Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Shroud Of Christ By Paul Vignon D.Sc (Fr) Part 16.

Its author begins by arguing that the stigmata on the Besançon Shroud are very badly indicated. " But why," he says " are the wounds on the head made by the crown of thorns, only dimly visible ? How is it that not the least mark of scourging can be seen ? The arms and chest could not have escaped being flayed by the lash, and yet the marks left by those portions of the body are not stronger than the marks from the legs and thighs. None of these details have been forgotten in the Holy Shroud of Turin. Why did not the blood which flowed down from the wound in the side leave no stain, as it did on the wound itself and its immediate vicinity ?—as it did also in the clots painted like drops on the hands and feet. If the body had been washed, is it likely that the marks of blood would have been washed away in some places and left in others ? " (Folio 60.)

He then expresses surprise that only the front aspect of the body should appear, and points out that in the Shroud of Turin there are both front and back impressions (folio 61). He considers the image of Besançon to be as unnatural in form as it is ugly in appearance, and adds : " Why are these impressions drawn with such regularity ? The human body is not made like a stick, straight up and down ; the shoulders should be broader than the head, the neck, less wide than the loins or the knees. The head of a man is spherical, not flat like a mirror ; the features, the nose in particular, stand out in relief, some higher, some lower than others. The cloth which covered the sacred countenance of Jesus Christ could not have been in contact with all its parts alike. Yet all the impressions are of equal strength. The feet appear to be separated. Yet, surely, they were laid together. The whole figure is in Gothic taste, as I shall proceed to show " (folios 61 and 62).

In folio 65 the author goes on: " In the Holy Shroud the shoulders are shown perfectly square, whilst all the extremities are practically straight lines, just as they are in ancient paintings and stained glass windows in churches of Gothic architecture, good taste, and truth to nature being alike ignored. All which goes to prove that the impression on the Holy Shroud is not natural." (1)

We may quote the passage where our unknown author tells us that in the actual Shroud of Besançon the wound in the breast was shown on the right side, not on the left as Chifflet has it. " On the surface of the Holy Shroud, which has the wound on the right side, it is more distinctly marked than on the other surface. The same with the wounds on the feet and hands. Yet it was not this surface which touched the Holy Body, for then the right side would appear to be the left, just as it is in a print taken from a woodcut or in the reflection in a mirror, showing on the left what is in reality on the right. The artist should have remembered that the impressions on the Holy Shroud would have been stronger on the surface which touched the Holy Body. He has preferred to conform to the pictures of Christ which represent the wound as being on the right side " (folio 64).

Evidently in Chifflet's print it was necessary to put the wound on the left, as they wished to make the figure of Besançon confirm that of Turin, where the wound certainly is on the left side.

We lay stress upon all these blunders, for it is by such that a forger betrays himself. If the clerical contemporaries of Voltaire, who examined the so-called Holy Shroud of Besançon with such open minds, could return to life, we should beg them to criticize freely the Shroud of Turin, feeling sure that their conclusions would be different from those which they arrived at, with regard to the cloth of Besançon.

Let us now return to our examination. It was not only by clumsiness that the author of the Besançon Shroud failed to imitate his model ; he did more ; he pandered to his public. Thus he not only painted the wound on the breast on the right side of the body, and twisted the hands until both were visible, but he deliberately placed in the middle of each hand the marks of the nails, which in the Holy Shroud of Lirey (Turin) are distinctly visible in the wrists.

It may be argued that in Chifflet's engraving the wound is not exactly in the centre of the hands, neither is it in the wrists ; but Chifflet in his description of the Shroud at Besançon asserts that the nails must have pierced the metacarpal bone.

The anonymous author of the manuscript in favour of the Holy Shroud of Besançon devotes folios 38 to 41 to the position of the wounds on the hands. According to him the Holy Shroud of Besançon is glorified by showing the traces of the nails in the place where painters always had placed them, and the Holy Shroud of Turin must be condemned as a forgery. In the Middle Ages—the time of rigid tradition—this fact carried greater weight than in 1700.

(1) The two manuscripts " for and against" were written at different dates. The second has this remark, " Je tiens de M. l'abbe Trouillet que cette dissertation est le resultat de conferences entre lui, le premier professeur Bullet et l'abbe Fleury, chanoine de Sainte Magdeleine."—Signe : Grappin.