Saturday, August 11, 2007

All about the Shroud of Turin

DISCLAIMER: This is just a flashback article. If I remember it right I made this one in 2004 or 2005. I’m just publishing it here because I think it makes sense naman, lol, so why not share. It is safe to say that the author of this article is the “pre-agnostic ME.”

DISCLAIMER: All information and statements in the paragraphs to follow are just paraphrased versions of the contents of the book I’ve read entitled THE SECOND MESSIAH by Knights and Lomas. The contents of the paragraphs are NOT MY OWN ideas. For people who are so devoted to their faith, don’t read this because it contains many claims that will seem blasphemous for you. And so I recommend this to the free thinkers and open minded people...


P.S. The book is not a The Da Vinci Code wannabe; the authors say it’s factual and that they have scientific facts to back their theories...


The book claims that the miraculous image in the Shroud of Turin is not that of Jesus Christ. For those people who were absent in their religion classes when this topic was discussed, let me enlighten you (Okay, this is me but I’m only explaining, I’m not giving comments.) A shroud is a long cloth that is used to wrap the bodies of dead people in the early times. The Shroud of Turin was first displayed in Turin (somewhere in Italy I think) at around 1300 AD, hence the name Shroud of Turin. It is believed to be the image of Jesus Christ and that it was the same shroud used to wrap him after crucifixion. In the early 90’s, the Vatican allowed scientists to investigate the origin of the shroud and three distinguished forensic laboratories around the world, again according to the book agreed that the shroud couldn’t have predated 1200 AD. Jesus Christ was crucified at around 33 AD. The process was called Radio Carbon Dating. If you want to know more about Radio Carbon Dating, do some research on the topic because it is a long complicated issue. Arguments like the shroud was an art work of Leonardo da Vinci and it was some photographic hoax were discredited because the book claims that scientists said that there were no brush marks found and that photography wasn’t available during the time.

The question: Whose image was imprinted in the shroud? The book says that it is the image of Jacques de Molay, who according to them is believed to be the second messiah and the last grand master of the Knights Templar. Who is this Jacques de Molay? What is the Knights Templar? The next paragraph will explain that.

The book claims that it all started with the crusades. Once again, for those people absent when this was discussed in religion class, let me enlighten you (This is me again.) The crusades were formed to reclaim the holy land Jerusalem, which was invaded by the Turks (or Muslims I think) around 1100 AD. It was pioneered by the wealthy monarchs of Europe and the reigning pope (I think it was Urban II). The book claims that nine knights vowed in a life of chastity, obedience, and all properties in common (as opposed to chastity, obedience, and poverty) and that these nine approached the pope and asked for his permission so that they could guard the pilgrims in Jerusalem because bandits were so active during those days. But according to the book, the nine knights had a hidden agenda and they only used the bodyguard issue as an alibi to excavate the temple of Jerusalem. Why would they excavate the temple? The book says that there were hidden treasures and scrolls of the teachings of Jesus and the Jerusalem Church under the temple. In order to understand this, a little history lesson is necessary.

This is the book’s version of the history of Jerusalem. According to the book, there were two sets of Jews when Jesus was active. The first group belonged to the Jerusalem Church where Jesus also belonged and the other was the group of gentiles and Diasporas outside the walls of Jerusalem led by St. Paul. From what I remember (Again this is me), St. Paul was a Roman soldier whose original name was Saul but later changed to Paul when he was converted. The book claims that St. Paul misinterpreted the teachings of Jesus. According to the book, symbolic phrases like RAISING THE DEAD and TURNING WATER INTO WINE were misinterpreted and given literal meaning by St. Paul. The book says that in the colloquial use of language during that time, RAISING THE DEAD meant enlightening the unenlightened. The book claims that the Jerusalem Church considered people outside their faith as DEAD and considered their selves the LIVING. So the expression RAISING THE DEAD could have meant converting the pagans and others who didn’t believe in the Jerusalem Church. TURNING WATER INTO WINE on the other hand means elevating one’s spiritual status. The book says that Jesus administered symbolic resurrection by letting the person being converted have a symbolic death, after which the said person is wrapped in a white shroud signifying a symbolic resurrection as initiation to their faith. These, the book claims were misinterpreted by St. Paul and thought that the Gentiles that Jesus had powers to literally raise the dead and literally turn water into wine.

