The Suderium of Oviedo: A True Relic of Christ?

The Shroud of Turin was back in the news recently, when Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Raymond N. Rogers revealed that the initial carbon dating done in 1988 was flawed. That controversial study purported to show that the Shroud dated from medieval times, not from the 1st century, as many of the faithful believe. But Rogers, a chemist, announced that the dating was taken from a later patch sewn into the original fabric.

This was big news, especially for the multitudes that believe that the Shroud is the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ, taking what many see as conjecture into the realm of realistic hypothesis. But what many don’t realize is that there is another relic that further authenticates the shroud.

In the Spanish town of Oviedo there is an ancient relic that was brought from Jerusalem in the 600s and became an attraction for pilgrims over the years. But little was known about it until recent historical research and scientific investigation.

Janice Bennett, a graphic artist and teacher of Spanish language and Literature, first encountered the Sudarium of Oviedo by reading an article in a Spanish magazine twelve years ago. She had never heard of the relic before, and was determined to visit the cathedral where the relic is stored.

The Sudarium is a linen cloth, specifically mentioned in the Gospel of John (Chapter 20, among the burial cloths in the tomb), which was used to cover Christ’s head when He was taken down from the Cross. After the body was transferred to the tomb, the Sudarium was removed and Jesus’s body was wrapped in the Shroud.

Very little has been written in English about the Sudarium — most research on the relic has been published in Spanish. So Janice Bennett began to translate scientific studies as well as adding her own investigating, resulting in a book, Sacred Blood, Sacred Image: The Sudarium of Oviedo.

Bennett describes the striking similarities between the two relics: “The blood type is AB on both cloths. Both cloths contain human blood, and the blood flows match up on both. There is blood on the nose and mouth area, and the most interesting thing is that on the forehead there is a stain shaped like the Greek epsilon that appears beneath a drop of blood from a puncture wound. This exact same pattern appears on both cloths.”

Though the Sudarium shows bloodstains like the Shroud, unlike the Shroud, it does not show the image of a face or body. Many believe that the image that exists on the Shroud is the result of Christ’s Resurrection, which would explain the lack of an image on the Sudarium.

Additionally, the recorded history of the Sudarium extends beyond the known history for the Shroud — the Sudarium was brought to Spain in 631 A.D., and the evidence linking it to the Shroud would suggest that the older date for the Shroud is the most accurate.

Sacred Blood, Sacred Image not only demonstrates the scientific evidence for the Sudarium, but also follows the fascinating journey through history that the cloth made, from Jerusalem to Spain. Illustrated with 20 full-color photos that document both the history and current evaluative research, it is an intriguing look at a 2000-year-old mystery.

“At times, the work of translating the Sudarium research, as well as detailing my own findings, was so overwhelming that I couldn’t continue for long periods,” says Janice Bennett. “It was so emotional to learn the intimate details of the intense pain and suffering revealed by the cloth. The more I discovered, the more I became convinced that this relic was indeed authentic, and not only that, provided strong evidence in favor of the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin.”

Order Sacred Blood, Sacred Image: The Sudarium of Oviedo through Ignatius Press.


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