The starting point for this hypothesis is that remarkable artefact known as the Lirey Badge, retrieved from the Seine in the 19th century. (Provisional link, light on detail, and inaccurate too . Why is information on this artefact not easily googleable, with this 12 hour old posting already in the top ranking?)
Those familiar with the Shroud will have no problem in identifying the badge with the Shroud, given the herringbone weave on the fabric, the dorsal and ventral view, the crossed feet on the frontal view (just one of many signs of crucifixion – or so we imagine).
However, there are several curious features about that badge that caught the eye of this old science bod some weeks ago, and all of a sudden things are coming together.
Oddities: firstly, the figure on the badge looks nothing like the usual image of Christ, despite being a pilgrim’s memento that is taken home and proudly shown to friends and neighbours as a memento of a pilgrimage to see the Shroud. Where’s the distinctive long hair or moustache? OK, it’s small, and not of the highest quality, but one would have expected that someone going to the trouble of depicting a herringbone weave would have taken the trouble to get the right “Jesus” look, even if the Shroud model was a negative image.
(Beware the drawing of the Lirey badge by one Arthur Forgeais in 1865, which makes the man look more Christ- like, with definite beard and moustache. And why is this first return when one googles lirey badge?).
Secondly, what on earth are all those puffed-up areas around the shoulder and chest? Even if the crucified Christ was assumed to have been muscular, why make it seem almost as if the figure was wearing armour (hmmm)? Why make Christ look so grotesque?
Thirdly, why is there no attempt to show a single feature (ed. on the figure itself) that signals crucifixion. Again, the scale is small, restricting detail, but surely there could have been something? A halo? A crown of thorns?
Ian Wilson in his History Notes claims that it is the circle on the cross that represents a crown of thorns, but John Beldon Scott in his 1946 book offered a different view – saying it is a “laurel crown of victory”. I must say I tend to the latter view(see close-up view below).
Both are agreed that the cross stands above an empty tomb – which is interpretation if you ask me – not established fact – but if it is indeed a tomb, then whose? More to the point was it one that was vacated, or one that pointedly was never occupied, due to the manner of death? Was it crucifixion – which leaves a recognizable body – or burning at the stake – that leaves ashes, scooped up after the event by bystanders as souvenirs….
Most important of all – for what follows- what on earth is that chain doing around the waist?
Some say that some markings on the Shroud were interpreted as a chain. But a chain has no part in the Gospel account. And why does the chain extend both sides of the person in the dorsal view, even if the anchorage points are not specified.
The clue to all of this lies in looking at the first known owner of the Shroud, at least where its appearance in European history is concerned – one Geoffroi de Charny, 1300?-1356 . He is described a knight returned from the Crusades. It was presumably he who commissioned the Badge for visiting pilgrims, and would have wanted every detail shown (or not shown) on that badge to convey a message to the outside world. But what message, and is the same one we get today from the world of Shroudology that sees the Shroud purely as holy relic of 1st century AD (not medieval) origin?
(Ed: an afterthought: the Man on the TS might conceivable be Jacques de Molay himself – more at a later date)
His not-much earlier ancestor is someone with a confusingly similar name, Geoffroi de Charney aka Charnay (?- 1314) . Some say they were uncle and nephew, indeed Noel Currer-Briggs no less, who is apparently someone big in genealogy.. Let’s call them Geoffroi Senior and Junior. There is a wiki page on G. Snr . Indeed, entire history books have been written on him and the convulsive period he and his powerful Knights occupied in history. Geoffroi de Charney/G. Sr. was one of the last of the Grand Masters of the Knights Templar, described as an order of warrior monks. Having initially been sponsors of the Crusades, representing militant Christianity as its peak, G. Sr. was seen by both Church and monarchy (Philip IV) as a member of a rich, money lending elite, essentially no different from the money-lending Jews of that period. It was Geoffroi Senior’s misfortune to be born at the wrong period of history. He and his fellow Knights Templar were the subject of a vicious pogrom, at the behest of Philip IV of France.. It ended with he and Jacques de Molay being burned at the stake. Where? As indicated earlier, it was on small island on the River Seine in Paris, the so-called Isle des Juifs (Isle of Jews). You won’t find that island now in a map of Paris. Why not? Because it disappeared as a separate island when the Pont Neuf was built in Paris, being joined on to the Isle de la Cite. And guess where that Lirey Badge was found in the Seine? And guess where. At the Pont Neuf (according to the first source I consulted, or the next bridge along, the Pont au Change). Whichever (I shall try to get a definitive answer) either would be a logical place for a Templar Badge to be deposited as a mark of respect to the last of the Order, those who chose the path of martyrdom when ordered to renounce their heretical beliefs and practices and who defiantly refused to do so.
