WHY DID GEOFFROY DE CHARNY CHANGE HIS MIND?
Crusaders, Templars, knights and knaves have been stalked by sleuths intent on identifying the man who carried the Holy Shroud away from Constantinople in 1204 and—presumably but not necessarily—took it to France.
That is how the late Dorothy Crispino (1916 -2013) began her article in the very first issue of her “Shroud Spectrum International”, way back in 1981 (but still extraordinarily relevant and useful to us “Johnny-come-lately” Shroud researchers).
See the posting immediately preceding this one for the shroud.com -hosted archiving of all issues of that highly respected but long-disappeared journal, albeit with its uncompromising pro-authenticity slant. There you will find the links to the scanned articles, archived in pdf, and much else besides.
What follows in bold blue format are my annotations to the above article.
Yes, the reader is left in absolutely no doubt as to the Editor’s/author’s pro-authencity stance. But let’s see if everything fits. Might there be awkward little details that don’t (one of which, by no means the most important, was alluded to in the title).
Link to the long-lived Dorothy Crispino (RIP)
Back now to Dorothy Crispino, hereafter referred to as DC.
Some investigators have even alleged that the deed was done by Geoffroy de Charny, forgetting that he was not born until the next century. But no crusader,Templar, knight or knave left fingerprints on Exhibit A; so in default of evidence the case, for the moment, hangs suspended. We can confidently eliminate those who took part in the Fourth Crusade: the Shroud is still listed in Constantinople’s inventory of treasures as late as 1247.
That should have been “a shroud” in Constantinople, not “the Shroud”, if referring to what is presently called “the Turin Shroud”, and what I shall be calling “the Lirey shroud” for simplicity.
Why? Because there is no record in the artistic or written historical record pre-mid 14th century Lirey of the iconic “two-fold” image , i.e. frontal and dorsal images aligned head-to-head, so could, and almost certainly was, an entirely different artefact.
See this posting on the shroudstory site:
Here’s the link:
In his monumental opus “Ricerche Storiche sulla Santa Sindone” (1) Mons. Pietro Savio examines documents which almost certainly point to that crucially important moment in which Geoffroy de Charny receives the Holy Shroud. Other sindonologists —notably Luigi Fossati, S.D.B. ( 2) —have added evidence from the same period, and the search goes on.
Some might consider those words fanciful, self-indulgent even. However, it is not my purpose to take issue with DC’s stance, especially as she is no longer around to defend herself. On the contrary her essay is a valuable summary to historians, whether professional, semi-professional or amateur, especially to someone like myself who sees his role more as the modern day sleuth, i.e. private detective alluded to in DC’s opening sentence.
Andre Perret (3) remarks that the military career of Geoffroy carried him to too many places for us to determine, in the present state of our knowledge, where the relic came into his possession.
Again, the assumption is that the Lirey shroud had a pre-Lirey history – some 1350 years of it, none of which has a ‘positive sighting’ as regards the two-fold image. How likely is that?
From 1337, when he first distinguished himself in a battle in Guyenne, until his death at Poitiers in 1356, Geoffroy was constantly crisscrossing France from Flanders to Vannes on the Atlantic, from Picardy and Normandy to Anjou. Twice he was outside France: in 1345 he joined the Dauphin Humbert II on the Smyrna crusade and some authors have suggested that it was there the Shroud came into his hands. Undoubtedly he sailed; only first-hand experience could have dictated his descriptions, in his long poem, of the perils of the sea. But the problem of his participation in the Smyrna campaign has not yet been fully investigated; and since the documents we are about to consider in this essay pertain to a later period, the Smyrna question is chronologically not relevant.
The gallant soldier decidedly did not volunteer for his second departure from France. In 1350, villainously betrayed and after a furious battle at Calais, he was taken to London as Edward III’s prisoner-of-war.
Reading this, one could be forgiven for thinking that the trap laid for de Charny at Calais by the English king was the first occasion on which de Charny had been captured and held to ransom. Not according to wikipedia it wasn’t. There’s a confusing passage in the de Charny entry that suggests he had been captured twice (probably just once in Brittany at the Battle of Morlaix or at any rate the same year, same part of France).
