If you hate to go to museums because you feel the eyes are following you around the room (I know it's not just me), you may not want to visit Turin, Italy, and look at the image on the most famous shroud in history. A new study suggests that the image, believed by many to be that of Jesus, shows indications that the body was moving when it was transferred to the cloth. Was it the eyes? Are you sufficiently spooked?
The video (see it here) is from the International Institute for Advanced Studies of Space Representation Sciences in Palermo, Italy. Produced in 2008, it doesn’t seem to have generated much interest at that time, but a copy floating around the Internet recently has renewed interest in it, especially with the three-dimensional life-size representation of the “Man of the Shroud” revealed earlier this year. The institute was founded by Giuseppe Maria Catalano, who describes himself has an engineer, scientist, author, artist and scholar in the field of Space Representation Sciences. In this case, ”space” refers to the geometric rather than the outer kind. In a similar way to the 3-D representation, Catalano seems to have used his “science of representation” and an old technique called photogrammetry to recreate what may have been happening if and when the image was created from a human body.
What did he find?
“The anatomic shape of the right hand in this position reveals a strong effort during traction of the ring around the thumb. It proves a conscious movement made by a quite fit man. The anatomic shape of the right hand in the other position, the one well known for centuries, proves the remarkable distance of the body from the Shroud plane. Like photo grams laid one upon the other, the linen shows not only these two extremes but also the intermediate positions of the hand. Finally the left hand, the left foot and the calecon belt are also surveyed each one in distinct positions, following and close, caused by regular bodily movements. For a few seconds a geometrically definite radiation, shed by the body, passing through objects, printed on the Shroud the images of a quite fit body in a conscious movement.”
In other words, Catalano claims that his science of representation shows evidence that both hands and one of the feet moved while the image was created. Was this a sign of the Resurrection or an involuntary movement by a recently deceased corpse? That’s open for discussion, arguments and possibly religious wars.
In a review of the video in The American Conservative, Rob Dreher points out that the new hand position described resembles that of the 6th century Byzantine icon known as The Christ Pantocrator of St. Catherine’s Monastery at Sinai, which is a gesture of blessing. A hand positioned to give a blessing on what could have been Jesus rising from the dead are two dots easily connected by those who want to believe that this is the actual burial should.
Or not. Why did the shroud capture so little movement? Why not something more obvious or expressive, like an arm sweeping it away? What if the shroud is a 13th century fake as many experts believe? Is this a sign that the fakers were putting in subtle details to really fool the masses at the Masses?
The Shroud of Turin is one of the most studied pieces of cloth in history and yet it’s still a mystery. Does this video prove anything? Does it disprove anything? Would you believe it more if it said the eyes moved?