If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone



The Turin Shroud is the most famous relic in the world. Millions believe that it is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ bearing his crucified and bloodied image. The cloth is kept at Turin in Italy. The cloth is an enigma. Many say it is a miracle.


Many say it is a painting of some kind.  Critics say there is no evidence of brushmarks or any artist interference.


That does not change the fact we should worry more that there are no snot, fecal or urine stains on it.


Whatever it is, the image is dull and the blood is picturelike.  It is baffling that the Church never got somebody to touch it up a bit.  If this has happened and there is no proof of overpainting then that explains that the shroud is an oddity.  The medievals did have a lot of religious tricks up their sleeves.  Consider how there are too many liquifying blood miracles in and around Naples which are suspected as fraud by even most devout Catholic researchers.  As we will see there is evidence that even if the original image was not a painting the cloth was tampered with by artists.  Researchers were in a position in the past to check for evidence of painting and remove it.  A good but careful rub could deal with those as can certain chemicals.  It is certain that as the relic was dogged with rumours since its first appearance that an artist made it that is one of the first things it would have been checked for.


There is more to paintings than just brushes and paint.  Using anything that makes a colour or stain and using anything to get it on a surface is painting.

The painting technique, if any, for making the shroud was determined by the desire to make it look like a contact print from a body.

The Turin image shows parts of Jesus' body that would not have touched the cloth. And there is a light yellow substance that sits on the fibres making the image on one side and it sometimes appears on the other as well without passing through the cloth. This happens mostly with the face image which is another indication that the cloth really just cares about Jesus' face the most as it would if it were a forgery. It is not a contact print for parts of the body that would have been inches away from the cloth and could not have touched it show up clearly. And there would be tell-tale creases. So the cloth has no hard or soft evidence that it involved a real body or depicts a real man, as opposed to a statue or something, never mind Jesus. The cloth is meant to appear as a contact print but it fails. It is meant to fool the untrained eye of pilgrims. The artist of the shroud perhaps made the image vague so help avoid detection or to prevent sceptics in the Church from ruling the day. A fraud has to be rigged up to survive being exposed. Many do. The cloth is really about appealing to ghouls who want an image of death and blood and gore. It gives no indication that Jesus miraculously rose from the dead.

Walter McCrone investigated the Turin Shroud and concluded it was a faded painting. Catholics were outraged for they are determined to argue that the cloth is the cloth that Jesus was buried in and in which he left the imprint of his body and his blood marks following his crucifixion.

The Benedictine monk, Cornelius Zantiflet, said that he saw the Shroud and that he admired it as an excellent picture of Jesus and agreed with his bishop that what he saw was a painting. This happened in Belgium in 1449. He wrote that it showed the outline of the whole body and showed that it showed the outline of the whole body and showed the wounded hands and side with red blood (page 336, The Blood and the Shroud). Wilson accepts that this is his beloved Turin Shroud despite the fact that the monk says the picture is a painting. But nobody would think that of something that had no sketch or brush marks and was faint. Also, the Turin Shroud looks like its man was nailed through the wrists and only one wrist is visible. Turin Shroud is right to say that the vague image on the cloth would not be called remarkable or admirable (page 109) suggesting that this was not the Turin Shroud though it was supposed to be. It was obviously a painting which was why it did not take the world by storm like a blood print of a body would have. That superstitious age was mad for Christ’s blood and would have just adored the Shroud if it existed then in the form we know today.

STURP, the main researchers of the Shroud, say they think the whole image is not a painting. But they tell us they are not ruling it out once and for all and many researchers believe that the pigment that makes the image goes around the fibres like a kind of watercolour. If the image is a painting the blood is possibly paint as well - perhaps mixed with blood.

The bloodstains are too tidy and you would expect a lot of smearing and there isn't. And why are they positioned on the body image as if it were a painting? They should not be on the cloth as if they were put there by design. You would expect them to be more disorganised and random. The believers ignore these errors and insist that a dead body lay in the cloth.

Perhaps the blood being put on by sponges or whatever led to the Shroud being classed as a painting in the mid-thirteen hundreds when it seems to have first appeared. So the various natural theories about how the image was made fit what the sceptical bishops back then said about the cloth being a painting and that they knew the artist. The blood is the most visible part of the image and it would have been daubed or dribbled on and would classify the cloth as a painting.