Link to the wikipedia article on Geoffroi de Charny (died 1356).
Link to the Battle of Morlaix, with several references to Geoffroy de Charny having been captured.
Reading snippets from the extensive writings of de Charny, detailing his meticulous attention to the theory and practice of his knightly code, one gets the impression that he placed little value on his own life and survival, taking it for granted that this earthly existence was just a preparation, nay test, for the next. But given his having been held to ransom not just once but twice (possibly more) there was a lurking anxiety: how does one deal with that eventuality? Does the ransomed knight owe a debt of hard cash to the individual who pays the ransom, recognizing that de Charny or his first and second wife apparently had only limited resources of their own. Who was the benefactor on each of those two occasions? In fact, we’re told it was the monarch no less who stumped up (King Philip VI at the time of Morlaix, his son and heir John II at the later Calais fiasco). Is there an ethical or moral obligation to repay (given the risks taken in participating in the King’s campaigns, whether defensive or offensive)? That is a key question that needs to be addressed: did de Charny feel ‘guilty’ about having imposed a burden on royal finances? Let’s no be in any doubt as to the sums of money involved:
Not until 20 December 1350 did the English king give safe-conduct to a servant and two valets of Geoffroy to go to France to raise money (page 29) for his release. In the meantime, Philip VI had died (1350) and on 31 July 1351 his son and successor, John II, paid the enormous ransom—a resounding 12,000 gold scudis.
I shall take DC’s word that 12,000 gold scudis is a lot of money, especially being solid gold coinage.
Geoffroy, however, had been allowed to return to France beforehand, for on 28 June 1351, John II appointed him Bearer of the sacred Oriflamme of St. Denis.
One’s tempted to insert a mischievous word or two about that role. It was an honour, and highly dangerous. But it virtually ensured that de Charny could not be captured and ransomed again – death being the more likely outcome, as indeed proved to be the case when he was bearer of the Oriflamme at the Battle of Poitiers (1356). Ironically, it was the King himself (John II) who was captured and ransomed, Geoffroy and and dozens of fellow knights having died trying to protect him!
In that same month, Geoffroy renewed his efforts to take Calais, attacking at Ardres.
In October of 1351, there were other combats in the Calais area. On 6 January 1352, at the
ceremony inaugurating King John’s new Order, Geoffroy was one of the first to be created
Knight of the Star.
There’s a wikipedia entry devoted to the Order of the Star (L’Ordre d’Etoile in French).
Here’s the link:
What is overlooked in most of the sindonology literature is that de Charny is credited with having been the inspiration for that chivalrous order, testifying to the fact that he was not an otherwise obscure landowner in a remote part of France, centred on a tiny hamlet called Lirey, but one of the top men at the court of the highly religious King John II (“The Good”). If the Shroud of Lirey was not an acquired spoil of war (battle location unspecified) then why would it have emerged when it did a few years at most – or so it would seem- prior to Geoffroy’s death at Poitiers?
Then, in February, he went to St. Omer as captain-general of the army, invested with all the authority of the king himself. At this time, he was counsellor to John II, as he had been to Philip VI from 1348 until Philip’s death. The seigneur of three modest domains
had risen to be one of the foremost figures in France.
Yes, he was a one of the King’s closest consorts, probably THE closest. King John had fought alongside Geoffroy in several campaigns before ascending to the throne, and was clearly attracted to de Charny’s combination of fighting spirit and knightly ideals. (So too was Dorothy Crispino, it seems, Geoffroy de Charny being her favourite topic, the subject of numerous essays post 1981).
Fighting the English again in June and September of 1352; in 1353, Picardy; 1354, Normandy; and after the battle of Breteuil in July of 1356, John II rewarded him with two houses in Paris.
He had precious little time to enjoy them; on 19 September 1356, at the disaster of Poitiers, Geoffroy de Charny was killed, holding aloft the Oriflamme until he fell. Charles V gave him a hero’s funeral at the church of the Celestins in Paris.
