Javier Sierra, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Supper
The Turin Shroud: How Da Vinci Fooled Historyby Lynn Picknett
In this fully revised and updated edition, the bestselling authors of The Templar Revelation present new and compelling evidence linking Leonardo da Vinci with the forgery of Christianity's most famous relic. For centuries the Turin Shroud was believed to be Christ's authentic burial cloth, miraculously imprinted with his image -- but in 1988 carbon dating revealed it is a medieval- or Renaissance-era forgery. However, authors Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince realized that the 1988 discovery prompted even more questions:
The image seems to be a photograph -- so could the Turin Shroud actually be the world's first photograph?
If the face of the man on the Shroud is not Jesus', whose is it?
Who had the sheer audacity to create what would become an infamous relic of Christianity, faking even Christ's holy, redemptive blood?
Whoever did this was not only a genius but also a heretic....
After more than a decade of research, Picknett and Prince have accumulated evidence that shows not only was the forger of the Turin Shroud none other than Leonardo da Vinci but also that he used his own face for that of Christ. The Turin Shroud is, among other things, a five-hundred-year-old photograph of Leonardo da Vinci. Could Christianity's greatest relic in fact be an attempt to undermine the religion itself?
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Irony and Inspiration
The exquisite, perfect irony would have appealed to Leonardo da Vinci. It certainly appealed to us. When the Catholic nun Sister Mary Michael demonstrated against the filming of The Da Vinci Code -- based on Dan Brown's phenomenal best seller -- at Lincoln Cathedral in August 2005, declaring during her twelve-hour prayer vigil that it was "against the essence of what we [Christians] believe,"1 she was clutching a photograph of the face of the man on the Shroud of Turin. The irony is that if we are right, and of course we believe we are, then the image she held so fervently to her bosom was not that of her beloved Jesus Christ at all, but actually the image of the old troublemaker himself -- Leonardo da Vinci. Sister Mary Michael's holy talisman is -- as we hope to demonstrate in this book -- nothing less than the image of the ultimate freethinkers' hero and now the inspiration for the most read book of the early twenty-first century, the very one that Sister Mary Michael was demonstrating against. (In fact, new and exciting evidence that Leonardo is the man on the Shroud is presented for the first time in this revised and updated edition.) Even in the twenty-first century, da Vinci clearly has a lot to teach us.
There is another, similar irony in the presentation of full-sized reproductions of the front and back images of the Shroud in a side chapel of the important church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, facing the Chapel of Angels with its enigmatic paintings by Eugène Delacroix (which also, it has been suggested, contain coded messages). Not only is the church a key location in The Da Vinci Code, but of course the Shroud is, we claim, a major hoax by da Vinci, one with its very own code for courageous seekers to unlock.
The controversy surrounding both Dan Brown's original book and the movie has ensured that the side of da Vinci that is conspicuous by its absence from school textbooks and worthy art history tomes is now receiving unprecedented attention. Da Vinci (or "Leonardo," as he should be known) the heretic, the game player and gleeful, irrepressible encoder, now emerges into the limelight half a millennium after his death, entrancing countless millions with what may be termed his "sleight of mind" -- just as he delighted and bewildered his peers with demonstrations of his conjuror's abilities of sleight of hand. His whole mind-set was geared to causing misdirection -- and even perhaps a form of psychological mayhem.
Since the first edition of The Turin Shroud came out in 1994, it is no exaggeration to say that our lives have changed immeasurably -- mostly very much for the better -- because of this book and the strangely fascinating world into which it led us. Not only did we become a proven writing team, but we traveled extensively, sometimes with film crews and sometimes with new friends. But although we have since written several other books on widely differing mysteries -- including three with our late friend Stephen Prior and Robert Brydon -- we are particularly pleased to have had the opportunity to update this, our first joint book, and to present a wealth of new material that will hopefully fill in any gaps and inspire new debate.
Since 1994, our two paperback editions have given us the chance to catch up with new developments in Shroud research -- fresh claims, intriguing ideas, and, of course, all the many reactions to our hypothesis. And since the first edition, after a gap of twenty years the Shroud itself has been displayed not once but twice -- although this nearly did not happen, as a dramatic fire a few months before the first of the recent expositions, in 1998, threatened to destroy the relic completely. To many, the very presence of the sacred cloth was intensely reassuring, not only after the fire but also after the carbon-dating results of October 13, 1988, that revealed it to be a fake. Somehow, to the pilgrims, seeing its familiar haunting outline on the cloth was still almost like touching God himself, a tangible, physical manifestation of their faith. Seeing it seemed to give the lie to the bleak pronouncement of science, and hope lived again.
