The Resurrection of the Lord: The Mass of Easter Day
First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 10:34, 37-43
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Second Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians 3:1-4 or St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians 5:6-8
Sequence: Victimae Paschali Laudes
Gospel: According to St. John 20:1-9 or According to St. Matthew 28:1-10 or According to St. Luke 24:13-35
Secondo Pia is not a name that provides instant recognition among most crowds. But to the researchers and scholars associated with the academic discipline known as sindonology, he is revered as their patron saint.
In 1898, Pia was asked to photograph some works that would be on display at an art exhibit associated with the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Cathedral of Turin in Italy. This early modern attempt at marketing gave the world one of the great moments in the history of photography and sparked a worldwide interest in a piece of cloth whose origins will be debated until the end of time.
The piece of cloth is commonly referred to as the Shroud of Turin, and those who study it, like those researchers and scholars at STURP (the Shroud of Turin Research Project), are involved in sindonology, the study of the sindon (the Greek word used in the Gospel According to St. Mark to indicate the cloth). This cloth is believed by many to be the actual burial shroud of Jesus.
The photograph itself is not all that impressive, and most people who are interested in the Shroud either have never seen it or have seen it and now ignore it. The focus of people’s interest is the photo’s negative. On the negative, one can see fairly clearly the face of a deceased male who had been brutalized prior to his death. To see the negative of the full body, front and back, is to witness a man who had been crowned with thorns, scourged, and crucified.
The accusations of forgery go back centuries, including that of John Calvin, one of the founders of the Reformation, but those who do not believe in the Shroud’s authenticity can’t account for the source of the image nor can they explain why it exhibits characteristics that would not be known to the pre-modern world. For example, the nail marks are in the man’s wrists and not through his palms. The science behind crucifixion is fairly recent, and up until this past century, everyone believed that the nails went through a crucified man’s palms – just look at every painting of the Crucifixion and every Crucifix in every Catholic home or church building or school in the world.
Those associated with STURP are not a collection of pious and gullible Catholics who will believe things because they want them to be true. The team of scientists, researchers and scholars are leaders in their fields, including several from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena which is under the care of the California Institute of Technology.
Photographer Barrie Schwortz spoke for the entire group when he commented that he thought that the team would show up in Turin in 1978, take note of the paint on the cloth, and be finished. Instead, he and others have spent the last four decades studying the Shroud and trying to determine how the image was placed on the cloth.
What has been discovered in the past thirty-nine years, besides the lack of paint, is the presence of real human blood (AB, positive or negative to be determined), pollen from the Holy Land, and, among other things, the presence of first century Roman coins on the eyes of the man in the image. One of the most stunning discoveries was determined through the use of a VP-8 Image Analyzer. When analyzed, the image on the Shroud appeared to be three-dimensional, whereas two-dimensional images like photographs appear distorted.
What then can be concluded about what put the image on the cloth? According to STURP, it was a brief, intense transfer of energy – akin to a small nuclear explosion, and as one of the researchers said, “It’s hard to get that kind of energy out of a corpse.” So we are left to answer the question: What could have caused the type of energy that placed the image on the Shroud? For me, and for a number of the scientists in STURP, the answer is quite obvious, and we celebrate that event today.
Christ Is Risen! He Is Truly Risen!
May you and all those you love have a very blessed Easter.