So what were the implications for the chaplains of Geoffroy’s church, and his widow (needless to say)? Chaplains? Plural? Yes, plural. Be prepared for a surprise. Sorry to fasten onto this small housekeeping detail. DC had more important things on her mind, namely the supposed pre-Lirey antecedents of the Lirey shroud.
That the preux chevalier did receive the Shroud in connection with a battle seems implied in the statement of his granddaughter, Marguerite de Charny, who claimed that the Shroud was “conquered” by the late messire de Charny.(4). A slightly different account was recorded in a Bull of Clement VII (1390) in which Geoffroy II attests that the Shroud was given to his father sibi liberaliter oblatam; freely or generously presented to him.
The statements given by Geoffroy II (1389 & 1390) and by his daughter Marguerite (1443) are not necessarily incompatible. They might both be correct, each one but a glimpse of the whole story. They do agree in this: that the Shroud was personal property, legitimately acquired, and legitimately held by Geoffroy’s heirs. Neither Geoffroy II nor Marguerite makes any mention of the place, the donor, the circumstances; these are still totally unknown. But Geoffroy himself, according to Mons. Savio’s demonstration, may have circumscribed the time-frame in which the transfer took place.
Final words: “…the transfer took place.” In a nutsehll, one sees the difference between sindonology and objective historical analysis. No matter: that does not prevent any particular sindonological discourse, this one included, from highlighting important established facts that ARE backed with historical documentation. One simply has to sort factual wheat from fanciful chaff.
Geoffroy de Charny was the second son and third child of Jean de Charny and great-grandson of Ponce de Mont-Saint-Jean, who founded the Charny branch in the XIIIth century. Geoffroy’s elder brother Dreux became sire of Charny. Geoffroy inherited the property which had been his mother’s dowry, consisting of the lands and tiny hamlet of Lirey, (5) nearly a hundred miles away.
Tucked in a joyous dip of undulating Champagne in the diocese of Troyes, parish of St. Jean Bonneval, the Lirey fief provided very little (page 30) revenue. At the end of the XIIIth century, there were fifty hearths; today the total population is less than sixty souls. To take up residence there, Geoffroy had to build himself a castle; of which nothing now remains but the stump of a tower buried in brambles and weeds.
And the village had no church.
This is where it starts to get interesting, with the first reference to that “church”, or as it is frequently described elsewhere as a “chapel” of modest construction (“timber”).
In what follows, it becomes clear there was no outright lump sum of money provided to de Charny by his King for building a the church. Leaving aside for a moment why the King should have financed a knight’s chapel for the latter’s own and family use in a remote and tiny hamlet (the King presumably did not pay for that castle too) it’s important to recognize that the means of finance was via slow-motion “accrual” of a tax-free rental income that would take several years to pay for constructing the church. In other words, there was no pressing urgency for the church to be built, seen either from Geoffroy’s perspective or that of his King. Financial and fiscal prudence were the watchwords from the very beginning. So how long did Geoffroy have to squirrel away his annual incomes before actual construction began? What was being budgeted for? Just a church?
Nope. Not just a church. Oh no…
Early in 1343, Geoffroy appealed to King Philip VI for revenues, land or other, which would accrue to 140 livres annually; as it was his desire to found a chapel with five chaplains, so that he and his family might hear Mass and benefit from the good works of the clergy. In an Act of June 1343, Philip donates to his amé et féal Geoffroy de Charny chevalier 140 livres of land, tax exempt, for financing the project.
Five chaplains? Full time appointments? All for one private chapel for use by a knight and his family, living in a remote hamlet with just 50 homes? What is meant by “benefit from the good works of the clergy”? Might there be more here that meets the eye, given those 5 appointments were part of a long term plan, one with a lengthy gestation period it seems of some 6 years at least. What was the real role for those chaplains. There’s at least one other pro-authenticity site that assumes almost casually that the knight was either in possession of the Shroud (THE Shroud) or knew he would be in due course, and so planned the church well in advance as an exhibition centre. Might de Charny have had other reasons to create a longterm plan for a church, backed by his King, with no immediate lump sum investment, one that would need a generous provision of 5 chaplains no less?
