Turin Shroud – Wells Cathedral

24th March 2023

A full-size copy of the world-famous Shroud of Turin is coming to Wells Cathedral this Easter – part of an exhibition telling the story of the crucifixion to mark this most special time in the Christian calendar.

The Shroud of Turin comes to Wells this easter – a study on the crucifixion

The exhibition opens this Saturday (25 March) with the 15-foot replica image which is a photograph printed on cotton by American photographer, Barrie Schwortz – the official photographer at the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STuRP) in 1978. The exhibition also includes original Roman nails, a replica whip, and a spear plus information boards about art, history and the latest research on the Shroud.

The genuine Shroud of Turin which shows the image of a man who has been crucified is preserved in the Cathedral of Turin and the full-length replica is very rare.

Pam Moon the curator of the exhibition said:

“It is possible to get an idea of the Shroud from television pictures, books, magazines and newspapers articles, but seeing it in its entirety is very challenging and moving.”

The exhibition has travelled widely and has been on display at Westminster Cathedral, Dublin Pro-Cathedral and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. After seeing the exhibition in 2009, Cardinal Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: “It helps us enter more deeply into the sufferings of our Lord.”

No-one understands how the image appears on the Shroud. The STuRP team discovered it is not a painting; not a photograph and not a scorch, but they could not determine the cause of the image.

In December 2011, Italian scientists attempted to “identify the physical and chemical processes capable of generating a colour similar to that of the image on the Shroud” by using short bursts of ultra violet light, using lasers. They managed to re-create a small section of cloth with some of the properties of the Shroud (at least at a microscopic level) by this method.

They concluded that “some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength)” created the image on the Shroud of Turin. As ultra violet lasers were not available to medieval forgers it opens the possibility that the Shroud is actually Jesus’ burial cloth, the image being created at the point of resurrection.

The Shroud of Turin comes to Wells this easter - a study on the crucifixion

One of the scientists Dr Paolo Di Lazzaro, the head of the team, said:

“When one talks about a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things like miracles and resurrection. But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate but we will leave the conclusions to the experts, and ultimately to the conscience of individuals.”

The Italian team’s research follows on from the work of other scientists like Dr Ray Rogers who was able to show that the area of the Shroud taken for radiocarbon date was highly contaminated by cotton additions and dye.

Wells Cathedral invites visitors to see the exhibition and make up their own minds.

The exhibition runs until April 27. Find out more here.