The blood would have been washed out of the hair by the heavy rain gushing out of the heavens when Jesus was on the cross. The gospels say there was climatic upheaval at that time such as earthquakes and darkness so we can safely infer that if we asked the gospellers if there was rain they would say there was. The blood blots around the head are not watery from the rain at all which adds weight to the cloth being a forgery. The hair would have been tossed by the wind. It is just too tidy. The blood if it is blood or paint, was painted on. Period.
The book The Sign states that the shroud is more like a blueprint for a sculpture than a painting. But I don't think the two ideas are mutually exclusive. The idea of the artist being a sculptor who used blueprinting techniques to make the image is very attractive and possible.

Believers make several excuses for denying the image is a painting. One argument is from the style which shows no thumbs and very elongated fingers.

There was a tradition of painting shrouds in Egypt and some of these revealed the fashion of not showing thumbs and making the fingers longer just like we have it in the Turin Shroud. Plus there are loads of ancient images that have a strong photographic negative effect despite the claim that the Shroud having this effect is a miracle. The precise truth about the negative image on the Shroud is that it is a quasi-negative. It’s like a bad negative. Its not a miracle when it was an attempt to be a good negative but fell short. It is easier to forge a bad negative than a good one.

Another excuse for denying it could be a painting is the absence of brushstrokes.

One very popular argument is that if the image was painted you would see brush marks. But that is a lazy argument. You get brush marks with paint but only if you use the typical brushes. Or if paint contains some surprising ingredients and takes ages to dry there might be no trace of brush marks. So don’t see a miracle in the absence of brush marks like the Shroudies do. Remember too that the cloth is very coarse so brush marks made in paint with with the right brush would be unnoticeable plus the paint would have to have disintegrated and come off a good bit too over the years meaning the brush marks, if any, would be impossible to make out. It is not even important with regard to the question of whether or to the image is fake. But it serves Shroudies well to exaggerate its importance.  If there are marks the Shroudies will happily imagine they are something else maybe dessication or damage.

The Shroud need not have been painted using brushes nor need it have been created using pure paints. It could have been created with paint mixed with something else. Perhaps the paint came off and left oxidation on the cloth to make the body image. The blood was mixed with something else for it has remained red over the centuries.

One more try. They say the image is not a painting for there was no sketching on the cloth. But sketching is not everything and we must remember the Turin image is better than what it seems to be.  It is still ghostly and that does not need any sketching.  And what if the substance used to make the image was used to do the outlines?  They would not been seen once the image was finished.

It has been established that Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper, and another, his John the Baptist, show no evidence of sketching being done before the painting which has been verified by tests involving x-rays. Leonardo painted them without guidance and without brushstrokes being visible. That is why they cannot be copied. Thus we see Leonardo by unknown and yet natural means managed to stamp these pictures with the three very reasons that the Turin Shroud has been taken seriously as the cloth of Christ. When he could do that it is only nonsense to worry about the Turin Cloth just because it has no brush marks and if it cannot be replicated (this is a matter of dispute) and if the image was put down without sketches being done to help guide the artist.

Yet another excuse is that the cloth does not look like a painting for it is too subtle and nobody paints what can hardly be seen. But many in medieval times would have been sick of shrouds and prints of the face of Jesus that were too obviously painted. This would have made the artists among them go for a subtle image if they wanted to forge a shroud and say it was that of Jesus. The emphasis was on the blood. An image that contained blood would be expected to be revered more for its blood than its picture. The shroud could have been meant to be taken to be a vague image of Jesus caused by his dirty sweat. It could have been intended to be revered for what it supposedly was rather than what it looked like. You don’t try to create the supreme relic that contains fluids from the Lord’s body and make it look like a painting. Those who say there is no painting like the Shroud so it’s not a painting of any kind are missing the point. Its meant to be a forged relic not a work of art. 

