Dr. Barbet, author of "A Doctor at Calvary," makes the following comment: "An inexpressible pain darts like lightning through his fingers and then like a trail of fire right up his shoulders and bursts in his brain. The most unbearable pain that a man can experience is that caused by wounding the great nervous centers."
Jesus died, the "eve of the Passover" Friday, April 7, 30 AD. The Gospels give us a summary narrative of Jesus' capture, torture and subsequent Crucifixion, therefore not too many details are available to us through the Gospels, about Jesus' Crucifixion.
The reason why the Gospels give us so few details about Jesus' Crucifixion, is that Crucifixion was a very common method of execution used by the Romans for centuries before, during and after the times of Jesus. The sight of men and women left hanging on a cross to die was very common. It was a public, cruel and shameful punishment, and everybody, even children knew about it, therefore the authors of the Gospels felt no need to describe what was already common knowledge.
However, we have documentation of what it must have been like for Jesus to undergo such a barbaric form of execution. For centuries, after the death of Jesus, holy relics flooded the Christian world. Most have faded into obscurity, but one relic continues to fascinate and mystify modern scientists. The relic is the Shroud of Turin, purported to have been the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
When the news spread, the public was amazed. Before the invention of photography, the very idea of painting in the "negative" was inconceivable. Thus it was by accident that photography stumbled on the proof that the Shroud was not a painting.
In 1931, the Shroud was last photographed in minute detail. Using these photos a number of scientific examinations were carried out and many books were written. These have for the most part controlled the discussions on this subject and asked the question, "Is the Shroud truly the burial cloth of Christ our Savior? Is it authentic or is it a forgery?"
For those who, like me, believe that the Holy Shroud is not a forgery, no further explanation is necessary than what is already available to us. For those who assume a position of skepticism, no explanation will ever suffice, therefore this article is written for the benefit of those who believe that the Man of the Shroud is the true Image of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In writing this article I'm drawing from various reliable sources of information not available in the web, as they go back several decades, as you will see. I then weaved all this information together in a way that allows us to see a more vivid picture of the Man of the Shroud.
In 1969, Professor Giovanni Cordiglia photographed the Shroud with ultraviolet light. The pictures were then sent to two American scientists of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, who subjected them to the same analysis that the pictures of Mars went through.
By means of a scanner, every photo was broken down into a series of minute points - even up to one micron in diameter. Every one of these points was then given a code number that indicated its brightness and its location. The information was then fed into a computer. The computer isolated every point that had to do with the weave of the fabric, or with any dust on the fabric.
"At this stage," wrote Bruno Ghibaudi, "eliminating every code number of those points that corresponded to the fabric's weave or to dust, it was possible to obtain an electronic image much clearer than that produced by Giovanni Cordiglia." The clear and evident traces of organic material from the wounds of Christ, he explained, tell the unedited story of His Passion.
"From the point of view of anatomy and physiology, its authenticity is also beyond question. In the evidence of the Shroud we are clearly dealing with a real scourging, a real crowning with thorns, and after death, a real thrust of a lance into the side of a corpse.
"By studying the Shroud we gradually come face-to-face with the painful evidence of the crucifixion of Christ, for the Shroud depicts all the wounds of a crucifixion, plus the exceptions and anomalies that took place in the trial and death of Jesus of Nazareth."
In 1976 physicist John P. Jackson, thermodynamicist Eric Jumper and photographer William Motten used image analysis technologies developed in aerospace science for analyzing the image of the Shroud. In 1977 these three scientists and over thirty two others formed the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP).
In 1978 this group was given direct access to the Shroud of Turin. The group of scientists unloaded 72 crates of sophisticated equipment and were given five days in which to examine the Shroud before it was once more triple-locked in its silver casket.
The first impression of those who examined the Shroud in 1978 was seeing an ivory-colored linen cloth, 14 feet 3 inches long, and 3 feet 7 inches wide. On its surface is the faint straw-yellow image of a bearded man who appears to have been savagely whipped, beaten, crowned with thorns, pierced with nails through the wrists and feet - all details which agree with the biblical description of Jesus' death. Around the image of the serene but battered face, the brow and hair are caked with what seems to be blood from a series of scalp punctures.
There is a wound on His right side of the forehead, two inches long and about two-thirds of an inch wide; splotches of "blood" surround it as well as the wounds on the wrists and feet. Chafe marks on the shoulders indicate the victim was made to carry a heavy object, and over 600 hundred lash marks, the equivalent of 120 blows administered with an especially vicious whip called the flagellum, cover the whole body.
Eric Jumper and John Jackson made two remarkable discoveries about the Shroud. One is that the Shroud is a three-dimensional (3-D) image. The second is that round, solid objects that appear over the eyes of the image might be a clue to dating the Shroud. The 3-D property of the Shroud was discovered using digital and analog computer technology of the times.
"This was totally unexpected," Jackson said. "Our research leaves us with the conclusion that these solid objects are possibly coins and should be further studied through computer enhancement. Through such a study, we might be able to identify the coins and thus date them and the image."
Microscopic and chemical testing of the threads from the Shroud failed to tell if the stains on the cloth were caused by blood; however, today we know that they are in fact blood stain, and have also isolated the blood group as being AB.
Pollen fossils detected in the fabric were declared to have originated in the Palestine area at the time of Jesus. To date, two theories have been put forth to explain the image.
