New research suggests that the Shroud of Turin, the notorious relic believed by some to bear the face of Christ, contains the blood of a victim of torture.
The discovery has reignited debate about the ancient cloth, challenging the idea that the burial shroud was merely painted with the image of Jesus Christ.
Tiny particles on the linen fibres of the shroud 'have recorded a scenario of great suffering, whose victim was wrapped up in the funeral cloth,' said Elvio Carlino, a researcher at the Institute of Crystallography.
These 'nanoparticles' show significant levels of the substances creatinine and ferritin, which are found in patients who have suffered the trauma of torture.
'The presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments point to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin Shroud', said professor Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua.
The findings are published in an article titled 'New Biological Evidence from Atomic Resolution Studies on the Turin Shroud,' in the peer-reviewed journal PlosOne, according to Turin-based newspaper La Stampa's Vatican Insider, as Crux reports.
The controversial shroud has been venerated for centuries in the Christian tradition. It is believed to have been the burial cloth placed on Christ's face at his death following his torture and crucifixion, thus granting an unparalleled depiction of the face of the suffering Christ.
Critics have said the shroud is a fake, but the new research appears to strengthen the case for its authenticity.
The cloth has been subjected to intensive scientific analysis, but the new findings have only been available through new methods in the field of electron microscopy.
The research was carried out by the Instituo Officia dei Materiali in Trieste, the Institute of Crystallography in Bari, and the University of Padua's Department of Industrial Engineering.
The Turin Shroud is currently contained at the St John the Baptist Cathedral in Turin.