Carlo Goldoni (sadly RIP *)
The Shroud of Turin and the bilirubin blood stains
International Conference on
The Shroud of Turin: Perspective on a Multifaceted Enigma
Sponsored by the Shroud Science Group
August 14 –17, 2008
* Doctor of Medicine, Clinical Pathologist (1935 – 2008 †)
Prof. Pierluigi Baima Bollone has shown that the stains on the Shroud of
Turin are human blood group AB. From a biochemical viewpoint, John
Heller and Alan Adler have identified on the same clots not only
haemoglobin but also other specific compounds of blood and, among
other things, the presence of bilirubin in significant quantities.
Bilirubin, a component of blood, comes from the catabolism of haemoglobin and, arriving into the liver, is poured from the liver into the bile.
On one hand, the presence of this component enhances the presence of blood on the Shroud, on the other hand allows some researchers to assign to the bilirubin, as well as to aloes and myrrh, the unusual bright red colour taken under special circumstances by those bloodstains.
2. The effect of bilirubin
Still in the year 2000, at the International Symposium in Turin, Baima Bollone said that “The persistence of the red colour (of blood) may be originated from the
materials used to preserve the body by corruption (preserving materials) or from the documented presence of bilirubin”.
Carlo Goldoni and Tina Grimaldi, coordinated by Mario Moroni, have
carried out a series of tests in order to verify the supposed relationship between the colour of blood and the presence of bilirubin: in these experiments they artificially produced human blood clots containing increasing amounts of bilirubin in an approximate concentration from 2 to 5 times greater than the normal physiological concentration.
Dr. Goldoni stated that in his tests he did not exceed more than five times the physiological
concentration of bilirubin because “he did not feel to postulate an intense jaundice either in the Christ of the Gospels or in the Man of the Shroud.” In fact, already at such a concentration limit, we have “a yellowish colour of the sclera and a yellowing of the skin” Moreover, also the blood serum “shows a peculiar greenish-yellow colouring”.
The decals were carried out on fragments of a shroud-like twilled linen
cloth treated with an aqueous solution of aloe, myrrh and artificial sweat.
The blood was taken from healthy donors. After having added calcium
salts for the re-coagulation, they waited 4-5 hours before running the
blood-cloth juxtaposition. Only in that way it was possible to obtain sharp
decals with serum halos visible at the ultraviolet light.
From these decals we obtained three sets of samples with increasing
concentration of bilirubin: one was maintained as it was, one was aged 10
hours in a stove at the temperature of 120°C, and one was exposed to
ultraviolet radiation (365 nm) for 6 hours and kept under continuous
The visual examination of the two first sets of samples was not able to
catch any colour change on the many different concentrations of bilirubin.
3. The previous observations
Coming back to the Shroud it is important to note that the bright-red colour of blood, visible on the cloth, is connected with an exposure to
ultraviolet rays. This last result was in agreement with many previous
The doctor of medicine Pierre Barbet had noticed the intense colour
“carmine-mauve” in accordance with the definition given by Vignon,
“While the experts were intent on doing this first examination of the
Holy Shroud, Antoine Legrand and Dr. Galimard, well known French
scholars on the Shroud, who were purposely arrived in Turin, asked
to be allowed to see the Relic.
Antoine Legrand noticed a difference from what he had the
opportunity to observe during the Exposition of 1931. He was struck
by the fact that it was no longer visible in a significant way the red
carmine colour of the blood stains which was described by various
authors. He pointed out that the previous exposition was held on the
steps of the Cathedral in the open air and by the light of the sun.
Mr. Judica was invited to enlighten the Holy Shroud with the same
lamp (an Osram Mittraphot lamp with a colour temperature of 3200
Kelvin) used during the examination of 1969, when that chromatic
tone was noted: immediately the above mentioned tone of colour
Also one of the Authors, who participated in the private Exposition of the
Scientific Symposium held in Turin on 2-5 March 2000, was very
impressed by observing, at a distance of one meter, the red colour taken by
the wounds of the Man of the Shroud, on the cloth spread-out without the
protective glass, illuminated by a diffused natural lighting coming from
the windows of the room located at the top. In any case, if the change of colour becomes visible to sunlight, it seems reasonable to assume the occurrence of an external action that could be
caused by a kind of radiation. Regarding the ultraviolet irradiations
Goldoni said “In fact, it is known that the irradiation of blood with
ultraviolet light transforms normal and pathological quantities of bilirubin in similar compounds such as lumirubin and isolumirubin.
4. New experiences
We have to say in advance that in order to answer the problem of the
formation of the image as well as the apparent radiocarbon rejuvenation of
the Shroud linen, prof. Jean Baptiste Rinaudo, of the Faculty of Medicine
developed a model according to which an energy was
released during the Resurrection that would have produced the
disintegration of the deuterium nuclei present on the body surface and would therefore generated protons and neutrons.
The first ones would be the cause of the image, the second would be the
cause of an increase in the 14C content.
The research group coordinated by Mario Moroni, having judged
particularly interesting this theory, has started since many years a fruitful collaboration with prof. Rinaudo. During the experimental researches many points were achieved in favour of the initial hypothesis. A brief
summary of the results obtained is shown in the report submitted to “The
Third International Dallas Conference on the Shroud of Turin” held in
September 2005. 8
For that reason, it was considered that the colouring observed under
special circumstances on the blood decals could have originated from a neutron irradiation of the cloth.
