'Shroud Encounter' Presentation to Discuss 400-Year-Old Mystery

Shroud Encounter, a fast-moving, large screen, multi-media presentation featuring more than 150 images covering all aspects of research on the Shroud of Turin, arguably the most analyzed artifact in the world, will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at the Back Alley, located inside Augustana’s Morrison Commons. Admission is free and open to the public.

Shroud Encounter is a production of Shroud of Turin Education Project, Inc. and will be presented by renowned international expert Russ Breault.
Breault will discuss the mystery surrounding the 14-foot long linen cloth that has been in Turin, Italy, for more than 400 years and bears the faint front and back image of a 5'10" bearded, crucified man with apparent wounds and bloodstains that match the crucifixion accounts recorded in the Bible. Millions of people over the centuries have believed it be the actual burial shroud of Jesus. The historical trail tracks back through Italy, France, Asia Minor (Turkey) and may have originated in the Middle East according to botanical evidence.

Shroud Encounter will cover all aspects of the history, science, art and theories of how the image may have been formed.

Breault has been featured in several national documentaries including “Mysteries of the Ancient World” on CBS and most recently “The Real Face of Jesus?” on the History Channel. He has presented at numerous colleges and universities including Duke, West Point, Auburn and many others.
In 1981, a team of 40 scientists concluded it was not the work of an artist. They found no visible trace of paint, pigment, dye or other artistic substances on the cloth. Other discoveries have defied explanation such as why the image shows up as a positive image in a photographic negative. The image also contains 3-D or distance information indicating the cloth must have wrapped a human form at the time the image was created. The blood is AB positive with human DNA. Skeptics have mounted numerous attempts to show how a medieval artist could have produced the image but all have been inadequate to fully explain how the mysterious image was formed. The image is so superficial it only penetrates the top micro-fibers to the depth of a single bacterium. In addition, there is no image under the blood meaning that the blood was on the cloth before the image. No attempt at replicating the image has resolved these two key attributes. If the cloth indeed wrapped a corpse, there are no stains of decomposition.

The Shroud was largely dismissed in 1988 when three carbon dating labs indicated a medieval origin. However chemical research published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2005 shows that the single sample cut from the outside corner edge was not part of the original Shroud material. In violation of the sampling protocol, only one sample was used for dating and was cut from the most handled area of the cloth, an area that should have been avoided. The sample appears to have been part of a section that was frayed and repaired sometime during the Middle Ages. Based on this new evidence, many scientists now believe the carbon dating result is inconclusive and should no longer be considered valid.

Adding strength to the Shroud’s authenticity, scientists from Hebrew University confirmed the presence of pollen from plants that grow only in Israel. The mystery continues. National Geographic called it "one of the most perplexing enigmas of modern times."

Kelly Sprecher
Director of Communications & Media Relations