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FICTION / Historical
Jul 18, 2008
Books by PJ Shield
Was the carbon dating of the Turin Shroud incorrect? Dr. Peter J. Shield believes it was! He has spent over 40 years writing, producing and hosting his "World of Unexplained Mysteries" Radio and Television series. (http://worldofunexplainedmysteries.com)
He has during that time lived and worked in 25 countries around the world. In the '50s he joined Cambridge University's archaeological team on the excavation of St. Agathas and St. Paul's catacombs on the remote island of Malta where this story takes place. In 1987 he became involved with the research team investigating the Shroud of Turin and became intrigued with the search for the truth as to the authenticity of this most sacred object said to be the burial cloth of Christ. Over 29 mysterious deaths have been associated with this most Holy relic! The source of the image however has yet to be discovered. In "In the Image of His God" Dr. Shield proposes an incredible scenario involving The Knights Templar, Leonardo Da Vinci, Pope John Paul II and a plot by the infamous Illuminati to bring about the downfall of the Catholic Church. All references to the Shroud, The Knights and the investigative study of the sacred cloth are factual including the reported deaths of over 29 of those associated with the Shroud during it's recorded history.
Press play to listen to audio excerpt...
Albino Luciani slipped into his satin robe and made his way across his bedroom to where a decanter of wine and a golden goblet had been placed neatly beside his favorite book, Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote. Albino had read the book from cover to cover at least three times. It helped him relax from the stress and strain of his everyday chores.
He carefully poured himself a measured amount of wine and, taking his book, placed them both on his bedside table before kneeling in silent prayer. Half an hour later he arose, got into his four-poster bed, made himself comfortable and settled back against the array of feather pillows. He picked up his book, took a sip from the goblet and placed it carefully beside him. Thirty seconds later he was engulfed in excruciating pain. The book fell to the floor. The following morning the goblet, the book and the decanter of wine had vanished.
The date was 28 September 1978. Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I, was dead, a mere thirty-three days after he assumed office. Nineteen days later, a plume of white smoke issued from the Vatican chimney symbolizing the election of a new pontiff.
If John Peters’s research had been correct, this would be yet another number added to the list of unexplained deaths to have befallen those who had come in contact with Christendom’s most sacred relic, the Holy Shroud of Turin.
Chapter 1 (Day 1: early afternoon)
John Peters was restless on the flight from Las Vegas to the Mediterranean island of Malta. He could not get Father Victor’s letter out of his mind. It had been over fifty years since John and Victor had last met face to face. Father Victor looking every bit his age, his walk slow and determined, his thick lens glasses telling the story of his near blindness, his sholders stooped as if carring some invisable weight. Victor was now the curator at St. Agatha’s Catacombs and Museum. Like John, he was now in his seventies, and much had happened to them both over the ensuing years since they had started excavation on the site.
John had been a freelance photographer working for Associated Press when he was assigned to accompany Cambridge University’s archaeological team on the dig. At the time, he had been commissioned by the Maltese government to record all the art and other archaeological treasures that were stored in churches and archives across the Maltese Islands of Malta and Gozo. For nearly five years, John had worked alongside Victor, the novice priest assigned by the missionary order of St. Peter and St. Paul, whose monastery was located above St. Agatha’s Crypt and Catacombs. Victor and John had become close friends, a bond that had lasted over the years, supported by occasional communication and the usual birthday and holiday greetings.
After leaving Malta in the mid-’50s, John had returned to Cambridge to teach photography to archaeological students and, after a few years in Ireland, eventually ended up moving to Australia.
Australia had been good for John, and his background with the Archaeological Department at Cambridge University gave him the credentials to launch a career in broadcasting that would last some forty years. Initially, he produced a series of three-minute shorts for radio, which eventually evolved into a television series on mysteries from around the world, both archaeological and occult. In 1987 John was hosting a two-hour Saturday night program for radio station 2CH in Sydney, Australia. Among his guests, via telephone from around the globe, were members of a scientific team labeled the STURP group (Shroud of Turin Research Project), brought together by the US-based Brooks Institute to travel to Turin, Italy, and carry out a series of scientific tests on one of Christendom’s most venerated artifacts – the Shroud of Turin, the cloth in which Christ was said to have been wrapped following his crucifixion, before being laid to rest in the tomb, according to Jewish tradition, two days prior to his ascension.
The Shroud had always held a fascination for John because of the unique, inexplicable composition of the image. There had been no explanation for the fact that the image on the cloth appeared as if in a photograph negative. This startling discovery was made on 28 May 1898 when, following a public exhibition, Secondo Pia, an Italian amateur photographer, took the first photograph of the Shroud of Turin. Thus began a new era of scientific research.
When Secondo Pia was developing that first commissioned photograph of this most venerated object, he was stunned to witness the first and only recorded image of the face of Christ as it appeared in the tray of solution before him. What he had photographed was a negative that now appeared in the positive form in his developer tray. Since that date in 1898, the world had been fascinated with this remarkable image and the cloth that the Church only allowed to be exhibited once every twenty-five years. When it had been exhibited to the general public in 1978, millions stood in line for hours just for a glimpse of this miraculous cloth. Since then, the Shroud had been exhibited in 1998 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the consecration of the Turin Cathedral, and in 2000. The next public exhibition was scheduled in the year 2025.
One by one, John interviewed and interrogated the individual members of the STURP group in a series of interviews over two successive nights. Their opinion was almost unanimous. All but one of the scientific investigative team was convinced that the cloth was all that the Church and historians claimed it to be – the actual burial cloth of Christ.
This was the official finding, despite the fact that they were unable to explain the manner in which this remarkable image had been recorded in negative form on the Shroud.
