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New Light on Turin Shroud’s Age and Templar Connections

After supposedly definitive carbon 14 tests, the Shroud of Turin was declared in 1988 to be a medieval fake. Now, one of the scholars who first examined the purported burial cloth of Jesus has said the dating study made a big mistake and that the shroud is, in fact, old enough to have been what it is said to be.

In a video recording made shortly before he died of cancer in 2005, and recently shown on the Discovery Channel, Dr. Raymond Rogers said the part of the shroud used for the carbon-14 tests was dyed cotton which had been skillful­ly rewoven into the original linen fabric to repair a damaged section. Rogers said that his own tests revealed that the Shroud is indeed much older, dating back to between 1,300 and 3,000 years ago. Shortly after the 1988 study, Rogers was among those who adamantly stated that the cloth was nothing more than a medieval hoax, something for which he repented in the video.

Another mystery regarding the shroud may have now been cleared up. Dr. Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vati­can secret archives has produced evidence that the Knights Templar secretly kept and venerated the shroud during the thirteenth century, a time when most historians have been unable to account for its whereabouts. It had disap­peared from history during the sack of Constantinople in 1204 and did not reappear until the middle of the fourteen century. According to Frale, Arnaut Sabbatier, a young Frenchman who entered the order in 1287, testified to being shown a linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man and being told to venerate the image by kissing the feet three times.

Dr. Frale recently made headlines with her discovery in the Vatican library of the Chinon Parchment, a document which shows that Pope Clement V did not condemn the Templars of heresy as has been widely believed for centuries. As a consequence, some present-day organizations which claim to be descendants of the original Templars are taking legal actions against the church demanding restoration of property confiscated when the Templars were anathema­tized and banned in 1307.

As in the Dan Brown novel and movie, The Da Vinci Code, the newly emerging details hint possibly at a hitherto unsuspected behind-the-scenes role for the Templars in church history, and a special significance for the shroud in conferring religious legitimacy. There are some who believe that the shroud could, in fact, be the Holy Grail (at vari­ous times thought to be the cup from Jesus’ last supper, the Ark of the Covenant, or even the head of John the Bap­tist) which also has been said to be in Templar custody. All such questions and controversies will doubtless lead to very large crowds when the shroud again goes on display next year.

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