Shroudie-Alert: Day 8. How was the Lirey Shroud able to morph from cruel in-joke to Holy Relic? Did the Lirey badge provide a handy smokescreen?



Late addition (July 2019)

Please forgive this postscript, correction, “prescript”,  correction, intrusion, added many years later – based on some 350 and more postings here and elsewhere.

That’s including some 7 years of my hands-on investigation into image-forming techniques, chosen to be credible with simple, indeed crude, medieval (14th century) technology etc etc.

(Oh, and yes, I accept the radiocarbon dating, despite it being restricted to a single non-random corner sample, making all the oh-so-dismissive, oh-so-derogatory statistics-based sniping totally irrelevant – a ranging shot being just that me dears- a single ranging shot, albeit subdivided into three for Arizona, Oxford and Zurich).
Sindonology (i.e. the “science” , read pseudoscience – of the so-called “Shroud ” of Turin) can be simply summed up. It’s a re-branding exercise, one designed to pretend that the prized Turin possession is not just J of A’s “fine linen”, described in the biblical account as used to transport a crucified body from cross to tomb.

Oh no, it goes further, much further, way way beyond the biblical account. How? By making out that it was the SAME linen as that described in the Gospel of John, deployed as final “burial clothes”. Thus the description “Shroud” for the Turin Linen, usually with the addition “burial shroud”. Why the elision of two different linens, deployed for entirely different purposes (transport first, then final interment)? 
Go figure! Key words to consider are: authentic relic v manufactured medieval icon; mystique, peaceful death-repose, unlimited opportunity for proposing new and ever more improbable image-formation mechanisms etc. How much easier it is to attach the label “Holy” to Shroud if seen as final burial clothes, in final at-peace repose – prior to Resurrection- as distinct from a means of temporary swaying side-to-side transport in an improvised makeshift stretcher !
As I say, a rebranding exercise (transport to final burial shroud) and a very smart and subtle one at that . Not for nothing did that angry local Bishop of Troyes suddenly refer to a “sleight of hand” after allegedly accepting it when first displayed. Seems the script was altered, or as some might say, tampered with! It might also explain why there were two Lirey badges, not just one. Entire books could be written on which of the two came first… I think I know which, with its allusion (?) to the Veil of Veronica… yes, there are alternative views (the face above “SUAIRE” a visual link to the face-only display of the Linen as the “Image of Edessa” or as that on the then current “Shroud” per se.


Face shown  (left) on mid- 14th century Machy Mould (recently discovered variant of the Lirey Pilgrim Badge) above the word “SUAIRE” (allegedly meaning “shroud”). Inset image on the right: one version among many of the fabled “Veil of Veronica” image.  I say the two are related, and deliberately so, but this is not the time or place to go into detail.

No, NOT  a resurrectional selfie, but instead a full size version of, wait for it,  the legendary VEIL OF VERONICA , product of inital body contact – no air gaps- between body and fabric, but with one important difference. The Turin image was intended to look more realistic, less artistic.

How? By displaying a negative tone-reversed image implying IMPRINT (unless, that is, you’re a modern day sindonologist, in which case ‘resurrectional proto-photographic selfie” becomes the preferred, nay, vigorously proferred explanation assisted by unrestrained imagination, creation of endless pseudoscience etc etc, with resort to laser beams, corona discharges, nuclear physics, elementary particles, earthquakes etc etc – the list is seemingly endless! 
Welcome to modern day sindonology. 
Personally, I prefer no-nonsense feet-on-the-ground hypothesis-testing science, aided by lashings of, wait for it, plain down-to-earth common sense.

Start of original posting:




14:30  (Final comment for the day since I have a plane to catch). Did anyone guess what the Mark 3 overlay might be (see yesterday). Mark 1 was sand, to act purely as a thermal buffer, giving a fuzzier more ghostly image. Mark 2 was finely powdered clay, that might work equally well as a thermal buffer but also bond on to the linen to give a ‘clay man’ effect (not that one can think of any obvious artistic reasons for wanting that, except maybe to hint at ‘dust-to-dust.’

