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The Shroud of Turin

shroud of turin images

shroud of turin images

What is the Shroud of Turin? We are told that it is the burial cloth of Christ. When Jesus' body was taken down from the cross on the afternoon in which he died, before evening had set in, it was strewn hastily with funeral herbs and spices, and laid unwashed on a new linen winding sheet in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Then a great stone was rolled across the opening of the tomb and the body was left there, all done quickly because it was the beginning of the Holy Sabbath of Passover and nothing could be done again until the Feast was ended three days later. The cloth was long and unusually woven, and was laid to the body heat to foot in length, covering both the front and the back. The imprint of the man enclosed was stained upon it by an unknown force, as if it had been scorched by light and great heat, and the image appeared on the Shroud head, front and back attached, leaving a perfect reproduction of the body on the linen.

Combined with the spices, sweat consisting of ureic acid, white corpuscular ooze and blood the cloth reacted chemically as if it were a photographic plate and the image impregnated itself onto the cloth, as if exposed to a great, bright light. This light which was brighter than the sun was the Shekinah of God. The Shroud consequently is considered to be one of the holiest relics in all Christendom because the image on the cloth is believed to be that of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, the Son of God, and it gives a perfect record of His suffering and death for our remembrance. It reminds us of the cost of sin, and the suffering which He endured for us because of His love.

The importance of the Shroud to both eastern and western Christendom is obvious. To the west it emphasizes the humanity of Christ which was raised to the level of Divinity, while to the eastern Christians it defines Deification of the body and sanctions all images of Christ as approved for veneration. Both of these aspects go against the Judaic Law which was changed, as was the day of worship. But the history of the Shroud is fascinating and many are unaware that the trail has not grown cold but goes back all the way to the origin of the Holy Relic and the Tomb itself.

In tracing the route we can start at either end but the most logical seems to be at beginning. The Bible tells us that Peter saw the linen clothes lying in the tomb and the body was missing (John 20:5). The Cloth since it was the last thing that Our Lord had touched was taken by the apostles and placed in storage for according to Judaic Law it was defiling to touch the body or the burial clothes of the dead. To do so made a person unclean and required a period of purification of five days each time these items were handled. Since the apostles then were true followers of Judaism, they were still bound by such laws of purification in order for them to continue to worship in the Temple and the synagogues.

No laws up until then had been set aside by Christ's ministry. Rather He had encouraged all people to obey the priests to the letter of the law. But He had warned them about not emulating the priests who were as whited sepulchres. So in order to protect the faithful, the apostles had a cloth cover made for it, which had a hole in the front panel, so that the face of Christ could show through if the Shroud were folded up into three or four folds. The cover then protected the relic and it could be hung on the wall without violating Judaic Law.

This form of display came to be known as "Veronica's Veil" because when enclosed in the cover it looked like a kerchief. The story told in the bible was that a woman gave Him her veil to dry His face and when it was returned to her there was a print of the face upon it. In Hellenic Greek circles it was called the Mandylion and was considered the Image-Made-Without-Hands, or in other words no one had painted it, but God had caused the image to appear and therefore it was holy.

When the apostles received a letter from King Agbar the Black of Armenia asking for them to send the famous cloth so that it could cure his illness, the apostles sent it from Jerusalem to Armenia. It remained there, hung in a recess of the wall in the royal palace apartment for many years before it was sealed in the wall in order to protect it from the forces of decay and dust. Over the compartment door was placed an exact replica of the Shroud painted as an icon on the door of the cupboard.

When the palace was remodeled some time later and Christianity had become legal, they removed the Mandylion from the cupboard and it was then sent to Hagia Sophia or the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople. Constantinople had become the treasure house of the eastern  empire and many relics and all the richness of the empire was concentrated there.The church itself was the official basilica of the eastern empire and was the glory of chistendom.

Doors to the church were made of thick solid gold, nothing was spared on the richness of the decorations, and jewels were placed in sockets in the stones to cause the facade to glitter with light. But the was with the Moslems was soon to overtake it, and since the glory of the Hagia Sophia was so great it was to be almost destroyed or converted into the glory of Islam when the city fell.

Before this happened however the Knights Templars took as many holy relics from the city as they could find, actually sacking it in their zeal before the Moslem invaders arrived. The feast of the Mandylion is shroud of turin images celebrated in the byzantine church on August 16th each year.

The Templars sacked the city in 1207 and the Mandylion was taken back to France where they were headquartered and where the order originated. It remained in their possession entrusted to one family which would later release it in another form as the Shroud. Housed on the premises of the Templar preceptories, Godfrey de Charney who was a knight of noble blood, had it placed with the other spoils. He was a prominent knight with a reputation for exemplary and impeccable honor. But the Templars were accused of heresy by King Philip the Fair of France, who sought revenge on the Templars by siding with the Pope Boniface in a dispute with the Vatican.

Pope Clement V and the King conspired together against the Templars to destroy their power and their wealth. (But we know now that the Vatican actions also were the result of a petition received from Ethipia against the Templar Knights over the possible theft of the Ark of the Covenant which was in the safekeeping of that country. But this is another story which will be related in another monograph about the Ark). Philip the Fair had forbidden all money to be exported from France because his country was in debt over wars waged by him which to date were unpaid.

