The Rational Basis for Easter—Part 3

The Sudarium of Oviedo.  Additional evidence of the Shroud’s authenticity comes from the recent research on the Sudarium of Oviedo, an ancient bloodstained linen cloth the size of a small towel which is claimed to have covered the head of Jesus after his crucifixion (see John 20:5-7).  

Sudarium is Latin for “face cloth”.  The cloth or kerchief has been known historically as the Sudarium Domini (face cloth of God) and has always been associated with Jesus.  It has been kept as a holy relic in a silvered cedar chest in the Cathedral at Oviedo, in northern Spain, since the 8th century and dated back to the 7th century by historical documents.  It seems highly probable, from other historical records, that it goes back to first century Jerusalem.  Pollen on it comes from Palestine, Egypt and Spain, supporting the oral tradition that the Sudarium was taken from Jerusalem through North Africa to Spain.  One type of pollen found on it is identical to that found on the Shroud; it grows only east of the Mediterranean Sea as far north as Lebanon and as far south as Jerusalem.  

The Sudarium is severely soiled and crumpled, with dark flecks which are symmetrically arranged but, unlike the markings on the Shroud of Turin, form no image.  Nevertheless, the bloodstains correspond precisely with those of the Shroud.  Since the Bible says the Sudarium was found in the tomb set aside from the Shroud, presumably it was removed from the face of the Man in the Shroud by those who brought him into the tomb—i.e., before the resurrection and its image-making process occurred.  

Scientific studies validate the ancient claim that the cloth had covered the head of a long-haired, bearded man with bleeding scalp wounds who died in an upright position.  Residue of what is most likely myrrh and aloe have been discovered in the Sudarium, in accord with the Jewish burial custom of Jesus’s time.  

Altogether, research on the Shroud and the Sudarium verifies the resurrection of Jesus as a real event and places it on a scientific basis.  Agnostics should examine it to test their doubts; atheists should examine it to test their denial; and Christians should examine it because it provides a rational basis for religious faith.  

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