Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Shroud Of Christ By Paul Vignon D.Sc (Fr) Part 15.

Dunod, in his History of the Church of Besançon, speaks of the Holy Shroud preserved in the Cathedral of St. Etienne in the thirteenth century, and proceeds thus : " In March, 1349, the church was destroyed by fire, and the box in which the Holy Shroud was kept, seemingly without much formality, was lost. Some years afterwards the relic was found again by a happy chance, " and to make sure that it was the same as was formerly venerated in the church of St. Etienne, it was laid upon a dead man, who immediately revived. The fact of this miracle is established not only by the records of the church of Besançon, but also by a manuscript, preserved up to the present time in the church of St. James, at Rheims, where it had been placed by Richard La Pie, senior priest of Besançon, in the year 1375, who had been himself an eye-witness." (Pages 419-421 of Dunod.)

From so much confused matter we glean certain facts.

In the thirteenth century there was at Besançon a Holy Shroud.

In 1349 this Shroud was burnt.

Some years after, it reappeared, or was replaced by another.

This other, subsequent to 1349, prior to 1375, was simply a copy of the Holy Shroud of Turin, as we shall show.

Figure 4 gives us the Shrouds of Besançon and of Turin drawn side by side, and is taken from an engraving in the work by M. Chifflet, already mentioned. The general attitude of the bodies is the same in both, with one notable exception : in the Besançon Shroud the hands are crossed in an unnatural manner ; in that of Lirey (Turin) the left hand conceals the right ; in that of Besançon both are shown. In the Lirey (Turin) Shroud the body is covered with bleeding wounds ; in that of Besançon the places of the stigmata only are roughly marked out. The inscription on the engraving from Chifflet's work shows us how it was attempted to explain the apparently contradictory appearance of two Christ Shrouds, both bearing the holy image, and how it was that the wounds on the body did not present the same appearances.

This is the inscription : " Lindon Taurinensis refert corpus Christi cruentum et recens de Cruce depositium ; Sudarium vero Bisontinum exhibet illud idem iam lotum ac perunctum et in sepulchro compositum," explaining that the Holy Shroud of Turin was the cloth in which the body was wrapped after it was taken down from the Cross, whilst that of Besançon was the clothing used in the sepulchre. On the cloth of Lirey (Turin) the traces would be from recent blood and sweat ; those of Besançon would have been produced from the oils and spices used at the entombment. It had been well thought out. But apparently it had not occurred to any one to ask why, at the entombment, there had been no cloth under as well as over the body ? Perhaps they supposed that the other half of the Shroud had been lost !

It is impossible to judge of the artistic or scientific value of the impressions visible on the Holy Shroud of Besançon, from the Chifflet engraving. Clearly it has no artistic merit as given here. But its fellow, the image of Turin, executed by the same draughtsman, has just as little. It is so easy to see that this would-be copy of the Lirey (Turin) Shroud is not at all like the original, that we may well conclude that the same may be said of the Besançon Shroud as sketched here. If it had not been for the awkward misplacing of the hands we might almost have been tempted to believe that the two copies were from one original. In both the drawing is bad, the shoulders high and pointed, the pelvis not shown, the legs out of proportion and stiffly drawn. In both the limbs are modelled in negative, for the shadows grow darker as they approach their centres. The back and breast, on the contrary, are given in positive. On both figures, the nose is shown in negative, and the remaining features in positive. From every point of view the work is mean and insignificant. If then the copy of the Holy Shroud at Besançon, as Chifflet shows it to us, is so bad, what was the original like ? This question must be answered before going further, and to do so we must avail ourselves of the information contained in the other manuscript we spoke of, which was written against its authenticity. This is preserved in the Besançon Library as No. 826, and was written some time in the latter half of the eighteenth century.