Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

1404 East 9th Street | Cleveland, Ohio 44114

First Friday Club of Cleveland attendees ‘encounter’ Shroud of Turin

If there was no resurrection and our teaching is not true, then we should go home, Sister Maximilian Marie Garretson, OP told attendees at the April 5 First Friday Club of Cleveland lunch program.

She fascinated the group with facts and photos of the Shroud of Turin, believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus, and the Veil of Manoppello, believed to be the cloth that wiped and covered his face, as well as how they tie in with the Scriptures.

Sister Maximilian, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a former teacher, principal and librarian for the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

She told the group that if Christ was not raised from the dead and the tomb is not empty, then our faith and teaching are lacking. If they are not true and amazing, she said “we need to go home.”

“But it is true,” she said, and it’s a gift, even though we sometimes doubt it. She said when the women went to prepare Jesus’ body for burial, he was gone. “It’s too good to be true,” she said, referring to the resurrection.

She noted that the disciples were skeptical about the resurrection. Thomas doubtful, but he left the Upper Room, encountered Jesus, put his hand into Jesus’ side and then believed.

“We have to have confidence in the apostles, in tradition and Scripture. They are trustworthy,” she said, noting that the apostles were eyewitnesses to the horror of the Passion and crucifixion. Also, there is the account of the women at the empty tomb and the testimony of Roman soldiers that prove it was true. “It happened,” Sister Maximilian said.

And after their testimony, there are accounts of appearances of Jesus, conversions and fulfillment of the Scriptures. “The resurrection is a key to suffering well,” Sister added.

As for the Shroud of Turin, she said there is a great deal of evidence that points to its authenticity. Tests were conducted with most proving that the cloth dated to the first century. The size is appropriate for use in wrapping a body, as was the custom. She said images of the shroud, which is a fine linen cloth about 14 feet long, show the outline of a body that would correspond to someone about the age and size Jesus was believed to be. “A perfect specimen of a healthy man,” she said.

The shroud also shows nail marks, evidence of a crown of thorns and of flogging, as Jesus endured during his Passion.

She cited the numerous tests, including carbon dating done in 1988, the fact that the image is a perfect three-dimensional photographic image of a man’s body, the blood stains and evidence that Roman coins minted at the time of Pontius Pilate were placed on the eyes as further proof that the Shroud of Turin is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus.

Father Robert Spitzer, SJ a Jesuit scholar, said he is “98 percent certain it is the shroud of Christ,” Sister Maximilian said.

She also talked about evidence that an extremely bright burst of light – transphysical light phenomenon – left the image on the cloth. She said it would take an incredibly short burst of extremely bright light – vacuum ultraviolet radiation – to do this. “And that was the resurrection,” she said, adding evidence shows that the shroud “collapsed into and through the underlying body structure.”

As for the Veil of Manoppello, Sister said it is believed to be the cloth used to wipe Jesus’ face before covering his head. It was removed and folded in the tomb. She said the image on that cloth matches perfectly with the image of the face on the shroud.

“The eyes are like a lamb, in total peace,” she said, adding that the face was swollen and the beard appeared to have been plucked, likely during the Passion. The veil is made from a piece of delicate sea silk, a fabric mentioned several times in the Bible. Sister said the linen shroud and the veil correspond with altar linens used during Mass.

“God has a face,” she said, referring to the veil. “He had a body, blood, soul and divinity. We need him in the Eucharist.”

Before offering the final blessing, Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries, spiritual moderator of the club, remarked, “They say you are what you eat. If you eat the Eucharist and drink of the blood, the Eucharist comes alive in you. God helps us become the body of Christ – alive in the world.”

Father Raymond Guiao, SJ, president of St. Ignatius High School, will be the next speaker at the First Friday Club of Cleveland’s noon May 3 program at The City Club. Call 216-589-9852 or visit firstfridayclubcleveland.org for more information on upcoming programs.

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