Comparison of Lirey Badge (Cluny medal) depicting the Shroud of Turin in the14th century with the 1865 Forgeais drawing – for open discussion

Lirey Pilgrim's Badge aka Cluny Medal (left),undoubtedly of 14th century provenance, recovered from River Seine in 1855, depicting the Shroud of Turin, as now called, then in possession of Geoffroi de Charny of Lirey, France versus (right) the 1865 drawing by celebrated Parisian merchant/collector/publisher Arthur Forgeais. Note the differences especially re face, chain on waist, feet and tomb(?) to be discussed shortly.
Points for discussion: why is the original shown without a beard or obvious signs of crucifixion? Why the chain (not a recognized feature of the Shroud)? What is at or immediately under the feet? Is that really a tomb as commonly assumed, whether open or closed? Is that a crown of thorns above the "tomb" or something else? And does the badge or drawing really show trickles or pools of blood on the back,feet etc as is often claimed?

1. The crucial difference, apart from the face which I mentioned yesterday (with or without the Jesus-identifying long hair, beard and moustache, is that “chain”  (if indeed that is what it is) that spans the waist region. One the Badge one sees it clearly on the dorsal side only.

Here's that chain in close-up (dorsal view, needless to say). There can be no doubting that the image here denotes a chain, not blood as suggested elsewhere. If it were blood, then it would be a hugely unsubtle depiction that would be out of keeping with the restraint exercised elsewhere.
So the artist commissioned to do the badge saw something that he interpreted as a chain, extending it laterally beyond the torso - and no one in the family took issue with that. Ipso facto, the Shroud from which he was working showed something that was almost certainly and unequivocally a chain - present on the frontal as well as as rear views. Either the present Shroud has been doctored to remove the obvious appearance of a chain (assisted by the damage from the 1532 fire) OR the present Shroud is a later Mk2 version that is different from the one we see here on the Lirey badge. I tend to the latter view - with the 1532 fire - accidental or deliberate- having perhaps presented an opportunity/pretext to make a switch (as I have suggested previously on one of my own comments threads)

It’s not visible on the frontal side – the one that attract most interest – but there are suggestions it was there and has been gouged or filed away. Interestingly, the drawing has a clear chain on the frontal side too. Is that because the chain was there, on the front, in 1865 when the drawing was published in one of Arthur Forgeais’ books, or was it not? Did Forgeais spot the gouge marks and “improve” so to speak, the way he “improved” the face by making it more Christ-like?

It would be entirely understandable for a pilgrim or someone later to have removed the chain from the frontal image if they had no idea why it was there, and could see no connection with the Gospel accounts.

So why was a chain there? I’m assuming now it was a chain. Could it have been intended to represent something else? Blood  flows – hugely exaggerated ones that spurt from both sides of the body?  It is Ian Wilson no less who said he saw pooled blood on the back that corresponded with that on the Shroud image.  But why would the person who commissioned the badge, presumably Geoffroi de Charny (the later one with no “e” in the surname),  the first known owner of the Shroud in Europe, have wanted the badge, his badge with his and his wife’s coat of arms, to carry a detail that was not present on the Shroud?

Maybe the Shroud from which the badge was copied did have real, not imagined chains showing front and back, ones that looked unmistakeably like chain links, extending left and right. Maybe the Shroud at that time did have an image of an un-Christ like figure with no beard etc. Maybe the Shroud had a strange muscular build that made it seem as if he were naked, but bearing medieval armour, especially on the shoulders and chest. (I shall offer an alternative to “armour” later).

