Shroudie-Alert: Day 10. A new(ish) take on a very old amulet

22:15: I should have said “last comment relating to topics of my own choosing” (19:4o), but I still keep an eye on comments appearing elsewhere, and respond to them here if or when the spirit moves me.

Here’s one from TOS that has me totally baffled:

“For me the protease test is reliable.
To the contrary, the test proposed by CB on his blog is meaningless because he does take into account the fact that the blood did seep into the cloth.
Surface tests only can answer to the question: ” Which came first. the image or the blood”.I think we have the answer. Where is the problem ?”

Linen is not a sponge, full of interconnecting cavities. It is bundles of closely packed fibres, each of those mainly secondary cell wall,  that comprise threads, and those threads are woven together to create a weave with interstices (basically ‘holes’). So it’s a reasonable guess that when one mops up blood with linen, the blood enters those interstices, and can then reappear on the opposite side. The ‘formed elements’ of blood, notably red cells etc,  do not penetrate to any great extent between the fibres within each thread (though I stand to be corrected on that, if someone can show microscopic evidence). Any penetration would be by inconspicuous straw-coloured plasma (or serum in other scenarios involving clotted or semi-clotted blood that need not concern us here).

So it’s not at all clear to me what point is being made by “seep into cloth” if blood stays mainly on the surface of threads. One is still asking what arrived arrived first on the surface of threads – blood or image. The first place to look is at threads that are at or close to the surface of the weave. I suppose one could go probing the interstices, where there is trapped blood, but there would be little or no image in those interstices, so as I say, I am totally at a loss to understand the logic in the above quotation.

“Surface tests only can answer to the question: ” Which came first. the image or the blood”. But that is precisely the question that is being addressed! Am I missing something here?

“Where is the problem ?”  We have a problem alright. Someone seems to have completely lost the plot (and not for the first time I might add).

19:40: Last comment today – one that will explain the title.

Read today’s postings, especially the one that quotes Alan Foster on the BSTS site, where he refers to the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge – my preferred description – by a different name.  It’s not one I’ve encountered before today, but its resonance with ideas expressed on this blog these last few days was obvious and immediate. The alternative name?

The Amulet of Lirey

The meaning of amulet? This is the first that appeared when googled:


An amulet, similar to a talisman, can be any object but its most important characteristic is its alleged power to protect its owner from danger or harm.

Those following this blog will know that the Lirey badge might be regarded as an amulet – but one that fulfilled a dual protection role.

The obvious one was the protection  that pilgrims might hope for on their return journey back from the obscure village of Lirey. You know, robbers, wolves, bad food etc etc.

But it served another more covert protection role in 1357 of thereabouts when newly-widowed Jeanne de Vergy decided to honour her husband’s will, and put a certain burial shroud  sheet of linen on public display bearing a curious double image, but with her husband’s  stipulation it should not be in his lifetime(???).

Jeanne had two lines of defence in the event of the local Bishop charging her with peddling a false ‘graven image’. First, she could claim that her husband had kept its origins to himself, taking that secret with him to the grave.

Secondly, she would invite the Bishop to take a closer look at  the commemorative badge, modelled on the shroud in her possession. What makes the bishop think that it is an image of Christ on display? Look at the man with the short hair, the absence of an obvious beard. Does that look like an image of Christ, dear Bishop? Look more closely and you will see nothing that says the man was crucified – no wounds, no representations of blood (no, that’s a chain across the waist, not blood). In fact, it is not an image of crucifixion at all, dear Bishop,  but of burning at the stake, Correction – slow roasting. Does that ring any bells with you – like fairly recent history – a mere 43 years or so ago -you know,  the justice meted out by our dear King to those oh-so-sinister Knights Templar –  Jacques de Molay, Geoffroi de Charney (not to be confused with my dear beloved husband, Geoffroi de Charny). Oh, and look at the reverse side of our pilgrim’s badge dear Bishop, and tell me what you see. Clue: it was not for barbecuing chicken drumsticks, sausages or shish kebab… Oh, and in case you were wondering, that image on my husband’s shroud almost certainly is a scorch.  My husband did start to explain it to me before that final stroke but never finished his sentence. More wine, Bishop. It’s our best you know…. Now about that splendid appeal of yours – raising money for the poor. Dear Geoffroi insisted on leaving you something in his will…

