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“The most amazing part of the Shroud is the majesty of the face.”
That statement from Jim Bertrand, a Shroud expert affiliated with the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, rang true for Benedictine College students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding communities who saw his presentation, along with a life-sized replica of the Shroud, on the Atchison campus on October 8.
The Shroud of Turin is considered by many to be the cloth that Jesus was buried in, and therefore the cloth that wrapped him as he rose from the dead. The official replica of the Shroud is one of only 12 in the United States and is the same size as the original, 14’ 3” X 3’ 7”, which corresponds to the ancient unit of measure of 8 cubits X 2 cubits. The replica is housed at the Shroud Center of Colorado in Colorado Springs, where it is only available for viewing by appointment. The Center was founded by Dr. John Jackson, a physicist and the lead scientist of the 35-member team that made up the famed 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project. He is considered to be the world’s leading expert on the Shroud.
Bertrand has been studying the Shroud for more than 30 years and has been affiliated with the Shroud Center of Colorado since 2014. He talked about the history of the Shroud and the scientific evidence surrounding its authenticity, including new peer-reviewed scientific information regarding the dating of the Holy Shroud, which has been the subject of much debate.
“As a presenter of the Shroud, my mission is to unite Truth with the human heart,” he said. “People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity. Whether a relic or an icon, the Shroud is a sacramental, leading us to a deeper relationship with Jesus.”
Bertrand presented a wealth of scientific evidence that supported the Shroud’s existence in 1st century Jerusalem. He noted botanical evidence of pollen from plants native to the area. He talked about geological evidence of soil found around the image’s feet, knees and nose that is of a particular type of rock only found in Jerusalem. He noted the biological studies of the blood stains, including the fact that they are still bright red due to the body’s release of bilirubin caused by a massive loss of blood, which supports Biblical accounts of Christ’s Passion.
He also talked about the 1978 carbon dating that placed the Shroud’s origin around 1250. The section tested turns out to have been from a corner of the Shroud repaired in Medieval times and containing cotton, satin and other fibers not found in the rest of the linen Shroud. There is also resin present that was used to join cotton threads to linen threads.
“It turned out to be the worst possible place to sample,” Bertrand said. He went on to show three other recent datings of the Shroud using chemical and mechanical tests. All three had wide ranges of dates for their results, but they all crossed the 1st century.
Bishop Michael Sheridan, of the Diocese of Colorado Springs, decreed the formation of the American Confraternity of the Holy Shroud in September of 2014. The mission of the confraternity is to spread the message of the Shroud — its importance to faith and to people who benefit from the powerful witness it conveys about Jesus’ death and resurrection.
“So what does the Shroud show us?” questioned Bertrand. “It shows us that the Passion was real, that the Resurrection was real, and it helps us contemplate just how much God loves us.”
Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.