New evidence on the Shroud of Turin

Researchers are hosting a conference at Ohio State University in which they are announcing that they have shed more light on—or shrouded further in mystery, if you'll pardon the pun—the possible authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. Carbon dating authorized by the Roman Catholic church in 1998 established it, for many, to be medieval in origin. New research, however, suggests that the shroud may have been vandalized and/or patched during medieval times, introducing cotton fibers that are not part of the original.

At the conference this weekend, believers in the shroud's authenticity say they will reveal new data showing that the corner that was sampled contained cotton threads, and is therefore not representative of the main cloth, which is linen. A sample that's not representative can't be used to date the shroud, the researchers say.

The work was led by Robert Villarreal, a chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

His work further confirms the theory of Dublin couple Joe Marino and Sue Benford. Neither is a professional researcher, but they've devoted a combined 42 years to studying the shroud.


In the 1500s, the shroud went on a tour of Europe, and security wasn't tight, Benford said. It's possible somebody removed a small piece of the shroud and patched it using "invisible weaving," a common technique at the time that would've left the alteration unnoticeable to the naked eye.

The Columbus Dispatch did some pre-event coverage here, and Blogspotting Anglican Episcopalian, who is at the conference and to whom we owe a hat tip for this announcement, has more:

Using some of the most advanced analytical equipment available, a team of nine scientists at the famed Los Alamos National Laboratory confirmed that the material used for radiocarbon dating of the shroud in 1988 was not part of the shroud’s fabric. Previously, micro-chemical tests had demonstrated that the cloth is at least twice as old as the medieval date determined by the now discredited carbon 14 tests. This gives new life to historical and forensic arguments that suggest that the shroud might be the burial cloth of Jesus.

This from here.

Episcopal school students celebrate Terkel's legacy

Erin Donaghue in the suburban Maryland Gazette papers:

Now in its 12th year, the American Century Project at St. Andrew's [Episcopal School in Potomac. Md.] was launched by history teacher Glenn Whitman, who was inspired by his own work collecting oral history as an undergraduate and also the work of legendary broadcaster and oral historian Louis "Studs" Terkel. Through the project, Whitman hopes to encourage students to become recorders of history, rather than just its observers. "The best interviews are those whose voices are uncovered by this project," Whitman said.

St. Andrews has collected the largest pre-collegiate oral history archive in the United States through the work of its students, and according to Whitman, that goes to show that students can make a meaningful contribution to history.

Read it all. The proud Dad moment is at the end.

Civil War graffiti uncovered in WV parish church

Morgan's Chapel, a pre-colonial war parish in West Virginia, was in the process of performing some needed renovations to the nave when something very unexpected appeared. The removal of the modern layers of paint uncovered a wealth of notes written on the wall.

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Did Francis say this?

Francis of Assisi is said to have said, "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words." Maybe not.

Mark Galli says in "Many have noted how Francis modeled his life on Jesus. But it wasn't just about the life of poverty, but also the life of preaching."

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Bad girls in church

We picketed bishops and Popes, stole their dresses, stood up at the consecration of the Eucharist and said the words out loud. We are the bad girls of Catholic feminism, and we have stood up, over and over again, for women's freedom. So writes Francis Kissling in Religion Dispatches this week:

UPDATE 6/22: response by younger activist below.

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Bayard Rustin and the convergence of civil rights and gay rights

From Killing the Buddha comes this essay by the Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou is the Senior Minister of Lemuel Haynes Congregational Church (UCC) in South Jamaica Queens, New York:

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Get me to the church on time

BBC News reports on the discovery of sun dials in the ruins of Inchcolm Abbey in Scotland that kept the medieval monks "on time."

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A home for the holidays in Nazareth

Washington Post reports a home in Jesus' childhood neighborhood has been found and is being excavated:

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What did the first Christians make of resurrection?

Larry Hurtado considers the question in Slate.

[H]ow Christians have understood Jesus' "resurrection" says a lot about how they have understood themselves, whether they have a holistic view of the human person, whether they see bodily existence as trivial or crucial, and how they imagine full salvation to be manifested.

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An early-church look at Peter and Paul

Ancient images of saints Peter and Paul - perhaps some of the oldest - were shown last week to reporters in Rome after they were found with lasers capable of burning off years of grime.

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Eucharist as 'the supreme instrument of inclusion'

Buckingham's bishop and frequent blogger Alan Wilson continues his Guardian series on the Book of Common Prayer with a few thoughts on the historical power of communion to invite and incorporate the other.

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What were the pilgrims really like?

Nathaniel Hawthorne bears much of the responsibility (blame?) for the portrait of the early Pilgrims, but his portrait was largely unfair and inaccurate says David Hall in the New York Times.

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Mrs. Yahweh?

Jennifer Viegas of Discovery News writes:

God had a wife, Asherah, whom the Book of Kings suggests was worshiped alongside Yahweh in his temple in Israel, according to an Oxford scholar.

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Roman graves found in Canterbury

Christian Roman graves were uncovered in Canterbury, England:

Roman graves uncovered in Canterbury
By Sian Napier in KentOnline

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Theological and political carts and horses

On the Huffington Post, Jonathan Dudley says the faith claims we say we've gotten from the Bible are often staked to the sort of thinking to which we're already predisposed.

For example, the command found in Genesis to "have dominion" has had several hermeneutical approaches in the history of readership.

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The true legacy of St. Nicholas

Before this St. Nicholas Day draws to a close, let's take a few moments to ponder the life of this amazing historic figure:

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Beyond the "first Thanksgiving"

Debbie Reese writes In Indian Country Today Media Network that the so-called "First Thanksgiving" does not do the time justice:

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