Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Shroud Of Christ By Paul Vignon D.Sc (Fr) Part 22.

In Spain there exists, in the Monastery of Silos, a copy of the Holy Shroud, of full original size, dating without doubt from the seventeenth century. It shows an enormous perizoma, and its drawing cannot be called faithful. However, this detail may be noted by its rarity ; the scourge marks on the thighs and calves are closely reproduced. The blows are accurately shown in the shape of small narrow rectangular lines.

In Portugal, at Xabregas, a suburb of Lisbon, there is another copy of the Shroud. Full particulars of this are given in the History of the Holy Shroud, by M. de Mely, which appeared in the Revue Archeologique in 1902. The first mention of this Shroud is in a work 1651-57. The author does not seek to maintain that it is the original. In 1709 another author put forward the theory that the Shroud at the Monastery of Xabregas might really be the original Shroud. Here follows an allusion to a so-called miraculous reproduction of the Shroud at Turin, not the handiwork of any painter. This might be the wonderful tracing which we found at Lisbon, unless indeed we admit the hypothesis that it was the primitive original ! The two Shrouds, the old one and the new, were so alike, says an author of 1709, that it was impossible to distinguish the one from the other.

The truth is that the Shroud of Xabregas is a copy of the Holy Shroud of Turin—nearly as faithful a copy as the one which we have reproduced in our Plate ix.

M. de Mely having been so good as to show us the photographs of the Lisbon Shroud, we were able to point out to him all the traces of negative modelling which were visible on the inferior painting of Xabregas. We also showed him that the artist had interpreted the marks which run across the loins in the original of Turin to be an actual chain. We have already pointed out that this stain, which has been taken by so many people to be the marks of the chain by which Jesus Christ was bound to the flogging-post, was the water : stain made at the time of the fire. Also the feet are not drawn faithfully. They are shown crossed, the one over the other, instead of being stretched out side by side in normal fashion. Compare our figure 33, reproducing the Calvary of Taddeo Gaddi.

Finally, let us return to France, to direct attention to a somewhat fantastically executed engraving of the seventeenth century. We see in this what liberties copyists allowed themselves to take with the reality. This engraving is so well known that we need only say that, except in the general position of the two bodies, it has hardly any connexion with the original. It bears no trace of negative treatment; indeed we might almost think we were gazing upon a picture of some statue, executed in the style of the time of Louis XIV.

The evidence afforded by the various copies and descriptions of the Holy Shroud is of considerable value. The relic is, as it were, authenticated in almost all important details ; so much so, that our knowledge of the subject thus gleaned is almost equal to what was afforded to us by the photographs taken from the original.

But let us not forget that these copyists, these observers, could after all only convey to us what they themselves knew. The eye indeed will only perceive what the mind comprehends, or nearly so, and whoever wishes to accumulate precise facts must do so by close comparison of details. Admitting, then, that by a stroke of good fortune we had discovered one single copy of the Holy Shroud which united in itself all the peculiarities which we have thus laboriously collected from so many sources, even then, such a copy could but have been the shadow, of the original Shroud. We should have obtained from it no fruitful knowledge, because the negative image, though materially complete in appearance, could not have been otherwise than inexact, inartistic, and unscientific in important details. Consequently even the ideal copyist, whom we have vainly sought, at Besançon, at Chambery, and Turin, would have been powerless to re-produce the original Shroud ; how much more powerless to create it.