These documents, dated seven years before Geoffroy’s captivity, refute the romantic legend that the “perfect knight” was miraculously freed from prison after making a vow to the Virgin to build a church in her honor.
Another romantic notion bites the dust, and this time we have a pro-authenticity writer to thank for separating fact from fancy.
A document in the Lirey archives, dated 3 January 1349, confirms Philip’s donation. Geoffroy himself contributed his inheritance from an aunt (undated).
So the investment was sizeable, needing 6 years accrued rent from the King’s land as well as Geoffroy’s windfall inheritance.
Three months later, in a petition to Clement VI dated 16 April 1349 (6) Geoffroy announced to the Pope that he has constructed a chapel dedicated to Blessed Virgin Mary of the Annunciation and therein established five canons, each to receive a stipend of 30 livres. He requests that the church be raised to a collegiate.
So what price the idea that the canons of Geoffroy’s own church, built with funds provided partly by his King, would have been the owners of one of its assets – the Lirey Shroud – instead of his widow Jeanne de Vergy, post Geoffroy’s death in 1356?
There is no indication here that Geoffroy’s 5 clerical appointees had provided any funding, so they would have had no proprietal rights to the church and its assets. Indeed, their stipends came from Geoffroy, not the established Church. They were hired help, and their stipends would have been a continuing drain on Geoffroy’s finances. He presumably made provision for that in his initial planning. How? It seems fairly obvious that Geoffroy’s private church, once built and generously staffed, then had to ‘pay its own way’ and indeed might be expected to generate an income that might then exceed outgoings, becoming what in modern day terms one might call a “cash cow”. Might Geoffroy would have had pressing reasons to make provision for a rainy day – like being captured and held to ransom, or simply being killed, leaving his wife destitute or reliant on her own resource.
In the petition dated 26 April 1349, (6) he requests an indulgence of 100 days for all who, in devotion and penitence, visit the church on the feasts of the Virgin; that the church have its own cemetery beside it for the canons, chaplains and whosoever desires.
Yes, here we see the first indication that the chapel was not just intended for private family use, that it was conceived from the start as a shrine, a place of pilgrimage, one that would grant indulgences, which we all know had to be paid for by the recipient.
Geoffroy planned his church as a paying proposition, understandably so, not being a rich man, one needing a long-term line of credit from his sovereign.
As for the disposition of his own remains, he desires that, after the dissolution of his body, his bones be divided and buried in diverse places.
Item eidem supplicanti concedere dignemini, ut post dissolutionem corporis sui, quod idem corpus possit dividi et diversis locis sepeliri, prout duxerit ordinandem, et alias ut in forma.
How odd one might think that having founded his own church, he should not have designed it to serve as a final under-cover all-weather repository for his own and family’s mortal remains, i.e. to install a purpose-built crypt. But he later changes his mind (prompting DC’s somewhat bewildered choice of title for which no explanation is proffered).
All these requests were granted; but Item 1, concerning the collegiate status, was not
accomplished because Geoffroy left again for Calais where, in the night between 31 December 1349 and 1 January 1350, he was taken prisoner.
So, 6 years after Geoffroy’s first capture and ransom in Brittany, with that lengthy gestation period for a future church, staffed with 5 chaplains no less, Geoffroy’s church is finally built, offering indulgences at a price to all and sundry. But he is then captured and held to ransom a SECOND time. Who pays the ransom demand this time?
There is some perplexity about Geoffroy’s statement of 16 April 1349 that a church had been built:
Significat Sanctitati vestre devotus filius vester Joffridus de Charny miles dominus de Lirey Trecensis diocesis, quod ipse in villa de Lirey infra limites parrocchie Sancti Johannis de Bonnevauls eiusdem diocesis de bonis sibi a Deo collatis quandam ecclesiam in honore beate Virginis Marie et precipue Annunciationis Jhesu Christi fecit construi…
Here we have DC preparing us for another anomaly. The records in written Latin would have us believe the church was finally constructed in 1349. So what happened to cast doubt on that having been the case?