Heretical thought: maybe the Shroud from which that Badge was copied was a Mark 1 version which bore the image of a man, a knightly man, who had NOT been crucified (despite the prompts elsewhere) but who had endured a different kind of torture and execution, one that involved being initially chained, rather than nailed. Was there a Mark 1 Shroud with an image of a de Charny family predecessor who had been chained  to a stake for a different kind of execution current at the time – namely “burning at the stake”?  How about someone with a name almost identical to Geoffroi de Charny, said to be his uncle, namely the Preceptor of Normandy, Geoffroi de Charney (note the “e” in the surname)  who was famously dispatched in a hideous manner to meet his maker along with Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar in 1314. And how? By being burned at the stake, quickly or slowly, a method of execution that DID require a chain .  If so was it rapid burning,  perhaps with mercifully quick release by asphyxiation, or was it another altogether nastier variant that involved slow grilling, as I learned yesterday was famously applied to Saint Lawrence, aka St. Laurent?

So let’s now take a look those feet. Are there any clues there that the Man on the Badge had been burned at the stake, and NOT crucified? Why not? Because he was not Jesus Christ but someone else, shown on a deliberately ambiguous Mark 1 Shroud. Was he in fact  Geoffroi de Charny’s alleged uncle, Geoff’ de Charney-with-an -“e”, as I sussed out a couple of days ago, and have since learned  am by no means the first to have arrived at that conclusion. Sceptical minds occasionally – and mercifully – think alike…

2.  Regarding those feet:

There's something somewhat curious here. The Lirey badge shows both feet here (frontal view) far more clearly than one sees on the Shroud. But there is a C-shaped area that extends from the left foot in a semi-circle to end up back below the left foot inside which most of the detail and definition has been lost. One might imagine it to be a defect in the casting, or maybe post-production corrosion and pitting. But when one looks at the drawing, one sees an altogether more complicated and difficult to interpret picture. See text below for a possible interpretation.

Just look at those peculiar knees and legs on the original, and then compare with more idealized ones in the drawing. Are you thinking what I am thinking?  Those knees and legs are severely burned –  right down to the bone, especially noticeable at the knee caps. Now look closely and you will see some detritus-looking material at feet level in both original and drawing. Might that represent twigs and branches – for the burning thereof (seen more clearly in the drawing)?  And what about that cross-hatched area below the feet? I’ve read that’s supposed to be part of an architectural feature if the badge is turned through 90 degrees. But might it not be there for a more sinister and hinted-at  purpose – to represent a grill for the slow roasting of the feet, shins and thighs of a human being? Are we seeing an alternative reason for the entire body looking puffed-up, reminiscent of joints of meat in a butcher’s shop: it cannot be explained away as poor craftsmanship – given the attention to detail elsewhere with heraldry etc. Neither is it due to assorted pieces of armour – breast and shoulder plates etc.  (though the Badge-makers of a knightly family would be relaxed about some arriving at that conclusion). Nope, the bloating is to convey an impression of someone who has not just been burned at the stake, but slow-roasted, as de Molay and de Charney were slow-roasted, and before them Saint Laurent!  Might we at last have a credible  explanation  for those bony elongated fingers on the Shroud. No, nothing to do with miraculous X-rays or gamma rays emanating from inside the body – but another hint of a severely burned victim, with the fingers especially susceptible to being burned down to the bone (the victim’s hands  probably being used initially to shield each new part of the body from ever increasing, ever rising heat)

3. What about that so-called “empty tomb”?

What are the grounds for thinking that the box-like structure with that triangular opening in its side represents an "empty tomb"? Might there be a better alternative explanation?

Yes, Ian Wilson and others have described that box-like structure as an “empty tomb”. But why? It is hardly redolent of the Biblical description of the sepulchre as being hewn out of rock. Since none of the Gospels describe the cave interior, why assume a sarcophagus, if that is the appropriate term? The clearest description of an empty tomb would surely have been a cave entrance with a large stone rolled back, and maybe an angel, or a glimpse of linen?

There is an opening in the side, granted, which the artist has played down, perhaps because he was at a loss to understand its significance (might it not have given the wrong impression, i.e. that one or more disciples had broken into the “tomb” and removed the body, i.e. no Resurrection (heretical stuff indeed – folk were burned at the stake for less!). Or maybe he wondered if the missing triangular portion was simply lead metal that had broken off the badge. Who knows? But there is another detail that needs addressing. It is that criss-cross structure at the top, which looks for all the world like a grid across the top. Again, the artist has de-emphasised something he perhaps does not understand, while making the white border more prominent so as to strengthen the appearance of it being an open sarcophagus.

