Shroudie-Alert: Day 3. Chief topic: the Lirey badge and my search for Ian Wilson’s “nails and pincers”.


23:53:  Halleluja – I do believe I have finally found the pincers on the Lirey badge to which Ian Wilson referred. (Though I still have to find the nails).

lirey-badge1 (2) with pincers circled

They are very small,  probably, as suggested (see below)  for nail removal rather than as an accessory for burning at the stake  (notably  “hot pincer torture”) so I maybe will have to reconsider some previous suggestions re the fate of the man shown.

22:00 I see that Thibault H. has joined the discussion on the other site on the origin of the ‘blood belt’. He’s correctly pointed out that the blood extended beyond the body image zone into the 1532- burned and patched area- citing pre-1532 evidence from the … yes, Lirey badge, the main topic of today’s posting.  Yes, there are  things we do not understand about those rivulets of blood in the small of the back he says.  Well, he’s got something right at last…

Will he ever be willing to acknowledge  the possibility that there used to be something there on the original Mark 1 Shroud that was neither blood not body image – but the imprint of a chain?  Later, someone came along with some blood, or blood substitute, to make that chain look like a trail of blood. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it – because I like my theory to be firmly rooted in fact, especially when it is fact that is otherwise unexplained without the new connection. The original fact  here is the prominent chain on the dorsal view of the Lirey badge – extending beyond the body on BOTH sides, making it unlikely that it is represents an escape of blood from a lance wound. Sorry, Ian Wilson. I think you were rather too hasty with your conclusions. Why would a medieval badge maker make it look like a coiled chain, and show it on both sides, if it had come from a single side wound? As for the purpose of the chain – see the earlier lithograph on this posting of the 1314 execution of De Molay and other Knights Templar, including one by the name of Geoffroi de Charney, considered by some, including Noel Currer-Briggs(1919-2004), respected  genealogist, to have been the uncle of the almost  identically named Geoffroi de Charny, owner of the Shroud at the time of its display and the making of the Lirey badge. (If Daniel R Porter is reading this, kindly note that I have again made a careful  distinction between the proposed uncle/nephew relationship, and that I did not confuse those two as you scurrilously claimed last year, in what clearly was a casual but blatant attempt to undermine my credibility, for which you could not even bring yourself to make a correction when YOUR error was pointed out).   A chain around the waist has no functional role in crucifixion – but it does in burning at the stake, as I pointed out early last year.

19:45  Re-think: the badge maker was certainly not going out of his way to show a victim of crucifixion – that only being implied by some of the accompanying “furniture”. Indeed, he was not going out of his way to depict any blood loss or open wounds at all. The figure is simply that of a recumbent man with crossed hands. So neither he nor the commissioning De Charnys could be charged with peddling a fraud. But the recumbent man is naked, is he not, shock horror, ladies kindly avert your gaze? Yes and no. There are no clothes – that much seems certain. But it is possible that, apart from the strategic positioning of hands, the plumping-up of the body features might have been  intended to suggest plates of armour – a defensive ploy, not to be taken too literally.   Armour- or a stylistic hint thereof  –  would not be out of place among all the other knightly paraphernalia depicted on the badge.

Am I making headway? Yes,of course I am,  provided  you allow me a reasonable quota of  90 degree turns to avoid mental roadblocks.  Did I ever say – or even so much as suggest – that Shroudology was easy?


Before attempting a judgement on that crucial question re the Lirey badge – the reason, if any, for its bulbous bas-relief -figure – there’s a question I wish to put to those more familiar than I with the artefact. It’s to do with with the depiction of alleged “pincers”, and what purpose they might have served.

Here’s what Ian Wilson said in a BSTS newsletter (click to enlarge):

ian Wilson, BSTS Newsletter No.69,

Ian Wilson, BSTS Newsletter No.69,

Note he says pincers and nails.

Now look at what Alan Foster wrote in  issue 75  of the same journal, where we see they are singing from the same hymn sheet (well almost):

Alan Foster, BSTS newsletter No.?

Alan Foster, BSTS newsletter No. 75

Pincers? Yes, if shown with accompanying nails, one could suppose that they were for removal of nails, and that would help nail (oops) a Crucifixion scenario, although one might think that a hammer would have made the point rather more strongly.

But here’s my source of embarrassment. Try hard as I may, I can see neither pincers nor nails in the Lirey badge:

Click to ENLARGE

Click to ENLARGE

Can anyone point to their location please? More later…

15:52: So let’s consider possible reasons by the figure on the Lirey badge looked so un-Christ like, especially that puffed-up appearance.

