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FSC Associate Articles

The passion of Jesus: From the Shroud of Turin - Friar Johnpaul Cafiero, OFM
Saturday, February 11, 2023

By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

The Shroud of Turin is believed to be the burial cloth Jesus was wrapped in after His body was taken down from the cross. The cloth is 14 feet long made of a herringbone twill. The image on the Shroud of Turin is very faint and is only on the top ¼ of the thread. There are splatters of blood on the bottom of the cloth which shows that the cloth was wrapped around a body from top to bottom. The image is only on the top of the cloth, but there is blood on both sides of the cloth.  


The Shroud of Turin bears a negative image of a man. In the 1800s, a picture was taken of the Shroud of Turin which showed the negative image that is commonly seen in pictures. In the 1980s, NASA performed 3D imaging on the Shroud of Turin which showed that whatever was inside the cloth was three dimensional. To this day, no one has been able to determine how the image got on the cloth.


In December 1532, the Shroud of Turin was in a fire, which burned several holes in the fabric. A couple of years later, Poor Clare nuns patched the holes. The interest in the Shroud of Turin waned after carbon dating was done on it saying that the cloth was not from the time of Jesus. The carbon dating results have been disputed because the sample used for carbon dating may have been from where the cloth was repaired.


Some of the findings from research done on the Shroud of Turin don’t match the familiar images we have of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. One example is the crown of thorns. Based on the image from the Shroud of Turin, the crown was shaped like a cap, which means there were thorns digging into the top of Jesus’ head as well as on the sides of His head.


When someone was scourged in ancient times, the person was stripped naked and bound to a column. Two torturers with flagrum would have delivered the lashes. A flagrum is a type of whip made of leather strips with a wooden handle. Each leather strip had a bone, metal hook, metal spike or ball at the end. The Shroud of Turin shows the scourge marks on Jesus’ body matched marks that a flagrum would have left. The scourge marks were all over Jesus’ body because there was nothing to shield Jesus, like a cloth as we commonly see in pictures.

The Shroud of Turin   

The Shroud of Turin shows the markings where Jesus was nailed to the cross.  Not all pictures of Jesus hanging on the cross match the findings from the shroud. The nails would not have been in Jesus’ hands. They would have been in Jesus’ wrists to support the weight of His body on the cross. Jesus’ feet were nailed one on top of the other. The nail would have gone through His ankle bone to hold Him up on the cross and His knees would have been bent.


The Shroud of Turin shows that Jesus’ eyes were covered with coins after He died. According to legend, the coins were a bribe or payment used by the deceased to cross over to the underworld.   


Based on historical research, Friar Johnpaul explained that the cross we usually see Jesus carrying in pictures doesn’t match what was used for crucifixion during Jesus’ time. In those pictures, Jesus carried the whole cross. If this was true, the cross would have weighed about 300 pounds. After being scrouged, Jesus would have been too weak from the loss of blood to carry this cross.

In actuality, the upright beam was already in the ground where Jesus was crucified. Jesus would have carried the cross beam which would have been tied to Him. The cross used to crucify Jesus was shaped like a Tau with a sign that went above Jesus’ head stating His crime. Jesus’ crime was that He claimed to be the King of the Jews, which was a crime against Caesar.


Every year during Lent, we hear the Passion of our Lord on Palm Sunday and on Good Friday. For a brief time as I’m listening to the Passion story, it brings to mind the pain and suffering that Jesus went through.


Learning about the Shroud of Turin and reflecting on the evidence left on the cloth by Jesus’ scourging and crucifixion made a much greater impact on me. I am reminded of Friar Johnpaul’s presentation when I see a crown of thorns or a picture of Jesus carrying His cross. These aren’t just church decorations during the season of Lent. They’re reminders of how much pain, suffering and humiliation Jesus submitted Himself to for us.


This image shows how the face on the Shroud of Turin looks versus the black and white negative of the image.

Covenant Spirituality - Dawn Mayer - Saturday, January 21, 2023
By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

After beginning our Associate Group Day with a prayer Dawn started her presentation by explaining how covenants work.  A covenant is a promise, an agreement, or a contract between two parties. Covenants are bilateral where there are two equal parties, and each party has equal privileges and responsibilities. Covenants can be conditional or unconditional.


Covenants as they relate to God are sacred. They call a person or group of people into relationship with God. God’s covenants are unilateral. God initiates the covenant and determines the elements of the covenant. 


After we had a basic understanding of covenants, the Associates and Sisters in Marian Hall were divided into small groups. Each group was asked to read the Scripture passage about one of the eight major covenants and answer two questions. Is this a conditional or unconditional covenant? What was the response to this covenant? A short summary of each of the covenants is below.

In the Edenic covenant, God gave Adam and Eve authority to serve as covenant agents and to take care of everything in the Garden of Eden. This was a conditional covenant because God told Adam and Eve not to touch the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden or they would die.  

After Adam and Eve broke the Edenic covenant, God laid down the consequences in the Adamic covenant. This was an unconditional covenant. Some of the consequences that Adam, Eve, and their descendants would face were marital strife, painful childbirth, cursed soil, difficulty surviving, and death. God also promised that He would always be with them, and He promised them salvation through Jesus.

The Noahic covenant was between God and Noah. God watched the people of the world become more sinful. Noah was faithful to God and tried to warn the people to change their sinful ways. God told Noah to build an ark. When the earth flooded, Noah took his family and two of each type of animal aboard the ark.  After the waters subsided, life returned. God promised never again to flood the earth and sent a rainbow as a sign of the covenant.

The Abrahamic Covenant was an unconditional covenant. God promised Abram land for himself and his descendants. God promised Abram’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars, even though Abram and Sarai could not have children. God told Abram He would bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him. God changed the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, signifying new beginnings.  God blessed them with their son Isaac.


Noah's Ark on the Mount Ararat 

by Simon de Myle (1570)


Moses with the Ten Commandments

by Philippe de Champaigne (1648)

After God saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the Mosaic Covenant was established. Moses went up Mount Sanai and received the Ten Commandments from God. The Mosaic covenant was a conditional covenant. God promised to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land if they followed the Ten Commandments. The Israelites broke their part of the covenant, so they were forced to wander in the desert for 40 years.


The Land Covenant is a conditional covenant. God promised to bring the Israelites back from where they were scattered to the land that their ancestors possessed if the people obeyed the Lord and kept His commandments

In the Davidic covenant, God established the House of David. God promised David that he and his descendants would sit upon the throne of Israel and their rule would last forever. This is an unconditional covenant because God would not withdraw His favor from the line of David no matter the transgression.


The New Covenant is an unconditional covenant that God made with the house of Judah and the house of Israel. God said, “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant. His death on the cross is the basis for the covenant. The promise of salvation comes to all of us through Jesus’ death.

When Dawn finished the presentation, she posed questions to the group for reflection. One of the questions was: What does this discussion of covenants say about God and about people?  One answer from someone in the group was the same as the answer that came to my mind. God is always faithful to His people even when we don’t keep our promise.


Learning about covenants is important to understanding God’s relationship with His people. Throughout history, God gave His people multiple chances to be faithful to Him and to follow His commandments. It’s comforting to know that God doesn’t give up on His people.

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