It is inconceivable that Geoffroy would have announced to the Pope (in 1349) that he had built a church if he had in fact not done so. Yet, (page 31) according to the extant Act of Foundation, construction was begun on 20 February 1353 and completed on 20 June 1353. Remarkably short time to build a church. (7)
The bolding of those dates is mine. They are crucially important. Why that 4 year discrepancy between the dates when the church was actually built- 1349 or 1353? And why the apparent rush job if the later of those two years? One has to go to the very end of her essay for an answer, though I for one had arrived independently at the same conclusion as she did, namely that a Mark 1 church was built in 1349, but then rapidly re-modelled to Mark 2 some 4 years later in a mere 3 or 4 months in 1353, for reasons that remain a matter of speculation and/or confusion. Here’s what DC says lower down, repeat:
” the Act of Foundation refers to an enlargement or embellishment of a church already existing since 1349″
That final comment of DC’s, arguably the real point of the article (not obvious in the title) was deployed to confer a strong pro-authenticity signing-off to her positioning essay, wearing her Editor’s hat. She omits to proffer alternative explanations for the discrepancy. Nor does she attempt to link the dating discrepancy with Geoffroy’s ‘cemetery’ change of mind in the title. Might there be a ‘non-authenticty’ explanation? Might it be linked to Geoffroy having been captured and held to ransom immediately after the 1349 first build, with the need for a later addition or modification (not construction) in 1353? Did he incur a second debt, or perceived debt, if as we are told his new King, John II, had paid to have him released from what we’re told elsewhere was a long captivity (some 18 months) in London following the Calais debacle? Did his Lirey church need to be made a bigger and better money-spinner than was originally planned, generating income greatly in excess of that from sale of indulgences alone?
And further surprises follow: on 30 January 1354, addressing himself to Innocent VI, who had succeeded Clement, Geoffroy renews his request to raise the church to a collegiate. This time, he asks that an indulgence of 1 year 40 days be granted to those who visit the church on the four principal feasts of the Virgin. Geoffroy requests that ius patronatus be accorded to him and his successors.
Yes, here we see an attempt to make the church even more attractive as a shrine to fee-paying pilgrims, by raising indulgences from the initial 100 days to more than 400! (To the uninitiated re indulgences, that’s papally pre-approved time off purgatory for good behaviour, the mercenary face of the Roman church that so so enraged the likes of Martin Luther, giving rise to the Protestant schism).
Raising the church to “collegiate status”? That presumably means that the 5 chaplains were being given semi-autonomous status, free from every whim or dictate of the initial patron(s). But it doesn’t necessarily mean the clerics acquired ownership of the site and its building and contents, and it’s my understanding that “collegiate” implied continued independence from the Roman church’s local hierarchy, notably the Bishop of Troyes. That would explain why Bishop Henri de Poitiers later fired off his letter of protest to the Pope when claims were made for the authenticity of the Lirey shroud. He had no power or authority to intervene directly.
Why would Geoffroy have conceded some control to the hired help? Was his arm twisted in some way, responding maybe to legitimate complaints re job security – or lack thereof, with no guarantee of emplyment post Geoffroy’s demise, probably imminent given his lust for hand-to-hand combat on the battlefield? Or was there a deal: the clerics would become a real church, in return for something else? Like installing a new, possibly novel pilgrim-attracting feature, over and above the granting of indulgences? Can you guess what is coming, dear reader?
He repeats his petition for a cemetery, but with an arresting modification: he begs permission for himself and his successors to be buried in the cemetery beside the church. (8)
Geoffroy has changed his mind.
Item quod eisdem …decano et capitulo concedere dignemini, ut cymiterium iuxta ipsam
eccleseam habere valeant consecratum et in quod in eodem cimiterio ipsum dominum et
successores suos dominos de Lireyo … sepeliri possint.
Thus the title of Crispino’s essay, written for the very first edition of the magazine she created. She was clearly intrigued by her hero’s change of mind. Did she manage to explain this rare display of inconsistency on Geoffroy’s part? Did she maybe see it as a flaw in an otherwise impeccable character? Or was there a more mundane explanation for Geoffroy’s sudden insistence on being buried in a specified location, one just outside his private chapel, not inside note, say in a crypt, i.e. excavated out-of-sight subterranean chamber. Might such a crypt, if present initially, or installed later, have been earmarked for an alternative purpose, known to Geoffroy, such that he was keen to forestall any attempt for his mortal remains to be interred in that putative crypt?
