On November 1, 2002 the cardinal Archbishop, Papal Custodian of the Shroud, has constituted the Diocesan Commission for the Shroud, appointing the following members: Mgr. Giuseppe Ghiberti, president; Fr. Ferruccio Ceragioli, vice-president; Mgr. Dario Berruto, Fr. Mario Filippi salesian, can. Giuseppe Chicco, rector of the Church of the S. Sudario in Turin (priests in charge of the Shroud pastoral); can. Francesco Cavallo, parish priest of the Cathedral (also as the representative of the Metropolitan Chapter); Prof. Piero Savarino, scientific Adviser of the Custodian.
Can the process of carbonization of the Shroud “walk”? Ray N. Rogers, chemist of the University of California, answers with the article “The chemistry of auto catalytic processes in the context of the Shroud of Turin”: on the basis of the facts of chemistry and current storage conditions, the Shroud of Turin is in no danger of auto catalytic decomposition.
Some interesting comments on the Summer 2002 intervention can be found in English on the website http://www.shroud.com/restored.htm.
At the age of 98, Antoine Legrand, the doyen of French sindonologists, died on August 10, 2002.
On Monday, September 23, 2002 at 10:30 a.m. at “Centro Russia Ecumenica” (Ecumenical Russia Center) at Vicolo del Farinone, 30 in Rome a press conference took place in order to comment on the interventions carried out on the Shroud in June and July 2002. There were: Prof. Eng. Giulio Fanti, Professor of Mechanical and Thermal Measurements at the University of Padua and coordinator of “ATLAS” project of Shroud study; Prof. William Meacham, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Hong Kong; Prof. Heinrich Pfeiffer S.J., Professor of Christian Art History at Gregoriana University of Rome and member of the Papal Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church; Dr. Orazio Petrosillo, journalist and Vatican expert of “Il Messaggero” of Rome; Prof. Emanuela Marinelli, teacher of Natural Sciences and Chemistry, author of books on the Shroud. Moderator: Dr. Alberto Di Giglio, director de “Il Telo”, a Magazine of Sindonology.
Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer admitted that the delicacy and the professional
skill of the operators, Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg and Dr. Irene
Tomedi, are undisputed, but this does not mean that a lot of possible information
on the object has not probably been lost. A faultless cleaning has been
achieved, but one has to wonder whether that was the priority aim.
As to the seams tensions, Prof. Giulio Fanti underlined that such tensions had first to be measured “sewing” optical fibers with a particular reticule (reticule of Bragg) in the cloth.
The worry for the further weakening of the ancient singed Cloth, deprived of the Holland cloth and the patches, which supported it avoiding the possibility of whichever laceration, is proper. The variation of the dimensions of the sheet is also worrisome: one of the long sides has grown of approximately four centimeters and the other of approximately eight. In order to stretch the folds lead weights were applied and among the instruments used an ultrasound vaporizer is listed. The stress of the manipulation, and besides done with bare hands, has been aggravated by more than a month of exposure to light. In the film that documents the intervention, one can also see an incandescent lamp directing light on the cloth without anybody at work. Everyone who has seen the Shroud on other occasions finds it darker now.
Prof. William Meacham underlined that the removal of the carbonized material and dusts has involved the loss of the opportunity to study them in situ; moreover, the mixture of the carbonized material with other particles has made the possibility of a separate study be lost. From the historical point of view, the loss of the folds, which could testify to the way the Shroud was kept in more ancient ages, is feared. The 16th century restoration itself, which has been destroyed, was an historical testimony, now irretrievably gone.
Prof. Emanuela Marinelli has reminded that the intervention has raised remarkable perplexities among many Shroud scholars: in fact, such a drastic intervention did not appear necessary and urgent. The decision to carry out such an operation has been taken by a very narrow group of people, without a wider consultation among the scientists and the historians, who have been interested in this Relic for many years. In fact, nobody had proposed any intervention of the sort at any of the eight international conferences held in the last four years (Turin 1998, Richmond 1999, Rio de Janeiro 1999, Turin 2000, Orvieto 2000, Dallas 2001, Paris 2002, Rio de Janeiro 2002), not even those convened by the Turin International Center of Sindonology (Turin 1998) and by the Archbishop of Turin (Turin 2000) included such a proposal. Nine scientists who have participated in this last conference have written a protest letter to the Shroud Custodian, that is the Archbishop of Turin, Card. Severino Poletto, just with respect to the lack of this necessary previous consultation. Many other sindonologists have expressed their perplexities writing directly to the Pope.