The Shroud need not have been created by one process which is something that all the people arguing about it forget. For example, there are those who point to things they say indicate that the image is not a painting and so they say it is not a painting. But what about the things that make it possible that it was at least partially a painting?
The research of Walter McCrone has shown that the cloth is a painting and that the blood is really just paint but it seems that McCrone MAY have been too keen to refute the authenticity of the Shroud. His tests showed the presence of a lot of paint on the cloth. He found the blood to have the pigment red ochre and could not find it outside the image proving that the claim of believers that this pigment came of pictures and paintings placed on the Shroud to make them relics is nonsense (page 27, Looking for a Miracle). The poker holes on the cloth proved that it was not immune to damage. There was no way then that people would have been allowed to put damp pictures on the cloth and the practice of the Church usually was to create relics just by touching a cloth or item to a holy object. Relics of St Padre Pio are just touched to his tomb.
There was no need for laying out the Shroud on an altar and putting something all over it. Painted copies of the shroud that were touched to it didn’t have enough paint on them to come off to leave a significant reading of the presence of paints on the Shroud. You can see snaps of them in Ian Wilson’s The Blood and the Shroud.


It is a fact that the entire cloth has traces of iron oxide.  The biggest concentration is where water used to put out the fire in 1532 stained the cloth.  Believers argue that its a pure form not the form used by artists which is a blatant lie.  It contradicts the fact that the impure form is found on the cloth and put down to devotees trying to bless paintings by laying them on the cloth.
McCrone also found evidence that people had been working on the image to preserve it and make it seem more miraculous during the previous two hundred years (page 48, The Turin Shroud is Genuine). He found that iron particles were being added to make the blood. We will see that this idea of interference with the Shroud is backed up by other pieces of evidence. It may be possible that the Shroud was originally a faint painting but was turned into a kind of photograph in the nineteenth century. We must remember that it was never photographed until 1898 when its properties as a negative were first discovered.

The Shroud image is a kind of photograph semi-negative. If the forgers used primitive photography of some sort to make the image, then photography would have been considered to have been alchemist black magic or supernatural so the forgers would have worked in great secrecy for fear of the Catholic inquisition.
Maybe the forgers chose this method to create the image because they thought it was occult and that the end result would be a true image of Jesus. It may be they never intended to be forgers but to use supernatural forces or what they thought to be supernatural forces to capture the image of Christ. Maybe they intended to create not a fake burial cloth of Jesus but a copy of what Jesus looked like in the tomb. The miracle of the image was what mattered to them not how unimpressive it was with the naked eye. Maybe they thought the occult powers needed the image of a body and face to focus their energies so that the image was not that of what they photographed but of the real Jesus.
Believers claim that the Shroud is too faint to be a fake and not a painting because nobody could have known that photography would come in and make the image plainer. They say that no artist puts details on a painting that only a science he can never imagine coming in could show up. But if the Shroud is a photograph from medieval times or if it is a bad photo that was touched up with some paint, perhaps the person creating it knew that one day science would be able to see all the details. When an artist discovers a photographic technique he knows that one day there will be people who will be able to do better than him. The Shroud maker might have been excited at the thought of how people in centuries to come would be mystified. It made him feel important.
Just because we have the technology to see the image plainly does not mean that whoever forged the Shroud knew that one day we could do this. He only intended to make a subtle image and did not realise that the end result was a semi-negative. Attempts to replicate the shroud quite easily make subtle images that come out like negatives.
Perhaps a lot of experimentation was done on the Shroud which is why it bears images that have only been found in recent years. The forger might have taken a few trial runs with the cloth. The fact that the other images are very hard to make out and many believe they are just imagined might show that the forger had much bad luck. It doesn’t make any sense that these images should be so vague that they are hardly there at all. What they show was that there were many failed attempts to fix images on the cloth except the forger didn’t quite fail as badly as he thought!
Perhaps the image was vague because the forgers were trying to create a plainer image and it turned out subtle. If they used materials and a dead crucified body (which could be hard to get) it was understandable that they might make do with the Shroud they ended up with rather than attempt another.
Perhaps the image was originally plainer and after a few decades started to fade.
Perhaps the image was made so subtle to keep the Church wondering what it was to give it a chance of becoming popular enough so that the Church would have to come to terms with the existence of the cloth. Otherwise the Church would have come down too hard too soon and the Shroud would have ended up on a pyre.
I think the real reason that the image is subtle is that it is some kind of oxidation of the linen fibres or a scorch. It had to be made that way rather than painted. The problem with painting is that the cloth was going to be tested by being laundered at some point and the paint would have been washed off. That was how the Church at the time would have tested the cloth for magical abilities. If it survived the laundering it could be considered miraculous.
Another reason the image is subtle is because the Church had devotion to Veronica on the basis that she wiped the sweat and blood off the face of Jesus. This would have created a need to forge a relic that seemed comprised of Jesus' bodily fluids. The body image looks like it was made from sweat. The Church was fond of trying to get bits of Jesus and his blood. It had even gone as far as to claim that communion wafers had turned into physical pieces of Jesus's body!
Perhaps the image was fairly vague because if it was too distinct people might recognise whose face it really bore! The face is plain enough when looked at with the naked eye. The face was the most important part and was plain enough so the subtlety cannot be used then as an argument for the Shroud being real. The rest of the body was not important. What was most important probably, was the blood on the cloth which made it appear to hold the magical saving blood of Jesus Christ.
Despite reason, believers continually tout the image’s subtlety as an argument for its authenticity!