John was aware that Father Victor had obtained a copy of these now famous interviews which had recently been digitally re-mastered and made available to collectors via one of the team’s members, Barrie Schwortz, whose website at http://shroud.com is now recognized as the definitive source for information on the Shroud.
Father Victor, it appeared, had a personal connection with the Shroud, and probably held the answer to what had puzzled the world of Shroud followers and believers since1988, when the cloth had been subjected to carbon dating. The result had conclusively shown the material to have a carbon date of between 1200 and 1500 A.D., ruling out any possibility that it had once held the body of the Savior.
How, John – and millions of believers – wondered, could a group of esteemed scientists have got it so wrong?
The answer to this and the composition of the miraculous image on the cloth were alluded to by Father Victor in his letter to John, which arrived the day before he was to visit Malta to address the members of the recently formed Shroud Society. The group had learned that in the year 1204 A.D., French knights of the Crusader Order of Knights Templar, known as ‘the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’, brought it to France; on the way they must have stopped at Malta to take fresh water and food. The Shroud Society planned to hold their annual convention at each of the locations that the Shroud was reported to have visited. Malta was chosen as the first of these. As the keynote speaker at their inaugural convocation, John had been asked to present his lecture on the interview recordings.
As he settled into his room at the Radisson SAS Hotel at St. Julian’s Bay, he wondered what his friend of fifty years, closeted within St. Agatha’s, had unearthed that could be of such significant value to his personal investigative studies. Exhausted as he was after his long flight, John found his brain whirling with the facts he was so familiar with. He mentally ticked them off.
At a press conference held in Turin on 13 October 1988, Cardinal Ballestrero, Archbishop of Turin, made an official announcement: the results of the three laboratories performing the carbon dating of the Shroud had determined an approximate date of 1325 A.D. for the cloth.
At a similar press conference held at the British Museum, London, it was announced that the cloth dated back to somewhere between 1260 and 1390 A.D. Newspaper headlines across the world immediately branded the Shroud a fake and, more importantly, declared that the Catholic Church had accepted the results. This was disputed when, on 28 April 1989, Pope John Paul II, being interviewed by journalists on a plane journey during the papal visit to Africa, guardedly spoke of the Shroud as an authentic relic, while insisting that the Church had never taken a formal stand in this regard.
On 30 September of that same year, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific publications, The New Scientist, reported the findings of the scientific workshop at East Kilbride: “… the margin of error with radiocarbon-dating ... may be two or three times as great as practitioners of the technique have claimed”.
Three independent universities had conducted the carbon dating process and all had come up with roughly the same conclusion – that the cloth was no older than 1200 A.D. Even allowing for the recognized margin of error, the cloth originated at the latest in the mid-1500s, at the earliest in the 900s.
In addition to this, according to a recent report that John had read in the scientific journal Thermochimica Acta, Raymond N. Rogers, a Fellow of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, claimed the sample tested in 1988 was from a medieval mend in the cloth.
John opened his briefcase and shuffled through his papers to locate the one he wanted. It was headed:
Studies on the radiocarbon sample from the shroud of Turin
Raymond N. Rogers Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California, 1961 Cumbres Patio, Los Alamos, NM 87544, USA Received 14 April 2004; revised 14 April 2004; accepted 12 September 2004. Available online 16 November 2004.
That’s the one I’m looking for, John confirmed, as he continued reading:
In 1988, radiocarbon laboratories at Arizona, Cambridge, and Zurich determined the age of a sample from the Shroud of Turin. They reported that the date of the cloth’s production lay between A.D. 1260 and 1390 with 95% confidence. This came as a surprise in view of the technology used to produce the cloth, its chemical composition, and the lack of vanillin in its lignin. The results prompted questions about the validity of the sample. Preliminary estimates of the kinetics constants for the loss of vanillin from lignin indicate a much older age for the cloth than the radiocarbon analyses. The radiocarbon sampling area is uniquely coated with a yellow-brown plant gum containing dye lakes. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud.
John again found himself wondering how all of this tied in with the intriguing letter from Father Victor. There were so many facts, and no discernable link. What could be important enough for his old friend to contact him so urgently after so many long years?
About PJ Shield
Stop Press - Columbus Ohio - “In the Image Of His God” – Peter J. Shield PhD. launched his new novel at the International Conference on The Shroud of Turin to be held at the Blackwell Hotel, 2110 Tuttle Park Place, Columbus Oh. 43210, on August 14-17th 2008
Feature Writer: Owners Perspective Magazine (UK)
Peter’s “World of Unexplained Mysteries” Radio segments have been heard across Australia and in Europe & Asia for over 20 years. Peter’s media credits include:
Daily Television shows including "Vegas Mysteries" and "My Special Guest"
Radio KLAV1230am Las Vegas USA
Macquire Radio network Australia (47 stations)
Radio 2UE Sydney
Radio 2WS Sydney
Radio 4BH Brisbane
OnDa Cero Radio (Spain)
Channel 9 T.V. Sydney
Channel 10 T.V. Perth
Channel 8 Bundergburg Qld.
Peter is an award winning accredited Photojournalist. As Associated Press representative, Peter’s pictures of unrest in the middle east graced the pages of every national newspaper and magazine IN THE WORLD!
Peter is a recognized authority in the field of International Resort and Timeshare Development.
He has completed 4 world tours and has lectured and appeared in over 15 countries including Australia, Canada, USA, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Central America, Malta, Cyprus, Spain and Gibraltar, before moving to Las Vegas in 1992.
He continues to travel the world from his home in Las Vegas, and writes for a world wide audience of over one million readers on the web.
You may contact Peter at email@example.com
A FREE audio CD is available at http://PJShield.com