No article that motivated the necessity of such an intervention appeared in any review or journal, neither scientific nor popular. That the necessity to complete such an intervention was “strongly underlined by the lamented Prof. Alan Adler, member of the Commission for the Conservation”, as has been communicated officially, contrasts with the fact that this distinguished scientist never wrote it in his scientific works.
The operation, led in secret and by few people, prevented many other researchers from carrying out the research they officially proposed after the conferences of Turin 2000 and Orvieto 2000.
For such significant interventions, a wider preventive consultation and an increased debate among experts would be necessary, in order to avoid possible further irretrievable damages to the object, that it is the most important Relic of Christianity. It would be appropriate, therefore, that the commission for the conservation of the Holy Shroud be widened. Also the diocesan commission for the Shroud should have to be widened and transformed into an international scientific commission for the Shroud, under the protection of the Papal Academy of Sciences. It is obvious that, for practical reasons, the Shroud Custodian appointed some scholars living in Turin as his close collaborators, but everyone of them should have been the coordinator of a sub-commission, in which all the experts of the same discipline (there are some thirty involved in the study of the Shroud) all over the world should join. The Shroud cannot be considered a diocesan property of Turin! Obviously, the information concerning the Holy Shroud must be made public officially in a timely and transparent way.
Also Dr. Orazio Petrosillo has reminded that the Shroud is a universal object; he complained the inexplicable lack of information about this operation. He has also had words of appreciation for the gift made to the journalists by Card. Poletto, who granted them a private exhibition of the venerated Linen.
The Holy Shroud before the removal intervention of the 1534 restoration (A. Guerreschi)
The Holy Shroud after the removal intervention of the 1534 restoration (Archdiocese of Turin)
Between June 20 and July 23, 2002 the Holy Shroud has undergone a remarkable intervention that has involved the removal of the restoration made by the Chambéry Clare nuns in 1534. At that time, in order to repair the serious damages of two years before, thirty patches were put on the holes caused by the fire and a Holland cloth on the back of the Shroud as a backing cloth. Now all the patches have been removed and all the charred edges of the holes have been scraped away. Therefore, the holes have become larger and left uncovered. On the back of the Shroud, a new cloth, which dates back to about fifty years ago, has been sewn with bent needles and silk thread. Moreover, the complete digital scansion both on the surface where the image of the Man of the Shroud is visible, and on the back, which has then been hidden again by the new backing cloth, has been carried out. Finally, a complete photographic documentation and some drawings of material have been effected.
The motivations brought forward by the commission that has operated (a list of its members, however, has not been given out) regard the reduction of the problem of the folds existing on the cloth, the irregular and uncontrolled tension caused by the stitches and the limitation of the damages caused by the presence of carbon residues. Moreover, the cleanness conditions of the backing cloth were thought to be very worrisome and dust and debris, besides fragments of carbonized cloth, had accumulated under the patches for nearly five centuries.
On Friday, September 20, 2002 at 7:00 PM a group of scientists and experts about the Shroud were invited to a private exhibition of the Relic, preceeded by some explanations about the work carried out. To the participants they offered a dinner inside the Cathedral's sacresty.
The articles put in the below boxes are the news on the intervention secretly conducted on the Shroud between June 20 and July 23, 2002.
|AP.BISCOM, Tuesday, September 19, 2002 – The wait (and the controversies) between the sindonologists all over the world in order to know in detail the results of the last restoration on the Shroud are mounting. On the eve of the Cardinal of Turin Severino Poletto’s report, the querelle on the delicate “conservative” intervention, undertaken without too much publicity in August in order to remove the ‘patches’ and the darns made in 1534 by the nuns of Chambéry in consequence of the devastating fire that ruined the sacred cloth, does not calm down at all.|
