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Witnesses of Mystery

Witnesses of Mystery
  • Bestseller

Investigation into Christ’s Relics

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In this lavishly illustrated large coffee-table volume, writer Gorny and photographer Rosikon embarked on a two year investigative journey to seek the truth behind all the relics associated with the passion of Christ. The authors investigated a rich body of documentary evidence found in various museums, archives and churches surrounding sacred objects believed to have been preserved since Jesus' lifetime, exploring and collaborating with historians and scientists in their attempt to verify the relics' authenticity. They reach their conclusions not so much on the basis of faith as on the evidence supplied by historical sources and expert scientific opinion.

The relics associated with the Passion - the suffering, death and burial of Christ - have long proved something of an enigma for the scientific community. Relics investigated, and photographed, for this glorious volume include: the Cross, nails, crown of thorns, pillar of scourging, Christ's tunic, the Veil of Manoppello, the Sudarium of Oviedo, the famous Shroud of Turin burial cloth and more.

PROLOGUE (extract)

Every person on this planet leaves behind them a material imprint of their existence. Among them is a man who arguably exerted the greatest influence on the history of humankind. Indeed, even our calendar is shaped according to the date of Christ’s birth. Despite the attempts once made by Communist propaganda to convince us otherwise, there is much reliable historical evidence, both Christian and pagan, that confirms the existence of a Jewish teacher, alive two thousand years ago, called Jesus of Nazareth. Yet the question of whether or not genuine artifacts associated with His life have remained with us to this day still remains.
If the Apostles truly recognized Jesus as their Messiah, Savior, and the Son of God, then it is safe to assume that the material vestiges of His life would have been treated with the utmost reverence. The earliest Christian communities made concerted efforts to preserve the memory of Jesus’ life, both through the spoken and written word. Why should their efforts, however, have been limited to preserving their Savior’s teaching when there was also the possibility of preserving His earthly legacy? (…)
Janusz Rosikoń and I tried to answer these questions, spending two years traveling around the world in search of Christ’s relics. Almost everywhere we went, we were confronted with the same remarkable phenomenon: these relics seemed to attract the attention of academics more so than that of religious devotees. They have been analyzed by world-renowned specialists in such fields as history, archaeology, philology, Bible studies, patristics, law, anthropology, Oriental studies, numismatics, paleography, chemistry, physics, biology, forensic medicine, anatomy, genetics, spectrography, and optical science. Special investigative teams – boasting experts in criminology, haematology, palynology, mathematics, computer science, and polarized imaging – were called in for just one reason: to find out if a given relic was indeed genuine, or not.
In accompanying their efforts, we conducted our travels rather more as investigative journalists than as pilgrims. We spent more time learning from scientists equipped with highly modernized technical apparatus than we did listening to the stories of religious preachers. And yet, it turned out that these two perspectives often found a common ground. The results of numerous time-consuming and comprehensive analyses, conducted using the most technologically advanced equipment available, seemed to coincide with assertions prevalent in Christian tradition. Science and religion, it would seem, need not contradict each other.
In addition, some of the objects that were tested exhibit characteristics that completely challenge contemporary scholarship and research on the subject of relics. From a scientific point of view, it’s nigh on impossible to account for the way in which they came into being. Likewise unbelievable is the fact that, despite the technology we have available to us today, these relics cannot be copied. Quite unexpectedly, we saw how contemporary science, in the words of its own luminaries, must admit to ignorance and open itself up to the mysteries of faith. Similarly, after two years of research, we feel that we were given the opportunity to examine nothing less than the silent witnesses to Christ’s Mysteries.
We invite you on our journey.


Table of Contents
1. The Turin Shroud – the linen burial cloth in which Jesus’ body was wrapped, with an imprinted image of His corpse. Preserved for some time in Edessa and Constantinople, now kept in Turin.
2. The True Cross – the instrument of Jesus’ torture, made from black pine wood, divided into countless small fragments and scattered among numerous churches, identifiable thanks to the so-called titulus, or tablet bearing the sentence of the condemned (INRI).
3. Holy Nails – three nails from Jesus’ crucifixion, two of which have been identified as being very probably genuine: one is in the Basilica Santa Croce di Gerusalemme in Rome, the other is in the former hospital of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena.
4. Sudarium of Oviedo – the linen scarf wrapped around Jesus’ head to staunch the flow of blood while He was still on the cross. Jewish tradition dictates that every drop of blood must be buried with the dead. It is preserved today in Oviedo.
5. Holy Tunic of Argenteuil – a seamless woven robe that Jesus wore while making the Way of the Cross, currently preserved in Argenteuil, outside Paris.
6. Holy Coat of Trier – a robe, considered to be Jesus’ over-garment, kept in Trier Cathedral, Germany.
7. Veil of Manoppello – a burial veil made of byssus with a preserved image of Jesus’ face, venerated for many years as the Veil of King Abgar, or the Veil of St Veronica, currently kept in the small Italian town of Manoppello.
8. The Pillar of Scourging – a pillory from Pilate’s praetorium, by which Jesus was whipped and beaten, found today in the Basilica of St Praxedes in Rome.
9. The Crown of Thorns – the instrument of Jesus’ torture, the band of which is kept in the Cathedral Treasury at Notre Dame in Paris, while numerous detached thorns can be found in churches throughout the world.
10. The Lance of Longinus – the spearhead used to pierce Jesus’ side on the cross, preserved in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
11. Other relics – various dispersed objects venerated as Jesus’ relics although not yet properly examined by scientists, including the loin cloth in Aachen Cathedral; the Sandals of Christ at Püm, in Germany; the Holy Cap of Cahors; and the burial cloth of Kornelimünster.
12. Golgotha and the Garden Tomb – sites in Jerusalem at which Jesus was crucified and buried.

 

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