16:00  Here’s yet another likely spy clue on the Lirey badge/amulet/medallion that hints it was not just your ordinary run-of-the-mill pilgrim’s souvenir. This amulet was designed to protect the owner of the Shroud in its critical first few years (or decades) or public showing, and it did so by a combination of clever ambiguity and playing to people’s perceived needs – to have something tangible to sustain faith in the Christian story relating to the death and subsequent Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But one cannot simply produce a sheet of linen with an interesting image, and straight away claim it is the genuine Shroud. We are talking about a period in French history when it  did not pay to attract the wrong kind of attention from Church or State, then working largely in harmony. Think what had happened to the supposedly powerful Templars less than half a century earlier. So let’s take a look at the latest spy clue I’ve discovered, the field being left wide open to us amateur historians, given that the pilgrim’s badge would seem to be  a no-go area for reasons that are not difficult to guess it (it  being seen as problematical to Shroud-authenticity promoters, as indeed it is, or should be).

Let’s begin with a passage from Alan Foster from January last year in the BSTS Journal, No.75, who  reported on a visit to the Cluny Museum (where the Lirey badge is still inexplicably “in storage” (not on display).  Focus on what he has to say about the careful attention to detail in the first highlighted passage, then what he has to say about a ‘mistake’ with crossed-over feet.

The Pilgrim’s
Medallion :  Amulet of Lirey by Alan Foster
January 2012

foster on amuletLet’s see. How many anomalies does that make now? Un-Christ-like figure, chain across waist extending left and right of waist (“blood belt”), another “chain” across the feet that looks remarkably like a flicker of flame, an empty tomb represented by a sarcophagus that might instead be a plinth with a grill, a reverse side showing what looks remarkably like a grill for barbecuing, knees that look like flesh has burned off revealing exposed bone, over-long fingers that also look bony, shoulders, thighs, shins etc that look as if they are encased in knightly armour,  and …  do I need to continue?

More later.

14:47: this comment has just appeared on TOS:

February 28, 2013 at 10:41 am | #43

CB wrote: “If the [blood-first] dogma is to be maintained, then it must surely be founded upon more than one quickie, visual, subjective result.” I would agree with him if the only snag is, with the Lirey Medallion, we’ve already had a most telling example of how prone the same CB was to rely on ‘quickie, visual, subjective result’ and “think he sees” things that were not really there but he wanted hard to be there to give allegedly ‘historical’ ground to his scorching hypothesis.

As far as the bloodstains issue is concerned, now all we see is how prone again he is “to think he sees” things that are not as they really are. The man keeps CBaying at the moon the blood images ‘are on’ the body images and not underneath just because he wants it so hard it could be so in order to push on his cheap novelistic scorching hypothesis and create a new dogma: the ‘blood-second dogma’ and impose/sell it to “Shroudies’ as the historical, archaeological and scientific sole true dogma and endword.

Now what about his own way to found his ‘blood-second dogma’? How truly scientific, archaeological and historical is it? To ask yourself the question is already to know the answer.

If there are plans to instigate new research to back-up the woefully-documented “blood-first” dogma, which I doubt very much (such being the attachment to ‘trophy results’ in the world of Shroud-promotion), then my response to that is simple. BRING IT ON.

In fact I proposed a simple mechanical test for the blood-first hypothesis dogma  many moons ago. That posting was totally ignored by TOS,  so often curiously selective in what it reports from here. Here it is,  posted  on August 3rd last year, cut-and-pasted  below in its entirety.


Comment from Richard Savage on The Other Site

“But is Berry correct that our opinion (the blood being on first) “rests on somewhat token  and insubstantial evidence based on a single spot test with proteolytic enzyme on a microscope slide.” In, Adler bases his claim on publications by himself, Heller and Jumper — but, are they all referring to “a single spot test”?

