“On the Shroud we have found the words ‘Jesus of Nazareth’.” Dr. Barbara Frale.

Messenger of Saint Anthony

New Light on the  ShroudAn interview with Dr. Barbara  Frale, the young historian whose discoveries on the linen cloth kept in Turin  are revolutionising the way we see one of Christendom’s most sacred relics
Renzo Allegri New Light on the Shroud Highlighting of the inscriptions around the face of the Shroud; notice the words INNECE (to death), NNAZAPENNUS (Nazarene) and HOY (Jesus)“AS A PROFESSIONAL historian I have been studying the Shroud of Turn for a  number of years. I have analysed and scrutinised in a most meticulous manner  troves of ancient documents, especially the ones that have surfaced recently,  and I have come to the conclusion that the Shroud dates from the first century  of our era. In actual fact there is a great deal of evidence that suggests that  the Shroud originated in the first thirty years of that century.”

These  words were spoken by Dr. Barbara Frale, a young and promising historian, who has  become an authority on the Knights Templar and the Shroud.

“I know  practically every facet of all the scientific examinations conducted on the  Shroud in the last 20 years, including the famous Carbon-14 test which was used  to proclaim to the world that the relic was nothing but a medieval forgery. I  have also studied carefully the claims of those who have tried to reproduce a  similar relic in their laboratories using the same means and equipment that a  medieval scientist had at his disposal. They claim that the Shroud could easily  have been produced in a medieval laboratory. I can confirm to you and your  readers that these claims are outdated. The latest discoveries on the relic turn  the tables on these sceptics, and reaffirm what tradition has always maintained,  that is, that the famous linen cloth kept in Turin really did cover the body of  a man who lived at the beginning of our era.”

Barbara Frale has committed  her findings to a bulky, 392-page volume called La Sindone di Gesù  Nazareno, which was recently published in Italy and which we hope will soon  be translated into English.

Frale’s other great passion is the Knights  Templar, and she has authored various publication on this mysterious Order of  Christian warrior-monks which was brutally suppressed in the early 14th century.  One of her writings on the Templars was published in English last year with the  title The Templars: The Secret History Revealed.

Year of  the Shroud

The Shroud is again in the news. We are, in fact, on  the eve of a great event. From April 10 to May 23 there will be a solemn  exposition of the relic at the Cathedral of Turin, where it has been kept since  1578. This is the ninth time it will be exhibited in over a century. The last  time was in 2000, the Jubilee Year, when over a million pilgrims thronged to  Turin, including our late Pope, John Paul II. And an even greater number are  expected this year, with Pope Benedict XVI himself coming on May 2.

The  Shroud is truly the most enigmatic relic in the world, and has baffled eminent  forensic scientists for years. Top-ranking pathologists have established that  the man who was covered in that linen-cloth died from crucifixion, that his body  bore the marks of over 700 wounds, and that on his forehead the traces of the  crown of thorns are clearly visible.

In 1988 a C-14 exam determined that  the cloth was produced during the middle ages, but subsequent research has  called these findings into doubt, so the exam must be repeated in the future  with stricter controls and criteria.

The Church has made no comment on  the Shroud for it is not a doctrinal matter, but it recognises its value to help  us increase in our devotion in honouring the suffering that Our Lord underwent  for his sacred Passion.

Vatican Secret  Archives

New light on the Shroud arrived in 2008 with the  publication of a book by Frale linking the relic with the Templars, I  Templari e la sindone di Cristo. The book has not yet been translated into  English. I therefore decided to interview Mrs Frale at her home near Viterbo in  central Italy for the benefit of the readers of this magazine, who may have to  wait years before reading a translation.

Barbara Frale is an engaging  39-year-old, fair-haired woman, and a highly qualified scientist. She is married  to an engineer and has two very beautiful children. After graduating in Medieval  Archaeology, she went on to specialise in Palaeography, Diplomatics and Archives  Administration, and then in Greek Palaeography, and in 2000 obtained a PhD in  Historical Research at the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice.

She has  worked in important archives both in Italy and abroad, and for the last couple  of years she is a historian on staff at the Vatican Secret Archives, where the  world’s most important historical documents are kept.

Dr. Frale,  who were the Knights Templars, and why were they exterminated at the beginning  of the 14th century?

The Knights Templar was a powerful and very  wealthy military and religious Order that had the mission of defending pilgrims  on their way to the Holy Land. At the beginning of the 14th century Phillip the  Fair, the King of France, who was in the grips of a severe economic crisis, came  upon the idea of laying his hands on all the riches accumulated by the Order,  and orchestrated a vast smear campaign against them. The King’s cronies accused  them of idolatry and heresy, and, under pressure from Phillip the Fair, Pope  Clement V disbanded the Order in 1312. The French King was thus able to arrest  the Templars in his kingdom and initiate legal proceedings against them. The  Templars were subjected to the most horrible tortures, and in the end confessed  to the charges brought against them, and ended up on the stake.

The  principal crime levelled against them was that of idolatry. It was said that the  Templars venerated a mysterious pagan divinity, the Baphomet. This was  some sort of head of a man with a beard, moustache and long hair. However, from  the documents I unearthed I was able to show that this accusation was totally  groundless. My studies of the trials of the Knights Templar brought to light a  document in which Arnaut Sabbatier, a young Frenchman who entered the order in  1287, testified that as part of his initiation he was taken to “a secret place  to which only the brothers of the Temple had access”. There he was shown “a long  linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man,” and he instructed to  venerate the image by kissing its feet three times.

