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The Face of the Man on the Shroud

One of the mysteries of the New Testament is that there are no descriptions of what Jesus Christ looks like. Nothing about how tall He is, the color of His hair or of His eyes, or . . . .

None.

But being the sensory creatures as God made us, we can’t help but wonder what Jesus looks like.

How we thirst for and yearn to see His face. Psalm 27:8 gives voice to humanity’s sorrowful yearning:

“Your face, Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me.”

Our crie de coeur is given eloquent expression by St. Anselm (1033-1109) in Proslogium:

But if thou hast found him, why is it that thou dost not feel thou hast found him? Why, O Lord, our God, does not my soul feel thee, if it hath found thee? [My soul] strains to see thee more . . . but it sees that it cannot see farther, because of its own darkness . . . . Everywhere thou art wholly present, and I see thee not . . . and therefore my soul still walks in its darkness and wretchedness. For it looks, and does not see thy beauty. It hearkens, and does not hear thy harmony. It smells, and does not perceive thy fragrance. It tastes, and does not recognize thy sweetness. It touches, and does not feel thy pleasantness.

Artists, like Jon McNaughton, have used their imagination to fashion their images of Jesus.

In 2015, the scientific unit of the police force in Rome, Italy, used computer software that’s normally used to age an individual and reversed the process to generate the angelic face of what the man whose face and body are imprinted onto the Shroud of Turin would look like as a 12-year-old boy.

In 2018, Dr. Giulio Fanti, Professor of Mechanical and Thermal Measurements at the University of Padua, created a 3D carbon copy from meticulous measurements of the imprinted image of the Man on the Shroud. Master sculptor Sergio Rodella then made a statue in plaster from the 3D carbon copy.

Professor Fanti said:

“Christian tradition believes that the image that is seen on the Shroud is that of the crucified Jesus. And now science is of this opinion too. For years, using the most sophisticated 3D technologies, we have studied  the image left by the body on the sheet. And the statue is the final result.

This statue is a life-size, three-dimensional representation of the Man of the Shroud, based on the millimetric measurements obtained from the shroud in which the body of Christ was wrapped after the crucifixion.

On the Shroud I counted 370 scourge wounds, without taking into consideration the lateral ones, which are not imprinted into the Shroud because it enveloped only the front and back of the body. We can therefore hypothesize Jesus suffered a total of at least 600 scourges. Moreover, the three-dimensional reconstruction has allowed us to reconstruct that at the time of death, the man of the Shroud has slumped to the right because His right shoulder was dislocated in such a severe way as to damage the nerves.

According to our studies, Jesus was a man of extraordinary beauty (“bellezza straordinaria”). Long-limbed, but very robust; almost six feet tall, while the average height of the time was around 5′ 5″; with a regal and majestic expression.

We therefore believe that we finally have an accurate picture of what Jesus was like on this earth. From now on, it will no longer be possible to portray His image without taking this work into account.”

Here’s the face of the Man on the Shroud:

But in the end, it doesn’t really matter what we think Jesus looks like because when we finally see Him face to face, we will know it’s Him. To quote McNaughton:

“Someday when I actually meet the Savior, I’m not going to recognize Him because of how long His hair is or the color of His eyes, or whether He has a short beard or long beard, or how dark His skin is. I’m gonna recognize Him because of the way I feel, standing in the presence of the Savior.”

See also:

~Eowyn

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The angelic face of Jesus as a 12-year-old boy

The scientific unit of the police force in Rome, Italy, used technology that’s normally used to age an individual, to generate the angelic face of what the man in the Shroud of Turin would look like as a 12-year-old boy.

Monica Cantilero reports for Christian Times, April 30, 2015, that to commemorate two-month exhibition of the Shroud of Turin, believed by Christians to be Jesus Christ’s burial cloth, Italian police reversed the technology they use to age drawings of Mafia bosses (to identify them after decades on the run) on the image of the man imprinted into the Shroud to re-create the “angelic” face of a 12-year-old Jesus.

Note: The Shroud image is not painted on the cloth, but infused into the individual fibers of the linen cloth. There are many good books on the Shroud, one of which is my friend Robert K. Wilcox‘s The Truth About the Shroud of Turin.

The scientific unit of Rome’s police force was prompted to create the image upon the suggestion of television news reporters who were doing a special news program about Jesus.

Elena Guarnieri, the host of the television news special, said people have always wondered how Jesus looked like as a boy. “If that is the face on the shroud, then this is the face of Jesus as a child,” she said.

To create the image of the young Jesus, the police subtracted years from the man’s face imprinted on the Shroud of Turin and removed his beard. They also colored his hair blonde and lightened his complexion.

The New York Times derisively described the generated image:

“The angelic face is reminiscent of the prayer cards sold in Vatican souvenir shops and of the New Age portraits displayed at Venice Beach. The image shows a 12-year-old boy with fair, smooth skin, glassy blue eyes, fleshy lips and waves of dirty blond hair streaked with just enough purple and pink to suggest a sprinkling of cosmic dust.”

Christians believe that the Shroud of Turin, a linen cloth imprinted with the image of a man’s face and wounded body, was the cloth used to wrap the body of Jesus during his burial. But after using carbon-14 dating tests in 1988, a group of scientists ruled that it was a medieval forgery since the cloth was dated between 1260 and 1390.

Note: It was later determined that the scientists had used a piece from the edge of the Shroud, which had been stitched onto the original cloth to repair damages inflicted by a fire in the 13th century, which would explain the carbon-14 dating result.

Paul Damon, a geoscientist who was on the team that held a carbon-14 dating test on the Shroud in 1998, reacted negatively to the police recreation of Jesus’ face, saying it’s a “malarkey,” adding: “The boy would not be blond.”

Note: Actually, many dark-haired Mediterraneans do have blonde hair in their childhood.

The Vatican has not commented yet on the image of the boy created from the imprint on the Shroud.

The exhibition of the Shroud, which started last week and will last until June 24, has been authorized by Pope Francis to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Bosco, a priest from Turin who lived in the 19th century and pioneered vocational education.

~Éowyn

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