Faking it Part 3: Why do early copies of the Shroud show so little evidence of the in-your-face blood stains we see today? (Some won’t like the answer..).

Here is an artist’s rendering of the Shroud as it was perceived (or recalled)  in 1516, some 16 years before the damaging 1532 that obliterated so much of the upper arms and torso. It’s the so-called Lier copy (not to be confused with the earlier Lirey Pilgrim’s badge).

Wot, no epsilon on forehead?

Notice anything curious? Where are the prominent facial bloodstains, notably on the forehead that we see on the present Shroud, like that emblematic reversed 3 (epsilon) sign – the one whose absence I noted yesterday on the much earlier Lirey Pilgrim’s badge.   There are crucial differences regarding blood elsewhere. Like blood stains on BOTH hands, not just one, with no strong suggestion for either being an “anatomically correct” nail “wound” on a wrist.  (We  and the entire canon of Western art only learned it was anatomically correct  after viewing 19th century photographs of the Shroud).  Instead the nail wounds both appear to be fairly centrally placed on the palm, in keeping with other images of the era.

Yes, there is a bloodstain on the side, so there was in 1516 an attempt to make the figure look like the victim of Biblical account, unlike the Lirey badge where there was NOTHING to suggest crucifixion. One might say that the Shroud image, or at any rate the perception thereof in the eyes of at least one artist of the day,  had evolved somewhat. There are many other curious features about the Lier copy one could mention, but I shall save those for another day. For those who are interested I recommend the following account:

 The Red Stains on the Lier and Other Shroud Copies

By Remi Van Haelst, Belgium

Note the writer’s understandable preoccupation with the so-called poker holes, which we are told are burn holes that preceded the 1532 fire, but which the artist chose to portray in red paint, as if perceived as blood.  Maybe they did look like blood in 1516. Maybe they only became “burn holes” later. Look hard enough, even at pictures, and one will find much evidence for the Shroud image evolving, and perhaps on occasions, devolving – an organic thing that was fashioned and refashioned (an easy enough thing to arrange when it was only intermittently on display – a state of affairs that persists to this day – the next showing not due until 2020).

You will also see references to that intriguing chain, across the waist and even to “shackles” “fetters” at ankle level, the first at least being highly prominent on the Lirey badge, and indeed even the rarely remarked upon Lirey badge  ankle “fetters”. Both of those, as I said yesterday and before are  surely indicative  of death by burning at the stake, NOT crucifixion? It is important in what follows to look closely at what happens to those features of the Shroud image in its subsequent history.

Let’s now turn our attention to the written record, and again we find much evidence that the Shroud was not, or more accurately could not be a fixed entity, fixed in time, on account of liberties taken with it, prior to the devastating 1532 fire.

Even before the painting of the Lier copy, there is evidence of the Shroud being variously abused or tampered with. Take the following, for example, written in 1503. Note especially the hair-raising last sentence which I have emphasized with bold.

 April 14, 1503 Good Friday: Exposition of the Shroud at Bourg-en-Bresse for Archduke Philip the Handsome, grand-master of Flanders, on his return from a journey to Spain. The Shroud, which has been specially brought from Chambéry, with great ceremony, by Duke Philibert of Savoy and Duchess Marguerite, is exposed on an altar in one of the great halls of the Duke’s palace. Savoy courtier Antoine de Lalaing records of the events of that day: “The day of the great and holy Friday, the Passion was preached in Monsignor’s chapel by his confessor, the duke and duchess attending. Then they went with great devotion to the market halls of the town, where a great number of people heard the Passion preached by a Cordeilier. After that three bishops showed to the public the Holy Shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and after the service it was shown in Monsignor’s chapel.” Lalaing adds that the Shroud’s authenticity has been confirmed by its having been tried by fire, boiled in oil, laundered many times ‘but it was not possible to efface or remove the imprint and image.’

There are enormous implications here for those attempting to establish the authenticity or otherwise of the Shroud if those words can be taken at face value (or maybe they cannot, and it was simply bravado on the part of Lalaing to claim the fabric had been through such treatment).

What price the persistent scoffing we see today at attempts to account for the Shroud image by, say, scorching, with  taunts that the  subtleties of the Shroud image have never been reproduced, if the image we see today is just the remnants that have survived laundering and even boiling in oil! (Note that Raymond Rogers in his FAQ went out of his way to dismiss any idea of the Shroud’s bloodstains having been exposed to heat in his desperate attempts to rule out heat as the mechanism by which the body image had been acquired).

