud was not the actual burial garment of Jesus, and contained only an artistic rendition of his face.
Geoffroy II obeyed the limitations and continued to display the shroud to thousands of pilgrims who congregated to see the mystifying cloth. Following Geoffroy IIs death, it was handed down to his granddaughter, Margaret. She ensured the shrouds place in history by fostering rumors that the shroud was indeed genuine. Most believed that, although the church never recognized the cloth as sacred.