Shroud of Turin History

There are two Shroud of Turin timelines before and after 1353 when the Shroud's trail is documented.

The Shroud History Timeline (Credit: Museum of the Holy Shroud at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport, LA.)

Prior to 1353, the Shroud is not fully documented, but a significant historical trail allows for the following reconstruction of the cloth's early history.

70 A.D. - Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman Empire. Legend and folklore speak of a mysterious cloth with healing power, bearing an image of Jesus that arrived in Edessa (now Urfa, Turkey) circa First Century AD accompanied by the Apostle Jude Thaddeus -- one of the original Apostles of Jesus Christ.

Christian persecutions in the second century caused the cloth to be hidden away inside the fortified wall surrounding the city. 

525 A.D. - A severe flood destroyed most of Edessa. The cloth was rediscovered during the rebuilding of the walls. It became known as "The Image of Edessa" and later was called the "Mandylion". 

944 A.D. - The Byzantine Imperial Army invaded Edessa for the express reason of retrieving the cloth from the city which had fallen to Islam. It was taken to Constantinople (now Istanbul) and presented to the Emperor. 

1204 A.D. - Constantinople was invaded by the Fourth Crusade and the "Mandylion" disappeared. Some historians believe, and 2009 Vatican research supports long-time rumors that the Shroud was held in secret possession by the Knights Templar. 

There is significant evidence that a shroud-like cloth was in Constantinople, known as the Hungarian Pray Manuscript or Pray Codex  and was stolen by the French during the Fourth Crusade.  (See more explanation and image below.)

1353 A.D. - Geoffrey DeCharney first exhibited the Shroud in Lirey, France. Evidence indicates that certain ancestral family members were also leaders within the Templar organization. 

The Shroud’s confirmed and undisputed historical trail begins in Western Europe when it first appears in Lirey, France in 1353. Read about it here.  Credit: and for what appears below.

"You can use the following Century Navigator to skip directly to the era of Shroud history you wish to read about or you may scroll through the page in the usual manner. The Century Navigator links will take you to the first event in the list for the specific century you selected. You can always return to this navigator by using your browser's "back" button. A duplicate of this navigator also appears at the end of the history."


Going back Constantinople between 944 A.D. and 1204 A.D.

Here is more detail about the physical evidence known as the Hungarian Pray Manuscript or Pray Codex that historians believe proves that the Shroud was in Constantinople between 944 A.D. and 1204 A.D.  The codex was written between 1192 and 1195. One illustration in the manuscript shows Jesus being placed on a burial shroud. In another panel, he is wrapped in his burial shroud. The top panel shows a naked body, as we see on the Shroud and Jesus, with hands folded over his pelvis, showing only four fingers and no thumbs--also consistent with the Shroud. 

The second panel shows a long narrow burial cloth--same as the Shroud--with the identical pattern of burn holes found on the shroud. The artist has also drawn the very unusual three-hop herringbone weave like that of the Shroud of Turin. 

Given these distinctive markings, there is no question the Pray Codex from 1192 depicts the same cloth that is in Turin today.  If the Shroud of Turin can be clearly linked to the one that disappeared in 1204, this is the smoking gun that provides a definitive link and clearly falsifies the questionable 1988 carbon-14 dating that found the Shroud dates from 1260 at the earliest.

Earlier evidence indicates this same cloth arrived in Constantinople in 944 when it was retrieved by force from Edessa, a city in current day Southern Turkey which had fallen to Islam.  

Hungarian Pray Manuscript illustration showing Shroud circa 1192, important because the 1988 carbon-14 tests dated the Shroud between 1260 -1390.

Always remember that the Shroud's mysterious photo-negative properties seen below, were not discovered until 1898 when the new technology of photography was applied to the Shroud.

The full Shroud of Turin as it appears on a photographic negative, vertical orientation. The man’s image is seen at the bottom half of the cloth with his full back side at the top half. The images reflecting how the cloth would have wrapped a dead body.

Aside from its history, the Shroud poses a profound either-or proposition:

The Shroud is either the authentic burial cloth that wrapped Jesus in the tomb or it is the work of an artist. Yet there is no evidence of the cloth being produced through a deliberate artistic effort.

Historian John Walsh described the dichotomy this way:

“The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Jesus Christ in existence or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever products of the human mind and hand on record.  It is one or the other, there is no middle ground.”

A Sign From God Foundation Inc., we characterize it a little differently and perhaps  more to the point:

The Shroud of Turin is either the greatest hoax ever perpetrated...

or is a deliberate and purposeful sign from God.

The Shroud asks us all the same question Jesus asked Peter:

“Who do you say that I am?”

The mission and purpose of The Sign from God Foundation is to explore the meaning of this question as it relates to the Shroud, Jesus, and you.  

A sepia version of the face of the Man of the Shroud

Shroud Photographs ©1978 Barrie M. Schwortz Collection, STERA, Inc.

Sign From God