Interest in the Shroud of Turn, often said to be the cloth in which the resurrected Jesus Christ was wrapped, sees a surge of interest each Easter, and Wayne Phillips of the Shroud Science Group plans to capitalize on that interest in a big way.
"I believe it is real," he told The Tampa Tribune.
As an allergist, Phillips is a man of science, and natural skeptic. He became interested in the linen shroud, however, because each new scientific test on the performed on it has kept the question of its authenticity alive, and has balanced his faith with reason.
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"I've never found anything in my life that connects my beliefs to science, until the Shroud of Turin," he said.
Phillips, 67, has recently seen his hobby turn into much more after he was invited to join the Shroud Science Group, a small but selective cross-disciplinary organization of doctors, scientists, and historians who hold conferences on the shroud every year.
In 2012, Phillips attended the Vatican Apostolorum College for a full year, earning his diploma in the Specialization of Shroud Studies. Soon after he was inspired to make his own presentation that could be shown to mass audiences that was both entertaining and educational.
After getting a blessing from Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg to speak at local parishes, Phillips recorded his standard presentation that he gave at the local Jesuit high school and posted it to YouTube, garnering thousands of views. He also did a five-part series presentation on the "Women of Grace" show on Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).
Now he says he'd like to build a "Shroud Army" of religious teachers who can provide un-biased facts about the shroud, and guide discussion about its significance in the faith community, scientific community, and historical community.
He says the best people to teach to are those learning the basics about Christianity, like children and teens. He thinks the scientific evidence will help strengthen their faith, making them better evangelists overall.
"Understanding the shroud is one way of proving that our faith is for real," he said.
The Shroud of Turin is held in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. It is only shown rarely, and attracted 2.5 million visitors at its last showing in 2010. It was not scheduled to be shown again until 2025, however Pope Francis surprised the world by moving its next showing date to April of next year.
Carbon dating originally suggested the shroud was only 700 years old and thus couldn't be authentic, however a 2005 paper claimed that the sample taken for the tests was from a part of the shroud that had been rewoven, and called for a different sample to be tested.
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