Researcher makes new claims for Turin Shroud

Imprint of face from Turin Shroud

Imprint of face from Turin Shroud

A researcher in the Vatican archives claims to have discovered an inscription on the Turin Shroud that would date it to the time of the Crucifixion.

Dr Barbara Frale, who is soon to publish her findings in a new book: La Sindone di Gesu Nazareno (The Shroud of Jesus of Nazareth) said she believes she has found the 'burial certificate of Jesus the Nazarene' in fragments of Greek, Hebrew and Latin writing imprinted in reverse, on the cloth.

Dr Frale said many of the letters are missing, but according to her reconstruction, the inscription reads: 'In the year 16 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Jesus the Nazarene, taken down in the early evening after having been condemned to death by a Roman judge because he was found guilty by a Hebrew authority, is hereby sent for burial with the obligation of being consigned to his family only after one full year'.

Dr Frale told the newspaper La Repubblica that under Jewish burial practices at the time of Christ, a body buried after execution could only be returned to the family after a year in a common grave. An inscription would be glued to the shroud to identify it for later retrieval, and was usually stuck to the cloth around the face.  She believes this is what was done in the case of Jesus,  even though he was not buried in a common grave, but in the tomb given by Joseph of Arimathea. Dr Frale said the use of three languages was common practice at that time in Palestine.

The Catholic Church has never officially endorsed the Turin Shroud,  which is kept out of view in the Royal Chapel of Turin Cathedral. A carbon-dating test conducted in 1988 declared that it came from medieval times,  but more recent testing concluded that it originated in Jerusalem before the eighth century. The cloth, measuring 4.4m by 1.2m (14.5ft by 3.9ft), was last shown in public in 2000.

Pope John Paul II said: "The Shroud is an image of God's love as well as of human sin. The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One, which attests to the tremendous human capacity for causing pain and death to one's fellow man, stands as an icon of the suffering of the innocent in every age."

In June this year,  Pope Benedict XVI announced that the Shroud will go on public display in 2010. 

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