Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Turin Shroud

A topic I have sometimes returned to in my Lent reading over the years is that of the Holy Shroud. Once you begin to learn something about it the topic stays with you, and it is difficult not to believe in the authenticity of the relic - there seems no means by which it could have been produced artificially. The inexplicable nature of the images unless they really are what they appear to be and the fact, despite the seemingly implausible chance of a cloth surviving for almost two thousand years, that people did safeguard it and venerate it makes for an impressive argument on historical grounds. Having seen a television programme at Christmas which seriously questioned the value of the 1988 Carbon-14 testing it on the simple basis that the fragments which were tested were affected by repairs in the sixteenth century, if they were not indeed substantially of that date, and with the impending display of the Shroud in Turin I have been readingThe Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity by Fr Vittorio Guerrera, and published by TAN in 2001. This gives a history of the relic, and an account of recent research, including the seemingly shambolic 1988 Carbon-14 work ,which further weakens the credibility of the results obtained. Guerrera's book is well worth reading both as an historical study, and, as a suitable Passiontide reflection.

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