Therefore some blood samples with contents of bilirubin higher than the physiological limits, once again prepared by Carlo Goldoni, were
irradiated with neutrons. The irradiation dose was the one related to the corresponding dose of protons necessary to obtain, after heat treatment in an oven, a colour that the spectroreflectometric analysis indicated as comparable to that visible on the Shroud (2.59 x 1013 n/cm2).
Such a treatment did not cause any colour change in the blood stains.
Therefore we can assume that the neutron irradiation caused an upset in the blood at the molecular level that facilitates the subsequent penetration of the UV rays used after the neutron irradiation. The same physicalchemical situation could occur in the blood of the Shroud when it is exposed to sunlight (rich in UV rays) causing the transition from the rust colour, commonly seen in old blood stains, to the bright red colour.
Wonderful entertainment, yes, with occasional side-splitting humour. Seriously, though, does anyone know precisely how much bilirubin (if indeed any) is present on the Shroud of Turin, and how it was measured?
I have spent literally months trying to get an answer to that question and am getting nowhere. Maybe I am reading the wrong sources, those of Adler and Heller included, that merely make vague references to “high” or even “extraordinary” levels of bilirubin, without specifying how much, whether as mg and millimoles (per ?).
Having worked with bilirubin (and co-authored a few papers) I would not envy anyone the task of quantifying the amounts of this photochemically unstable pigment with its unhelpful (in)solubility (or limited solubility) in common solvents, the latter a reflection of multiple internal hydrogen bonds. I see no evidence in the Shroud literature that any bilirubin specialists were ever consulted on how best to quantify bilirubin. Had I been approached, I might have suggested that it was quantified by radiochromatography, in which one adds a known amount of C-14 labelled bilirubin of known specific radioactivity (cpm or dpm per mg bilirubin), then isolate the total bilirubin (Shroud plus radiotracer), e.g. by thin layer or gas-liquid chromatography, and then redetermine the specific activity, from which one can calculate the amount of non-radioactive bilirubin that had diluted the tracer.
So far I have seen no evidence that ANY chromatographic procedures were used, much less radiotracer methodology, and if I am not mistaken the entire bilirubin “story” as an explanation for permanently bright-red blood depends entirely on simple colour changes with diazo reagents or monitoring of fluorescence in which there is a large subjective element, to say nothing of reliance on data that are scarcely quantified – of indeed quantifiable with any degree of precision or accuracy.
To muddy the waters still further we have the above paper proposing that bilirubin per se would not account for the bright-red blood, that a further interaction with ultraviolet light is needed, with it not being clear whether a prior exposure is sufficient, or whether the Shroud and its bilirubin (intact or degraded) need to be viewed in bright sunshine or other sources of uv light.
Takeaway message? The “blood” on the Shroud is real blood, or so we were assured, despite its permanent bright red colour, which is due we were told to “high” levels of bilirubin, according to Adler and Heller. But now we are told that bilirubin per se is not the whole story, that it has to be bilirubin that has somehow interacted with ultraviolet and/or other high energy radiation… Just don’t try to pin down on the detail – one is not supposed to cross-examine the glitterati of sindonology, those whose work only rarely gets further than internet pdf files of symposium proceedings. Peer-reviewed journals? They are the exception rather than the rule, and even then all is not what it seems (something I said recently re Raymond N.Rogers drew an indignant response that Rogers’ work had been published in a peer-reviewed journal, though what was omitted was that the journal in question (Thermochimica Acta) was one that Rogers had helped found, had one of his own papers in the very first issue, and had served for many years on the Editorial Board having the final decision on which papers to accept or reject – nuff said).
Call this science? This is what I call Mickey Mouse science, and will continue to do so for as long as this kind of tommy-rot masquerades as real science. It doesn’t matter whether the originators of this kind of claptrap pseudo science are alive or now dead. I consider it the duty of all real scientists (retired ones included) to expose and condemn Mickey Mouse science wherever and whenever they find it, without fear or favour while they are still alive. Once they have passed on there are fewer specialists left to set the record straight, to tell things the way they are.
PS: Why focus on this particular paper, given that one is spoiled for choice if wishing to mine the Mickey Mouse seam? It just happens to be the first paper listed when one googles bilirubin shroud of turin which is how I happened upon it yesterday:
Note too the title of the second highest-ranking paper! Who’s funding Shroudie research? The Walt Disney Foundation?
Postcript added September 17, 2016: have just come across this open-access paper, peer-reviewed we’re told, by a French group (Lucotte et al).
The mineral analysis was performed on a triangular sticky-tape sample that Riggi de Numana took at the time of the 1978 STURP testing.
Ignore that first sentence of the Abstract (“The Turin Shroud, recently accessible for hand-on scientific reseacrh…”). Methinks that something got lost in translation…
Shame too about the second sentence of the Introduction, the one about science being unable to account for the body image… Science CAN account for the body image, via my white flour/oil imprinting thermal model, first unveiled over a year ago on Dan Porter’s now discontinued shroudstory site. I came acrossthe present paper via googling (shroud of turin) on past month/past year filters. Is it asking too much of other ‘sindonologists’ or even generalist researchers to use search engines too as a means of keeping up-to-date?