Another claim of the book is that Jesus had a brother called James the Just. The book says that the ministry of Jesus was originally led by his cousin John the Baptist and later passed to James the Just when Jesus was crucified. The book also says that James the Just was more popular than Jesus and also loved by the people. James was then murdered by the Romans and the Jews went on a revolution mainly due to fanaticism, which led to the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem caused by Roman retaliation. The Jews defended their holy land but the might of the Roman Empire was more than they could take. Cities after cities fell. Most of the Jews inhabiting the place died while some hid and some fled. According to the book, the members of the Jerusalem Church, which the book considers the real Church fled to Greece and dispersed themselves across Europe while the gentiles and others either died or hid somewhere. A certain group called Essenes, according to the book, hid in the labyrinth under the then destroyed Jerusalem Temple and brought with them the sacred scrolls of the Jerusalem Church and treasures.

The book says that the group of St. Paul survived and later was considered as Christians and their leader was the Pope. The Jerusalem Church on the other hand was dispersed across Europe and came back to the holy land during the crusades. And now I must warn you that we have come to the most controversial claim of the book. If this was a religious roller coaster, we are approaching the loops.

The book believes that a certain group called Rex Deus exists, its members composed of the original Jerusalem Church. I don’t know what their sources are but the book says that a Rex Deus member approached a certain priest or minister to share a secret which in turn was told to them by the minister. According to the book, the alleged Rex Deus member said that it is a tradition in their family to pass a secret knowledge from father to a chosen son (not necessarily the eldest) of the secrets of their group but since he has no son, he chose to tell the said minister. The book says that the Rex Deus member said that in the early Jerusalem Church, there existed two schools. One was exclusive for girls and one exclusive for boys. According to the Rex Deus member, both schools were headed by the priests of the said Jerusalem Church who used the name of angels like Michael, Gabriel, etc instead of their own names. It is said that a common practice of the said Church was for the priests to conceive a child with the girls of the exclusive school once they turn fifteen or sixteen and marry them to an older Jewish man to have a family. And now for the most controversial claim... The Rex Deus member apparently said that a sixteen year old girl by the name of Mary was visited by an angel Gabriel and married her to a man named Joseph. (Again this is me) Just for clarification, this is not my idea and it could be verified that it is not mine if you read the book.

The Rex Deus member said, according to the book that Mary didn’t like Joseph at first because he was too old for her but eventually learned to love him and they had four more children. The book says that this might be a tradition of the early Church to preserve the genealogical line of David. The book speculates that Rex Deus members exist up to this day and they wear a symbolic ring depicting the two pillars of the Jerusalem Temple called Boaz and Jachin, which represents the kingly and priestly line of David. The Rex Deus also said, according to the book that the royal colours of the house of David are Green and Gold.

According to the book, the said nine knights (The original Knights Templar) were members of the Rex Deus and that the crusades were just cover up stories so that the Rex Deus members could regain their treasures, their birthrights from under the temple of Jerusalem. The book also speculates that it was a conspiracy because the pope back then (Urban II) died shortly after reclaiming the holy land. The book said he was dispatched after his usefulness expired.

The Knights Templar, as the book says gained popularity back then and rendered their service to the Pope even if they didn’t believe in him. The book claims that the said Knights Templar and Rex Deus were descendants of the Jerusalem Church where Jesus belonged and that the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church are descendants of the Jews led by St. Paul. The Knights Templar, as the book suggests became bankers all over Europe and yielded organizations such as Freemasonry, which included non-Rex Deus and non-Knights Templar members.

Jacques de Molay, according to the book was the last grand master of the Knights Templar (they were arrested back then as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church and Phillip the Fair of France) and was also crucified in a wooden door by a skilled torturer popular for nailing people they torture wherever possible. The book says that Molay was crucified in a wooden door, whipped, and crowned with sharp objects so he could suffer Christ’s sufferings. He was then wrapped in the shroud and laid in a soft bed because he was expected to recover. The Knights Templar, as said by the book, believed in Jesus Christ as a prophet but not as a God and they didn’t worship the cross. However, they believe in God and the teachings of the said Jerusalem Church. Molay was tortured to give a confession denouncing their organization and was expected to recover to confess to the people. He was laid in a soft bed wrapped in a shroud. The book says that this Molay person was in a coma for a day because of the trauma. The mixture of his blood, sweat and heavy doses of lactic acid in the blood caused the imprinting of his image in the shroud, which was kept for 50 years in the dark by a family friend after he recovered.

