The True Cross

Discovery of the True Cross, by Tiepolo, 1745.
In the Christian tradition, the term “True Cross” refers to the actual cross used in the Crucifixion of Jesus. Today, many fragments of wood are claimed as True Cross relics, but it is hard to establish their authenticity. The spread of the story of the fourth century discovery of the True Cross was partly due to its inclusion in 1260 in Jacopo de Voragine’s very popular book The Golden Legend, which also included other tales such as Saint George and the Dragon.

A number of acheiropoieta (i.e. not made by hand) images reported to be of the face of Jesus, or have impressions of his face or body on a piece of cloth have been written about or displayed over the centuries. In most cases these images are subject to intense debate and speculation.

Shroud of Turin
A recent photo of the Shroud of Turin face, positive left, negative on the right having been contrast enhanced.
The Shroud of Turin is the best-known relic of Jesus and one of the most studied artifacts in human history.

Various tests have been performed on the shroud, yet both believers and skeptics continue to present arguments for and against the validity of the tests. One of the contentious issues is the radiocarbon dating in 1988 which yielded results indicating that the shroud was made during the Middle Ages. Believers have since presented arguments against the 1988 carbon dating results, ranging from conflicts in the interpretation of the evidence, to samples being taken from a non representative corner, to additional carbon content via fire damage. Heated debate has ensued ever since.

Sudarium of Oviedo

The ark containing the Sudarium of Oviedo.
The Sudarium of Oviedo is a bloodstained cloth, measuring c. 84 × 53 cm, kept in the Cámara Santa of the Cathedral of San Salvador, Oviedo, Spain.[19] The Sudarium (Latin for sweat cloth) is claimed to be the cloth wrapped around the head of Jesus Christ after he died, as mentioned in the Gospel of John (20:6–7).

The Sudarium is severely soiled and crumpled, with dark flecks that are symmetrically arranged but form no image, unlike the markings on the Shroud of Turin. However, some of those who accept the Shroud as authentic claim that many of the stains on the Sudarium match those on the head portion of the Shroud. Believers (such as Vatican archivist Msgr Giulio Ricci, who studied them in 1995) contend that both cloths covered the same man.

Veil of Veronica

The Veil of Veronica, which according to legend was used to wipe the sweat from Jesus’ brow as he carried the cross, is also said to bear the likeness of the face of Christ. Today, several images claim to be the Veil of Veronica.

There is an image kept in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome which is purported to be the same Veronica as was revered in the Middle Ages. Very few inspections are recorded in modern times and there are no detailed photographs. The most detailed recorded inspection in the 20th century occurred in 1907 when Jesuit art historian Joseph Wilpert was allowed to remove two plates of glass to inspect the image.

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