1. Some scientists think the image may be a "vapor-graph" made by the interaction of body gasses and the chemicals used to prepare the body for burial. It is argued that this process would have taken several centuries for the image to become visible.
2. Others, pointing to the image of a dead man produced on a wall in Hiroshima by x-rays from the atomic blast, think that a similar form of radiation from the transfigured body of Jesus might have produced the image at the moment of Resurrection.
"We draped the cloth over the subjects so that all image features were aligned with the corresponding part of the model," Jumper said. "Blood stains were lined up to touch the subject, since we assumed they indicated a direct body contact. We then photographed the subject with the cloth on, and with it removed. We found there was only one way to wrap the cloth and make it fit the stains, and the only man who fit it exactly was 5 ft 10.5 inches tall, and weighed 175 pounds."
There is another peculiarity that belongs only to our Lord's Passion, which is reflected in the Shroud of Turin. It's a detail recorded in Matthew's Gospel, "And when they had mocked Him, they took off the cloak and dressed Him in His own clothes and led Him away to crucify Him." (Matt. 27:31).
The fact that Jesus was clothed when they took Him away to crucify Him is an important detail, for it is constituted an exception to the rule. Normally, those about to be crucified were scourged naked on the way. The Shroud, however, indicates that the Man of the Shroud must have been wearing a robe as He carried the cross beam.
If the Cross beam had been in direct contact with His lacerated shoulders, the wounds from the scourging would have been widened and distorted, but on the contrary, they have kept their shape. This would not have happened if a robe were not protecting the shoulders already wounded by the scourges.
Christ was scourged most likely with the intention of reducing Him to such a state that His accusers would have been satisfied, and perhaps relented in demanding His death. This would have permitted Pilate to release Him. Of course that's not what happened.
There is a tradition in three Stations of the Cross, where Jesus fell three times beneath the weight of the patibulum, before reaching Calvary. Actually, He fell much more often than that.
On a rough, uneven road, such falls, given the weight of the Cross beam He carried, perhaps weighing somewhere around 110 pounds, would have considerably added to His wounds and bruises.
Even clearer than the ordinary photographs, computer-assisted studies of the Shroud show several things in this regard. The left knee is badly lacerated; there are traces of a rope tied on the left leg. All this shows that the man of the Shroud went to Calvary carrying the "patibulum" (Cross beam) on His back.
One end of the patibulum was tied to the left leg. The other extremity was most probably tied to one of the condemned thieves who walked in front of Him. The pulling and jerking caused Him to fall frequently, each time striking His left knee more violently than the right.
The weight of the patibulum had still another effect. Equilibrium could not always be regained, no matter what effort was made, and no matter how hard His knees might come down, because it was too heavy.
The Shroud documents grievous violence having been done to Jesus on the right side of His forehead and face. There is an enlarged swollen area on the right cheek, just under the eye. Furthermore, it seems by all indications that below the bone of the nose, the cartilage has been broken and misshapen toward the left side.
With His arms tied to the Cross beam as He bore His burden, His strength at its end, He must have repeatedly fallen to the ground. His face and nose literally battered from the inevitable impacts. The Shroud documents the bruises.
The method of crucifixion and the agony on the Cross have also been amply illustrated by studies on the Man of the Shroud. There were three nails, two in the wrists and one in the feet. The arms fixed to the Cross supported the entire weight of the body. The position interfered with the normal respiratory movement of the thorax and diaphragm, so that He would have to fight in order to be able to breathe.
Crucifixion permitted only one movement, to draw Himself up by pressing on the nail through His feet. The wounds of His feet show that the man of the Shroud repeated the process many times before His strength was at an end, and the muscles of His legs became rigid.
The Shroud adds yet another detail that gives us an unexpected insight into the sufferings of our Lord. The thumbs of His hands are not visible on the Shroud. For some reason they are turned inwards, pressed against the palms of His hands. Medically, it is a common reaction for the thumbs to thrust themselves violently into the palms whenever the median nerve is touched. The nails that pierced the wrists could not have helped but wound that nerve.
Dr. Barbet, author of "A Doctor at Calvary," makes the following comment: "An inexpressible pain darts like lightning through his fingers and then like a trail of fire right up his shoulder and bursts in his brain. The most unbearable pain that a man can experience is that caused by wounding the great nervous centers.
"Now it is not as if the nerve were cut right across. It is only partially destroyed, the raw place on the nervous center remains in contact with the nail that secured his hand and later on, when the body sags, it will be stretched against this like a violin string, and it will vibrate with each shaking or movement, reviving the horrible pain. It is useless to search for an adjective to describe the excruciating pain caused by the continuing trauma to this nerve."
The Man of the Shroud also displays a wound in His right side. This wound is about two inches long and about two-thirds of an inch wide. The size of this wound tallies with first-century Roman lances discovered in soldiers' tombs in Jerusalem. Monsignor Giulio Ricci, Italian expert on the Shroud, determined that from the position of the wound in the side, the lance would have had to pierce the heart.
Finally on the bottom of the blood-stained left foot of the Man of the Shroud, there are the clear imprints of three fingers pressed into the flesh, left there by one of those who had taken the body down from the Cross.
As a relic, the Shroud of Christ is the most noble in the world, for it bears the image of His body and the marks of his blood. For the person who can read and reflect, it is a most beautiful and most moving meditation on the Passion.
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