[FOUNTAIN]Faith persists in an age of materialismIn the Bible, the shroud of Jesus is mentioned twice. The shroud, which is believed to be a piece of linen cloth that was wrapped around Jesus after his crucifixion, is often referred to as the most sacred relic in Christianity.
It was Joseph of Arimathea who buried the body of Jesus. Roman law prohibited the formal burial of an executed body in a tomb. But Joseph went to Pontius Pilate and asked for the body.
Following Jewish custom, Joseph applied herbs to the body, wrapped it in the linen and buried it in a cave, where a stone was rolled across the entrance.
When Mary Magdalene and other women brought more herbs to the cave, the stone was removed from the entrance. Then an angel appeared and announced the resurrection of Jesus. The body was gone and the linen cloth was found inside the cave, neatly folded.
According to legend, the shroud was found in Turkey during the Crusades and was moved to France. In 1957, it was moved to Italy and has been stored in Turin Cathedral ever since. The shroud was first opened to public viewing in 1898.
When an amateur photographer took a picture of the shroud, a faint trace of the face of Jesus, which could not be seen with the naked eye, was revealed. As it became a religious controversy, a professional photographer took a picture of it in 1931. The face was apparent in the newly taken photo, and the Turin shroud became one of the mysterious miracles.
In 1988, modern science was applied to solve the mystery. Carbon testing concluded that the fabric was made between 1260 and 1390. But believers in the miracle were not convinced by the scientific proof.
Some insisted that the tested sample was taken from a patch added during the medieval period by mistake. Others claimed that the shroud was woven using the same technique used on high-quality fabrics made by ancient Jews.
The BBC’s Internet edition reported Thursday that a second image of a face was found on the back of the linen. The buzz about the news proved that many people still believe in the miracle.
After all, religious faith begins from acknowledging contradiction. Even in the material age of the 21st century, the mysterious irony continues, especially in the name of religion.
by Oh Byung-sang
The writer is the London correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.