The Holy Shroud And The Mandylion: One And The Same?
The enigma of the Holy Shroud has fascinated and baffled both the faithful and scholars for hundreds of years. To unravel the history and secret journey of how it came to the lands of the French in the mid-14th century, one needs to structure a historical framework that describes the events. Its origin is lost in the distant past, when 2,000 years ago the burial of a man killed on a cross changed the established order of history, giving rise to a new religion that pervaded the ancient world and man’s conscience. What is it about this sudarium (sweat cloth to wipe a face) that holds the faithful at ransom to protect it from destruction – either by hand or by word of mouth? But another question arises: Is the history of the Shroud of Christ intertwined with the history of the Mandylion?
Turin shroud positive and negative displaying original color information (Dianelos Georgoudis/ CC BY-SA 3.0)
Not Made By Human Hand
The history of the Shroud is imbedded in the ancient vicissitudes of the story of the Christian faith. Despite the belief of millions of faithful all over the world, sindonology (the science of the study of the Shroud) still has not fully explained the mechanisms that could have produced this incredible object of worship. Since its first official appearance in the 14th century, one question has stood firmly for centuries: Could that image truly be regarded as the representation of a supernatural event, namely the Resurrection of Christ? As stated by Vatican analyst Tornielli: " The artificial creation of the shroud seems impossible today, or rather even more so today, as acknowledged at the end of his life, Professor Luigi Gonella, said ‘the Shroud is an object that should not exist’ and none of those who endeavored to expose the alleged Shroud as ‘false’ were ever able to achieve a truly similar wealth of detail."
Historically, the earliest reference to the Shroud is contained in the four canonical gospels as well as in three apocryphal gospels, the Gospel of the Hebrews (II sec.), The Acts of Pilate and the Gospel of Nicodemus. After this period there exists scant information, probably due to the persecutions of the early Christians, but also possibility because the same words about the existence of the Shroud could lead to its destruction.
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ENRICO BACCARINI is a journalist, writer and editor. He has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and a Bachelor's degree in Asian Studies. He is Professor of Oriental Studies, at the Maitri University. He is the author of 17 books published in Italy UK, USA, Brazil, including Shroud, Florence And The Mysteries Of The Holy Cloth.