Let the Shroud of Turin Guide Your Easter Journey, Says Scholar Priest

Does a fifth account of Christ’s passion and Resurrection exist?

Yes it does, says Father Andrew Dalton.

On Monday, March 25, he presented the details to students and faculty at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. Dalton, a Legionary of Christ who teaches in Rome, has presented to millions of people about the mystery surrounding the fifth witness — the Shroud of Turin.

The Shroud, he said, is believed to be the linen that Jesus was wrapped in after his death. What makes this cloth remarkable is its image of Christ deceased is imprinted on the cloth, an image that secular scientists and art historians have been unable to explain.

Christians suggest that the moment of Christ’s resurrection caused the image to be embedded on the linen as the image shows highly detailed image of Christ’s corpse, wounds and all.

Uncovering the Shroud

Father Dalton, who holds a postgraduate certificate in shroud studies, offered reflections on its prevalence as the Church entered Holy Week.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each build up to an account of Jesus’s death and resurrection. “With the shroud, could we have a fifth witness?” Dalton asked. “It was the witness who was there and documented the cadaver becoming a living, glorified body.”

Secondo Pia, an amateur photographer, first uncovered the mystery of the Shroud in 1898, when he took a photograph of the 14.3 ft x 3.7 ft linen. When he looked at the photo negative, he was amazed to see the wounded, deceased face of Christ.

Thus began a mad dash by both the secular and religious worlds to understand what made this remarkable image.

“The highest-powered laboratories in America studied the shroud for 120 consecutive hours in an attempt to understand the shroud,” explained Father Dalton. “The scientists tell you what it is not, but do not tell you what it is. Every attempt by science to prove it has fallen short, leaving Christians the ability to ask whether this is the effect of a supernatural event, the resurrection.”

Visualizing the Passion

Through studying the shroud, the world has learned about the specific wounds Christ endured on Good Friday, as the Shroud clearly displays visual evidence of Christ’s scourging, the crown of thorns and puncture wounds from nails.

“The shroud shows 366 plus whipping marks on Christ’s body, if we postulate that there are 3 marks on the Roman flagellum, that’s 120 floggings,” explained Father Dalton. “Each flogging is comparable to a third-degree burn, and they covered His entire body.”

As the Church prepares to commemorate Christ’s passion and death, Father Dalton invited students to expand their childhood understanding of the passion and reflect on the immense pain and suffering that the Christ’s crucifixion involved, as shown in the Shroud.

“This week, as we contemplate the passion of our Lord, do not stop at ouch,” he said. “You have to go beyond that and go deeper and reflect the immense pain and suffering that Christ endured.”

Ultimately, though, the Shroud is a record not of death, but of resurrection. Shortly after the presentation on campus, the Shroud became the focus of attention again as Bishop Robert Barron spoke of the Shroud as “Evidence of the Resurrection” and Father Robert Spitzer shared details of  “How The Shroud of Turin Reveals The Crucifixion of Jesus.” Both speak of the extraordinary way the Shroud tells not just of the way Jesus died, but of the way he rose.

Images: Wikimedia and Jack Figge.

Jack Figge

Jack Figge, an Ex Corde Fellow at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, class of 2026, is a Catholic journalist from St. Louis, Mo. In his short, yet already successful career, he has written for the National Catholic Register, Catholic Vote, and multiple diocesan papers including covering World Youth Day 2023 for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas.