Worshiped by millions as the authentic burial cloth of Jesus, the Shroud of Turin is one of the most sacred and controversial relics of the Christian world. The image of Christ, believers say, was burned into the cloth fibers by the intense heat of resurrection. Behind the Cathedral that holds the Shroud, the Library of Palazzo Reale contains the self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci.
What is the link between these two remarkable images?
This extraordinary film will weave together different threads of this puzzle. It explains the enormous significance of the Shroud, and the controversy over its authenticity that has raged in recent years following attempts at scientific study. And it asks the question: if it is a fake, who on earth would have had the ability to create it? – for the image on the Shroud is no ordinary painting.
Experts on the Shroud, on renaissance art, image analysis, forensic science, and crucifixion argue how this strange and mysterious image might have been created – or how it could not have been. Was it created photographically, in a camera obscura, was the image burnt on by pressing the cloth against a heated sculpture? Was it indeed painted, using a very sophisticated technique? Every method suggested points to the fact that the artist would have needed unique talents, and the film demonstrates that these talents were exhibited by one individual: Leonardo da Vinci – inventor, visionary, scientist, anatomist, artist and heretic.
Leonardo had not only the means to create the Shroud, he also had the motive. His was a life of facing challenges, of discovering the unknown, of pushing the boundaries… and of devising riddles and practical jokes. He also despised the excesses of the Catholic church – though he moved among the upper reaches of its hierarchy. Indeed, he was close to the Pope himself, through whom he was familiar with the Savoy royal family. And it was the Savoys who, significantly, owned the Shroud at the time a Papal blessing gave it its aura of authenticity.