The Shroud of Turin shows the reality of the Passion, death and Resurrection of Christ, according to Shroud presenter James Bertrand.
Mr Bertrand, a student of and presenter about the Shroud for the past 30 years, spoke to attendees at the Auckland Eucharistic Convention at the AMI Netball Centre in Takapuna on April 3.
Mr Bertrand said he first became interested in the Shroud when he read about Dr John Jackson’s findings in National Geographic in 1980.
Dr Jackson headed the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), an unprecedented five-day extensive study of the Shroud by a team of international experts in October 1978. To this day, data gathered by STURP is used to study the Shroud.
“I invited him to come to my parish to do a presentation. We became friends for the last 20 years,” said Mr Bertrand.
The task of presenting and explaining the findings on the Shroud came later in 2014.
“This was a pilot programme for all the dioceses of America. We wanted to train people in each diocese to do what I’m doing,” he said.
One of the things that convinced him that he was being called to present the Shroud to people was the fact that he couldn’t hear very well. His hearing was impaired from working around loud construction machinery to pay for his college tuition. He has been wearing a hearing aid since he was 24.
“But when I went to this Shroud conference in 2014, I saw all these presentations 14 hours a day [and listened to] speakers from Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, people with very strong accents. I was leaving the parking lot when it hit me that I understood every word they said,” Mr Bertrand said.
After the conference, he was invited by the Turin Shroud Centre of Colorado, run by Dr Jackson, to make presentations on the Shroud. “I took that as a positive sign that God wanted me to hear what was going on, so I can do this,” he said.
Mr Bertrand said there is enormous evidence that points to the authenticity of the Shroud. These include: botanical evidence (pollen grains that place the Shroud in Jerusalem); historical evidence (icons and other art dating as early as AD550 that portrayed Jesus
with remarkable resemblance to the image in the Shroud); the bloodstains that correspond to Jesus’ injuries as told by the Gospels; dirt found in the Shroud around the nose, feet and soles of the image in the Shroud.
In April 1988 radiocarbon testing by three Oxford scientists concluded that the Shroud was probably from 1290 to 1390 and thus a fake.
That study, however, was later debunked by chemist Ray Rogers who found that the piece tested by the Oxford scientists was contaminated.
Mr Bertrand said the Shroud attested to the Passion of Christ. It showed the wounds from the crown of thorns, the scourge marks on the chest, abrasions across the top of the shoulders from carrying the cross as well as the wounds from the nails on the hands and feet.
Research on the Shroud also proved the death of Jesus.
“Blood and serum [in the Shroud] was from a person who has been dead for at least half an hour to eight hours. Blood and serum have separated,” explained Mr Bertrand.
Mr Bertrand said out of 42 papers presented in the 2014 Shroud conference, only one challenged the authenticity of the Shroud.
“The overwhelming number of scientists has moved on to find, first, how was the image formed and, second, some historical gaps. Those are the foci of the research today,” he said.
Some of hypotheses that claimed the Shroud was made by an artist have been discarded.
There is no image underneath the Shroud, explained Mr Bertrand. Because the bloodstains are anatomically correct, one would have had to make the image first and rubbed or painted the pigment within the drawing. “But the Shroud doesn’t show that. There is no image under the Shroud, which means the blood came first, Good Friday; the image came second, Easter Sunday, and it was so faint it could not penetrate through the Shroud,” he said.
He explained that the bloodstain on the Shroud was so superficial, it only covered the very top of the microfibres and could not have been made by pigments, paints or dye.
Mr Bertrand said Dr Jackson’s hypothesis, which is known as Fall Through, is the only one that can explain how the image came about.
“The image formation could have been formed by a burst of light and as the body became mechanically transparent, the cloth would have collapsed through,” he said.
“If that moment began at the instant of the Resurrection, then the burst of light could have formed the image that we see on the Shroud in a very superficial way.”
Mr Bertrand said this remains a hypothesis because no one actually witnessed the Resurrection.
“The proof is overwhelming that in the end, we have to take a step out of the natural and take a leap of faith. We are not going to win hearts by winning a scientific debate,” he said. “We are going to win their hearts if they accept Christ.”