Review of the book

Robert K. Wilcox, Shroud, 180 pages, 1977.

The book is well written and has numerous photographs. I got a used copy for a mere 25 cents from an affiliated Amazon bookstore. Notice: Wilcox's book was written before the 1988 radio-carbon dating, before the intensive STURP investigation of 1978, and before the ownership of the Shroud was officially transferred to the Catholic Pope.

It is odd to review a book that old -- so much has happened since 1977: the STURP group, the radio-carbon dating, the restoration, etc. Yet, that simple old layman book sheds light on many aspects of today's research on the Shroud -- in particular how difficult it was to undertake any scientific study on the Shroud. We clearly see how Shroud's research took shape before the major 1978 STURP investigation (the largest scientific investigation of the Shroud in the 20th century). We see a very active Father Peter Rinaldi working feverishly promulgating a scientific study of the Shroud -- resulting in the STURP group.

The author has "traveled halfway around the world" -- from Turin to Los Angeles -- to undertake interviews with prominent Shroud researchers, quacks, a Nobel laureate (Dr. Willard Libby), and many more. At some point, the author goes to Le Louvre almost in search of the holy grail. (See below for the real reason to visit this famous Paris museum)

The related meetings are sometimes short as if the interviewees have not really been that interested in the subject matter. Nevertheless, the book gives good strokes to the questions, possible answers and hypotheses of the time. Some, if not several of these are still today's' questions.

The author, Robert Wilcox, traveled across Europe to meet several major Shroud researchers. Some noteworthy meetings:

A final note: page 31 presents a fascinating picture of Msgr. Giulio Ricci doing a length measurement on a life-size Shroud photograph. He is standing with a tape measurement in hands, carefully reading the tape over the abdomen of the man of the Shroud. Interestingly, we can see that a skeleton had been superimposed on the Shroud photograph. I have been promoting the idea of using a better system to report measurements (see Length Measurements). I was pleasantly surprised to see such an intensive looking Shroud scholar doing such a mundane task as length measurement on a shroud image.

Photo Giulio Ricci