|LA STAMPA - Marco Tosatti, Wednesday, September 18, 2002, pag. 16 - Marco Bonatti, the Diocese of Turin spokesman, answers to the doubts raised by a lot of people on the Shroud “restoration.” «As it had been already announced for a long time, the Custodian, cardinal Severino Poletto, with his assistants, has convened a press conference for Saturday, during which all the information on the interventions carried out and aiming at guaranteeing the best possible conditions of the Shroud conservation, will be supplied. Since 1992 the Commission for the preservation (a permanent body, which has nothing to do with the 2000 international Symposium or with the Shroud conferences) has been studying and gradually setting up new preservation conditions for the Shroud (for example, the horizontal arrangement, or the realization of the new case).»|
|LA STAMPA - Marco Tosatti, Wednesday, September 18, 2002, pag. 16 - There is a controversy on the Shroud: the “restoration” operation, led in August and being illustrated in Turin next Saturday, has provoked very strong reactions in the sindonologists’ world. The elimination of “patches” sewn by the Clare nuns after the fire in Chambéry and the substitution of backing cloth with a new one are the two main points, on which a debate has already been opened. It is easy to foresee that the Saturday press conference will be very heated. […] “Collegamento pro Sindone”, a very active group guided by Prof. Emanuela Marinelli, has also written to the Pope, the Shroud “owner”, protesting because the operation has provoked "the loss of precious material: dusts, pollens, particles of blood and other micro-traces present also in the up-to-now hidden parts of the Shroud.” The “Collegamento” proposal is that “the Commission for the preservation of the Holy Shroud may be widened, under the protection of the Papal Academy of Sciences”: that is, under the Pope’s more direct control.|
|IL NOSTRO TEMPO n. 31 – Marco Bonatti, Sunday, September 1, 2002, p. 5 - Images of an “all new” Shroud those that will be shown in a couple of weeks in Turin by Cardinal Severino Poletto, papal custodian of the Sheet. The new image is the result of the series of interventions and restorations carried out in the past months of June and July on the Cloth that, according to the Church tradition, has wrapped the dead Christ’s body in the sepulchre and that powerfully recalls the signs of the Lord’s Passion through the image whose nature and formation science has not succeeded in establishing. In the next weeks the interventions will be shown in detail by the papal custodian of the Shroud, the Archbishop of Turin Poletto, and will be equipped with a series of the new images of the Cloth.|
|LA VOCE DEL POPOLO - Marco Bonatti, Wednesday, August 28, 2002 - It will be “a new” Shroud the one which is going to be shown in the next weeks by the Custodian Cardinal Poletto: in fact, in June and July important works of “restoration” of the Cloth kept in the Cathedral of Turin have been carried out. […] All the seam interventions have been carried through by Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, former director of Bern Abegg Museum and textile expert, helped by Dr. Irene Tomedi. The patches and old seams removal has also allowed to remove the dusts and the several debris that have accumulated on the Sheet in the course of the centuries. Every removed fragment has been catalogued and is kept in the Archbishopric. Another work has concerned the complete electronic scanning of the two faces of the Shroud, carried out by the team of Prof. Paolo Soardo from the Institute “G. Ferraris” of Turin: now it will be possible to have the Cloth entire "digital mapping”.|
|DISCOVERY NEWS - Rossella Lorenzi, Friday, August 23, 2002 - New tests on the Shroud of Turin are being carried out this summer in a secret experiment in the Turin Cathedral's new sacristy. In an effort to solve the mystery shrouding one of the most controversial relics in Christendom, the Vatican confirmed that thirty triangular patches had been removed from the Shroud.|
|ASSOCIATED PRESS - Roxana M. Popescu, Wednesday, August 21, 2002 - Experts on the Shroud of Turin said Wednesday they felt frustrated and betrayed to learn a Swiss textile expert had obtained Vatican approval to test the sacred cloth without involvement from the international scientific community.|
|THE TIMES - Richard Owen, Wednesday, August 21, 2002, page 11 - A fresh attempt by Catholic officials to prove that the Turin Shroud is genuine and not a medieval fake has provoked a row after experts said that the tests could damage the cloth.|
|RADIO 24 - Linea 24, Monday, August 12, 2002 - The restoration of the Holy Shroud, carried out by the Diocese of Turin, has just finished. On our microphones Emanuela Marinelli, Shroud expert, and Marco Bonatti, director of "La Voce del Popolo", weekly magazine of the Curia of Turin.|
|IL TEMPO - Francesco Sisinni, Sunday,
August 11, 2002, page 15 - The news of a most recent intervention
on the Shroud, a relic that most of the scientific world thinks authentic
and that all Christian believers in the world venerates as sacred, surprises
and worries, all the more that such an intervention would have been allowed
from those who, like the Church, with its famous edicts and its extraordinary
Supervisors, has written fundamental pages in the history of protection.