The Jesus Conspiracy pages 152-153 accidentally proves that the Turin Shroud is a forgery (as two bishops of Troye said when it seems to have appeared first) when it finds 15 similarities between Byzantine iconography and the face of the Shroud man. The similarities include a horizontal stripe on the forehead and a three sided square on the head. These characteristics are so hard to see on the Shroud even in the clearer negative image of it that they didn’t have that it is tempting to hold that they were inspired not by the Shroud but the Shroud was inspired by them. We have no evidence that any of these artists saw the Shroud. It is easier to believe that the Shroud artist copied the icons and that it wasn’t the Byzantine artists copying the Shroud. The Byzantines showed Jesus as glorious. They didn’t depict his suffering. Yet in many icons Jesus has an enlarged left nostril. So does the Shroud man. This clearly indicates that the Shroud came after these paintings and didn’t predate them.


STURP dismisses the shroud being a painting but what right has it to do that when it admits not to testing and examining how you paint on linen?  The paint if any will not make fibres cement together or show any sign of a flow if the linen is sealed with gesso.  This concoction dries and is what the paint sticks to not the fibres.  It had to be put on carefully to avoid making the cloth too stiff.  The Libro dell’Arte from the 1600's says it has to be put on with a knife and any extra can be scraped off.  STURP did find a layer which seems to be the gesso.  Chalk was found on the cloth along with gum (found in 2005 but we need evidence that the whole image tests positive for gum).  Too much chalk was present for it to be anything else.  These are indicatory of the presence of gesso. 

We conclude that the shroud could be a painting.  The painter did something out of the ordinary that is for sure.  The signs of scorching could mean the shroud had been painted and baked in an oven.  Reason says we must favour the most natural explanation if something unexplainable happens. We are not saying the explanation is the correct one but that it is possible. What then is more likely? That the cloth is a miracle or that it is a painting? If it can miraculously bear the image of Jesus' corpse why can't it miraculously be a painting?  The most important thing is what the image could be not what it is. 

Did Jesus Really Exist? And What’s With the Shroud of Turin?
This page tells us that it was found to be possible that somebody lightly painted the image on and whatever substance they used made the fibres under the paint oxidise and age rapidly so when the paint was washed off a faded copy of the image was found underneath it. The objection to this is that this technique was not used until the 19th century. Joe Nickell claims it was used in the 12th century and anyway it could have been discovered by alchemists by chance. It could have happened to the Shroud by accident. The Shroud had been washed a few times to see if the image would come off which might mean that the original was a painting and what we see now is what was left when the paint came off. Perhaps the paints were chemically altered over time and by the fires the Shroud had been exposed to and they created an inexplicable image. (That happened to a fresco in Assisi – page 57, The Turin Shroud is Genuine). The Medieval people tested sacred pictures by washing them to see if the image would miraculously stay put. Nickell thinks ferric oxide was used to print the image on the cloth and when it was washed off it left the vague image caused by oxidisation that we presently observe on the cloth. This would mean that Bishop D’Arcis in the 1300's was right when he debunked the Shroud which had appeared in his diocese as a fraud and as a cunning painting - meaning it didn't look like an ordinary painting. Piczek ridicules the idea of oxides being in medieval houses. But nobody is saying some ordinary person made the Shroud. It was probably made in a lab of some description. She says that the Shroud shows no direction of light coming at it which suggests it is not a photo. But the image is faint and varies strangely in distinctiveness so you cannot be sure of that. If the Shroud were a photograph made with the help of sunlight the fact that clouds would be interrupting the sun and reflecting and changing the way it shines down could affect the signs of directionality anyway. Print Friendly and PDF