Was it simply an application of  tried-and-tested bas-relief technique, to give a prominent image, one that had tactile properties? Maybe. if the technique is there, a recognized genre, then it might seem easier to employ it than deliberately reject it as inappropriate. But there’s a counterargument. Bas relief was not obligatory to catch the eye and capture  detail – the visible herringbone weave is proof of that. So why not keep the image of the figure flat-looking, to resemble the kind of image we see today, a faint discoloration on linen. Why hype it up, so to speak, and risk having pilgrims reject the end-result as not just gross, but entirely unrealistic, failing to capture the essence of a ghost-like imprint, such as might have been left as a consequence of Resurrection? But that’s assuming the first cohort of viewers definitely thought it was an image of Christ? Or was there some deliberate ambiguity in that image, designed to enchant pilgrims while at the same time providing an alibi and thereby deflecting criticism from the Church authorities concerned that a lucrative fake relic was being peddled (which we know the first displayed Shroud attracted from the local bishop). Maybe there’s another reason for that bas relief look that would not have been seen as unrealistic  in the mid-14th century …  More later…

15:35: OK, so why did the artisan who produced the Lirey badge make the figure look so gross? And why did he not give it some features that would make it immediately recognizable as someone who had been crucified (apart from the iconic posture – naked, crossed hands etc) ?  Could he not have managed at least one or two bloodstains? OK, I hear the inevitable riposte – it’s a small memento, one cannot expect to see fine detail, etc.etc.. But isn’t that forgetting that the badge, small though it is,  is already crammed, indeed resplendent, with fine detail – even down to the herringbone weave, the details of the flagrum, the heraldic details etc etc. So why no reversed 3 on the forehead, why not a nail wound in the palm (or, better still, the wrist)? But, most of all, why the somewhat repellent puffed-up look?

In a previous posting, I suggested that the figure was NOT the crucified Christ, and although flogged etc and possibly even nailed to a door, had NOT finally been despatched by crucifixion, but another means, and that certain details, the puffiness, the loss of flesh-covering from knees (or is that just age-related delamination of the lead?) were pointing to a different person and a different execution. I shan’t repeat those ideas here – check the link if you are interested – because at the moment I am more interested in what the badge might be telling us about the Shroud image at the time that the artisan was inspecting it, and deciding which features to display, what to omit, whether for aesthetic or practical reasons, and, most of all, what technique had been used to create the original Shroud image. What we see today may not be what that artisan was seeing. Maybe what he was seeing was a lot closer to the original, and may explain why he went for that puffed-up bas-relief appearance. More to come.

14:23  Hello again. I’ve been googling for the last hour or so, mainly on that enigmatic Lirey medallion, aka Lirey Badge, aka Cluny Medal. It’s that mid-14th century souvenir that accompanied the first public display of the TS by the De Charny family. One would expect it to be a major exhibit so to speak in Shroudology, but it is for the most part by-passed by Shroudies pushing Shroud-authenticity. During the next day or two I hope to say why that crucial piece of hard evidence – a tangible sub-artefact – is  left largely in obscurity. If it weren’t for Ian Wilson and the BSTS there would be scarcely any sign of it – not in search engines. Try googling  (lirey badge) without the brackets and you find it’s my own two postings from last year that head the list. That gives you an idea that something is rotten in the state of  weird and wonderful Shroudie-land.

To kick off, I’ve discovered a new item on the site that appeared just yesterday. The ‘mold’ for the Lirey badge that was discovered  as recently in 2009 by a jogger in a field near Lirey, and then briefly listed for sale on eBay, and then lost for a time in cyberspace has not only re-appeared, but is in safe scholarly hands – the new owner being Alain Hourseau.

Alan Hourseau, owner of the mold/mould that is almost certainly contemporaneous with the Lirey badge.

Alain Hourseau, owner of the mold/mould that is almost certainly contemporaneous with the Lirey badge.

See the aforementioned site for a close-up of that sub-sub-artefact (copyrighted image, so I’ll play safe for now).

(Friday 22 Feb: :  Important addition – which I omitted to mention yesterday:  “This mold is clearly different to the mold that produced the medallion kept at the Cluny Museum. This mold and the Medallion at the Cluny Museum are the only two types of Lirey medallions found so far.”)

I’ll add another instalment later today, and give a hint as to the way my iconoclastic (or maybe just iconoplastic?) thoughts are going re the Lirey badge and the TS.

PS  It’s described as a mold (or as we Brits would write: mould). But it’s not the spelling that’s the crucial issue so much as the imputed purpose of that mould, i.e. to serve as the primary cast for lead medallions. Now we know already (insert link) that the positive from that mould is not the Lirey medallion, but something similar, probably from the same workshop. But is it a mould for a medallion? I seem to recall someone saying a while ago that the engraving looks to shallow for it to have been the master for the Lirey badge, and I would concur with that. Maybe it was used for printing. In fact, I’ll tell you why the depth of the engraving is very much on my mind. Look at the Lirey badge again (yesterday’s postings). Why are the buttocks, the shoulders, the musculature of the thighs etc so bulbous? Would that not have been considered disrespectful in the 14th century as a representation of the crucified Christ?  Is it that bulbous depiction that turns some people today off the Lirey badge? Later I shall explore some of the possible explanations for that somewhat gross representation of the figure modelled on a supposedly holy relic.


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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