The Edessan Origin of the Shroud of Turin

The Edessan Origin of the Shroud of TurinSince the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th centuries, the Christians of the East have been spreading information about the existence of the true representation of Jesus in Edessa.

The Shroud of Turin or Image of Edessa?

Wilson* suggested that the disciples of Jesus, having saved the Shroud of Turin from the Jews, took it away from Palestine to Edessa (names of the city of Urfa or Şanlıurfa located in the Armenian Highlands (southeast of modern Turkey, near the border of Syria)), which was administered by the Roman Empire, but had its own king.

Some suppose that the Shroud of Turin was actually the Image of Edessa (also known as Mandylion). Wilson believes that people thought it was an Image of Edessa because only the face of Jesus could be seen on the folded Shroud carried by the disciples.

That was due to the precious trellised case made by royal masters (see the bottom image). Thus, the Shroud probably served as a prototype for Mandylion. Wilson discovered several icons reproducing this trellised ornament.

After the death of King Abgar V in Edessa, severe pagan unrests occurred, resulting in the breakdown of the Christian community. The Shroud (or Mandylion) was walled in a niche in the city wall above its western gates.

According to historian Evagrius, in 525 (during Byzantine rule), the Mandylion was found during the restoration of the city walls of Edessa. That was the time when illustrations with the face of Jesus were especially spread in the region.

*The most elaborate hypothesis on the history of the Shroud starting from the cave tomb of Jesus near Golgotha to Turin was presented by the well-known scholar Ian Wilson in his work “The Turin Shroud” published by Penguin Books Ltd. in London 1979.

An image depicting King Abgar receiving the Image of Edessa from Jude the Apostle.

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