THE REASONS WHICH CAUSE US TO ATTRIBUTE THE IMPRESSIONS ON THE HOLY SHROUD TO THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST—THE WOUND-MARKS OF CHRIST—EXAMINATION OF THE WOUND-MARKS ON THE SHROUD—A STUDY OF THE GOSPELS, WITH REGARD TO THE ENTOMBMENT OF CHRIST
THE REASONS WHICH CAUSE US TO ATTRIBUTE THE IMPRESSIONS ON THE HOLY SHROUD TO THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST
|2D TO 3D CONVERSION OF THE HEAD ON THE SHROUD OF TURIN|
We will now try to establish, from the evidence of the Shroud itself, the identity of the man whose body left these impressions. The time has come to approach the question from this new point of view ; not merely for the satisfaction of what must be considered legitimate curiosity, but because it is necessary, for the complete achievement of the task we have undertaken, to know every circumstance that can be ascertained, relating to the death and enshroudment of the historic personage whose identity is in question.
The traditions already existing with regard to the Shroud made us think of experimenting as to the chemical properties of aloes and of febrile sweat. The results of our experiments fulfilled our hopes, and we shall describe them in our last chapter; but we must now call upon the Shroud itself to tell us whether our hypothesis led us in the right direction.
We first thought of making experiments as to the properties of aloes, because it was possible that we were dealing with the impression left by the body of Christ. We will not conclude that the body was actually that of Christ, simply because our chemical experiments have succeeded.
THE WOUND-MARKS OF CHRIST
The wound-marks upon the body, as seen in the Holy Shroud, are so special in their character that they point at once to the body of Jesus Christ.
All round the head, on the forehead and among the hair, stand out distinct brown stains which look like clots of blood. These stains form a crown. We are reminded at once of the Crown of Thorns.
On the right side of the breast is a lentil-shaped patch, four to five centimetres in length. Just below this are other marks, which would seem to be the stains of flowing blood ; flowing, that is to say, while the body was in an upright posture.
Once more we remember that " one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side." Doubtless if the mark to which we have called attention is indeed a stab from a lance or a spear, such a wound would have caused death, unless indeed the sufferer were already dead when he received it, for if the blow had been in an oblique direction from right to left, it must certainly have pierced the heart ; and even if this were not so, the quantity of blood-stains show that some of the main blood-vessels of the body must have been severed.
On the left wrist is a brown mark which must also be from a clot of blood. The right wrist is not visible, but both the forearms bear distinct traces of flowing blood. It would seem almost certain that this man had received wounds in the wrists, and that the blood streaming therefrom, and coagulating, had left the traces which we see. These marks again recall to our mind the wounds made in our Saviour's body when He was nailed to the Cross.
At the heels and on the soles of the feet similar marks are visible. Is it not fair to claim that they correspond to the wounds made by the nails with which Christ's feet were pierced ? True, in the photographs of the front view of the body there are no traces of blood at the lower extremities, but the feet are almost entirely hidden, as already explained.
This is not all. On the back, on the fleshy parts in the vicinity of the pelvis, on the thighs, and even on the calves are a curious series of marks, almost alike in shape and regular in direction. We know that Christ was scourged on the very morning of His death, and the inevitable conclusion is that these marks were produced by some instrument like a scourge, and indicate not so much the strokes of a rod or of whipcord, as of the button-tipped, knout-like instruments of flagellation used by the Romans.
Behind the right shoulder (the left as seen on the Shroud) is a large blotch, striated vertically, and extending from the crest of the shoulder bone, along the shoulder-blade. We know that Christ was " compelled to bear His Cross " ; the Cross was so heavy that it could not but cut the
The face is evidently bruised. In describing its modelling we have already mentioned a disfiguring lump which breaks the line of the nose ; we also noticed the swellings on the cheeks and cheekbones. It will be remembered, that the night that Jesus was taken prisoner and brought before Caiaphas, the high priest, His assailants spat in His face and buffeted Him. As St. Matthew relates in his twenty-sixth chapter, at verses 67, 68 : " Then did they spit in His face and buffeted Him ; and others smote Him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote Thee ? "
We have shown that this man had received at least one mortal wound. But the whole aspect of the features, as shown in the impression, is corpse-like. Notice how the nostrils are pinched, and how the calm of death spreads over the whole face. The passion of suffering is past, the peace of death is attained, the sacred sacrifice completed. " It is finished"
There can be no shadow of doubt that the body here enshrouded was that of one who had undergone the penalty of death. That the cloth we speak of, was veritably his shroud. More than all, that this body bears unmistakably the wounds which were inflicted on Christ, and the marks of the Cross on which He died.
Was this man in very truth—The Christ ?
If the impression on the Shroud was, as we believe, spontaneously produced, and if this impression shows, as we think it does, so many remarkable and concordant characteristics, surely we have every right to conclude that the body was none other than that of Jesus Christ our Lord.
This conclusion cannot be considered as a mere hypothesis. We arrived at it inevitably by a series of direct observations. But in order to still further prove our argument, let us now ask, Would it have been conceivably possible to produce such wound-marks fraudulently upon the impression left by some other dead body ? Or, even if the impressions are altogether spontaneous, do the distinctive marks which we have pointed out prove necessarily that the body is that of Christ ?