After talking it over, Rinaldi, Jackson, and Jumper saw the merit in Decker's idea but modified it to be somewhat less confrontational. Rinaldi called the Minister of Commerce in Rome and pointedly explained that if the problem was not resolved and the equipment delivered immediately, the American scientists would not be able to begin their work. If that happened, Rinaldi continued, he felt it likely that the international press would be quite interested and would probably hold the Minister of Commerce personally responsible for preventing the scientific testing of the Shroud of Turin. Rinaldi was put on hold for about five minutes; obviously the threat had some effect. When he returned to the phone the minister agreed to have the equipment shipped to Turin.

When the truck carrying the equipment finally arrived at the palace it was Friday afternoon – five days behind schedule. There were no forklifts available to unload the truck so the team's own brute strength was required to bring the eighty crates packed with some eight tons of equipment up the two long flights of stairs to the princes' suite. As soon as everyone caught their breath, they went to work opening crates and unpacking equipment. Soon the public viewing of the Shroud would end and it would be brought to the test room for examination late Sunday evening. There were seven days of preparation to be done in just over two. For the next 56 hours the team worked nonstop.

Some of the tests required bright light while others required total darkness. The first part would be easy but the latter required sealing off the eight by ten foot windows with thick sheets of black plastic. Maze-like light baffles made of more black plastic also had to be built for the doorways. The testing table was set up in the Shroud room and the adjoining rooms were established as staging areas for testing and calibrating equipment. The bathroom, the only source of water, was converted into a darkroom for developing X-rays and other photography. Equipment that malfunctioned had to be repaired on-site with replacement parts the team had brought from the U.S. or by adapting locally available equipment. Quite a few square pegs would be forced into round holes over the next several days.

Finally, on Sunday night at about midnight, someone in the hall said, 'Here it comes.'

Monsignor Cottino, the representative of Turin's Archbishop-Cardinal, entered the Shroud testing room, followed by twelve men carrying a sheet of three-quarter inch plywood, four feet wide and sixteen feet long. Draped over the plywood was a piece of expensive red silk which covered and protected the Shroud. The men were accompanied by seven Poor Claire nuns, the senior of which began to slowly pull back the silk as the men lowered the plywood sheet to waist level. The testing table, which could be rotated ninety degrees to the right or left, sat parallel to the ground, awaiting the transfer of the Shroud.

Silence fell over the room as the silk was carefully pulled back, revealing a sheet of off-white herringbone linen. Decker waited for a moment for this second protective covering to be removed, then slowly it dawned on him that it was not a covering at all. It was the Shroud itself. He squinted and stared at the cloth, barely able to make out anything resembling an image of a crucified man. One of the unusual features of the Shroud is that when it is seen up close, the image seems to blend into the background. The same is true when you move several yards back. The optimum range for viewing the image is about six feet, and Decker was much closer than that. He had also expected the image to resemble the photos of the Shroud. But most of the Shroud photos are actually negative images which, because the Shroud is itself a type of photographic negative, result in a much clearer image than can be seen with the naked eye.

Suddenly Decker felt drained. The anticlimax of seeing the Shroud, added to the weight of sleepless hours, rushed over him like the chill of cold water. The extent of his disappointment surprised him. Even though he believed the Shroud to be a fraud, he discovered that from a strictly emotional point of view, he really wanted to feel something – closer to God, awe, perhaps just a twinge of the strangely religious excitement he used to feel when looking at a stained glass window. Instead he had mistaken the Shroud for nothing more than a protective drapery.

He moved back from the Shroud and to his amazement, the image became much more distinct. For a moment he rocked back and forth, watching the strange phenomenon of the Shroud's appearing and disappearing image. Decker's curiosity went wild. Why, he wondered, would the artist who painted the image have painted it so that it was so hard to see? How could he have painted it at all, Decker wondered, unless he used a paintbrush six feet long so that he could see what he was painting? Few, if any, of Decker's emotional drives were ever greater than his curiosity. The lack of sleep no longer seemed to bother him – he wanted to understand this puzzle.