This petition is followed on 3 August of the same year by another which repeats Geoffroy’s
request to be buried in the cemetery beside the church, and asks the indulgence of 1 year 40 days for all who visit on Christmas, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost.
Again, why so keen to be buried on home ground, instead of his bones being distributed far and wide, but under turf, next to his own church, but not inside, in a dry purpose-built crypt?
Furthermore, according to the Act of Foundation, the church is erected in honor of the Holy Trinity, dedicated to the Virgin of the Annunciation. It has six canons, one of whom is to be elected dean, and three clerics.
We now have 6 canons, not 5. Who can doubt that the ‘private church’ had now become a commercial venture, and indeed was conceived as such long before the dream was actually realized. Was the prime asset (now called the Turin Shroud) really there at the start, looking for a permanaent home, or the prospect thereof? That hardly seems likely, given the snail-like means of accruing the initial capital investment. Why not go for broke initially (with the King’s wholehearted backing via a single lump sum investment if the Lirey Shroud really had been authentic, or considered as such)?
Every day at Matins there was to be a Low Mass of the Virgin and, at 9 o’clock, a High Mass to invoke God’s protection on the founder. And the Chapter’s income was increased, as we learn from an Act dated 1 October 1353, in which John II concedes another 62 livres of revenue. (9)
There we have it again – a drip feed of royal funding, equivalent to the annual pay of two lowly canons and no more.
Thus, the rural chapel dedicated to the Virgin—typical of countless thousands which dotted medieval Europe—appears to have grown to major dimensions. In fact, Geoffroy’s foundation in a country village of fifty hearths became a center of pilgrimage for people “from all over the world,” (10) where indulgences were to be gained—not only on the feasts of the Virgin, but also on those holy days commemorating the great events of Redemption.
Yes, but the growth was in two distinct phases. The first phase with the 6 year gestation period was for a pilgrimage shrine that depended primarily it would seem from sale of indulgences, realized physically in 1349 with the construction of the church and the appointment of 5 chaplains. But there was a second phase, conducted at breakneck speed in 1353, four years later, one that came shortly after Geoffroy’s release from captivity in London and the payment by King John of an eye-watering ransom. None of that gels with the idea of a pre-existing Shroud and a long-term plan. It speaks of a sudden change of status, consistent with the idea of the Lirey Shroud appearing during, or shortly before, those curious and otherwise unexplained 3 months in 1353 when the church was NOT built, as per one conflicting document, but in fact re-modelled.
Is this the interval in which Geoffroy obtained the Shroud? Comparing the two petitions:
1) 100 days indulgence on feasts of the Virgin
2) Geoffroy wants his bones to be distributed and buried in diverse places.
3) A church is built
4) Five canons established there
5) Stipends of 30 lvrs.
1) 1 year 40 days indulgence on feasts of Virgin, and 1 year 40 days indulgence on feasts of
2) Geoffroy and his heirs to be buried in the cemetery beside the church
3) Act of Foundation
4) There are six chaplains, three clerics
5) Their income is increased by 60 lvrs.
DC was clearly struck by the differences between the two years, while (in her title at any rate) focusing on what is arguably not the crucial issue re burial preferences, neglecting to ask the more important question: how was the church modified in 1353, and WHY?
Several documents leave no doubt that the Shroud was publicly exposed for veneration in the Lirey church before Geoffroy died. The above-mentioned Bull of Clement VII dated 6 January 1390 (almost identical to another from that pontiff in 1389) records that Geoffroy de Charny placed the Shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the church of Lirey.
Some accounts would have us believe there was no display of the Lirey shroud till after Geoffroy’s death in 1356, and indeed that his church was intended purely for family use, and/or that it wasn’t his church anyway, or at any rate the Lirey Shroud belonged to the clerics and not Geoffroy or his widow (despite their different coats of arms BOTH being on the Lirey Pilgrm’s badge and the more recently discovered Machy mould for a second).