The revenues which were normally sent from France to the Vatican therefore were stopped, and so this great revolt over money and power, wherein the Pope himself was kidnapped to Avignon, France and not allowed to leave became known in Church History as the Babylonian Captivity. This captivity resulted in a great gift to France because the Chateauneuf du Pape (The Pope's New Chateau) wines as the region is now called are some of the very best in France.

When the Knights were condemned, the Shroud since it was the holiest of all relics in their possession, needed to be guarded and protected, so de Charney took it home to his castle.However, one of the accusations made against the Templars was that they worshiped a head called "Baphomet" which some thought to be the devil, and others thought was a corruption of Mahomet. The term Baphomet seems to be Greek however although the meaning has escaped all interpretation to this day.

One of the proofs of authenticity which is used in the Shroud argument is that the image on the Shroud and the icons of Christ was an image of Zeus which had been in one of the pagan temples of the empire. But all icons of Christ show a fold of cloth at the neck of the garment, which is reproced exactly on the Shroud distorted by the connection between the face and the neck as if the cloth held a wrinkle when it was exposed to the great light, leaving a shadow of a fold.

From scientific knowledge obtained from the nuclear dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki we know that such photon pictures can be made on any substance, ....stone, cloth, skin, etc. Some victims of the bomb actually had the pattern of the kimono burned into their skin by the light, others are shadows on the stone walls of buildings, testament to the immense power of light given off by the radiation.

No Zeus image has ever been found which has a neck defect such as is evident in the Shroud or the icons of Christ which were painted afterwards. So we believe that the Mandylion had been a tool for artists. In holy relic multiplication in the church a copy is always touched to the original to transfer the properties of the original to the copy. This was quite common in church piety, so it would account for blobs of paint appearing in the cloth of the original Shroud. When the Grand Master of the Templars, Jacque de Molay and his subordinates were arrested at Paris, notice was given secretly to the other Templars to prepare themselves for martyrdom.

Those who refused to suffer this fate went underground. Many fled to England to their brothers there, and thus we can trace the origins of freemasonry which utilizes hand signs for communication as well as archaic French words within their rituals.

The Mandylion had been hidden away at Lissey and later when the depredations against the Templars had ended, the family opened up the Shroud and offered to sell it, but it eventually was given into the hands of the Church by the buyer. Then it was taken from it's cover because there was no reason any more to keep it folded and secure from all hands, and opened up it could no longer be called Baphomet but had become a rare curiosity.

The curiosity of the Shroud was only increased by the observable fact that the nails had been driven through the wrists of the victim instead of through the hands. Common forensic investigation proved that the hands would not support the weight of a human body without tearing out. The interstices of the bones in the wrist was the only place which would support the weight of an shroud of turin images average man nailed to a wooden beam. The fact that the body had been crowned with thorns which was an unusual punishment also bodes well for forensic proof of authenticity as does blood patterns on the cloth, leakage systems, and rigor mortis.

Also testifying to authenticity are the fact that the hands and wrists are elongated and misshapen due to the weight placed on them to bear, as well as the crooked leg which was disjointedly askew as the victim died such a horrible death, and which couldn't be straightened or relaxed even in death. There were several copies made of the Shroud -- one was venerated at St. Silvester's in Rome, another at St. Bartholomew-of-the-Armenians, and another at the Mekhitarist monastery of St. Lazarus in Venice. But the telling mark of the original remains in the poker holes which were burned in it to register the original to the copy.

These poker holes also show us what the original looked like before it was damaged in the fire when the lead casket in which it was contained melted over it. Three poker holes are found in the legs of Christ at knee level on the copies and they are not found on the original because the fire burned that area and the nuns sewed patches into the holes to make the Shroud whole again. The Shroud in the church was always kept folded and was never shown full length until its later history.

When it was unfolded and displayed for veneration a photographer asked permission to photograph it for posterity. When he did, the negative image on the plate jumped out at him, so that we could now see the importance of the negative image, because we can see the image much clearer than in positive. In positive, the image is brownish yellow and the body cannot be made out very well. Recent testing by carbon dating has been unsuccessful because the linen was in a fire. The Russian expert Kuznetsov explains that the linen absorbed the carbon from the smoke and therefore the dating register was fasllsified and couldn't be relied upon.

There has also been three dimensional scanning of the image and the results show that the foreshortening of the image would be what would normally appear in a 3 dimensional imaging system. Actually test were made by laser cutting a styrofoam head form, and this resulted in a 3d version not unlike a sculptors image, but
shroud of turin images the suffering of the model was so agonizingly realistic that the face was distorted with pain.

When samples of the pollen embedded in the cloth are taken the grains of flowers which no longer grow in the Holy Land are evident. They have been extinct for nearly 2,000 years. Those which are found normally bloom in the spring months around Passover or the Vernal Equinox.

The Shroud today resides in the Church of St. John the Baptist in Turin and is only allowed to be viewed from a glass case hanging above the altar. Recently it has been rumored that around Easter the image itself has begun to weep tears which can be seen coursing down the cloth and actually erasing some of the darker markings of the image.

The cheeks of Christ now are tear stained. Analysis of the tears show that they are human salt tears mixed with human blood from that on the Shroud which becomes dissolved in the flow. It is estimated that within the next ten years the image on the Shroud will be so defaced that we will no longer recognize the face of Christ anymore.

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