Shroudie-Alert: Day 4. Mainly about the Lirey badge, the Cluny Museum, Pope Benedict XVI and the remarkable staying power of junk science…


21:00:  I used to have so much respect for research immunologist-now-turned school science teacher Kelly Kearse – especially his ability to explain complex issues, like the evidence for and against the TS blood being Type AB.

Back in October last year he did another masterly summary of the evidence -or rather lack thereof – for Adler’s claim that the ‘permanently red’  colour of the blood on the Shroud was due to a combination of excess bilirubin and oxidized haemogobin. That was in response to a posting of mine, pointing out the absence of hard evidence for the existence of bilirubin in Shroud blood, far less any quantitative evidence for  “an extraordinary level”.  In my new re-energized “stand-for-no-nonsense”, don’t mince one’s words” mode, induced I might add by the current blitz on the Shroudosphere of theophysics, theochemistry and theobiology via self-serving pdf  submissions and TV documentaries,  Adler was guilty of toxifying the Shroud literature with junk science.  Dr.Kearse’s  contribution to the debate on The Other Site, making clear the inconclusive nature of the evidence adduced by Adler was clearly not lost on David Mo (someone else for whom I  have considerable respect). So it was a huge disappointment to see Kelly Kearse heading off down the same road of fanciful conjecture today. Not only was he picking up where Adler left off, and flying a kite for stable complexes between age-degraded haems and carbon monoxide (CO)  – a known product of haem catabolism certainly – but generated centuries ago and supposed to be still there, i.e. (palaeo-)CO,   but,  just in case that idea fails to gain legs, he’s suggested a fall-back position. And can you guess what that might be – yes, our old friend – (palaeo)-bilirubin. He helps to provide a decent burial for that ludicrous bilirubin narrative – pure speculation from start to finish, based on junk physiology – trauma-induced  acute jaundice dependent on  the bluntest of analytical  techniques – uv/visible absorption and fluorescence spectra – and then slips out in the night to exhume the corpse. Kelly Kearse is fast morphing into an eloquent defender of the worst of Shroudie junk science.

(Why did Alan Adler not  do the sensible thing and harness fellow-chemist Ray Rogers’ know-how with mass spectrometry in order to to characterize the blood porphyrins – essentially a fingerprinting technique?  Did they not get on?)

18:10: Phew. According to reports in the Italian media, Pope Benedict XVI resigned after being presented a report detailing some kind of gay-oriented clique together with  corruption in the Vatican.  What a relief – that puts me in the clear…  😉

17:00: Try googling (pope shroud turin) and you’ll find me and my humble blog on the second page of listings, currently 16th (that’s – I can’t speak for  or etc). It took the form of me ticking off  Pope Benedict for the  increasingly hard, pro-authenticity line that the Vatican had taken under his stewardship. My posting, below, was entitled: “The Pope calls it “an icon written with blood” etc etc).

My posting, August last year, currently 16th if you google (pope shroud turin).

My posting, August last year, currently 16th if you google (pope shroud turin).

“Dear Pope Benedict: I do hope my severe admonitions played no part in your decision to step down. I’d have softened the tone if I’d even suspected that my words could cause you deep hurt or offence. Look, I know you have an image to preserve (infallibility and all that) but do please reconsider your decision. You will cause many trusting souls in your flock bewilderment and hurt feelings if you precipitately abandon ship, so to speak. (Unless of course you know the ship is sinking, in which case I trust you find something buoyant on which to cling  – like enlightened humanism with a dash, maybe,  of fuzzy theology?).”

14:55:  Elgin (Parthenon) Marbles = Bloomsbury Friezes?  (The British Museum being situated in that district of central London)

Lirey Pilgrim’s badge = the Cluny Medallion? (The Cluny Museum being situated in that part of central Paris).

But neither of the ‘secondary descriptions’ gives the slightest clue as to the historical importance of the holding or where or how it  it was acquired.

The difference is that the first was made up (by me, a few minutes ago) while the second is the opaque manner in which the Lirey pilgrim’s badge is all too often referred to. Why, when the Cluny Museum has so large holding of medallions (link to come later)  and when scores of corrosion-resisting lead medallions were retrieved from the Seine in Paris at the same spot where the Lirey badge was dredged up in1855?

Come to think of it, why does the Lirey badge get so nominal a mention in wiki? If you google (Lirey badge wiki) all you get is a graphic of the Forgeais drawing (1865, idealized and/or doctored in certain details) under the entry ‘History of Shroud of Turin’  – one that that gets no mention in the main text.

There is something profoundly wrong here. The Shroud of Turin is reputed to be the most studied artefact in history, but there seems to be an attempt (organized? systematic?)  to hide away or suppress  the first known souvenir/representation of the Shroud in European history – mid 14th century, coinciding with its very first public viewing.  If nothing else, the Lirey pilgrim’s badge shows how the Shroud might have looked before the disfiguring 1532 fire, the latter sadly obliterating much detail.  Maybe that’s the problem for some who are determined to push Shroud authenticity … who carefully choose which science, which history to proselytise, and which to sweep under the carpet.