Might the Badge designer really have wanted to represent a grid, and if so why? Building on what has been said previously here, I suggest that what might indecorously perhaps be described as a large barbecue, the purpose of which should be obvious. The triangular hole in the side? That was  a make-shift access for admitting air and more timber.

Remember, if the aim is roast the victim slowly as a form of extended torture – one that might last hours before death, then one does not construct the conical pyre of popular imagination, with flames licking around the victim. One has something more akin to a horizontal grill with glowing charcoals and muted flame.

Now take a look at a artistic portrayal of the “barbecue” that was used to roast Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney-with-an-e in 1314. Notice any points of similarity with the “empty tomb” above?

Knight Templars, having first confessed to heresy under torture, then renouncing, are immediately sentenced to a special slow burning at the stake on the orders of Philip IV. Note the atypical box-shaped arrangement of the pyre. Ring any bells?
That's Jacques de Molay about to be secured to the stake with a chain (sense of deja vu?). Geoffroi de Charney is one of the other three, perhaps the one already at the stake, side on to the "camera".

Finally, for today at any rate, take a look at this one again – the Man on the Badge. Jesus Christ in death repose, or someone else, still alive,  in excruciating pain, having his feet and legs roasted?

The Man on the Badge

Then compare with this idealized 1865 version, in which our Arthur  Forgeais has “seen what he wants to see”. How many commentators, one wonder, have inadvertently or otherwise been using this drawing, rather the actual non-Christ-like image on the badge  – with no real evidence that the Man on the Shroud (Mark1 version?) was the crucified Jesus?

The drawing - a doctored version of the Badge image. Note too that pear-shaped area that obscures the subject's left forearm. I've been puzzling it for a while, since it does not correspond with anything on the badge (where the forearm and hand appear to have become broken off or prised away). I do believe that it is further evidence of doctoring the image to fit a preconception - that it is intended to represent a puddle of blood from the spear wound in the side.

Addendum (added 29 April): some call it the Cluny medal, for reasons that are not clear. Why name it after the museum in which it is housed, least of all when that same museum makes no effort to promote this item, despite its bearing on the Shroud of Turin?

Here’s a link to the Cluny Museum site.  Go to Collection, then enter Lirey into the search box and you get no returns whatsoever. If in desperation, like me you enter “enseigne de pelerinage” (pilgrim’s badges, roughly translated) then you get an intimidating table, where finally there is a mention of (“amateur”) Arthur Forgeais’ retrieval of 700 pilgrim’s badges dredged up from the Seine, BUT NO MENTION OF THE LIREY BADGE.  The missus thinks this is just inertia on the part of State-employed  fonctionnaires but I do wonder if it’s more than that. Have the Cluny curators also cottoned on to the fact that it is not Christ on the badge, and not someone who is being /has been crucified, but someone completely different – a Templar –  who is not being crucified but slow-grilled? See the next post in this series for more interpretation, laced inevitably with a little speculation (but then one has to speculate to elucidate…)


About Colin Berry

Retired science bod, previous research interests: phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, membrane influences on microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferase, defective bilirubin and xenobiotic conjugation and hepatic excretion, dietary fibre and resistant starch.
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8 Responses to Comparison of Lirey Badge (Cluny medal) depicting the Shroud of Turin in the14th century with the 1865 Forgeais drawing – for open discussion

  1. Pingback: Questions about the Lirey Medal « Shroud of Turin Blog

  2. Hugh Farey says:

    I enjoyed the exploration, but you’re surely clutching at straws here. The single blood-“chain” across the back, the double image, the empty tomb – I fear the alternative explanations seem weaker than the shroudie version. I do notice that you spectacularly omit any mention of the herringbone pattern of the background – present in both medal and drawing,,,

  3. colinsberry says:

    Hello there. Maybe I’m missing something here, Hugh, but why would I need to mention the herringbone pattern? Sure it’s important – because it creates a direct link between the memento and the artefact it represents – but I am not challenging that. Why would I? I’ve acknowledged from the outset that the Badge was made as a pilgrim’s memento of the Shroud, as it existed in 1355 or thereabouts, residing in the Lirey church. My position is not that the Lirey Shroud, at least its body image, is something different from what is presently in Turin (though bloodstains may have come later): it’s to do with what the Shroud represented or was perceived to represent by its first cohort of viewers. Were those first pilgrims paying homage to the alleged burial shroud of Christ, or to an image of a celebrated Templar Grand master, hideously tortured and roasted over hot charcoal? Or was there some confusion in people’s minds, due to attempts by De Charny and his wife to present one or other of the executed Templar leaders, alleged heretics, as a Christ-like figures? Nope, the herringbone pattern makes it near 100% certain that the badge represented the present Shroud – but I thought that would be self-evident, which is why I did not mention it.

    Single “blood-chain” across the back? Well you obviously concur with Ian Wilson that it represents blood, i.e. from the spear wound from the side. But if so, why is it shown in so highly stylised a fashion, i.e. as a near-prefect helix. Nothing else about the man’s image seems to have stylised or even non-stylized representations of crucifixion. Where are the nail wounds, the crown of thorns, scourge marks, the reversed 3 of the present Shroud etc? If the casting technique allows a minuscule herringbone pattern to be reproduced, then why not these tiny details as well? I have to say that I regard the “blood chain” as nothing of the sort – it is simply a chain, i.e. a metal chain, one used to secure the individual to the stake before lighting the fires. Or maybe there was deliberate ambiguity, at least where the Badge was concerned, a preplanned attempt to morph a Templar-related image into a biblical/crucifixion one, which if the case was stunningly successful, fooling both medieval and modern folk.

    Double image? Again, representing what is on the Shroud, which in turn is indicative of an image left by someone enclosed within an up-and-over cloth. If it had not had dorsal and frontal images, would folk have perceived the cloth as a Shroud that had enveloped a dead body? I doubt it.

    The empty tomb? Well, it’s a very medieval-looking tomb, would you not agree, i.e. a sarcophagus, rather than a cave-like cavity in a rock face maybe with a simple shelf? Again, the Badge artist may have been striving for deliberate ambiguity – one can view that feature either as a sarcophagus to represent the biblical sepulchre OR as a kind of barbecue grill on which the condemned was stood above glowing coals.

    What nobody seems to mention is how un-Christ like the figure on the Badge looks. Yet the Shroud is said to have given rise to the classical image of Christ that began to appear in art several centuries before the Badge was made. For all the symbols (ambiguous ones) on the Badge, and the details that confirm it as a keepsake souvenir of the Shroud, there is a fundamental disconnect where it really matters. The Man on the Badge does not obviously resemble the Man on the Shroud. Why? Because the latter was not intended IN THE FIRST INSTANCE to represent Christ, and it was not until strategically-placed bloodstains were added to the Shroud that people then made the connection that they were encouraged/urged to make, abandoning all “erroneous” indeed heretical (?) folk memories to do with Templar martyrs.

    Thanking you for your interest.

  4. Hugh Farey says:

    Ah, my apologies, I did indeed misunderstand you. Moving on, I wonder if you have any ideas about why the shroud is long and thin, with the bodies end on, rather than squarer, with the bodies side by side, as would surely be the case if anyone were wrapped up nowadays. Without having a lot of other shrouds to compare it with, do we know if such a shape was more typical of the 14th than the 1st century, or vice versa?

  5. colinsberry says:

    Think of it from a forger’s point of view. If you imprint side-by-side, then the two images have to be juxtaposed just so – or junior will ruin the outing by asking loudly: “Daddy, why is his head higher on one side than the other?”.