Why would that memento of a pilgrimage have been recovered from the Seine at the precise spot that Geoffroi de Charney Sr. was burned at the stake? Answer: because the figure depicted on the Badge and indeed the Shroud is not really that of Christ – even if most casual observers assume that – but Geoffroi de Charney, being portrayed as a Christ-like figure who shared a similar fate. And it was his nephew (?) who commissioned the Shroud as a memorial to his uncle (?), given he had no body to place in the family tomb. He commissioned an artefact that would combine two powerful ideas – martyrdom for having the wrong ideas, punished by burning at the stake, and Christ’s crucifixion.
That explains of course why the figure looks nothing like Christ – no long hair, beard etc. because it’s a proxy for Christ – a martyred Templar. It explains why he looks as if he were wearing armour around the shoulders and chest. But here’s the clincher – that chain around the waist, and possibly the ankles too (or kindling?) It has nothing to do with crucifixion – obviously, but everything to do with being burned at the stake.
The victim had to be secured with something fire-proof. What more obvious way of doing that than to use a chain? The Man in the Shroud – at least the original Shroud to which pilgrims flocked to Lirey – was not Jesus Christ but the “martyred” Knight Templar Geoffrey de Charney. And guess what? There are paintings of Jacques de Molay, de Charney and other Templars, waiting to be secured to the stake with … yes, a chain.
This hypothesis if true can account for a number of details. I have argued previously that the Shroud image is a superficial thermal scorch. What better way of symbolising the fate of a Knight Templar burned at the stake than to depict him in the form of a HEAT scorch? Look no further if one is wondering why anyone would dispense with painting, and resort to burning on an image with heat. It also explains why expensive linen was used for a “burial shroud” The Knights Templar and the de Charney family were rich. There is one other clincher – what is it?
Answer: the Badge could be used as a bas-relief, given all those knobbly bits. Either do a rubbing, as with brass rubbing, or heat it, press onto linen, as if a rubber stamp, and one gets a negative scorched imprint, hey, just like the one on the Shroud. The ability to use the badge as a printing template may have been pushed as a “selling point”. (OK, that one’s a bit of a long shot, but I have been pondering for weeks why those shoulders etc look so plump and bloated – seeking an alternative to the “armour” hypothesis – it was to ensure a good impression).
So at what stage did the scorch image of a martyred Knight morph into that of the crucified Christ with all the extra details – the blood stains, the spear wound in the side, the nail wound in the wrist? And was it done on the same image, or was it done starting with a clean sheet (of linen) so to speak?
There are as many questions as answers. But irrespective I think the Shroud image is a scorch – and now have a rationale that is not just scientific (accounting for the negative image, 3D-encoding etc) but one that is in keeping with the temper of the times – 14th century France. The Shroud was intended as a memento and memorial to a warrior-sponsoring elite cum secret society, one that ended up being envied, despised, persecuted and burned at the stake – all in the name (supposedly) of religion, while in reality a pretext on the part of Philip IV to settle his war debts and finance further wars. But at the same time it was a holy relic – reminding the pilgrim of the Passion. The Shroud was intended to be deliberately ambiguous… which added to its mystery and pulling power, as indeed it does to this day.
One could describe the Shroud as the visual equivalent of a double entendre (say one thing but mean another). Only those in the know – the few remaining members of a powerful but persecuted fraternity – may have been aware of its true meaning and significance.
Late addition (23 April): as indicated earlier, I am not entirely certain about the exact bridge under which the Lirey badge was found in 1855 (and that date needs independent corroboration too).
The difficulty this non-historian has in devoting a post, and indeed an entire hypothesis for a medieval origin for the Shroud, is the sheer paucity of information that is readily available on the internet. If you google (lirey badge shroud turin) you get a tiny handful of returns, the first of which is an image file from wiki with just a short caption. The main wiki page on Shroud of Turin History has a brief section on the Lirey Badge, but with that highly misleading image, mentioned earlier which is NOT the original badge that is in a Paris museum, but a drawn copy which has been doctored to make the man more Christ-like.
The link I gave on the first mention of the Badge here is provisional. While it provides a little background, some of the other information there is inaccurate, notably the wrong spelling of G.Junior’s surname (confused with G.Sr.), and I seem to recall that the image shown is not that of G.Jr, but of a son(?), which again I need to check. Confirmed – see under Brass Effigy.
Why is there such a dearth of information on the Lirey Badge,given it is supposed to be vital evidence in linking the Shroud to a particular family and a particular period? Is it because of the puzzling features I have listed that seem at odds with the idea of a holy relic, and which come across as much if not more as a knightly keepsake?
Further reading: The Templars and the Shroud of Turin