SUMMARY: Hypothesis: the scorch-like image on the Shroud of Turin, at least the initial Mark 1 version, was not of the crucified Jesus Christ, nor 1st century AD. It was of much later medieval origin, in agreement with the carbon-14 dating of the linen, and was that of a Knight Templar, probably Geoffroi de Charney, reputed to be the uncle of the similarly named Geoffroi de Charny, first known owner of the Shroud, which he displayed in the small village of Lirey.
De Charney-with-the – “e”was hideously and slowly tortured and executed by slow roasting in 1314 on the orders of King Philip IV of France, along with other Knights Templar, notably Jacques de Molay. The evidence is to be found by closely examining the Lirey badge, a pilgrim’s lead-cast souvenir, recovered from the Seine in 1855 close to the site of the Templars’ execution. The badge shows a Shroud-like depiction of a man who bears little or no resemblance to Jesus Christ, and who appears on close scrutiny, the knees especially, to have been roasted to death, not crucified, with a grill-like structure on the edge of the badge previously (mis?)interpreted as an “open tomb” (see Ian Wilson’s Historical Notebook). The artist who produced the Mark 1 version of the Shroud on which the Lirey badge was closely modelled was probably commissioned by (?)nephew Geoffroi de Charny to find a way of pointedly marking his uncle’s gruesome death and the extinction of his Templar line in a deliberately ambiguous manner, one that could be mistaken by the casual observer for crucifixion, and not bring further retribution to the holder. To do that he chose an unusual but not unknown pyrographic art form – scorching an image onto linen using hot metal or ceramic templates, probably bas-relief as a visual metaphor for death by slow incineration.
In 1314 the last of the Knights Templars, whom some now see as the medieval precursors of today’s Freemasons, were hideously executed in Paris at a site that is now the western prow on the boat-shaped Isle de la Cite. It was done on the orders of Philip IV and had the tacit or even explicit consent of the Church which saw the Templars as religious heretics, although Philip was probably more interested in relieving himself of the debts he had accrued with the rich Templars.
The 2 most prominent Templars – Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney (not to be confused with his reputed nephew, Geoffroi de Charny-without-the- “e”, the latter being the first definitively-identified owner of the “Shroud of Turin”) were, not to put too fine a point on it, brutally barbecued, a combination of slow torture culminating finally in death. It is said they were finally reduced to ashes. One can only imagine what they must have endured and looked like before their final death.
The Shroud was commissioned by de Charney’s reputed nephew, also called Geoffroi, as a means of gaining “closure”, to use that ghastly modern term, i.e. to mark that chapter in French history and at the same time to “move on” as we traditionalists would say. The way that was done was both subtle and ingenious.
What the nephew did was to say “Let’s present Uncle Geoffrey as a Christ-like figure who was also crucified, in a manner of speaking, but who died slowly from scorching heat instead of being nailed to a cross. How can we get across that idea?
That was how Shroud Mark 1 came into being. It was to represent a man who instead of being reduced to ashes, was portrayed as he might have been if taken still relatively recognizable from the scaffold, as Christ had been taken down from the cross, and who, while still hot, had been placed on a long (14 feet) rectangle of linen, and the free end then pulled over the face and top of the body too. One could then imagine the body as leaving two scorched imprints on the cloth, one dorsal (the back), the other frontal, with the two images head-to-head, as per Turin Shroud.
That was the task that Geoffroi the nephew set his artists and craftsmen. It was achieved using one or more heated bas-reliefs for the head and rest of body, either cast in metal or moulded/baked in clay, the precise technology for which I have explored earlier in this series of postings, e.g. using heated horse brasses as a model. Having achieved the desired result – a superficial but permanent scorched negative image – he then let it be known that he was in possession of the burial shroud of the “Christ”. Soon he attracted pilgrims to his home village of Lirey who took home with them an enseigne de pèlerinage” that we now know as the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge.