So what the Templars  were actually venerating was none other than the Shroud. They had managed to  save the relic from destruction during the Sack of Constantinople in 1204. They  had taken it to Europe where it was jealously guarded as a highly prized relic.  It had been folded in such a way as to make only the face visible. The Templars,  therefore, were not guilty of idolatry, they were devoted to that ‘sacred linen  cloth’ where the image of Christ crucified was impressed.

Your  book also criticises the results of the 1988 C-14 tests. On what  grounds?

The scientists who conducted that Radiocarbon test on  certain specimen of the Shroud concluded that the relic could not have  originated prior to 1260, but the documents I unearthed showed that the relic  was in existence at least 60 years before that date.

For the same  reason, the same documents also disprove those who maintain that the Shroud was  produced by Leonardo Da Vinci, because Leonardo was born centuries later, in  1452.

Mysterious inscriptions

Your book also  deals with certain inscriptions on the linen cloth. What do they  reveal?

The inscriptions are found around the face of the man of the  Shroud. They cannot be seen through highly sophisticated equipment. The  inscriptions are highly reminiscent of graffiti found in the ancient Roman city  of Pompeii, and in papyri from the era of Tiberius, the man who was emperor of  Rome when Jesus was crucified.

Those inscriptions are called ‘traces of  transferred writing’, that is, traces of writing impressed on an object (in our  case the Shroud) that has been in contact with a written text. The writing is in  Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Aramaic. Thanks to computerised reading systems, those  traces have been deciphered.

Back in 1978 Piero Ugolotti, a chemist, had  noted that on the negative of a photo of the Shroud strange signs could be seen  that looked like letters. He turned to an expert in ancient languages, Aldo  Marastoni, a renowned Latinist, and Marastoni confirmed the existence of Greek  and Latin inscriptions all around the face on the Shroud. They are words of the  type: ‘Nazarènos’ and ‘in nece (m)’, a Latin expression meaning ‘to death’. On  the forehead there are the letters IBEP, which suggests the Greek word for  Tiberius (TIBEPIO), as well as other words in Hebrew.

These findings have  generated great enthusiasm among Shroud scholars, but then the C-14 test dealt  the death-blow to all this promising research. In those days, the C-14 test was  regarded as practically infallible, much like a DNA test nowadays. The Shroud  was dismissed as a fake, and to study it was regarded as a waste of time.

Exciting discoveries

I have read that the  inscriptions were examined by computers using special software. Is that  so?

Yes, it is. In 1994 research on the Shroud was taken up again as  the shortcomings of the C-14 test came to light. Some French scientists stared  examining the inscriptions discovered by Piero Ugolotti. Professor André Marion,  who teaches at the Institut Superieur d’Optique d’Orsay in Paris, examined the  Shroud with the aid of specific software capable of detecting old or ancient  writings that are no longer visible to the naked eye. Now, right under the face  he found the Greek word ‘HOY’ which could be interpreted as ‘IHOY’. This is the  Greek translation of the Semitic original ‘Yeshua’, which stands for ‘Jesus’. This word, when placed next to the one deciphered by Marastoni, forms ‘IHOY  NAZAPHNO’ that is ‘Jesus Nazarene’. Professor Marion also found other signs in  Greek and Latin placed around the face, and published these findings on a  scientific magazine. He then consulted with other specialists from the Sorbona  University, who concluded that the inscriptions were from the first Christian  centuries, perhaps even from before the third century after  Christ.

Professor Marion’s studies were continued by other scientists, in  particular by the French analyst Professor Thierry Castex, who was able to  discern the fragment of a text with a central phrase, which could be translated  as ‘we found’ or as ‘because found’. These words bring to mind the accusation  which members of the Sanhedrin levelled against Jesus in the presence of Pontius  Pilate, “We found this man perverting our nation…” (Luke  23:2).

Professor Castex sent me these words and asked for my opinion. I  examined them carefully and then sough out the opinion of two renowned scholars  of Hebrew. These inscriptions, along with the ones found by Professor Marion,  really do give the impression of being the trace of an original document  regarding the burial of a person called Jesus of Nazareth, which in the local  idiom was ‘Yeshua Nazarani’.

My book is a long, detailed and meticulous  study of those writings, and I have come to the conclusion that they lead us  back to Jerusalem at the time of Emperor Tiberius, who reigned from AD 13 to 37.  The inscriptions regard the burial of a man called Yeshua Nazarani. So my  conclusion is that, from a historical point of view, there is a plethora of  facts connecting the Shroud of Turin to the first thirty years of our  era.

Are you therefore telling us that the Shroud of Turin really  is the original linen cloth that covered the body of Jesus?

I am a  scientist; it is not my task to determine if that linen cloth actually enveloped  the body of the Son of God, if the blood stains on it really are those of the  God-Man. My task is to study all the  documents regarding the Shroud, to  interpret them, to arrange them in systematic order, and then to draw logical  conclusions from them.

On the Shroud of Turin there are words. If we find  a tombstone on which the words Minucio Felice are inscribed, we say that that is  the tombstone of Minucio Felice. On the Shroud we have found the words ‘Jesus of  Nazareth’, so we are authorised, from a historical point of view, to conclude  that that is the shroud of Jesus of Nazareth. Now, to determine if the Jesus of  Nazareth that was enveloped in that Shroud is the same individual of whom the  Gospels speak is beyond my task and competence as a historical  scientist.

© 2013 – Il Messaggero di  S.Antonio Editrice

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Taken from: http://www.saintanthonyofpadua.net/messaggero/pagina_stampa.asp?R=&ID=485

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