But there’s a third possibility, making this blogger come full circle, since it was the one he chose for use as a thermosensitizer in his very first Shroud posting on the sciencebuzz site Dec 30 2011. It was chosen to trap infrared and visible radiation giving local scorching beneath and adjacent to each particle, leaving charcoal free areas white, and its name was – charcoal, yes plain old charcoal.

Suppose charcoal was used as Mark 3  thermal buffer? In theory at any rate, charcoal would still sensitize, since even in a contact/conduction model, with no air gap, there is thermal radiation that can be absorbed by the charcoal to enhance the scorching effect. In other words one then has a radiation -enhanced conduction model, with the possibility of some convection heat transfer too!  The possibilities are now endless for getting different types of image from a 3D template, by ringing the changes on both the science and the technology.

What I shall be doing is seeing if scorched-on images  can be produced at a lower temperature if the fabric is coated with charcoal. Previously I abandoned charcoal for a whole number of reasons, one of which was the need to wash it out afterwards for the sake of appearances. But if the Mark 1 Shroud was intended purely to represent a barbecued Templar (sorry to be so blunt) then a combination of scorch AND  dustings of charcoal might have been exactly what was intended, and the only reason we don’t know about that now is because the stuff has either fallen off the fibres over the centuries, or was maybe washed out purposely at some stage to make the Shroud a sepia-image only icon, once the decision had been taken to re-invent  it.

There’s no shortage of things to think about, experiments to perform. Back tomorrow.

11:45:  Here’s a quickie response to some questions put on as to the provenance of the photograph I used below to cast doubt on the blood-first dogma.

It’s a Shroud Scope picture of course, taken from the Durante 2002 Vertical Body Image using  maximum magnification. The picture on the left, below, is the “as is” version without any further enhancement. While one can distinguish blood from hair, there is not a great deal of colour differentiation.

wishbone before and after -7,100.15

Click to ENLARGE

However, one gets much better differentiation, without using colour slide controls as such  (while acknowledging that RGB values can change in other ‘enhancement settings’) producing the superior picture on the right, simply by switching to full contrast (100) with minor adjustments to brightness (-7) and midtone range (15).

Here’s what the slide scales look like on those settings:

Microsoft Office Picture Manager

That’s Microsoft Office Picture Manager that I’m using there, and have rarely found anything to beat my (-7,100,15) settings.

I think it highly improbable that any serious artefacts are introduced, given it is mainly a contrast adjustment. One is still looking at blood v hair that we perceive as “there” on the overall image. All one is doing is to see more clearly where there is hang-up of blood so as to deduce that flaking off has occurred in the past in the surrounding  ‘denuded’ areas. It would be very unusual blood if it did not have a tendency to flake off with time. Flaking off is the expected result of entropy increase (greater disorder!). It’s what’s lurking under the blood that is the  crucial issue. These and other pictures – admittedly not always (IMHO) so  ‘showpiece’ or open-and-shut as the ‘wishbone blood stain’ above –  give no grounds for thinking there is no body image under blood – quite the opposite in fact…

I’ve never forgotten the advice of a botany professor at University:  if one is having trouble discerning structure under a microscope, then look first at the damaged bits  –  inflicting damage oneself  if necessary. He chose one of his favourite mosses to demonstrate the principle, and boy did it work…

09:45 This  comment with the oh so forced humour  has appeared on The Other Site.

February 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm | #7

“Colin is right.

He discovered the truth: I must confess that I am a member of the TS Secret Confraternity.
Dan, you are a member of this confraternity and you should now acknowledge this fact.It is true that in the past the members of our Confraternity did try to hide some facts and they burnt the TS in 1532. They obviously folded the TS as described in the Aldo Guerreschi-Michele Salcito paper.More seriously, it is fascinating to observe CB’s evolution.
He has now a wonderful scenario for a movie.


The only occasion on which this blogger has discussed folding was over a year ago, merely to point out what should be immediately obvious when viewing the Shroud and its 1532 burn marks, namely that to acquire the bilateral symmetry of burn holes around the vertical midline, there must have been a fold running down the centre of the face, between the eyes. That was my first inkling that that 1532 fire may have been no accident. One does not fold a revered icon down the middle of the face (or does one?). Other doubts formed, like the molten silver story. That’s where the Italian paper is of interest, with its slanting rod scenario. But it was Hugh Farey who flagged that up, so I’m at a loss to understand why it’s being attributed to me in the way it has.