The authors of the book conducted some tests regarding the shroud and came with a conclusion that the image printed in the back and front of the shroud wouldn’t be possible if the person wrapped was lain on a hard surface. The soft surface of the bed allowed the miraculous printing and position of the hands as shown in the shroud. The position of the arms, as said by the book would be impossible if the person was on a hard surface. The arm position was possible if the person was on a soft surface bent rather than straight. This Jacques de Molay person was said to be crucified around 1200 AD and was later burned but not in the stake. The book said he was roasted along with a co member of their organization.

The book also claims that the Roman Catholic Church had a dark and controversial history. The book says that the RCC had three ways of dealing with hazards to the faith. The first one was ridicule. The book says that the RCC would ridicule the idea and if it doesn’t work, they would absorb the idea as Catholic. The book claims that the RCC denied that the shroud was really the shroud of Jesus but later accepted it as that for the fear that their followers back then would discover that they crucified the said Molay person. The last way was destroy. They would arrest people as heretics to be burned at the stake, excommunication, etc.

Okay, now this is me. This is my opinion regarding the issue. We all know that the Church had a very controversial history. We know that December 25 is not the real birth of Jesus but was the feast of the pagan god Mithras. The Church only adapted it because it was popular back then when the religion was starting. We also know that the Church abused indulgences and belief of heaven and hell specially during the dark ages, this was also evident in the Philippine setting during the Spanish colonization. What I’m trying to say is that even if the Church was horrible back then, it doesn’t really matter because I personally believe that faith depends on the individual. Priests and Church ministers are humans too and as human beings, we are not exempted from committing mistakes because we are not perfect. We already heard of priests having children, priests abusing people, etc. This is a clear indication that they could also commit mistakes. The papal infallibility was unquestioned back then but was already admitted by the Vatican a few years back that the pope was not infallible indeed. The Vatican only pardoned Galileo in 1992, which means they only believed that the sun is the centre of the solar system in 1992 even if it was already scientifically proven centuries ago. The Roman Catholic Church is a religious institution. There are many religious institutions in the world, different religions; religions denouncing each other and proclaiming their God as the real God. In this setting, who are we to believe? Of course we will support our own beliefs, and so will they. The point is that the God whom several religions call by different names every day is just the same God guiding us all. We only have different names for God because of our cultural differences and beliefs that are more convenient for us. Why am I even giving my view about this? Well, I already shared the book so I might as well give my insight, right?

Science and Religion are like Oil and Water. They are immiscible. And whatever we do, they will never complement each other because they are of different leagues, different beliefs. Jesus might be a prophet for the Muslims, for us he is a God, for pagans he is just somebody else. Whoever he is for different people, the point is that he already left us a legacy. He already cast his long shadow to guide us in our daily lives. He already did his mission on Earth whether we acknowledge it or not. He already helped in the development of the human race. Considering him a God, a prophet or a nobody is not going to undo any of his great accomplishments that already served as a great source of inspiration for many people.

It isn’t wrong not to believe in an existing God but it is certainly not worse to believe in one. The decision really lies on the person and his spirituality. There is nothing wrong in believing and getting inspiration from a supreme being, whose existence is intangible. At the end of the day, isn’t it better for us to have believed in him and his guidance in attaining a better life? If at the end of our lifetime we could prove that there really is a heaven and a God of different names waiting up there, or even if there isn’t, the important thing is that we have lived our lives as human beings, people who have helped our brethren on Earth, Christians and non-Christians alike.

Faith is blind. Blindness could be a curse, but it could also be a not so perfect opportunity to reflect and realize certain truths without the biases of the seen world.

Siyempre nag advertise pa ako no, if you want to test your faith further, yung mas OA pa kesa sa The Da Vinci Code, try the books from Arrow Publishing... =)

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