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placeholder May 8, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Above, People can see a replica of the Shroud of Turin, displayed on a wall at St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland. Check its website — stmargmaryoak.org — for Mass times and other events. Left, Jack Sacco makes the case the Shroud of Turin is genuine.


Shroud of Turin — touching the moment
of the Resurrection

Examining a mass of data and employing advanced scientific technique, engineer Jack Sacco makes a powerful case that the Shroud of Turin, the burial cloth enveloping the dead body of Jesus in his tomb, is genuine.

"The Shroud passed through the body of Jesus as he rose," Sacco explained, speaking to the April Catholics at Work breakfast in Danville. Sacco concluded that in the Shroud, "We are physically touching the moment of the Resurrection — Jesus is risen!"

While belief is the shroud is not a matter of Catholic doctrine, it is a powerful element of spiritual growth for many. The shroud, owned by the Church, is protected in the Turin cathedral and periodically brought out for public viewing.

Popes Francis, Benedict and St. John Paul II have venerated the shroud since it was given to the Church in 1983. When St. John Paul II venerated the shroud in 1998, he urged open-minded research into the technical questions about it.

Sacco's work reflects the full range of scientific research, and helps to strengthen the shroud's significance.

For Sacco the shroud has become a powerful story of science reinforcing faith. An engineer who graduated from the University of Notre Dame, Sacco became a media producer, including a stint with Mother Angelica's EWTN.

Sacco began to look at the shroud as a skeptic, hearing accusations it is a medieval fake. But his mother urged him to examine all the information, claims and counterclaims about the shroud. He concludes: "In 20 years of in-depth analysis, I never found one shred of evidence that it is fake."

His research is being assembled into a movie, "The Shroud of Turin," due for release in 2018.

The shroud has been both defended and attacked from many quarters, including people who are skeptical about all religious beliefs.

One frequently cited claim is that carbon dating of a fragment in 1988 shows that the shroud was made in the Middle Ages. But a 2005 analysis found that the previous carbon dating came from a corner thread likely part of a patch done in the Middle Ages. Sacco dissected several other instances of flawed research that are highlighted by sceptics.

Among confirming details is pollen embedded in the cloth from plants in the area of Jerusalem and calcium traced to a quarry near Jerusalem. Three tests of fragments in 2013 show the shroud to have been made between 300 BC to 400 AD.

Today, as science develops finer tools to analyze materials and energy, the shroud reveals remarkable details of the body of Jesus as he lay in the tomb.

The shroud is a large piece of linen cloth with some cotton, 14 feet 3 inches long by 3 feet 7 inches wide (8 cubits by 2 cubits). Following traditions of the times, the body, already rigid after death, was laid on the lower half of the shroud then the other half was folded over the top of the body. The image of Christ appears faint. But when film photographs are taken the resulting negatives clearly show the powerful image of the crucified Christ as he was laid to rest.

Essentially the shroud acted as a photographic negative, Sacco explained, capturing the image of Jesus' body as it rose from death directly through the shroud. "The Resurrection caused the change in the cloth," Sacco explained. "The cloth fell down through the body as it rose."

For those who see that image and hear the science explained, the shroud becomes powerful testimony to the Resurrection of Jesus after his death on the Cross.

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