Fr. George Welzbacher, Church of St. John of St. Paul: On one or two occasions in the past I have given space in my Easter Sunday Pastor's Page to a fascinating report on the evidence contained in the Shroud of Turin for a TWO-FOLD crown of thorns. The report, written by Shafer Parker, Jr., appeared in the April 13, 2003 issue of the National Catholic Register. May I share it with you here, with extensive abridgement. April 7, 2010.
* * * * *Shroud's TWO Crowns of Thorns Show Crucifixion's Brutality.
Two researchers at Duke University Medical Center say they have perceived signs of a SECOND object in the head area of the image of the Shroud of Turin.
Dr. Alan Whanger, professor emeritus at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N. C. and director of the Council for Study of the Shroud of Turin, (www.shroudcouncil.org) together with his wife, Mary, published their finding that high-grade enhanced photographs of the Shroud of Turin reveal the image of a band of woven straw. It perfectly matches the size and shape of the well-known Crown of Thorns now housed in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. This circlet would have rested on the back of Jesus' head reaching down to the upper part of the neck
The shroud, a sheet of fine linen some 14 feet long and 3.54 feet wide, contains the life-sized negative image, front and back, of a crucified man, complete with nail prints and bloodstains. Pope John Paul II himself has venerated it as the shroud that Christ was buried in. According to the Whangers, the newly perceived object is actually a second crown of thorns. And although Scripture has never been interpreted as mentioning two crowns, Whanger argues that his discovery of a second crown is yet more proof that the man represented on the shroud is Jesus. "Two crowns would be entirely consistent with what we know about the period," he said. "If the shroud were actually a medieval forgery based only upon Gospel accounts, as some scientists have claimed, they'd never have thought to include TWO separate crowns.
Whanger, who is a Methodist, suggests that when Pilate sent Jesus to be flogged, the soldiers naturally decided to mock the supposed King of the Jews as a ROMAN EMPEROR, complete with purple robe (which is mentioned in the Gospels) encircling crown on the back of the head. It would have been the work of a moment, he says, to twist a few bands of straw together, stick a few thorns and thistles through the back and then jam it on Christ's head.
Later, the soldiers must have been inspired to mock Jesus as a Jewish HIGH PRIEST, which led to the construction of the larger, bonnet like crown made from the Gundelia Tournefortil thorn tree, as con firmed on the shroud by Avinoa Danin, Professor of botany at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a world authority on the .flora of the Near East.
The Gundelia tree possesses thorns so sharp and strong the maker would have been forced to wear leather gloves. The larger crown, first identified on the shroud by the Whangers several years ago, effectively mocked the multitiered crown worn by the Jewish high priest. "The high priest's crown would have been well known to the soldiers," the Whangers said, "since it was kept locked in the Antonia Fortress and only released to the high priest for his use during festivals."
Finding a second crown on the shroud helps explain why the Crown of Thorns in Paris has no thorns. Because the thorns had merely been stuck through the straw bands to begin with, they either remained embedded in the crucified man's neck when the crown was removed, or they fell from the mid-forehead to the low back of the neck. The wounds on top would have come from the bonnet-like high priest's crown, while those on the neck would have come from the emperor's circlet.
Though impossible to authenticate as to date, the shroud has been venerated since at least the 14th century (but possibly as early as the second century) as the actual winding sheet used at Jesus' burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
But is has only been in the last 30 years that modern science has been able to uncover a number of clues, including pollen spores and microscopic grains of soils UNIQUE to Jerusalem and Palestine, that increase the probability that the shroud once wrapped the Messiah's body.
But the abiding mystery is how the images of a crucified man and crucifixion-related objects became imprinted on the shroud at all.
Canadian physicist, Thaddeus Trenn, director of the science and religion program at the University of Toronto, has hypotheisized that a massive influx of energy similar to a controlled nuclear event actually overcame the strong force that bound together the protons and the neutrons in the body of the man lying in the shroud.
Such an instantaneous event would have released massive amounts of X-rays, leading to a rapid, but cool, dehydration of the cellulose fibers in the fabric that resulted in a negative image of the man and, due to the enormous amounts of energy present, a CORONAL discharge that led to imprints of OTHER items buried with the body.
Trenn has noted that the dematerialization theory is supported by distortions in the shroud image that indicate that it was collapsing in upon itself at the precise moment that the image was being produced. And only dematerialization explains how the body could have been lifted away from the blood that had soaked into the fabric while leaving no trace of pulled fibrils on the fabric's surface...
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