None of the above makes sense given that Geoffroy foresaw the need for 5 chaplains when his church just a dream. Sorry to repeat myself, but his church was conceived as an indulgence-granting shrine from the word go, independent of a star attraction like the Lirey shroud, for which there is no documentary evidence until AFTER the church had been built and later re-modelled, probably to house a lately-acquired acquisition. Indeed, if the later addition was a crypt that was used as an out-of-public gaze workshop in which to manufacture a one-off representation of what a 1350 year old shroud might look like (or rather Joseph of Arimathea’s linen in the synoptic Gospel accounts – which was not necessarily intended or used as a final burial shroud) then we have a ready explanation for why Geoffroy was insistent on being buried in the cemetery. He did not want undertakers seeing what was beneath the floorboards INSIDE the church!
A document of 6 February 1464 states that Geoffroy de Charny placed in the church, along with other relics, “the Holy Shroud bearing the effigy of Our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ.”
That was written over a century after the first display of the Lirey Shroud, long after the initial controversy over authenticity. The language is now uncompromisingly pro-authenticity, but is hardly relevant to what was happening in Lirey before the first recorded display. The writer has moved from scholarship to advocacy, and it shows …
And two mute survivors from Geoffroy’s own time signify the same;
1, Henry of Poitiers, Bishop of Troyes, on 28 May 1356, sent Geoffroy a letter of praise and
Yes, it’s not generally appreciated in sindonology that the Bishop’s first response to the Lirey display was positive. See the thought-provoking BSTS essays from Ian Wilson that attempt to link his change of heart from approval to outright condemnation to the appearance of a second Pilgrim’s badge, with marked differences with the first. That’s an interesting perspective that will be returned to in a future posting. Maybe it was Geoffroy’s widow who beefed up the marketing strategy of the Lirey shroud, making it uncompromisingly pro-authenticity as distinct from a “visual aid”, or as Hugh Farey prefers to call it, a “liturgical illustration” in conjunction with his 3D wooden statue (see posting preceding this one for a brief response to that most insightful suggestion). Did Jeanne de Vergy remove Hugh’s proposed statue, leaving just the Shroud, and commissioning a new Pilgrim’s badge, arousing the wrath of Henry of Poitiers at seeing an icon changed by sleight of hand to a holy relic?
See also the banner on this blogsite – with a plastic toy as proxy for wooden statue!
In 1855—the year Secondo Pia was born—a souvenir medallion representing the Shroud and the arms of Charny and Vergy (Geoffroy’s wife) was found in the Seine at the Pont-au-Change.
Yes, the Lirey badge with its TWO coats of arms has to be seen as the best evidence that the Lirey Shroud was displayed in Geoffroy’s lifetime, prior to his death in 1356. What a pity there was no date stamp shown on the medal, leaving a scintilla of doubt.
The relic could not have been publicly exposed without papal permission. Geoffroy would had to have sent a report and a petition to the Pope. This document has not yet been found; but as Prof. Francesco Cognasso observed in his address to the Turin Congress of Shroud Studies in 1939, (11) the “documents pertaining to the installation of the Shroud in St. Mary of the Annunciation certainly exist.”
Really? Which documents? Those both pro- and anti-authenticity need to know what those documents said, assuming they really exist.
At this Congress, Prof. Cognasso expressed his opinion that there were two possible periods in which the Shroud was placed in the church: either in 1349, or between 1351 and 1356, year of Geoffroy’s death. At the 1950 Congress in Rome, Mons. Joseph Roserat de Melin, vicar-general, diocese of Troyes, was more definite: “Between 20 June 1353 and 19 September 1356, the collegiate church of Lirey receives a Shroud which is presented to the faithful as that which covered the Body of Our Lord …”
Shame. We’re ending this otherwise illuminating account of the Shoud’s Lirey sojourn not with a bang, but with a whimper, since none of what we read above, taken at face value, could be said to constitute hard documentary evidence.
It seems reasonably certain that the evidence so far accumulated applies to the time-frame in which the Shroud was placed in the Lirey church.