In all my reading, Richard, I have only ever seen one experiment cited in support of the “blood first, image second” dogma. It was the Adler/Heller experiment with the proteolytic enzyme, performed on a microscope slide, which described how digestion of the bloodstain left clean image fibres  i.e. with fibres underneath resembling clean non-image fibres.

Conclusion: the blood came first, the body image second –  suggestive evidence, but hardly definitive or clinching on which to base so major a claim

However, I do not claim to have read every word that has been written on the subject. So if anyone knows of supplementary experiments to back that claim, then please let me know (with a link too if possible).

As a retired biochemist who spent years handling enzymes, I have a number of reservations about that experiment. I shan’t bore the pants of people by listing them all. Suffice it to say that the experiment makes a number of assumptions (unwarranted assumptions in my view).  Personally, I believe that in attempting to establish what came first,  the initial experiment  should have been a dry, not wet system, using mechanical and optical methods only. Here’s the kind of thing I have in mind, using a miniature version of an angle grinder and a lens or microscope.

“Blood first, body image second” scenario, with angled abrasion and microscopic examination. The linen would first be embedded in paraffin wax or resin. It could then be sectioned in a microtome to get thin slices for microscopy, those sections being permanent after mounting and available for a range of opinions.
Body image first, blood second scenario, abraded and examined as before.

One abrades the surface at as gentle as possible an angle the normal, as in the diagrams, and examines the abraded surface under the lens. One seeks to identify blood that is not overlaid with body image, or body image that is not overlaid with blood, deducing which came first.

I don’t imagine for one moment that the experiment is a doddle, given the thinness of the body image (allegedly less than 200nm in thickness) but it is worth trying in the first instance, using if necessary a range of image enhancement techniques. If  it gives an unambiguous yes/no answer, then that is a result that is not hedged around with uncertainties, unlike the wet enzyme system.


09:45:  Oh dear, this has just appeared on TOS, and there I was hoping beyond hope that it was nothing I had said that might have got under His Holiness’s intellectual carapace. Who knows on which laptop screen (or Pope-mobile iPhone) one’s scurrilous  views finally appear?

It was announced this morning that Pope Benedict XVI, as one of his last acts as Pontiff, has authorized a television only exhibition of the Shroud of Turin on March 30, 2013 (Holy Saturday) directly from the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist where the cloth is permanently stored.

One has only to google (pope icon blood) to see how obscure bloggers are able at the stroke of a few keys to insert their iconoclastic ideas into cyberspace. (I write this only half in jest).

google pope icon blood

Who knows who might have switched to reading blogs when tiring of 140 character soundbites on their Twitter accounts. 😉

And as if losing one’s signet ring to the silver hammer, and one’s bespoke red shoes weren’t enough, now we learn that the poor man is to suffer the ultimate stripping of rank and privilege – to be divested of that Twitter account too..

Pope to quit Twitter after stepping down: Vatican Radio

08:18:  Anyone care to guess what this is? (Thank you ImageJ for allowing an oblique view of something normally viewed ‘square on’).

rev 7 oblique imagej

10:17: Hugh Farey thinks it’s a flattened bat, the insect-chasing nocturnal variety  (though he describes it in posher language that I couldn’t hope to emulate – see comments).

Let’s raise the viewing angle a bit:

rev 4

Can you see what it is yet?

Maybe this will help?

rev 10 cropped

Click to ENLARGE

Take a close look at the pattern. What does it show? Is it a purely decorative motif, or does it represent something that may(might) have (had) a utilitarian function, especially if laid flat, instead of mounted vertically. I’ll add my overlay later, and tell folk (again) and hope to elicit some helpful response. (This blogger is always open to alternative interpretations – except from those  who use other people’s blogs as hobby horses for their own obsessions).

Here’s a higher definition picture of – guess what?

reverse side of lirey badge cropped

Yes, it’s the reverse side of what has been called an ‘amulet’ – my preferred description, at least for today, in view of what is to follow re its intended  dual protective functions.

Observe the curious interrupted trellis pattern. Here it is with an overlay (no attempt has been made to reproduce the exact pattern of the trellis – merely to convey an impression).