Ah yes, blood, again. We keep returning to the blood when confronting the issue of authenticity, and rightly so. I have already indicated the relative paucity of evidence that the early Shroud showed much evidence of blood (although we do at any rate have the “spear wound” blood appear on the 1516 Lier image).

But here’s a thought to conjure with. How likely is it that Lalaing above would have made reference to “tests” of the Shroud by laundering or boiling in oil if the latter had displayed the complex and extensive pattern of blood stains that we see today – those on the head supposedly from the crown of thorns, those on the wrist and forearms from the nail wounds in the hands, those on the side and small of back from the spear wound, those on the feet, and let’s not forget either the 372 claimed bloodstains from scourging (yes, they too are bloodstains). How likely is it that a Shroud with all that allegedly clinching evidence for thinking that the Man on the Shroud was unmistakably Jesus Christ who had undergone a unique sequence of insults, each leaving its own signature in blood, would have been laundered or boiled in oil.  The answer to that question must surely be zero, or virtually so. It is inconceivable that a heavily bloodstained Shroud in or before 1503 would have been subject to such treatment, but if it had, then the majority of any bloodstains would have been largely obliterated or at any rate reduced to faint diffuse smudges.

The most probable explanation is that in 1503 there were few if any prominent bloodstains, an impression that accords with the approx. 1355 Lirey badge, so that references in 1503 to laundering and boiling in oil, if only for shock value and/or bragging rights, would not have been so hair-raising as they sound to us now.

The Lier copy shows some evidence of scourge marks, though they were not necessarily represented in red (I have no info as yet as to their colour) and the few other sites I have mentioned (the hands, the side).  What seems clear is the extensive in-your-face bloodstains that might have provoked immediate feelings of revulsion in the late medieval era were NOT a prominent feature of the 1516 Shroud, and were perhaps somewhat token. Nevertheless some were there, almost certainly acquired since the commissioning of the 1355 Lirey badge, indicating a trend towards progressively endowing the Shroud with additional cues that “fitted” the Biblical account. Those who look at the modern Shroud and imagine that all the sequelae they see of crucifixion were there at the start, with no desire or compunction on the part of custodians over the centuries to supplement or merely enhance show a touching faith in their fellow human beings, cloistered custodians especially,  to leave things exactly as they are in the interests of strict historical authenticity….

The take-away message so far?  The Shroud image we see today was emphatically NOT the image that was seen in mid 14th century, when the Lirey badge was commissioned, nor was it  the image that was seen some 150 years later after passing from the de Vergy family in Lirey to the House of Savoy in Chambery when the Lier copy was drawn.  To reprise the question of the title:

Why do early copies of the Shroud show so little evidence of the in-your-face blood stains we see today?

Answermost of them were not there at the time, but acquired later…

This is already quite long, so I shall make a separate posting today or tomorrow of the 1532 fire and of its immediate and curious aftermath, the written record of which  has to fuel further doubts on whether the Shroud we see today was the one that was on view in Lirey in 1355, as portrayed on the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge.

To be continued…



Late postscript (2 years on) for attention of Matthias on shroudstory.com, 11 Aug 2014


Here are close-up views of the Lier copy, frontal v dorsal, showing (within the yellow boxes and elsewhere) what I interpret to be scourge marks. I can’t think what else they would be, being too streak-like for the most part to be general shading.

Frontal side, Lier copy of Turin Shroud

Frontal side, Lier copy of Turin Shroud

Dorsal side

Dorsal side



MikeM has supplied a colour photograph of the Lier copy which he claims to show no evidence for scourge marks (why anyone should take that position, regardless of their stance re authenticity, is a total mystery to me  a copy being a copy). Anyway, the photo seemed to lack contrast, so here it is with slight brightness/contrast/midtone adjustment in MS Office Picture Manager.

Colour version of Lier copy - with added contrast,

Colour version of Lier copy – with added contrast, Click to enlarge.

Yes, CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE (should fill whole screen)

I see striations on arms. legs etc. Maybe others don’t. Personally, I’m a lot more content to be asserting/defending  the presence of scourge marks than their absence, especially as the TS from which the above was copied has scourge marks.

Update: June 16, 2016

(Explanation to be added  shortly):

christie dorsal v lier 1516




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.
This entry was posted in Shroud of Turin and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Faking it Part 3: Why do early copies of the Shroud show so little evidence of the in-your-face blood stains we see today? (Some won’t like the answer..).

  1. Pingback: Flow chart summarising a novel hypothesis for how the Shroud of Turin came into existence (and fooled generations of scholars) | The Shroud of Turin: medieval scorch? Separating the science from the pseudo-science…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s