Does one detect a hint of DC regarding the WRITTEN evidence for the display of the Lirey Shroud before Geoffroy’s demise – as distinct from the physical evidence of the badge(s) – as less than impressive.
Knowing Geoffroy’s religious character, (12) we can be morally certain that he would have provided a “decent and venerable”(13) setting for it as soon as possible after it came into his hands. It would seem to me that he obtained the Shroud surely after 1349, and not long before February 1353; that the Act of Foundation refers to an enlargement or embellishment of a church already existing since 1349; and that Geoffroy was exposing the relic prior to the congratulatory letter from Henry of Poitiers.
Dorothy Crispino’s final conclusion is that the church was modified between February and June 1353 (see earlier) to house and display a Shroud that arrived pre-February 1353. I would suggest that the Shroud may have “arrived” between February and June 1353, during the period that an underground crypt had been quickly excavated, wherein the Lirey Shroud was manufactured in this make-shift laboratory by one of more of the 5 or 6 clerics, well out-of-sight.
(Photograph of Lirey Medallion, aka Lirey Pilgrim’s badge, aka Cluny Museum Medal dredged up from the Seine in 1855.)
1. MONS. PIETRO SAVIO: “Ricerche Storiche sulla Santa Sindone,” Societa Editrice Internazionale,
2. LUIGI FOSSATI, S.D.B.: “La Santa Sindone; Nuove Luce su Antichi Documenti,” Borla, Turin,
3. ANDRE PERRET: “Essai sur l’histoire du Saint Suaire du XIVe au XVIe siècle.” in Mémoirs de
l’Academie des Sciences Belles-Lettres et Arts de Savoie, 1960.
4. Fossati’s amputated quotation, “Conquis par feu” gives the impression that the Shroud had been taken
in the fire of battle. The complete phrase, given by Perret, reads that the Shroud “Fut conquis par feu
messire Geoffroy de Charny;” ‘feu’ in French have the two meaning of ‘fire’ and late, lately deceased.’
5. Charny is located in the Cote-d’Or; Lirey is in the Aube.
6. Savio explains that Vatican recorders affixed the date of the Pope’s Fiat to the documents they copied,
without mentioning the date of the petition which preceded.
7. Is it possible that the 1353 records refer to an addition or enlargement of a building of 1349?
Whatever happened, the church, erected inside the castle moat, was built of wood—a fact which
would have serious repercussions a century later. The chapel which stands today is the third erected
on the same site. Built in 1897 of stone and brick, it serves only for weddings and baptisms.
Otherwise parishioners go 1¼ miles to St. Jean Bonneval, as they did before Geoffroy built St. Mary
in the 14th century.
8. Savio adds, “ai piedi della Sindone,” at the feet of the Shroud.
9. This information was found by Fossati in the Archives of the Department of the Aube. Savio, relying
on Père Anselme, gives the date as July 1356, and the amount as 60 livres.
10. Memo of Pierre d’Arcis, Bishop of Troyes; undated but shortly after 6 January 1390.
11. LA SANTA SINDONE NELLE RICERCHE MODERNE; Atti dei Convegni di Studio: Torino 1939;
Roma e Torino, 1950. Riedizione anastatica per cura di Pietro Scotti, S.D.B., Marietti, Alessandria,
12. Abundantly attested by documents, chronicles and Geoffroy’s own poetry.
13. Bull of Clement VII, 1390.
AUGUSTE ET EMILE MOLINIER: Paris 1968, “Chronique Normande du XIVe siecle.
FROISSART : “Chroniques.”
AUGUSTE LONGNON: “Documents Relatifs au Comté de Champagne et de Brie 1172-1361.”
COURTEPEE: “Description du Duché de Bourgone” Editions F.E.R.M., Paris, 1968.
Notes taken by Author sur place at Lirey, Charny, Mt. St. Jean, etc.
Late addition (20:15, Dec 24) : here’s a screen-grab of a comment from the pro-authenticity Angel. It’s approx. comment No.200 on the final posting on Dan Porter’s shroudstory.com.
Who says there’s a ponytail? Here’s an image of the dorsal head from Shroud Scope to which I’ve restored (yes, restored) contrast.
To be continued (under Comments)