Reverse side of Lirey amulet - with blue overlay to show the interrupted trellis pattern.

Reverse side of Lirey amulet – with blue overlay to show the interrupted trellis pattern.

So why that curious pattern?  I’m no art historian, but have to say I don’t regard it as has  having any particular artistic merit. Why the interruptions in the diamond trellis? Why the thick pole-like objects?

Given everything I’ve said previously about the amulet of Lirey, based then on having only the front view, I have to say that I could not have wished for better confirmation of those ideas from seeing the reverse side – shown on Mario Latendresse’s site (Shroud Scope) which I only noticed a week ago. I had said some 10 months ago that the man on the pilgrim’s badge/amulet was NOT  the crucified Jesus,  but someone else, probably a Knight Templar, possibly Jacques de Molay, who was being roasted/barbecued at the stake, since that is how the last Grand Master and his companions met their end on a Seine island in Paris in 1314. I even ventured that what had previously been described as an ’empty tomb’ on the badge (more like a box-shaped sarcophagus) was ambiguous, and that a pattern could be construed as a grid – for grilling purposes. Look now on the reverse side, and what do we see?  Something that looks suspiciously like a grill, laid horizontally  on those 3 poles, leaving space for glowing embers, probably wood charcoal, and even providing walkways for those  whose grim job it was to regulate the temperature of those emplacements on which were stood (or possibly knelt) the luckless victims, secured with a chain around the midriff, possibly the feet too. Those chains , shown on the Lirey badge, aka Cluny Medal, are interpreted different by Ian Wilson and others as stylized blood flows from a spear wound in the side. Maybe, maybe not, but I am beginning to think that when you look at the amulet/badge through a fresh set of eyes, taking nothing on trust, discarding a lot of unscientific baggage, then my roasting narrative, linked to events in 1314, is every bit as valid, if not more so,  than the idea that is  Christ depicted on that memento – a more un-Christ figure being hard to imagine. What’s more, my narrative explains at one fell swoop why the image of the Man on the Shroud looks for all intents and purposes like a heat scorch. That’s because It WAS a heat scorch- intended as a grim metaphor! But why go to the trouble of producing a  badge that makes little or no attempt to portray a typically Christ-like image, given the exquisite detail shown elsewhere? I shall be back later, under a new time stamp, to address that crucial issue again (my initial ideas having so far attracted no relevant comments  – here or elsewhere- except for the usual sniping from the usual suspects ).


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.

15 Responses to Shroudie-Alert: Day 10. A new(ish) take on a very old amulet

  1. Hugh Farey says:

    Clearly Pipistrellus pipistrellus, after an accident with a rolling pin, after which, as some wag notes, an animal loses not only its life, but also its third dimension…

  2. colinsberry says:

    Nope. But you are allowed a second guess Hugh. I’ll now raise the viewing angle a bit. Later, I’ll be suggesting we take a new angle (boom boom) on the semantics too – like the meaning of “amulet”.

  3. Hugh Farey says:

    Well, who’d have guessed?

    On your most recent post (14:47), quoting #43 on Shroudstory’s “That is not what one would expect to see” posting, did you notice my own comment (#34) demonstrating that since the “serum” covers large areas of the fibres, while the “image” covers hardly any, any random “serum”-stained fibre would be most unlikely to have anything underneath it, whether or not the image was formed before the bloodstain? Consequently Heller and Adler’s findings are entirely irrelevant to the question of which came first.

  4. colinsberry says:

    I did indeed spot your most perceptive comment re sampling error, Hugh and had intended to include it in a list of responses to that thread. But come midnight I was only halfway through the checklist and decided to call it a day! Thanks for the reminder.

    How much attention to detail do you suppose went into the statistical design of that protease experiment? Do you by any chance have a reprint of that Adler/Heller experiment? If so, could you maybe post some extracts here, and/or email it?

  5. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    CB you wrote: “Look now on the reverse side, and what do we see? Something that looks suspiciously like a grill, laid horizontally on those 3 poles, leaving space for glowing embers, probably wood charcoal”. My question: are the 3 poles first and the diamond treillis second?