However, blind faith alone cannot wipe out the shock of the carbon dating results. They happened -- and we of all people have cause to remember them with something approaching gratitude, for although we had both been greatly intrigued by the Turin Shroud for some time, they finally galvanized us into active research on the topic. But we did not join the many scientists and professional "Skeptics" who were queueing up to sneer at the imaged cloth, now derided openly as a fake, with more than a little of "we told you so." To us, now that this strange and astonishing image had been shown to be man-made, it was if anything more, rather than less, fascinating. If, as we soon came to see for ourselves, it was indeed man-made, who was the genius who had created it? And how on earth had he achieved the near impossible, somehow making an image that continued to baffle the best minds of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries?
Strange as it may seem, it did not prove too difficult to answer both those questions (although we did receive some help along the way). Pointed in the direction of none other than Leonardo da Vinci by a man who claimed to belong to the same secret organization as that Maestro, at first we were skeptical. But after a great deal of intensive research -- not to mention many frustrating dead ends -- we discovered that our informant had been correct. The world's most famous fake turned out to be the world's least known Leonardo! Yet the "Holy Shroud" is not a painting, nor a brass rubbing, nor anything else one might readily ascribe to a Renaissance artist, no matter how prolifically endowed with genius. So what is it?
Taking as a major clue the strange photographic characteristics of the Shroud, which are shared by no other works of art, we were faced with an astonishing possibility. Had Leonardo da Vinci, working five hundred years ago, actually created the world's first photograph? Just confronting such a thought was intimidating -- but, of course, very exciting. Supposing we were right? Supposing, moreover, that we could prove it is a photograph...So we decided to try to replicate all the characteristics of the Turin Shroud, using chemicals and equipment that would have been available to Leonardo. Embarking, at least at first, with more enthusiasm than skill -- and enlisting the help of Keith Prince, without whom we would never have got past first base -- we did it! At the time we had no idea that far away in South Africa Professor Nicholas Allen was doing pretty much the same thing -- although with considerably more generous resources -- but given our ad hoc experiments and completely amateur standing, we were very pleased with our results. And although we may not have been the first people to succeed in reproducing a Shroud-like image on cloth using a basic photographic process, we were the first to replicate all the characteristics of the Shroud.
However, Shroud research never ceases, and we are pleased to say that our own has taken a new quantum leap forward -- with almost perfect timing. Just as this revised edition was going into publication, we were visited by a true bombshell. Although the details are given in the new Epilogue, suffice it to say here that fate handed us the first concrete evidence to link Leonardo with the Turin Shroud. And incredibly, that evidence had been staring us in the face for a decade.
The other major changes to this book arose out of our subsequent research into more esoteric areas such as the interlinked network of heretical secret societies, including the Knights Templar and certain forms of occult Freemasonry, and the origins of their apparently sacrilegious beliefs. This research has clarified, modified, and -- in some cases -- corrected our original conclusions. Looking back, we now realize that writing this book was only an introduction into a much wider and more revelatory world, which we discussed in our sequel -- The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ, published in 1997 -- which later inspired Dan Brown's depiction of Leonardo in The Da Vinci Code. In particular, our understanding of the true nature of that most controversial secret society, the Priory of Sion, has developed almost out of all recognition; we now freely admit that originally we were somewhat naive in our dealings with them. As became apparent from our 2006 book, The Sion Revelation, our own discoveries about the Priory of Sion carry the whole subject to an entirely different level. The Priory of Sion is emphatically not what is claimed for it by many, but, nevertheless, it is dismissed at one's peril...
Originally, we tended to take its historical claims of an unbroken succession going back to the twelfth century more or less at face value, but since then our discoveries have led us to quite different conclusions and our attitude to the Priory of Sion has undergone something of a sea change. However, while its pedigree may not be what it claims, we have come to realize that the Priory still has some importance because of what it represents: an age-old tradition, whose deeply disturbing secrets may still threaten the very foundations of the Church. This is what lies behind the "real da Vinci code": the Johannite movement, which, we now realize, holds the keys to many great mysteries, not least that of the Turin Shroud -- and indeed may also possess the answers to the most enduring questions about the founder of Christianity himself.
This book represents the beginning of what was an extraordinary journey for us. We hope it opens the way for you, too.
Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince
St. John's Wood, London
January 17, 2006
Copyright © 1994, 2000, 2006 by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince
Meet the Author
Lynn Picknett is a writer, researcher, and lecturer on historical and religious mysteries. Her seminal book, written with Clive Prince, The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ, inspired the New York Times bestsellers The Da Vinci Code and The Secret Supper. They are also the authors of The Sion Revelation: The Truth About the Guardians of Christ's Sacred Bloodline. She lives in London, England.
Clive Prince is a writer, researcher, and lecturer on the paranormal, the occult, and historical and religious mysteries. With Lynn Picknett, he is the author of The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ and Turin Shroud: In Whose Image? He lives in London, England.
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There are newer and better informed books based on the latest scientific analysis and testing. For example the 1988 C14 testing while accurate was from a non-representative sample of the Shroud (a medevial patch versus the real linen). There are better books available than this nonsense about DaVinci