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New study backs authenticity of Shroud of Turin

A new study indicates that the Shroud of Turin has bloodstains on its reverse side, suggesting the image of the man it bears was not copied.

The Shroud, widely believed to have been the burial cloth of Jesus, was subjected to new scanning techniques last November, and results of the tests were first scrutinized by a symposium of scientists. Cardinal Severino Spoletto, archbishop of Turin, released the news of the tests.

In 1534, two years after a fire damaged the shroud, Poor Clare nuns added a linen lining to the cloth to mend the damage. That allowed only one side of the relic to be seen.

The recent examination, carried out with a scanner, revealed bloodstains on the reverse side, indicating that the image was not copied.

"This is a confirmation of the unfounded character of the hypothesis formulated in the past, according to which the image of the holy shroud was formed by combustion, namely, by the warming of an image wrapped in the cloth," explained Monsignor Giuseppe Ghiberti, vice president of the Commission for the Exposition of the Shroud.

Experiments which have reproduced this technique have always left traces on the reverse of the fabric -- something that does not happen in the case of the Shroud of Turin.

Paolo Soardo of the Galileo Ferraris Italian Institute carried out the scanning of the reverse of the shroud, which no one had seen in more than 450 years.

In the one-week study, done in the sacristy of the new cathedral, a flat scanner was introduced between the shroud and the linen lining. This made possible the photographing of the central band, and yielded the unique images, Monsignor Ghiberti said.

The photographs show bloodstains from the wounds in the feet, legs, hands and arms.