Faking it Part 2 : The Turin Shroud – a medieval marketing coup based on cleverly-contrived ambiguity …

This is Part 2 of a post I made earlier:

We have said how the body image was created. It may not have been intended to represent Christ in the first instance. Indeed, there are grounds for thinking that it represented someone entirely different, someone who had perished just a few decades prior to the first display of the Shroud in 1355 or thereabouts. Those first pilgrims may have thought they were viewing the burial Shroud of Christ but may have been duped with a false prospectus – because –according to one theory –  the Shroud really represented a captured Crusader who had been crucified OR (more probably) one of the Knights Templar who had been hideously slow roasted in 1314.  Look at the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge – a memento that pilgrims brought back from their visit to the tiny obscure French village of Lirey – and decide for yourself.

Personally I think it depicts someone other than Christ, someone who has not been crucified, but someone who has been roasted (look at the knees especially) and then ask yourself: does the figure look Christ-like? Is that the face that, as the Mandylion etc. inspired the gentle modern image of  Christ with long hair and a distinctive beard?

Irrespective, I think it’s highly possible that the Shroud image displayed in 1355 had no blood or scourge marks. Had that been the case then surely the Lirey badge would have attempted to indicate that, say by showing a reversed 3 (“epsilon”) on the forehead. That might explain why Shroudologists pay so little attention to the Lirey badge – it fails to underpin their preconceptions, it fails to supply the “points of correspondence” they delight in ticking off in the case of the Hungarian Pray Codex.  But the Lirey Badge is a crucial artefact – representing as it does the one that is used to  fix the first authenticated arrival of the Shroud in western Europe.

I suspect that the early Shroud – and the Badge – a kind of marketing tool – was used to ease in a new religious relic with deliberate ambiguity – a ploy that worked with stunning success. Why? Because initially it could have been intended to represent the death of a number of powerful Knights Templar at the hands of Philip IV of France by means of a scorched-on image – a kind of metaphor for death by slow-roasting.

Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney , Grand master of the Knights Templar and Preceptor of Normandy prepare to meet their maker. First there is the small matter of slow-roasting to be endured – with a chain around the waist to ensure compliance with chosen punishmen t.

Back to that Lirey Pilgrim’s badge again. Now there’s a thing – a chain around the waist.  What does a chain have to do with crucifixion if the figure shown were intended to represent Christ? Who else might it have represented?

The chain across the waist  of the subject could have been cited as evidence of a continuing Templar cult  – and dangerous one intent perhaps on revenge – but if the authorities grew suspicious the squire of Lirey and his wife ( Geoffroi de Charny-without-the-e  and Jeanne de Vergy respectively,  both of whose coats of arms are on the Badge- could have said “No, you have misconstrued its purpose. It represents the death at the hands of  the Saracens of a Crusader Knight, crucified in mockery of the Christian beliefs”.  Or even that of Christ himself.  But later, once visitor numbers swelled, a different explanation emerged – that it was not a crucified knight, but yes – no question of doubt- an image of Christ himself. But that needed some rejigging.

What about the chain? How could that be removed, or made to look like something else? How could the figure be made to look like someone who had been crucified?   Cue the idea for staging a fire, and using that as cover for making some changes, claiming that any subtractions were the work of fire, and any additions had been there previously, and challenging anyone to prove otherwise. Cue the famous fire of 1532, Chambery, which reinvented the Shroud of Turin, stripping it of Templar symbolism, and endowing it with unmistakeable visual clues to a 1st century AD crucifixion. Cue the event that ushered in  the Greatest Hoax in History – one that has worked to this day, aided and abetted in recent times by some peddling of pseudo-science. Tomorrow I shall detail what I believe was done to reinvent Shroud Mark 1 as Shroud Mark 2.

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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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