    There is no such problem doing the two end to end – since they are not viewed side-by-side, and who’s to say how much slack linen there would be when doubled back on itself above the head?

    Have a nice day out yourself Sunday week … (leafy Beaconsfield)

  6. Hugh Farey says:

    Well spotted! The trouble with a really well explained hypothesis is that you get drawn into it! So, several squandered (but not necessarily wasted) hours later, have you seen the photos of the Lirey badge at, or, or (sorry), where some details are massively enlarged. I found them by Googling “Lirey Cluny pelerinage” so as to avoid English. Some aspects of your interpretation of your photo will need adjusting, I think, especially the “air-hole in the barbecue” and the “bushes around the feet” ideas, which are, at least to me, quite obvious flaws or damages rather than intentional markings.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is the so-called “instruments of the passion” which supposedly fill in the gaps between the shields below the image itself. On the far left and right we have two clearly mismatched poles of some kind, which even your photo suggests are the spear and the scourging pillar. At least one whip is very evident, and the wreath could at least be as easily of thorns as well as laurels. All that’s missing is the nails, which may have been under the box in the bit of the circle that’s broken off. Would the relic, fake or otherwise, of a man roasted on a griddle, have included these symbols?

    More. Looking at the “chain” I do agree that it looks helical (your word), but still dispute that it looks anything like a chain. More like a thick rope? The stains across the back, and the wriggly bits around the feet (dorsal image) do look a bit like unravelled rope, and suggest to me that whoever made this badge did not make it from direct observation, but from notes, and maybe a sketch, that he took away before making the mould from which the badges were made. As for his figures – well, I don’t know if I could do any better when each is barely an inch long. It’s not clear to me whether these badges were made of liquid tin/lead poured into a mould, or hammered like a coin. One of the websites shows a picture of the back of the medal, which may be indicative, but I don’t know of what! Anyway, it was clearly made in a workshop, and a certain amount of licence (and simple forgetfulness or ignorance) must be allowed for. A less contentious example is the depicted size of the sheet, which is held by two people standing quite close together, an impossibility if it really depicted two life size men.

    Now that I’ve browsed this entire blog (and I do think it’s excellent, even if reciprocal ad hominem insults don’t, to my mind, enhance the respectability of either antagonist) I gather you’re firmly on the side of the scorch-mark hypothesis. For all I know you might be right, but surely to produce the shroud by heating a specially made life-size image to near red heat, transfer it to a sheet, wrap the sheet around it and then unwrap it to reveal the scorch (or any variation of procedure that would produce a similar image) would have been quite unnecessarily complicated, in an age when any old wreath of thorny foliage could be, if properly attested, considered the genuine crown of thorns, and any old tunic the genuine robe of Christ? What made pilgrims flock to look at the genuine this or that wasn’t, I think, so much the object itself as the provenance, which also needed to be prominently displayed, preferably covered in big red seals.

  7. colinsberry says:

    Hello again. Just a quick holding reply before I head off to see my new grandaughter, The question of what to make of the crucifixion hardware is a tricky one I grant you. It’s not made easier if one believes the accounts, set out by Knight and Lomas, that De Molay was not only slow-roasted at the stake – before that he had been hideously tortured during his 7 years of incarceration, and part of that torture featured being crucified to a door. If the latter were true then one has a rationale for lots of things to do with a later fusion (confusion?) of crucifixion and roasting – and the Lirey Badge may have played on that ambiguity and help to explain why the early Shroud was able to get a grip on the medieval imagination, incorporating two distinct but overlapping ideas.

    My ideas are a watered-down version of Knight and Lomas, inasmuch as they have proposed that de Molay was placed in a shroud immediately after crucifixion, long enough for some kind of chemical image to have been formed. I don’t buy into that, preferring to think that a scorch was produced off a hot replica as a kind of grim metaphorical statement – this is what the King and the Pope did to the head of a rich and supposedly powerful order.

  8. Pingback: Today is the day the gloves come off.. | The Turin Shroud: medieval scorch? Separating the science from the pseudo-science…

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