Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Shroud Of Christ By Paul Vignon D.Sc (Fr) Part 17.

We give here the essential passages

" The Gospels seem to state clearly that Jesus Christ was nailed to the Cross by the palms of His hands. St. Luke says that Jesus Christ, to prove His resurrection, showed His disciples the wounds in His feet and in His hands. Now the hand cannot properly be called the wrist. In the same way Christ said to St. Thomas, 'Behold my hands' In Psalm xxi. 18 the prophet says, ' They have pierced my hands and my feet.' It would give a forced meaning to these passages if we called hands wrists. But the words of the Prophet Zechariah would seem to decide this question altogether, 1 What mean these wounds in the middle of your hands ? ' (Zech. xiii. 6). Tradition has always represented Jesus Christ fastened to the Cross by the palms of His hands, and not by the wrists; and this has been so in all places, in all times, and from the dawning of Christianity to the present century. All the Holy Fathers agree on this. All the crucifixes of the world preach the same text." Our anonymous author finally closes the discussion altogether in favour of the Holy Shroud of Besançon. We will only say this : Figure 4 gives us the backs of the hands, not the palms. There would even be nothing unreasonable in the supposition that the nails were driven in obliquely through the palms to the wrists.

The images on the Holy Shroud of Besançon are so badly executed that far from considering it to be the rival of the Shroud of Turin, it is doubtful whether it can be thought good enough even to be a copy. It was a copy, however, and it is important to establish this fact, as we shall see.

In figure 5 there are three heads, A, B and C.  A is a sketch from the head of Turin as it appears upon the linen cloth, executed by myself; it is, of course, very rough, but correct in detail as far as it goes.

B has been obtained by enlarging to a similar scale a head taken from an engraving of the seventeenth century representing the Besançon Shroud. This engraving is reproduced entire in figure 6.

The third head, marked C, is the similar enlargement of a photograph from one of the copies painted on linen, such as are in the possession of many of the chief families of Besançon.  A photograph of this copy is shown in figure 7.

Let us now compare the three heads. Clearly the black marks correspond in all three. The salient point is the vertical line of the nose, the lower portion of which, in all three heads, grows slightly larger and inclines towards the left of the face. The engraver (more skilful than the painter on the linen), has drawn the eyebrows far apart, as in our own design. The painter, on the contrary, has merely indicated the eyebrows by a horizontal bar above the nose, and has omitted altogether to place the eyes in their sockets, which are indeed badly indicated in the original. The engraver, on the other hand, has reproduced the shape of the eye fairly well, and has designated the eyelids by a line drawn betwixt eye and brow.

Compare also the cheek-bones. In B they are omitted altogether; in C they are enormous. All the copyists of the Besançon Shroud seem to have insisted on giving them undue prominence, see Figure 7. In both B and C the oblique lines on each side of the nose, indicating the pained expression of the hollow cheeks, are clearly marked. In B indeed the engraver has endeavoured to show that the right cheek (left in the drawing) was more swollen than the opposite one.

Now note the drawing of the mouth, which is very characteristic. The engraver, B, places under the nose a large black mark, notched or irregular on the upper edge. In our own sketch this is meant for the moustache, but for the copyist it could hardly have had that signification, for it is difficult to make out even the upper lip. At any rate he gives it as he sees it. The painter, C, does much the same, indicating its droop with careful pains. Lower down, A, B and C all give a light band for the upper lip, and a dark band for the under lip. Lower still, we find another light band which shows the hollow of the chin, and separates the mouth from
the large black patch which shows the prominence of the chin itself. From the chin B and C seem to have intended to show the beard, roughly parted in the middle to indicate the two classic points, which, we may add, are little, if at all, perceptible in the Holy Shroud.

We think that after this examination it will be admitted that the authors of copies B and C must have worked from the original Shroud of Lirey (Turin). At any rate they have produced all the defects which we know to have been the characteristic of the Shroud of Besançon. There is no doubt, therefore, that the Shroud of Besançon was neither more nor less than a replica of that of Lirey (Turin)—a replica faithful enough in many respects as having been reverently copied, but rough and crude, because the work of unskilful hands.

To demonstrate still further. If the engraver of B and the painter of C judged it necessary to add a neck and shoulders to the figure because they thought it would have been absurd without them, they did not carry their conviction so far as to replace the absent ears. They have, however, outlined the lower jaw, which is not visible in the original.

We see in sketch A that the top of the head, on the right side of the drawing, is much stronger in tone than on the other side. Our own sketch shows that the locks of hair on that side are thicker and more marked. It is clear that B and C endeavoured at least to copy faithfully. Again, our sketch shows the thickest tress of hair curving upwards from the roots, and this curve is shown with great exactness in the sketches. In nearly all the copies of the Besançon Shroud this peculiarity is observable.

We need not say much about the rendering of the body. All the faults which the anonymous author of the manuscript found with it are here faithfully reproduced ; and this is not through any fault of the copyists, for we are given to understand clearly enough that such faults were visible in the figure on the Shroud of Besançon itself. The engraver B gives perhaps the real aspect of his model more faithfully than the artist employed by Chifflet. In any case he naively places on the right side the lance-wound which Chifflet has placed on the left.

We must not omit to notice the copy of the Holy Shroud, said to have been made by one Pierre Dargent, in the latter half of the sixteenth century, which we reproduce in figure 8. It is almost in the nature of an official document, as it is preserved at the present time in the library of the town of Besançon. It is also the largest copy existing.