14:05 Well, I’ve finally tracked it down – that corroded version of the Lirey badge, and yes, it was one of  Dan Porter’s pages on one of Dan Porter’s many many sites.

lirey badge on definitive faq site

In fact, it was on his Definitive Shroud of Turin FAQ site, tucked away under the Definitions tab, and described as the “Cluny medallion”. No wonder I mislaid it – having searched fruitlessly through scores of image files under Lirey badge.

So how did it get into that non-photogenic state (one of the least appealing photographs I have ever seen)?   When did it get into that state? Why did it get into that state? And are the inferior close-ups on Mario’s site the result of a fairly recent and disastrous attempt at cleaning off that white deposit with a brush followed by a detail-obscuring coating of lacquer?  The question as to why slick Shroud mystique-promoter Daniel R Porter with his portfolio of sites (why?) should have given so important an artefact as the Lirey badge, sorry, Cluny medallion, an unhelpful description if ever there was,  such an abysmally low profile – almost submicroscopic one might say – is one we can leave for another time.)

12:00  Hugh Farey has just flagged up (see Comments) the presence of some greatly-enlarged pictures of the Lirey badge on Mario Latendresse’s site (better known as the home of the magnificent Shroud Scope tool).

Sorry, Hugh, don’t take this the wrong way, but I shan’t be using those photographs. They are vastly inferior as regards  what they actually reveal compared to the B/W ones I have been using on my Lirey postings. But as I said in my reply, I don’t think it is photography that is in the frame here, but something rather more disturbing in its implications – curatorship – if there is such a word  If Mario gets to read this, maybe he could offer a quick opinion before I go and say something I later regret, since he visited the Cluny Museum not so long ago, and has seen the Lirey badge, aka Cluny medallion, at close quarters (April 2007  and later in but prevented from doing so in 2012 -see  text attached to his photograph below. (What is going on in that Cluny Museum?????)

cluny museum visit mario latendresse

But I also recall seeing – on one of Dan Porter’s sites as I recall –  another very disturbing picture of the Lirey badge, with a white encrustation of some kind, maybe the products formed when a lead/tin alloy is unprotected from moist air (or was it the Seine from which the badge was fished out in the mid 19th century – but the deposit  looked like exposure to air rather than water?).  I shall try and locate that photo, and then cautiously express some fears in which the words “irreversible corrosion and belated protection”  could feature prominently.

06:57: I’m picking up today where I left off  yesterday. Those following this saga will know I was exulting at having finally discovered Wilson’s “pincers” on the Lirey badge . But those familiar with the narrative that this blogger had begun to develop last year, based on Templar burning at the stake as distinct from 1st century AD crucifixion (not to be confused with medieval softening-up by nailing to doors) may have detected a little wobble at the very end of yesterday’s posting.

Well, I’ve now unwobbled myself a little. How? Why? Answer, by going back and taking yet another look at the primary source material, as every nouveau historian should, namely that Lirey badge with its amazing array of fine detail (but what is it saying?).

Guess what? There is at least another pair of scissor-like pincers, perhaps best referred to in the singular as “pincer” which I have circled in red, with yesterday’s (“Ian Wilson’s) still being shown in yellow.

lirey-badge with many features circled

This apparently duplicated  item of ironmongery is close to one of the subject’s feet (the viewer’s left) which re-introduces the ambiguity. Is the new pincer intended to remove a nail (the iron variety, Roman manufacture) from that foot (Wilson’s narrative)?  Or is it an instrument of torture, maybe one that preceded final burning at the stake, namely the other kind of nail (keratin, human manufacture, i.e. toenail)??

Afterthought: let the reader beware: the new pincer (in red) has a straighter appearance than the old (in yellow), so it’s perhaps arguable whether the new one really is a pincer.

More later. In the meantime, be thinking class (Shroudology 102) about the other items circled in blue and white. You may talk quietly among yourselves, provided you can hear yourselves speak with all that noise coming in from the playground.


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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2 Responses to Shroudie-Alert: Day 4. Mainly about the Lirey badge, the Cluny Museum, Pope Benedict XVI and the remarkable staying power of junk science…

  1. colinsberry says:

    Yes, but despite the enlargement, look at the inferior definition and detail in those pictures Hugh. This is not just about photography, of that I am fairly certain. I suspect it is about the Cluny Museum and its curators, and have an interesting view of a (white lead-?) encrusted earlier badge that could back that up. I’ll flag up the ‘duty-of-‘care’ issue later today, although one suspects the damage has already been done and is irreversible.

  2. Hugh Farey says:

    There are some huge enlargements of the Lirey badge at which may help with your hunt for pincers, chains, etc.

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