The news, just released, communicates that from the sheet, that would have wrapped the body of Jesus, deposed from the cross, would have been removed the thirty patches and the backing cloth, called of Holland, with which nearly five centuries ago they thought it right to patch it in the holes caused by the 1532 fire.[…]
Well, would this important object, on whose material and historical authenticity scholars from every part of the world have worked hard and, above all, in front of which millions of faithful from all over the world have kneeled down, have now undergone such a heavy intervention? And that in spite of the widespread convincement that the "do not touch," as far as the relics are concerned, is not dictated by a mere Conservatism, but by the consolidated culture of the protection, that admonishes us to have the due respect not only for the object in itself, but also for what the history has left on it, with signs which are testimonies to be conserved as well. For example, today who would dare remove the Renaissance and baroque integrations, and not only Bernini's famous ones, from the statues which have reached us mutilated from the Greek-Roman Classical Age? Nevertheless, those statues are not that "unique", that the Shroud is, instead. Sure, if the news of the intervention is founded, there must have been extremely serious reasons and therefore serious and urgent necessities to intervene. Therefore, a prompt information about it would be highly desirable. […]
|IL GIORNALE NUOVO DEL PIEMONTE - Fabio Marzano, Saturday, August 10, 2002, page 3 - A job for tailors with the halo. Only the Clare nuns of Chambéry, in 1534, had dared to mend the Shroud after that a fire in 1532 had damaged the sacred sheet, at that time kept in the cathedral of what was the dukedom of Savoy’s capital town. This time, instead, the operation has been led by a Swiss textile expert Metchild Flury-Lemberg. A fairy’s hands, or, better, a saint’s hands.|
|ADNKRONOS, Saturday, August 10, 2002 - The Holy Shroud changes its 'face'. The restoration of the sheet has been completed, with the elimination of the thirty patches sewn by the Chambéry Clare nuns after the1532 fire in the Sainte Chapelle.|
|LA REPUBBLICA - Marco Trabucco, Saturday, August 10, 2002, page 23 - The Shroud new face: the old darns have been eliminated. The Museum Guardian: “Now its look is quite different from the one we were accustomed to, but the restoration was absolutely necessary.”|
|AVVENIRE, Saturday, August 10, 2002, page 7 - The Sheet, after having been survived to the frightful fire of 1997 is now kept in a special case. And in order to adequately protect the relic, they adopted the most modern systems of preservation and alarm.|
|AVVENIRE - Giulio Zambrelli, Saturday, August 10, 2002, page 7 - The archbishop of Turin, Custodian of the Cloth, announced that in September information and images about the works concluded in these days will be available for the scientific community and the public opinion. The intervention on the holy relic, carried out reservedly and with the free way of the Vatican, was necessary in order to assure better preservation conditions. Unanimous the consent of the international Commission.|
|LA STAMPA - Francesca Paci, Saturday, August 10, 2002, page 15 - The diocese of Turin admits the silent removal of the thirty patches sewn on the sheet after the 1532 fire in the "Sainte Chapelle", but it specifies that "the intervention has been led in total agreement with the Holy See and on the basis of the indications emerged from the 2000 world-wide symposium". From Rome they confirm. The Secretariat of State declares they have guaranteed "the quick procedure in virtue of the absolute trust the Cardinal Severino Poletto enjoys." The Vatican knew, so did the sindonologists for the relic conservation.|
|IL MESSAGGERO - Orazio Petrosillo, Saturday, August 10, 2002, page 10 - The Curia of Turin has fully confirmed the amazing operation of removal of the Shroud patches, completed in great secret in the Turin Cathedral new sacristy from June 20 to July 22.|
|ASSOCIATED PRESS, Friday, August 9, 2002 - A Swiss textiles expert said Friday that she was carrying out tests on the Shroud of Turin, which believers say was used as the burial cloth of Jesus. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, speaking by phone from Bern, Switzerland, acknowledged the tests, but would not explain what she was studying or what the tests consisted of.|
|ANSA, Friday, August 9, 2002 – Between June 20 and July 22, 2002, the Shroud was removed from the armored case put under the royal stand of the Turin Cathedral and taken in the adjoining sacristy to carry out a scientific-conservative intervention. There has been an intervention in order to remove the some thirty darns and patches made by the Clare nuns of Chambéry in 1534. The operation, led by the Swiss textile expert Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, also consisted in the substitution of the Holland cloth, sewn by the Clare nuns themselves on the back of the Shroud and has involved also new scientific “non-invasive” assessments.|
IL MESSAGGERO - Orazio Petrosillo, Friday, August 9, 2002, page 8 - A new mystery on the Shroud. From June 20 to July 22 Jesus' supposed burial sheet has undergone a radical restoration intervention, without the Commission for the Shroud preservation being involved. The thirty "patches" affixed on the sheet after the 1532 fire and the backing cloth have been removed. Damages are feared. Polemics.
IL MESSAGGERO - Orazio Petrosillo, Friday, August 9, 2002, page 8 - The result of the dating tests of the Shroud with the radiocarbon method (C14), carried out by the laboratories of Oxford, Tucson and Zurich in 1988 and dating the Shroud cloth between 1260 and 1390, has been altered by the presence, just in the area of the dating of the small linen samples, an invisible darn dating back to the 16th century. Sue Benford and Joseph Marino, two American sindonologists, claim this. [...] Interesting observations have been carried out by Ray N. Rogers, a chemist who was a member of STURP, the group of American scientists who examined the Shroud in 1978.