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Mark Guscin The Oviedo Cloth

Cambridge The Lutterworth Press, P.O. Box 60, Cambridge CB1 2NT, 1998, 128 pages including Index, 16 black & white illustrations

BSTS member Mark Guscin, a professional translator and classical scholar resident in Spain, is already familiar to readers of this Newsletter as an authority on the cloth of Oviedo, thought to have been wrapped around Jesus head ancillary to the Shroud at the time of Jesus burial. This excellently-produced and accessible book is the very first on the subject to be written in the English language, and Mark Guscins very lucid text does not disappoint.

After outlining the cloths known history, from its emergence in Spain in the 7th century and transfer to its present home in Oviedo in 1075, Mark very convincingly argues that there are uncanny matches between its stains and those on the Shroud. He also summarises the scientific findings that the stains on the cloth in question are real blood, and some murky dealings re.carbon dating. The book also ranges into discussion of the arguments of Rodney Hoare, Baigent and Leigh (authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail), Picknett and Prince, and much else

The books one frustratingly omission (and it was not at all Mark Guscin's fault), is that it lacks a really good reference photo for the cloth itself, every book on the Shroud usually suffering from this very same deficiency.

Actes du IIIème Symposium Scientifique du CIELT Nice 1997 Acheiropoietos Non Fait de Main dHomme, Editions du CIELT, 1998. Profusely illustrated with black & white photos throughout, with 7 page colour section at the end. 270 pages. Softback

CIELT are to be commended on producing these proceedings of their Symposium in record quick time, and to a very high standard, although there are the occasional understandable typographical errors when publishing articles in French, English and Italian languages. The English language proportion is high, with papers in this by Isabel Piczek, Keith Propp and John Jackson, Silvio Diana and Emanuela Marinelli, Robert Bucklin, Alan Adler, Lennox Manton, Rex Morgan, Daniel Scavone, Rebecca Jackson, Jack Markwardt, Remi Van Haelst, Don Luigi Fossati, Mark Guscin ,  Eberhard Lindner and Ian Dickinson. In the latters paper,  his claim to have personally viewed the Veronica, as made in Nice and challenged in  Newsletter no.46, has, notably, been withdrawn. All non-English language articles appear with an abstract in English.  The many black & white illustrations directly accompanying the text make for easy reference. Further information on obtaining copies can be obtained from CIELT, 50 avenue des Ternes, 75017 Paris, tel. 00 33 (0)1 45 48 67 15.

La Sindone Nei Secoli nella Collezione di Umberto II, Palazzo Barolo, 18 aprile-14 giugno, Gribaudo, Turin, 1998, 224 A4 size pages, profusely illustrated throughout, several in full colour, softack

Published to accompany an exhibition of old prints and similar depicting  historic showings of the Shroud and ancillary materials, as shown at Turins Palazzo Barolo from 18 April to 14 June of this year, this superbly produced book includes excellent depictions of each print, and is an invaluable resource for the Shrouds history from its arrival in Turin in 1578, through to the age of photography.

Only in the case of certain prints, such as the Tempesta engraving of 1613, is the original print so large and detailed that the small scale reproduction fails to do it justice.

André Cherpillod & Serge Mouraviev Apologie pour le Suaire de Turin  par Deux Scientifiques non Croyants , Myrmekia, Paris-Moscow 1998, 222 text pages plus coloured end-papers plus numerous colour & black & white photos and line drawings throughout. Softback

Seemingly an expanded version of André Cherpillods Le Suaire de Turin, LImpossible Objet warmly praised in an earlier Newsletter, with two extra sections provided by Serge Mouraviev . Cherpillod describes himself as a professor of natural science with a passion for languages, philology and history. Mouraviev is a doctor of the University of Paris IV, and apparently expert on the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. The colour reproduction of some of the photographs leaves a great deal to be desired. Part of the end section provided by Mouraviev includes some useful technical information on the Shroud linen.

