Monday, 5 October 2015

The Shroud Of Christ By Paul Vignon D.Sc (Fr) Part 20.

The following sentence concerns the reversing of the images :

alterum, quaecumque dextra sunt in sacris linteis, sinistra fuisse in Christi corpore ; et vicissim, hie dextra, quae illic sinistra, plane ut in speculis " (page 185). Here is Chifflet's opinion as to the deformations which an impression by simple contact must have had : " Denique non apparet latior vultus in sacris linteis, quam qui homini in plani tabuld ex arte depicto conuenit; esset autem multo latior si ex naturali dumtaxat genarum attactu colorem
contraxissit" (page 199).

We may now leave Besançon  and betake ourselves to Chambery.

First of all here is the actual account of the repairs made in the cloth two years after the fire of 1534, when the Holy Shroud was nearly destroyed. The account is given by the nuns of St. Claire, who had been commissioned by the Duke of Savoy to undertake such repairs and consolidations as were deemed indispensable. These ladies were at work on the Shroud for fifteen days, and they describe it most minutely in Le Saint Suaire de Chambdry a Sainte-Claire-en-Ville (April to May, 1534), by L. Bouchage. Chambery, Drivet, 1891.

It was on April 15, 1534, that the Cardinal Louis de Gorrevod proceeded to make an official inspection of the Holy Shroud. Bouchage gives us the account of the ceremony, and, more interesting still, the precise terms in which the Cardinal describes the fire and the traces left by it on the Shroud, just as they are visible to-day. " Licet in duobus plicis a dextris et a sinistris appareat in duodecim locis ex dicto incendio certa angredo, et in aliquo dictorum locorum ex dicto incendio aliqualis debili-tatio et in ipsa nigredine fractura, extra tamen effigiem et impressionem Sudoris et Sanguinis Corporis Christi."

After this ceremony, according to Piano (who translated Bouchage, and who himself made a study of early history), the Shroud was taken to the Monastery of Saint Claire. Piano states that Chifflet preserved the names of the nuns to whom specially the repairing of the Shroud was entrusted. He alludes further to an account of the incident, which had been lost, but which was said to have been written by the nuns in a simple and natural style. Of this account M. Bouchage discovered a copy dating from the last century, and this copy may be deemed authentic, as " bearing the names of the same persons as cited by Piano, such as Pingin, Chifflet and Capre, but with more numerous and precise details " (page 12). We must add, and this is a noteworthy fact, that the writer of this account (a nun) had been an eye-witness of the repairs to the Holy Shroud, and had personally and with much care inspected the impressions on it.

The nun who gives the account mentions, first of all, the solemn official report which was made of the actual delivery of the Shroud into the hands of the Abbess Louise de Vargin. The papal legate requested the noblemen present to examine the relic minutely, and to bear witness that it was the actual winding-sheet which had been venerated previous to the fire. After this the narrator goes on to tell how the Holy Shroud was carefully backed with a piece of Holland cloth, and pieces were sewn on to repair the holes burnt by the fire. As they worked the nuns remarked that the sacred impressions were nearly as visible on the back as on the front of the Shroud. Since 1534, however, the lining thus added has of course prevented any inspection of the back.

The Clarisses (as the nuns of St. Claire of Chamb£ry were called) noticed the trickles of blood which had stained the forehead, and the narrator makes special mention of a large drop over the left eyebrow. " We noticed" she says, " on the left side of the forehead a drop of blood larger and longer than the others—' elle serpente en onde ' " (p. 20, M. Bouchage). This is very important, as being the only testimony we have concerning this truly remarkable trace. They understood that the figures were of the nature of impressions, and they indicate as clearly as possible that they considered the impression to be a species of modelling. " The eyebrows appeared well defined; the eyes a little less clear ; the nose as being the most prominent part of the face was well marked " ; the form of the mouth and the swollen condition of the parts of the face were also noticed. " The mouth was well shown, small but finely shaped; the cheeks were swollen and disfigured as if they bore the cruel marks of blows, more particularly on the right side of the face."

They mention the trickles of blood on the forearms and the marks of the nails in the middle of the hand. The narrator must have made a mistake here, as we know by ocular demonstration that the marks of the nails are in the wrists. The wound on the side is described as being " three fingers long."

In dealing with the back view of the body mention is made of the hair being clotted with blood, and the narrator specially mentions what is perfectly exact, that the clots are heavier on the nape of the neck than on the hair higher up. "On the head there are the marks of long, sharp thorns, so closely set together that the crown of thorns must evidently have fitted-almost like a hat, and not like a prince's crown as represented in pictures; on close examination it can be seen that the wounds were more severe towards the back of the head near its nape, and that the thorns had here penetrated deeper, by the largeness of the drops of blood with which the hair is matted together " (p. 21). It was noticed that " the shoulders were entirely lacerated and torn by scourge-marks extending over the whole body." No mention, however, is made of the heavy bruise which is to be found between the shoulder and the right shoulder-blade, caused by the terrible pressure of the Cross. On parts of the back " the drops of blood are as large as the leaves of marjoram, and the skin is broken in many places by the savage blows inflicted."

We must point out some errors in this account. The body was not, as the nuns believed, so closely covered with wounds ; the impressions were not produced by blood in a liquid state. No vestige is to be seen of the iron chain by which the body might have been bound j we shall explain this further on. But such slight errors do not detract in any way from the value of the testimony given by "the poor Claires" of 1534.

At Chambery, in the chapel of the Castle, is a recent painting in water-colour (brown monochrome) on a canvas of the same size as the original Shroud, but it is too roughly executed to be of any value to us. By the kindness of M. de Buttel we were allowed to see a smaller copy preserved in the church of Notre Dame. It is very ancient, probably dating from the sixteenth century, and we have had it photographed, and reproduced in Plate ix.

This also is a brown monochrome in water-colour, and is the most complete copy we know. In spite of its evident imperfections, its testimony is very valuable. Round the eyes, the nose, and the mouth are those light zones which indicate negative modelling. We remark that no neck is visible. The wound from the nails is clearly shown in the wrist, and blood is seen on the forearms. Under the heels the artist has shown marks of blood, but by force of tradition he has thought fit to place the stigmata in the soles of the feet. In the actual Shroud all the blood-marks on the feet are alike except those under the heels, which are larger, and it is here that blood has flowed directly upon the linen. The copyist, having placed the stigmata in the centres of the soles of the feet, has been obliged to mark them on the upper part, which corresponded ; and, as we shall see further on, he has placed these markings too low down.