Area church acquires authorized replica of the 'Shroud of Turin'

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Stafford - posted Fri., Apr. 8, 2011
Examples of crucifixion implements are part of the display. Photos by Lauri Voter.
Examples of crucifixion implements are part of the display. Photos by Lauri Voter.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Stafford Springs has acquired an authorized replica of the Shroud of Turin. Each Friday in April, the Rev. Thomas Drobena will give a presentation about the shroud, offering insight into the commonly-accepted legend surrounding the burial cloth. It has been argued by many in the religious community that the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth.

To emphasize the presentation, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church will also display examples of tools of the crucifixion – including nails, a crown of thorns and a whip.

Drobena will address the particulars of the image that appear on the realistic, cloth replica - including the image of the face and body of the crucified man, as well as apparent signs of a person who was whipped and whose wrists were nailed.

Pointing to marks in the shroud, Drobena explained “these are archaeologically consistent with the whip that was used by the Romans. The man on the shroud was known to have been crucified. Also visible is a spear wound in the side, with a large issue of blood... Other visible blood wounds are on the back of the head which comes from a crown of thorns.”

Skeptics and science-minded individuals argue that the shroud could be a hoax at worst; or at best, it could simply be the burial cloth of any crucified man.

Regardless of opinion, the replica of the mysterious artifact does indeed reveal the imprint of a man, and the image seems to show evidence of traumas associated with injuries that parallel the practice of crucifixion practiced by ancient Romans.

“Many people were scourged and crucified, but there is only one record of a crucified person wearing a crown of thorns – Jesus of Nazareth,” Drobena said.

However, there are some missing links in regard to the location of the shroud. The shroud first came to light in the Middle Ages, but Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in 33 A.D.

“Since all the interest – both scientific and academic – has come to the forefront, people were interested in where was this cloth before the Middle Ages,” Drobena explained.

Referencing a booklet that accompanies his presentation, Drobena explained that the household where this cloth appeared was that of a prominent family that was descended from the Crusaders, and that was ‘in cahoots’ with the Knights Templar.

“Crusaders got as far as Constantinople while en route to free Jerusalem and were amazed by the wealth that was there. Records exist that indicate they looted several churches in the 11th and 12th centuries. It’s very likely that this noble family had this cloth in their possession for a number of centuries, and didn’t want to publicize it because their father-grandfather-great-grandfather, had stolen it,” Drobena said.

The original Shroud of Turin is currently housed in Turin, Italy. In 1973, a Shroud of Turin research project was implemented. According to scientific evidence, the cloth was not painted, and there was real human blood and DNA ingrained into the fabric.

However, when a sample of the shroud was subjected to carbon dating and sent to three different laboratories – one in Switzerland, one in the U.S.A. and one in England – it was determined that the cloth dated to the 1400s, causing many to suggest the the shroud was a medieval forgery, and therefore a hoax.

Yet, research from the 1970s also revealed that pollen was trapped in the fibers of the cloth. The pollen was consistent with pollen from flowers which grow near Jerusalem, suggesting that the cloth had been in the vicinity of Jerusalem. In addition, some arguments suggest that pre-1400 etchings and a painting exist that depict the shroud.

“You can take the facts, you can make up your own decision. As one of the shroud researchers said – ‘we don’t have a laboratory test for Christ-ness.' There is no way to prove that the person who was wrapped in the shroud was or wasn’t Jesus of Nazareth,” said Drobena.

Drobena explained that 10 years ago, the Arch Diocese of Turin, Italy researched ways to preserve the cloth. A permanent reliquary was designed to house the shroud in a nitrogen-rich, oxygen-free atmosphere that allows the cloth to be kept flat at all times, thus helping to conserve it.

Now, authorized replicas like the one on display at the Lutheran Church have been created so that future generations can see the shroud.

“It’s from the Roman Catholic Church, so it’s an official copy. It’s meant for circulation in churches. We’re just one of the churches that will be using it. It will be going out to many other Lutheran churches. We’ll be sending it across the country as people are interested,“ Drobena said. He explained that there are other similar copies, approximately 12, with most of them in Europe and a few in the U.S.A., including one in Philadelphia.

“We want to encourage people who are not familiar with these sorts of things to take a look at it. As far as I know, we’re the only Lutheran Church body that has done that so far,” Drobena said.

He believes the replica at Holy Trinity is the only one in the entire Northeast. “As far as I know, Philadelphia is the closest one,” Drobena said.

The display and the presentation are for everyone - those who are religious, skeptical or just curious. The replica will be on display at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, located at 104 West Main St. in Stafford Springs, at 7 p.m. each Friday in April, and again on April 25.

“It’s appropriate around Easter time to talk about these sorts of things. But also, it’s convenient because the History Channel , the Discovery Channel – they put on all their specials around Easter too,” Drobena said.

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