Decker watched as Monsignor Cottino walked around the Shroud, stopping every couple of feet to remove thumbtacks which held the Shroud to the plywood. Thumbtacks! Rusty and old, their stains rushed out in all directions to bear witness of their having been there. So much planning and effort had gone into keeping even the tiniest foreign particles away from the Shroud, only to find that the centuries, perhaps millennia, that preceded them had been far less careful.

During the 120 hours allotted to the American team, three groups of scientists worked simultaneously, one at either end of the Shroud and one in the middle. The sound of camera shutters formed a constant background as nearly every action was recorded in photographs and on audio tape. Despite the sleep they had already lost, during the next five days few on the team would sleep more than two or three hours per day. Those who were not involved in a particular project stayed near to help those who were, or simply to watch.

Thirty-six hours into the procedures, as husband and wife team members Roger and Marty Gilbert performed reflectance spectroscopy, something very unusual happened. Starting at the feet and moving up the image, they began obtaining spectra. As they moved from the foot to the ankle, suddenly the spectra changed dramatically.

'How can the same image give different spectra?' Eric Jumper asked the Gilberts. No one had an answer, so they continued. As they moved the equipment up the legs, the reading remained constant. Everything was the same except the image of the feet, and more specifically, the heels.

Jumper left the Shroud room and found team member Sam Pellicori, who was trying to sleep on a cot in another room. 'Sam! Wake up!' he said. 'I need you and your macroscope in the Shroud room right away!'

Pellicori and Jumper positioned the macroscope over the Shroud and lowered it until it was just above the heel. Pellicori focused, changed lenses, focused again, and looked, without saying a word, at the heel image on the Shroud. After a long pause, he said dryly, 'It's dirt.'

'Dirt?' asked Jumper. 'Letmelook.' Jumper looked through the macroscope and refocused. 'It is dirt,' he said. 'But why?'

Decker watched as Professor Goodman, too, examined the heel and reached the same conclusion.

As the next shift of scientists came on everyone met for a review and brainstorming session to determine the direction and priorities for the next set of tests. 'Okay,' Juniper started. 'Here's what we know. The body images are straw yellow, not sepia, as all previous accounts indicated. The color is only on the crowns of the microfibers of the threads and does not vary significantly anywhere on the Shroud in either shade or depth. Where one fiber crosses another the underlying fiber is unaffected by the color.

'The yellow microfibers show no sign of capillarity or blotting, which indicates that no liquid was used to create the image, which rules out paint. Further there is no adherence, meniscus effect, or matting between the threads, also ruling out any type of liquid paint. In the areas of the apparent blood stains, the fibers are clearly matted and there are signs of capillarity, as would be the case with blood.'

'What about the feet?' asked one of the scientists. For those who had just come on duty, Jumper explained what had happened with the reflectance spectroscopy test.

'Of course there's dirt,' one of the female team members said after Jumper's explanation. 'What could be more natural than dirt on the bottom of the feet?'

'Yes,' said Jumper, 'but that assumes that this is indeed an authentic image of a crucified man, somehow transferred to the cloth.' Personally, Jumper did not discount the possibility, but he knew that it was bad science to start from an assumption.

Still, the obvious became harder and harder to deny, for not only was there dirt on the heel, but the amount of dirt was so minute that it was not visible to the naked eye. Why, they wondered, if the Shroud was a forgery, would the forger go to the trouble to put on the image dirt which no one could see? No one had an answer.

As the meeting broke up, Goodman, who continued to be the greatest skeptic, remarked, 'Well, if it is a forgery, it's a damned good one.' Decker was struck by the tremendous allowance that Goodman had made in that little word 'if.'

It had now been three and a half days since Decker had slept. Finally he resolved to return to the hotel. Before

Вы читаете In His Image James
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