  6. Hugh Farey says:

    I haven’t got a copy. I imagine the Canadian Society of Forensic Science could send one, but it’s not on their website, which only goes back to 1995. “The Orphaned Manuscript,” which seems to be a collection of Adler’s papers, is unavailable (although most of it is published via Google Books). The best I can do is find bits quoted by other people, which is never very satisfactory.

  7. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    You also wrote: “a more un-Christ figure being hard to imagine.” Hard to imagine ONLY for somebody you totally and utterly ignore medieval glyptographic art. I can think of many medieval graffiti featuring an equally and even more un-Christ figure (one of which carved by a Templar prisoner).

    • colinsberry says:

      Yes, but we are not dealing with a Templar prisoner with time on his hands, like years in a prison cell. We are dealing with someone commissioned to produce a souvenir badge with- I believe – an ulterior motive to deflect unwelcome attention from the local bishop, and who was incredibly superb at his craft, incorporating a vast amount of fine detail into a relatively small badge. What’s more, his finished product would have been closely scrutinized by the de Charney/de Vergy family who set out to market their mischievous and enigmatic Shroud. The latter commissioned a badge, or series of badges, to ensure everything was on-message – a subtly shifting message – carefully vetted to be free of silly and incriminating errors,. Nothing, absolutely nothing could be allowed that might have attracted unwelcome comment and thus compromised the entire project, possibly putting their lives at risk. Everything on that badge had to have a purpose. Making sure the figure was not too Christ-like, but could be close enough to the Shroud image for the casual observer to have assumed it was MEANT TO REPRESENT Christ, but, you know, taxing the skills of a somewhat rustic craftsman, maybe not terribly good at his job, good on heraldry but hopeless with people bla bla, was all part and parcel of some very smart product-positioning (and covert re-positioning) that has brought us where we are today.

  8. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    Typo: (one of which carved by a Templar prisoner AND featuring a naked Christ)

  9. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    Hard to imagine ONLY for somebody who totally and utterly ignore medieval glyptographic art
    (one of which carved in 1308 by a Templar prisoner who featured him naked).

  10. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    1308 that is 6 years before JdeM and GdeCh died at the stakes (no pun intended).

  11. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    Sorry to tell bod, but your alleged ‘cryptoanalysis’ of the Lirey medallion is just crap.

    Prof. Max Patrick Hamon
    Founder and director of CERCA TROVA (Cabinet d’Etudes et de Recherche en Cryptolgie Appliquée à l’Archéologie, la Criminologie et la Psychophysiothérapie), Rezé-Nantes.

  12. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    You wrote: “The latter commissioned a badge, or series of badges, to ensure everything was on-message – a subtly shifting message – carefully vetted to be free of silly and incriminating errors,. Nothing, absolutely nothing could be allowed that might have attracted unwelcome comment and thus compromised the entire project, possibly putting their lives at risk. Everything on that badge had to have a purpose. Making sure the figure was not too Christ-like, but could be close enough to the Shroud image for the casual observer to have assumed it was MEANT TO REPRESENT Christ, but, you know, taxing the skills of a somewhat rustic craftsman, maybe not terribly good at his job, good on heraldry but hopeless with people bla bla, was all part and parcel of some very smart product-positioning (and covert re-positioning) that has brought us where we are today”.

    The fact is I already deciphered a TRULY subtly encoded scene cryptically/subliminally evoking JdeM’s meeting of his end by slow fire. It was in an early 15th century miniature.

  13. colinsberry says:

    Admit it, MPH. You have a problem with people whose thinking is focused, and who don’t give themselves fancy titles.(I’m content, if pushed, to state my qualifications, signing off as Colin Berry MSc, PhD (Univ of London) with no need to mention my postdoctoral career, publications etc. this being a blog, not a cv).

    Oh, and please don’t blitz my recent Comments, prematurely pushing off the bottom some that deserve to be visible for hours, indeed days. It’s a ‘netiquette’ thing you know… Final warning.

  14. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    Nothing to think I see

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