But if you look at it closely you will see that despite the supposed symbols of Crucifixion and its aftermath, it portrays a non-Christ like figure (no beard, no long hair, no halo) with no obvious signs of being, or having been, crucified, and who in fact is chained (at least in rear view) to something or other and who appears to have knees and legs that have been burned to the bone – see my previous post.
Update: 29 April: downloaded “The Second Messiah:Templars,The Turin Shroud,and the Great Secret of Freemasonry, by C.Knight and R.Lomas “ yesterday to my Kindle. It has some eye-watering detail as to the precise manner in which those Templars (with focus on Jacques de Molay) were tortured first while imprisoned (with make-shift crucifixion) and then at the stake, by slow-roasting over charcoal. Turn away now if you wish to be spared the detail, but it says the feet were done first, and then the unmentionables. Now look again at that Lirey figure (whether it be De Molay or De Charney). Are you thinking what I am thinking?
In fact his entire alive or post-mortem posture and facial expression is arguably that of someone whose feet are – or had been – over a hot grill (but see update above). Indeed the badge shows an ambiguous feature previously interpreted by Ian Wilson and others as an “open tomb” but which I maintain may in fact depict a ‘barbecue’ with its grill-like covering and make-shift ventilation hole in the side.
This grim memento, which represents a medieval form of black humour, could hardly remain ambiguous in its art and symbolism for very long. Once the Church and monarchy so much as suspected there was still a flicker of Templar defiance on show in a remote French village, one that was attracting thousands of pilgrims with their spending power, then the Shroud had to be quickly re-invented, or at any rate re-vamped to make it unambiguous, and stripping out the Templar allusions.
Thus was born Shroud Mark2, with Geoffroi de Charney, the uncle replaced by the classic image of the bearded, long-haired Christ, at the same time removing the chain and other accoutrements of burning/grilling at the stake, and then adding the touches essential for depicting a victim of crucifixion – the blood stains, the crown of thorns, the nail wound etc etc. This would have required starting from scratch, since we know the blood stains, or at any rate those that are real blood, are underneath, not on top of the image.
So when did this switch take place from Shroud Mark 1 to Mark 2? Probably after the Shroud had left the de Charney/de Charny family , having been acquired by the House of Savoy in exchange, it is said, for a castle or two (testimony to its crowd-pulling power and the income it could generate from the sale of those badges etc). See what I wrote two months ago as a series of afterthoughts on my own postings to suggest when Shroud Mark 1 was refashioned, i.e. 1532, the date of that mysterious Chambery fire (which some say was arson, but which I suspect was more than that, i.e. an ‘inside job’)
What is there left to say, except sorry to all those, who like me, were captivated by the publication of those positive and 3D-enhanced images of the Man in the Shroud back in the 70s, pre –C14-dating, and with the persuasive detail about “gravitationally-correct” blood flows etc etc. Who could or would have gone to all that that trouble and expense of producing a medieval hoax (‘sacred hoax’ as some prefer to call it) and why? The answer, as others before me have also suggested, lies with the remnant of what was arguably one of the most rich and powerful secret societies the world has ever known, one that inspired and financed the Holy Crusades. In my version here, the hoax was not born of deception, so much as assertion of that particular knightly creed and lifestyle, latterly deemed heretical, combined later with self-preservation. All this took place during a turbulent period of French history when one wrong word, one ill-judged gesture, could result in the most hideous punishment – as hinted at – surreptitiously and ambiguously- in the Shroud Mk1 image that survives to this day – on a small Lirey badge dredged up from the Seine close to the spot where the Templars were slowly scorched to death. A heat scorch on a length of linen in Turin Cathedral marks that event. Forget about those miraculous flashes of uv light, that will no doubt dominate discussion at this weekend’s Shroudie gathering in Valencia, with all those ageing ‘rock stars’ of Shroudology still intent on milking that piece of linen in Turin for all its worth.