PITTSBURGH - Donald Nohs, who is an expert on the Shroud of
Turin, widely believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus,
talked to a Pittsburgh audience about the evidence of
authenticity for the shroud.
Jesus' passion, Nohs noted, was much more than a physical
suffering. It was the humiliation and embarrassment of being
scourged in the nude in front of His mother and friends. The
suffering Mary endured, he said, which is why she is our
greatest intercessory in heaven. He asked the audience to
bring Mary into their hearts and walk with her through the
"There was no end to the humiliation," he said. "The
embarrassment. The physical pain. No end."
Nohs presented "Discovering Jesus in His Holy Shroud" at St.
Paul of the Cross Monastery on Pittsburgh's South Side to a
capacity audience of about 550 people.
Nohs, director general of the Confraternity of the Passion
International and president of the Holy Face of Jesus, is one
of the world's leading authorities on the Shroud of Turin. He
has studied the shroud for more than 50 years.
The shroud's existence has been documented for centuries, but
the invention of photography in the 19th century revealed
that the image of a crucified man was actually a negative
Nohs' presentation included authentic replicas of the shroud
that present it in both positive and negative images. It is
believed to be the largest mobile shroud display in the U.S.
"What a good and loving God we have," Nohs told the audience.
"This is the message of His shroud. To prepare and usher in
the kingdom of God."
The negative image of the shroud provided a much more
detailed image of the crucified Christ. Nohs said it spoke of
a man between 5-foot-10 to 5-foot-11 and approximately 175
pounds. He was lean and very well built, and was in good
A dorsal image of the shroud, he noted, revealed a long pony
tail that extended to the center of the back. It was a trait
of a Jewish male from Galilee to wear his hair like that, he
Nohs used members of the audience to demonstrate how the
shroud conformed to the human body. He showed how a cloth
folded around the head wounds, and how it picked up blood and
matched the shroud image. And blood around the beard, he
noted, showed the depth of his suffering.
He noted that the burial shroud influenced the cloths that
are used on the altar.
The presentation included authentic replicas of instruments
used in the crucifixion, such as a Roman flagrum, or whip, as
well as nails, a detailed crown of thorns, a spear and a
cross beam from the cross Christ carried.
Nohs demonstrated how the whip marks were reflected in the
shroud, and he noted scourge marks on the body. He also spoke
of the deep lacerations, which were believed to be the result
of Jesus being forced to sit on shards of glass.
In addition, he noted the 50 to 75 puncture wounds around the
scalp that were caused by the crown of thorns, as well as a
swollen lower lip punctured by a thorn.
Nohs strapped a cross beam across his back to demonstrate
Christ's 650-yard journey to Golgotha. He pointed out that
Christ carried a rough-cut timber cross beam that weighed
between 110-120 pounds. The shroud, he said, reflected
splinters in the back of the neck and gouges in the shoulders
from the cross.
He used the first-century Roman roofing nails to demonstrate
how they placed one through each wrist, and added two more
through the feet. In order to line up pilot holes for the
cross, he noted, they pulled on Christ's arm so hard with a
rope that they popped his right shoulder right out of its
"What pain my brothers and sisters," he said. "What pain
Jesus endured for us."
Nohs also demonstrated how the spear was used to penetrate
through the fifth and sixth ribs of Christ, severing his
heart and almost coming out of his back.
He became emotional when he described signs within the
context of the Mass that signify Christ's intention to
"The Holy Spirit is working with you," he said. "If you feel
close to the passion of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is healing
At the end of the presentation, members of the audience had
an opportunity to venerate a relic of the shroud.
Nohs said his ministry is to help people touch Jesus
physically, and he called his work a response to St. John
Paul II's call to "evangelize the world with this cloth."
"Lives are changed," he said. "This is also a healing and
deliverance ministry. There have been conversions,
deliverances, spiritual and physical healings."
Nohs added, "This encounter with Jesus is not a casual
encounter. It is necessary for today's world."
Franko is a staff writer at the Pittsburgh
Catholic, newspaper of the Pittsburgh Diocese.