If you were brought up a Catholic, as a child, you were taught about the power of mysteries.
One mystery that I used to always find perplexing was how the face of Jesus Christ was superimposed on the Turin Shroud, a burial cloth that measures 14 feet, 4 inches by 3 feet, 7 inches.
Somehow, the face looked a little too much like the Jesus in all the religious pictures. It all seemed a little too perfect. And, as one grew up, one began to learn that nothing was quite that perfect. Not even priests.
Now an Italian scientist and his team claim to have debunked this mystery.
According to Reuters, an organic chemist from the University of Pavia called Luigi Garlaschelli has created a shroud replica and plans to reveal the results of his work at a conference on the paranormal (and, who knows, of the paranormal) later this week.
In order not to cheat, Garlaschelli says he availed himself only of materials that were accessible in the Middle Ages, the period from which carbon dating by various laboratories suggested the shroud emanates.
He and his team used a pigment that contained a little skeptical acid to do the basic rubbing on a volunteer wearing a Jesus mask.
Then, in a process that seems to eerily resemble the production of faded clothing by teenagers, they heated the shroud in an oven and washed it. Finally, they added a few holes and stains for additional authenticity.
It all sounds suspiciously easy. Indeed, it all sounds as if someone wants to create a little anti-Catholic publicity. (The Church doesn't even claim that the Turin Shroud is genuine.) As with so much research these days, it is good to look to the source of funding to see who might be so very keen to bankroll a debunking.
Garlaschelli admits that he did take money from an Italian association of atheists and agnostics. However, he has offered his services to the Church too. "Money has no odor," was his somewhat-romantic quote to Reuters.
But something about this experiment does suggest a peculiar smell. The University of Pavia is one of the oldest in Europe. Don't the professors have something a little more interesting to do than trying to upset my mum and dad?