NEWS 2002

    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. 
    On the timeliness of the intervention for fear of the carbonized parts gaining ground, Fr. Pfeiffer said: “I have never heard that carbonized part could eat into the whole parts of a cloth after the fire has been put out for centuries...”

Press conference of 23-9-2000

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.

  • On Saturday, September 21, 2002 at 11:00 a.m. in the assembly hall of the Town Seminary of via XX Settembre, 83 in Turin a press conference was held in order to illustrate the results of the interventions carried out on the Shroud in June and July 2002. There were: Card. Severino Poletto, Archbishop of Turin and papal Custodian of the Shroud; Prof. Piero Savarino, scientific assistant of the Custodian; Mgr. Giuseppe Ghiberti, president of the diocesan Commission for the Shroud; Dr. Marco Bonatti, editor of the diocesan weekly journal "La Voce del Popolo". Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, emeritus director of the Abegg Museum of Riggisberg (Switzerland), was there for any specifications.

Press conference of 21-09-2002
The Holy Shroud before the intervention
The Holy Shroud before the removal intervention of the 1534 restoration (A. Guerreschi)
The Holy Shroud after the intervention
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.

There was also another incredible worry: “the carbonization process had «walked» and probably had not ended yet”. These are Mgr.Giuseppe Ghiberti’s words, president of the diocesan commission for the Shroud.
After the press conference, the journalists have been taken by Card. Poletto to the Chapel of the Shroud  for a private exhibition of the Holy Linen. 

Exhibition of 21-09-2002