The edge of this GB sterling £1 coin says “DECUS ET TUTAMEN”. It means “an ornament and a protection”. Though introduced in the 17th century as a security measure to counter then prevalent shaving of slivers from real silver coins, the phrase is attributed to an epic poem by Virgil – “viro decus et tutamen in armis”, describing an item of armour – a breast-plate interwoven with gold.
An interesting idea appeared this morning among the last tranche of comments to Dan Porter’s shroudstory site (see previous posting re Dan’s bowing out). It was from Hugh Farey, Editor of the BSTS newsletter:
Here is the comment in full. I’ve bolded the portion that sees the mid-14th century Lirey-housed Shroud as a a “liturgical illustration” , or as I would say, devotional “ornament”:
December 21, 2015 at 5:57 am
I agree with your position, Thomas, in that an artist wanting to forge a miraculous image would have no cultural context or tradition to produce a double front-and-back portrait. At this late stage (the 14th century was towards the end of the relic making – or discovering – craze), he might have decided not to produce an out-and-out painting which was simply declared miraculous (like most of the other imaged cloths), and, as a sop to the increasing rationality of the age, produced one in monochrome that could be thought of as a ‘sweat’ or ‘blood’ imprint, but at first sight there seems no reason to produce a long thin cloth (most un-shroud-like) with a double image.
However! If he was not producing a ‘relic’, but a liturgical illustration, for the particular purpose of being displayed across the Sanctuary of a church, held in front of or behind an altar on Easter Sunday, having wrapped a wooden body of Christ (quietly removed by clerics on Saturday evening) lying in a side chapel since being placed there on Good Friday, then he might well have produced a long thin cloth, with a representation of what a real body might have produced had it laid within it.
This explanation would seem fanciful if we did not have countless accounts of just such a re-enactment occurring in monasteries, churches, and then outside during the development of mystery plays. The ‘Shrouds’ undoubtedly existed, and in vast numbers across Europe, although, in common with almost every other similar mystery play prop, not a single one remains. It is true that we have no description of any such Shroud, imaged or otherwise, and the few paintings of the scene do not show an image either, but such vestiges as remain can hardly be considered representative of the whole.
I struggle myself with non-authenticist scenarios, as it happens, but this seems to me both sensible, possible, and
Thanks Hugh. A wooden statue as a visual aid, making the double imprint a ‘thought experiment’? NOT a forgery, not intended to deceive, at least while the statue is in situ, or even temporarily removed on key calendar dates, then promptly replaced. By Jove, I do believe you’ve got it! It’s certainly a highly credible scenario…
But might there have been an auxiliary reason for that image to have been created, one that is the “protection”, also translated from the Latin as “safeguard, as in the graphic above”?
Yes, I strongly suspect there is, though I don’t undersestimate the difficulty of defending it. It’s the idea of the Shroud having been produced not just as a “ornament” but a “safeguard” too. This blogger also used Dan Porter’s site to flag up that dimension a few days ago in the following comment. Unfortunately the key passage (again highlighted) comes near the end but in the interests of preserving context I’ve cut-and-pasted the entire comment.
December 18, 2015 at 1:12 am
Before addressing your points in detail re the crown of thorns, or rather its more or less gorey end-stage manifestations, David G, let me first expand on what I was saying earlier re the strategic decision-making that preceded the simulation of a sweat/blood imprint on a look-alike proxy for Joseph of Arimathea’s linen (proxy rather than forgery, note, not knowing a thing about the motives its creators).
It was decided, mainly for practical reasons, to keep the basal background body image as simple and straightforward as possible, the only detail being in the face (bas relief?) and the crossed hands. Elsewhere everything else was blurred and ill-defined. But there was a theoretical rationale that could be deployed in the event of a medieval sceptic or know-all claiming the body image was too simple. It would be pointed out that it was created from sweat, and sweat is a mobile and runny substance, even oily sweat, so could not be expected to produce a sharp imprint that incorporated fine details of body anatomy or wound damage.
Having made that decision to keep the body image simple, there was a price to be paid in the imprinting of the blood. There had to be a compensating overkill – one that would dispel any foolish notion that the figure represented was merely a stylized artwork. Quite the contrary, there had to be a gut clenching paramedical immediacy and impact that in modern day reporting would have resulted in a sensibility-preserving pixellated photograph on the newspaper front page. No, for our secretive goal-oriented medieval imprinters, there was to be no prissy pussyfooting around in the manner in which blood was applied to the image. It had to be done in a manner that looked like the man had REALLY been flogged to within an inch of his life (even if the Bible gives no indication of that) crowned with deep penetrating thorns, nailed, crucified and finally lanced. There were to be no half measures. Indeed, nothing short of 100% reality-imprinting would do, given the imperatives of what they had set out to achieve, the motives for which one can only guess at (though King John the Good’s Order of the Star offers fertile ground for speculation, especially if he(Geoffroy de Charny) had had a premonition that he or his King would be captured and held to ransom at the Battle of Poitiers,1356.
As it happened, late edit, Geoffroi died defending his KIng, the latter then being captured and held to ruinously high ransom. Maybe widowed Madame de Charny (Jeanne de Vergy) had not been fully apprised of her late husband’s and King’s game plan, using the ‘genuine’ Shroud as a down payment, and more concerned post-Poitiers disaster to provide for herself and her orphaned children?
This comment is already quite long and starting to deviate, so I’ll post this as a prologue and then return with the detailed haematology later this morning (my time zone). King John and his close buddy Geoffroy de Charny of Lirey will have to go onto the post-Apocalypse back burner for now, with maybe a speculative posting on my own site, sometime in the New Year.
(ed. I’ve altered my previous spelling of ‘Geoffroi’ to ‘Geoffroy’, the latter being more common in the sindonological literature that I shall be cutting-and-pasting in the coming days and weeks)
Yes, the Shroud of Turin, correction, the neophyte Shroud of Lirey as an “ornament and a protection” – that will be the thesis on this site for some time to come.
The problem is how best to present it, bearing in mind that this is a blogsite, not a scholarly “dot-the-i’s and cross the t’s” pdf or peer-reviewed paper, this investigator now seeing himself more as don’t-let-the-grass-grow-under-your-feet detective than plodding academic.
I’ve decided on a change in tack. I shall be using my own Comments section to develop the thesis in small bite-size instalments. It helps to prevent the site becoming unsightly and/or unwieldy, as happens if constantly adding postscripts, and who knows, may even improve its present pitiful search engine ranking (it’s rumoured that Google does not like what it sees as constant editing of content, which may or may not be true).
Feel free to comment folks (first timers may have their maiden comment to this site held up briefly for my approval). Be quick if you want to appear as first comment – I’ll be adding my own, once I’ve got my head round some of the disjointed fragments of recorded history immediately preceding the first display of the Lirey Shroud in the mid 1350s (approx).
Next posting in this “Decus et Tutamen” series? Barring misfortune it will be this side of Christmas, taking a close look at an article which the formidable lately-deceased Dorothy Crispino penned in the very first issue (1981) of her Shroud Spectrum International.
It’s in pdf format, the link to which can be found in the SSI Index on the shroud.com site.