I do as it happen think there is much that is suspicious about that fire, not least that it was followed by an enquiry involving 3 bishops and 10 nobles to decide whether it was the same Shroud that existed before the fire.

1534 – 15 April – Cardinal Louis de Gorrevod holds canonical investigation at Chambery at which three bishops and ten noblemen testify to the cloth before them being the same as that they knew before the fire. According to the Cardinal  ‘It is the same sheet as we ourselves before the fire have many times held in our hands, seen, touched and shown to the people’ ”

Shame we are not told what was  so different to raise doubts in people’s minds. “Same sheet” does not exclude extensive doctoring, needless to say, there being plenty of time between 1532 and 1534 to do that.

Here’s my long shot of a theory, based yet again on the Lirey badge. The shoulders on the badge look entirely wrong, even for something small (the designer managing to incorporate a wealth of small and realistic detail elsewhere).   But don’t be too quick to mock the badge-maker. Maybe the shoulders looked wrong on the Lirey Shroud too!. I  suspect the shoulders on the pre-1532 fire Shroud were seen as the weak point, inviting incredulity.  In fact, they probably did if,  as one suspects,  plate body armour had been used as templates for scorching.  The chief purpose of a faked accidental fire was to remove the shoulders, without being obliged to replace them. Thus the need to fold down the middle as a ruse for explaining the loss of  both shoulders in the same “accident”. Clever (and often devious) these medievals…

08:50: Who says the blood came before the body image? That is by no means obvious when one looks at Shroud Scope images in detail, using the Durante 2002 pictures, and raising the contrast, as I did in a series of some 12 or so postings (curiously none of which were given so much as a passing mention on Other Site).

Here’s just one of many from my archive:

blood-v-body-imageIt’s a blood stain on the hair, with a nice contrast between blood (plum colour) and hair (greyish-brown). What seems clear is that blood has flaked off in places, shown by  instances of hang-up  in the interstices and crevices of the weave. Now look closely in those areas that are largely denuded of their blood, and one will see continuity of hair image across those regions. That is not what one would expect to see if the blood- first dogma were true. If an acquired  blood stain on otherwise pristine linen subsequently acts as a barrier, preventing  image being imprinted onto the linen carbohydrates, then when that blood flakes off, maybe centuries later, one should NOT see hair or other body image. But one does!

07:30  OK, so what’s with that Lirey badge, with an image strangely at odds with the one on the Shroud, looking anything but Christ-like, yet having so many features in common – herringbone weave, position of crossed hands, crossed feet etc.  as to leave little doubt that it was a proxy for the real Lirey Shroud.

Here’s a possible explanation – although I’ve no doubt there are more. Suppose you came into possession of the Mark 1 Shroud in the early 14th century, with the double image of a naked man, roughly matching the appearance and posture  of the crucified Jesus after taking down from the cross. You know it’s of recent origin, having privately circulated among friends in high places as a party piece, but you spot its huge commercial potential if you can gradually convince the world that it THE fabled, long lost Burial Shroud that was miraculously discarded by its previous occupant  in a 1st century cave tomb.

You are from a rich aristocratic family (the De Vergys) and your husband (Geoffroi de Charny) is a rich landowner too. You finance the building of a church in Lirey  with a view to putting your ‘genuine relic’ on display. But you cannot do that in one fell swoop. You would have the local bishop down on you, charging you with fraud or worse.

So you devise a plan for achieving your goal by stealth, playing a waiting game. You put the story around that you have a burial Shroud that is said to be that of Someone Very Important, and that small clues, like a spot of blood on a wrist, give a hint as to whom that person might have been. You embellish the story by saying that your recently-deceased husband,  who took secrets with him to the grave,  had spent years of his life in the Crusades and had probably picked up the Shroud on his travels, or even rescued it from Saracens.