Leoncio Garza-Valdes The DNA of God? London, Hodder & Stoughton £9.99

According to a report in Britains SundayTelegraph newspaper, this book, due also to appear from Doubleday in the USA, saw publication on December 3. A copy is currently awaited, and will be reviewed in the next issue.  Asked to comment on Dr. Garza-Valdess arguments, Professor Michael Tite of the Oxford radiocarbon dating is reported to have said: Nobody has yet provided me with convincing evidence that our carbon dating is incorrect. The amount of coating needed to skew the dating that much would be large, though the possibility cannot be ruled out . [italics mine] This may not sound much, but it does suggest at least the beginning of a softening of Oxfords hard line, as normally voiced by Dr. Robert Hedges.

Gary Vikan Debunking the Shroud: Made by Human Hands Biblical Archaeology Review Nov/Dec 1998, pp.27-29

The July/August issue of the American Biblical archaeology journal Biblical Archaeology Review, following Time magazines lead, published a short report that despite the carbon dating, no-one has been able to account for the Shrouds image. This immediately produced articles from Gary Vikan, as above, also Dr. Walter McCrone, stating that they could account for the image.

Vikans is the classic art savant article stating that sindonologists live in historical ignorance, and that the Shroud is really quite explicable as just another Veronica Veil of which at least three dozen have been identified. In this category the Shroud is apparently in no way unique among its object type and it more or less has to look the way it looks.  Personally I feel like physically shaking Vikan into seeing that there is something absolutely fundamentally different about the Shroud from every other object of this type, objects of which us sindonologists are very well aware. However Professor Dan Scavone assures me that he is currently mustering a suitably authoritative collective response to the Biblical Archaeology Review on behalf of us ignorant sindonologists.

The following articles appeared a while ago without anyone within Shroud circles having noticed them, They were kindly drawn to the Editors attention by Professor Scott, and are well worth while consulting:

John Beldon Scott Seeing the Shroud: Guarinis Reliquary Chapel in Turin and the Ostension of a Dynastic Relic, Art Bulletin, December 1995, pp.609-637

A most valuable, authoritative and well-illustrated article discussing how the now ruined Guarini or Royal Chapel in Turin Cathedral came into being.

An engraving of 1637, depicting the swearing of a defence treaty between Savoy Duke Victor Amadeus I and the Catholic cantons of Switzerland, shows not only how Turin Cathedral looked at that time, but also the elaborate reliquary chamber in which the Shroud was stored at that time, part of a structure with platform from which expositions were conducted.

John Beldon Scott Guarino Guarini and a Theatine Devotional Manual on the Veneration of the Holy Shroud Regnum Dei, Collectanea Theatina, Rome, Jan-Dec 1995

The Theatines were a religious order founded in Rome in 1525, devoted to strict austerity in an attempt to reform the Catholic Church from within as a counter to its then rampant corruption. Vittorio Amadeo Barralis was a Theatine of the late 17th century, and Professor Scott highlights a very rare private worship handbook he wrote Anotomia sacra per la novena della Santa Sindon con una corona composta daffetti sopra li principali misterii della passione, opera spirituale , published in Turin in 1685. This provides insights on devotional practices surrounding the Shroud at that time, including the use of the corona di Cristo and it seems to have influenced the architect Guarino Guarini in his creation of the Royal or Guarini Chapel completed in 1694.

John Beldon Scott Guarino Guarinis Invention of the Passion Capitals in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, Turin, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, December 1995, pp.418-455

Discusses some of the symbolism which Guarini injected into architectural details of the Shroud chapel he designed. Again superbly illustrated, and full of fascinating background historical information.

Finally a most welcome new publication:

Il Telo, Giornale Italiano di Sindonologia, Via del Collegio Romano 3 - 00186, Rome

Published every two months, this is a most lavish, colourful and welcome newcomer to the Shroud journal  scene, produced to A4 page size with full colour throughout its 24 pages. The May-June issue included several superb photos of Pope John Paul IIs visit to Turin, of which but one example is reproduced on the cover of this Newsletter. The Editor is Alberto di Giglio.

Frustratingly, the three tier subscription rates system is difficult to understand even with an Italian dictionary, the lowest amount quoted for six issues 35,000 lire, the highest 150,000.  And nothing is said about overseas subscriptions.

But even for those without Italian, the photos alone should be worth it! It would be amazing if the present quality can be sustained. For further information the fax number is 39 6 8548536. The email number

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