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Posted on Tuesday, April 07 - 2009

" MEDIEVAL knights hid and secretly venerated the Holy Shroud of Turin for more than 100 years after the Crusades, the Vatican said yesterday, in an announcement that appeared to solve the mystery of the relic's missing years. The Knights Templar, a Crusading order suppressed and disband..."

MEDIEVAL knights hid and secretly venerated the Holy Shroud of Turin for more than 100 years after the Crusades, the Vatican said yesterday, in an announcement that appeared to solve the mystery of the relic's missing years. The Knights Templar, a Crusading order suppressed and disbanded for alleged heresy, took care of the linen cloth, which bears the image of a bearded man with long hair and the wounds of crucifixion, according to Vatican researchers. The material, kept in the royal chapel of Turin Cathedral, has long been revered as Christ's burial shroud, although the image only appeared clearly in 1898 when a photographer developed a negative. Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican Secret Archives, said that the shroud had disappeared in the sack of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, and did not surface again until the middle of the 14th century. Writing in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Dr Frale said that its fate during those years had always puzzled historians. However, her study of the trial of the Knights Templar had brought to light a document in which a young Frenchman, Arnaut Sabbatier, who entered the order in 1287, testified that as part of his initiation he was taken to "a secret place to which only the brothers of the Temple had access". There he was shown "a long linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man" and instructed to venerate the image by kissing its feet three times. Dr Frale said that the Knights Templar had rescued the shroud to ensure it did not fall into the hands of heretical groups such as the Cathars, who claimed that Christ did not have a true human body, only the "appearance" of a man. She said that her discovery vindicated a theory first put forward by Ian Wilson, a British writer, in 1978. The Knights Templar were founded at the time of the First Crusade in the 11th century to protect Christians making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The order was endorsed by the Pope, but when Acre fell in 1291 and the Crusaders lost their hold on the Holy Land, their support faded amid growing envy of their property and banking wealth. Rumours about the order's corrupt and arcane secret ceremonies claimed that novices had to deny Christ three times,.


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