But what about the Church? This is where it gets clever. You commission a pilgrim’s badge that will pass muster as a small-scale facsimile of the Shroud, with minute details that might be lost on your average pilgrim. But when the Bishop calls, and starts to ask searching questions about your shroud, and the rumours that are circulating that it is the real thing, you produce your badge, and with a weary sigh you point to the details: the image is clearly not that of Christ, it is in fact that of someone who had both offended the King and the Church with alleged blasphemous practices, and point out the little details that indicate death by slow incineration, not crucifixion. You then play your trump card – namely that the image on the cloth is clearly  a scorch – a visual metaphor. What else can it be?  You then ask the Bishop if he would care for a second glass of your best vintage, and enquire if it’s true that he is trying to raise money for local orphans/wounded soldiers/ new vestry curtains etc etc, in which case you would be more than happy to contribute a little, say some surplus-to-requirements gold trinkets that  were confiscated from the estate of one of those unspeakable, shhh, you know who…

In other words, the Lirey badge was an essential prop – an alibi if you like – for re-inventing the Shroud, allowing the Mark 1 version to morph by degrees into holy relic Mark 2.  You produce new improved versions of your badge at two -yearly intervals, ones that accurately mirror the new improved versions of the Shroud.  Gradually the man on the badge comes to look more ‘Christ-like’ in his appearance and posture. Gradually the chain across the waist  comes to look more and more like a trail of blood…   The transition was no doubt aided by some miraculous appearances of more bloodstains at certain locations which just happened to coincide with the New Testament accounts.

But do I hear some say that cannot be so – everyone knows that the blood came before the body image? Maybe – or there again, maybe not. Yes, we all know about the  one-off  paradigm-establishing experiment with the microscope, and a spot or two  of blood-digesting enzyme.  It’s one that I describe as a trophy result (far too valuable to go seeking confirmation by independent means,  if that means risking the loss of your trophy). What does Shroud Scope have to say on the blood first/body image second dogma?

07:00: Why go to the expense of using  linen with a herring-bone weave if one is intending to scorch on an image ? Wouldn’t any old linen do, say with a  simple 1-over-1 weave instead of the 3-over-1 weave of a herring bone twill. There is a simple answer to that question, one that becomes apparent when one looks at the Shroud in close-up.Mark Evans 1978 Stera,Inc copyright TS image

I’ve added two parallel blue lines to the Mark Evans photograph to delineate a single ridge of herringbone weave. One can see that the ridge comprises  what looks like a leaning stack of cushions,  each of the latter being where  a thread crosses over 3 before taking a plunge back into the weave. Now look where the sepia image is – primarily on those surface threads that are three times longer than the thread width/diameter. In other words, those flat rectangular areas comprising the ridges/ribs of the twill  offer a nice accommodating surface on which to imprint an image, regardless of mechanism. Suppose  it had been a 1:1 weave. No sooner had each thread reached the surface than it would execute a hairpin bend back into the weave. Any image formed on a simple 1:1 weave would look highly ‘pixellated’ in close -up and, more importantly, probably be inferior overall.

The artisans who produced the Shroud probably knew beforehand the advantages of the 3-over-1 weave  as a ‘screen’ on which to imprint an image, and wasted no time  in telling ‘Monsieur Le Grand’   (“Mr.Big”) that he would need to up his budget for successful completion of his grubby little project. (Grubby if, as I believe from looking at both sides of the Lirey badge — see yesterday’s posting – the Mark 1 Shroud was commissioned as an uproariously funny prop for livening up the party,  heartlessly mocking the fate and memory of the recently-liquidated Templar leadership, hideously executed in their scores, maybe hundreds, by slow-roasting (“scorching”) over smoke-free red hot embers). The Shroud was conceived as a visual metaphor for that scorching. So why did the Lirey badge -both sides- convey that idea in so unsubtle a fashion? More to come.


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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1 Response to Shroudie-Alert: Day 8. How was the Lirey Shroud able to morph from cruel in-joke to Holy Relic? Did the Lirey badge provide a handy smokescreen?

  1. colinsberry says:

    Oh dear. My “Recent Comments” in the sidebar has disappeared, lock, stock and barrel. The first task is to add a new comment, this one, and see if it and the rest appear.

    OK, this comment has appeared under the post, but I still have no “Recent Comments” showing in the sidebar. I’ll have to go and check the default display settings. These things are sent to try us…

    Went to Appearance/Widgets to find that “Recent Comments” was no longer in my list of previously added options. How odd. Anyway, it is now re-installed.

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